2009 October 19

safrugbyA traditional rugby shirt, often referred to as a jersey, was a shirt worn by players of rugby union or rugby league. These days, players shirts tend to have short sleeves, but the fashion garment worn by people who don’t play rugby, almost always has the traditional long sleeves.

What distinguishes a rugby shirt from a polo-shirt? Two things, the first is the longer sleeves, the second is that although both have a button front opening, the rugby shirt tends to have a stiffer collar.

The sports version of the rugby shirt usually has a logo on the chest and the player’s team number on the back, but fashion versions may have an imaginary logo and no number on the back at all. While traditional designs usually had five or six hoops (stripes travelling horizontally around the body) but modern fashion rugby shirts are much more likely to be a solid colour with a contrasting white collar. They are also more likely much more likely to be made of pure cotton, while the sports-based rugby shirts are often made of a blend of cotton and synthetic fabrics for lightness and ease of wear.

A rugby shirt is a durable and extremely comfortable item of casual clothing that maintains its classic status.

2009 September 7

rugby_shirt_royalIf you want to dress well but don’t have the budget, aren’t particularly good at laundry and stuff, and never feel very sure about clothing rules, rugby shirts are the perfect solution.

To begin with, they are a durable garment, so they put up with being washed at the wrong temperature, with the wrong stuff, being used as a dish-towel or a cushion to sit on in the park, or a goalpost for a game of scratch football, and still look great.

Secondly, rugby shirts come in a range of colours and designs, they are ideal casual wear but the longer sleeves give an added touch of formality that a polo-shirt or a sweatshirt doesn’t have.

Rugby shirts keep you warm while looking cool – if you’re one of those people who hate to wear a jacket, or forget to carry one, then a rugby shirt is the ideal option – it keeps you warm enough without looking like you’re bundled up in clothing.

White collars look great. If you’re a bloke and have a hangover or didn’t have time to shave, the collar lightens your face and suggests that you’re rugged rather than wasted. And any woman looks great in a rugby shirt – just ask a bloke!

2009 March 31

The new England kit
Alan Green of 5Live called it ‘grotesque’.  Umbro, who produced it, call it a ‘technically specific capsule wardrobe’ – what would you call it?

The new England strip is deliberately supposed to remind us of the beautiful decade (1964-1974) of the beautiful game (Brian Clough coined the phrase) in England terms, in other words, when we won the World Cup.

So this kit is supposed to look both elegant and intimidating. It’s white, it’s mid-length in the shorts department, which is a bit odd, because by ’74 we were definitely into the era of the short-short, which was a pretty ugly fashion but there you go, designers have a certain amount of blindness to the faults of previous eras, thank God. And that top is definitely a polo shirt, not a round or even a V-neck but a properly collared dazzling white shirt. And as far as the England squad is concerned, it’s tailored. Oh yes, each of the lads was measured and fitted into a bespoke set of kit by a tailor.  The shirt sold to the general public will also be sold in chest sizes, like a formal shirt, not in small, medium and large, which are the normal kit sizes.

If we win through to the final this time, you can safely guess that white polo shirts will be the biggest selling item in casual clothing. So why not get your white polo bargain now? The key details here – if you want to emulate the football version -are to try and get it to look fitted, to ensure that the collar is soft and rolled rather than popped or sharply creased and to avoid front pockets.

2009 March 19

61-022-30If you care about fashion, and who doesn’t want to look good,  you need a distillation of what appeared on the Spring catwalks and will turn up in the High Street in the next few months.

What’s hot this spring?

Preppy styling is fighting with the biker look – in other words, classic USA looks have been storming the catwalk, possibly as a result of the election of the new American president.

What does this mean in fashion terms?

For men and women there are some signature elements in common. Show your free spirit in white tops, which have been this year’s big hit – worn under dark denim, or with grey sweats, the plain white T-shirt or white sweatshirt is a must have item.

