Monday, August 07, 2006

Under A Vest

I am not the most astute observer of male fashion trends (if I were, I would make sure I made a lot of money out of it) but I can't help noticing that more men, in Paris at least, are wearing wife-beaters this summer. Is there a rise in the taste for 'lout chic'? Is it a rebellion against the metrosexualism that has gained ground in recent years? Is it a conflation of both?

The wife-beater, or tank top, or classic white singlet, as its manufacturers no doubt prefer it to be called, is distinguished in the main by its cheapness, though I am sure that there are ways of parting with a lot of cash for one if one really must. A few friends of mine stock up on them regularly (sometimes not even bothering to keep their previous vests for a second wear) and I have been impressed by the fact that the wee singlets are so small bunched up in their wrapping and they still represent half of your wardrobe for a summer's day in Paris.

The wife-beater is also style-neutral, despite the negative connotations it has assumed over the last ten years; it resolves immediately one fashion dilemma. It is, if you like, the sartorial equivalent of fast food. The French call it 'le Marcel', which, seeing as it evokes an image of a Provençal soused in mid-afternoon on Pastis, amounts to almost the same thing. I have yet to buy one.