Leather and suede, a la cowboy look, are everywhere too – as are fringes: on bags for women and on boots for men. Other big trends were bright colours, especially clear blues, and colour contrasts such as yellow with purple or green with pink.  Crumpled shirts are big for men (so you can forget the iron, isn’t that great?) worn over T-shirts with metallic elements like glam rock chains. Lots of stripes turned up on casual wear this year, with arm stripes on polo-shirts predominating.

2009 March 2

klassic20poloSpring is typified by new growth, chilly sunshine and Easter which is a strange festival, because it’s movable – some years it’s early enough to count as winter, other years it’s late enough to be fully into spring. It’s also both a religious festival for Christians that often more or less coincides with a traditional and pagan celebration of the arrival of spring. And that makes it difficult to know what to wear.

Spring, in general, is a very difficult time of year for clothing choices – when one day is cold enough for thermal underwear and a woolly hat, the next is plenty warm enough to be outdoors in a T-shirt and jeans, with a baseball cap keeping the sun out of your eyes!

So what’s the best way to second-guess the weather, feel comfortable, and look smart at this time of year?

There are two key factors: colour and layering.

Colour is important – this the time of year to retire your navy and grey clothing and pull out the warming tones of cream, beige and even brown – match them with soft pinks, ice-blues, catkin-yellows and spring greens and your outfits will immediately look springlike, even if they are heavyweight clothing. As an example, pick a cream jacket to go over a thick sweater and it will look more summery than a navy blue one, even if the jackets are the same weight.

Layering is vital – what you want is to be able to remove and replace clothing without fuss, as the weather changes throughout the day. As an example, a gilet or sleeveless jacket over a long-sleeved rugby shirt or hoodie gives you a perfect balance of warmth and coolness. An alternative is to wear lighter inner clothing, such as a spring coloured  polo-shirt, with a scarf and a zipped hoodie or waterproof jacket – once again you can take layers off or add them back on without looking daft and you’ll always feel comfortable.

2009 January 19


Buying for children can be a thankless task, they hate their school uniform and do everything they can to avoid wearing it. But on the other hand, anything you buy them for casualwear is bound to be uncool, non-rad and totally yuck.  And children’s clothing can be expensive too, especially once they hit the adolescent years and start to develop designer tastes.

There’s not a lot we can do to help you with the teenage spending drain, but before that, you can save yourself quite a lot of money by sensible purchasing and clothing management.

Buying with a Purpose:

  • Kids outgrow trousers much more swiftly than they do strap overalls which can be adjusted for several months more. While they are small enough to wear what you buy, keep them in dungarees!
  • If you can’t buy dungarees, remember that cuffed trousers and shirts can be uncuffed as your child grows, to give a longer wearing period before the garment is outgrown.
  • Classic clothing like plain T-shirts and blue jeans both last longer and look good longer than faddy items.
  • Buy a season in advance – pick up last season’s summer tops at knock-down prices in winter, and in summer, look out for long-sleeved tops and good jackets at bargain prices.

Buying Secondhand:

  • If you have a teenager, particularly a girl, get her to resell her ‘old’ clothing via the local paper or ebay to fund new purchases – often girls will wear something for less than a season and it can still be resold for a reasonable price. Trendy T-shirts and tops will often sell fast.
  • When buying second hand, look at all garments well, checking buttons, zippers, and seams and turn them inside out to spot stains and worn areas

Caring for Clothing:

If you hope to sell your children’s clothing second hand, you need to take care of it during its lifetime with you. So make sure you deal with any stains immediately and loosen any buttons or buckles that become tight – this keeps the garment in better shape for resale or for handing on to another child. Where possible, fold T-shirts and tops shop-style, rather than in half, as folding down the middle can exacerbate the tendency for cotton to lose its shape, folding sides to middle helps keep a garment’s form.

Form a Buying Consortium:

It sounds really upmarket, but all it means is that you’re buying bulk items: nappies and bibs for babies, T-shirts, polo-shirts and school trousers for kids, socks for teenagers, for say, twelve kids. You can find mums and dads who’d like to consortium buy through schools, sports clubs or youth clubs and by negotiating a group discount or making a bulk purchase, you can save up to 40% off the retail price for the item.

2009 January 5

Few of us could afford a fashion faux pas last year, because looking like a drip is never good for our careers, love-lives or family street cred. But this year, with money ever tighter, we won’t just make fools of ourselves, we’ll have made a bad bargain too.

The way to ensure you dress well is to establish your body shape and stick to clothing that suits it. Both men and women have distinct body shapes: ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph but for women there are other considerations too.

Ectomorph: If you this body type you will have a slight muscular frame, your limbs will be relatively long in proportion and your shoulders will be narrow or droop. Think Kate Moss or Johnny Depp.

The ectomorph is the catwalk model. While women can wear anything and get away with it, men may want to appear bulkier. For women, to accentuate height and slimness pick clothes that all have the same hue and don’t wear a belt because that bisects your body and makes you look shorter. To look more voluptuous, choose an open-collared top like a rugby shirt, with horizontal stripes. Men may want to aim for horizontal stripes too, or end-on-end pattern shirts that add solidity to the body. Hoods on clothing take the eye away from sloping shoulders so aim for hooded tops to look macho!

Mesomorph: has well-defined muscles and large bones. The torso tapers to a relatively narrow and low waist and the bones and muscles of the head are prominent – think of most female tennis players, Sarah Palin, Bruce Willis.

Mesomorphs have great bodies for casual clothing. Look out for clothing with relaxed necklines, like polo-shirts that will draw attention to your good musculature and stay away from V necks which can make you seem bulkier than you are. Because most mesomorphs have a low waist, casual clothing that isn’t tucked in makes the most of this shape, where formal clothing can appear to cut you in half. Aim for work shirts with a back pleat to allow your relatively large shoulders room to move.

Endomorph: the endomorph has a rounded body and it will appear as if much of the mass of the body is in the waist and abdomen (which may not be true). The hands and feet of an endomorph are comparatively small, and the torso has a high waist. Think Jack Black, Jennifer Lopez or Elizabeth Taylor.

Endomorphs are likely to be pear-shaped. This means you want to draw attention to your upper body. Women should aim for an interesting (and relatively low) neckline, while men should look for contrasting collars and wear lapel pins to draw the eye to the upper body.  Keep lower body clothing to black, navy or charcoal when possible as this will cause it to appear to taper. Never tuck clothing in and when wearing sportswear or jog pants, try to buy them without pockets as these can widen the lower body even more.

2008 December 23

There’s a habit spreading from the States – where winter weather can make play difficult – some golf course committees have taken to putting up a sign reading: winter rules in effect today or preferred lies today. This doesn’t mean that you can wander round the clubhouse claiming you hit a hole in one as your preferred lie but rather, golfers are allowed  improve their lies on the fairway. That means that if your ball lands in a tuft of grass or a heap of snow, winter rules mean you can move it back onto the good grass of the fairway.

What this shows is that winter golf is booming, and it’s a great idea to make use of golf courses all year round. This year many British clubs have great incentives for winter use, ranging from PGA pro training being available through to free rounds for ladies and even winter cup competitions.  But what do you wear to take advantage of these offers?

Since most golf games are played during the warmer months, you need to choose your winter tops more carefully – polo-shirts are worn in summer, often with a thin sweater over the top to keep the muscles warm. The same system can operate in winter, but with a light jacket over the polo and a scarf to ensure the neck stays warm so that you can sight your swing with loose muscles. New technical processes mean that polo and rugby shirts are being made lighter without sacrificing their weave, so they remain just as warm and insulating without you having to add weight to your upper body.

One thing that’s often forgotten is the effect of winter sun on the face. After an hour or so on the course, both the damage caused to your skin and the strain that low winter sun puts on your eyes will be damaging you.  It’s vital to wear well-fitting hat with a good brim, to protect your eyes from eyestrain and to shield your face from the worst of the sun’s rays. If you happen to be thinning a little on top, this will also stop you burning the crown of your head without realising it.

2008 December 12

Christmas Day is usually simple enough: get up in your PJs (or put them on, if you’re a commando sleeper!) and head downstairs for the present opening part of the day, then you put on the awful scratchy woolly jumper that Aunt Edna knitted for you, the garish socks your brother thinks are hilarious and the Rupert Bear scarf from your jokey  best mate that on any other day would set gaydars bleeping from one end of the street to the other. If you feel uncomfortable and look like a prat (or a slapper, if you’re female) you can at least console yourself with looking at the ridiculous state of the other members of the family in their Christmas clothing.

But what about Boxing Day? It doesn’t have the same pattern as the preceding day, and you can find yourself not sure what the protocol is, particularly if this is the first time you’re spending the day with your other half’s family.

The basic rule is to make a bit more effort that you usually would but not to get carried away unless there is actually a formal event (lunch with people from outside the family, drinks party etc) planned.

Bear in mind that you may also find yourself being urged to do something to use up all the festive calories: it might be helping a young relative fly a kite they got for Christmas, or taking a hike around the local countryside, so make sure that you have something to wear that can get really mucky/snowy/torn – such as a pair of jog pants – you can even pull these on over smarter clothing if the weather is really atrocious and you still have to go out.

Neutral trousers will take you anywhere from church to pub to country walk, and a good wind-deflecting fleece or jacket will keep your core body temperature up if you’re popping out for snowball fights or to visit nearby relatives.

Winter light is muted, so this is a time when clothing in bright colours can make you look alert and healthy, even if you are feeling the effects of having helped your Nana drink a bottle of Drambuie on Christmas night – opt for a strong red or pink sweatshirt, or deep blue or green T-shirt combined with a contrasting long-sleeved tee underneath: good Christmas colour combinations are red with green, blue with white or black with green. Stay away from yellow t-shirts or polo-shirts if you are feeling a bit hungover – while yellow is a great colour to show off a winter tan, one of the effects of alcohol is jaundicing the skin, which makes it appear yellower, so if you wear yellow as well, you start to look like one of the living dead! Reds and pinks liven up hungover skin, so again, a red polo or rugby shirt is a good idea to look less wrecked if you had a heavy night. I wonder if that’s why Santa has a red suit …?

2008 October 30

The fashion sector has changed unbelievably in the past ten years: the discount fashion sector has experienced a boom, and major supermarket chains have picked up a large share of the clothing market. But this year, low consumer confidence has affected sales across the board. Increasing competition between the discount, supermarket, and designer clothing sectors, all fighting for the same consumers has become intense. Friends of the Earth say that sales of new clothing in the UK have increased by 60% in the last ten years, largely due to the rise in budget high street stores. But that could be about to change.

So what have de-toxing, pre-loving and swishing got to do with it? Such concepts encourage shoppers to think both before and after they buy. They are systems where people get together and swap unwanted items and create new outfits that they model before the rest of the group, getting suggestions on accessories or other items being swished that would work well together. Supports say it makes you creative, developing your personal sense of style. So how does it work?

Let’s say you have a wardrobe full of T-shirts and want to get a new look but don’t have much money. Gather up a bunch of friends and the clothes they no longer want or never wore and swap – your plain white tee shirt could end up under a long evening jacket, or a collared top you never really felt comfortable in could look fantastic on your best friend or your mum. These systems of clothes swapping allow you to take budget items and make a dozen new looks: a black T-shirt with a floral skirt, a pair of boots and hat that turn a long-sleeved top into a fashion hit or even a bit of cross-dressing, going through your man’s wardrobe and seeing which of his tees you can mix and match with your own clothing.