I have been Christmas shopping. Or thinking about Christmas shopping. Or worrying about not having done all of the Christmas shopping. And then there is the wrapping to contend with. Except for those annoyingly smug people who like to boast about having finished the shopping last February and having it all wrapped up by July. As I am not one of those people, I have been collecting stuff via the medium of the internet for about a month. This way, I can avoid a last minute dash around the shops, even if I do end up sat on the lounge carpet on Christmas Eve, fuelled by red wine, peanuts and After Eights, looking for the scissors.
One of the items I have been considering for purchase is a shirt for the Man of the House. I have a good idea of the sort of shirt that he would like – nothing too exciting – classic fit, double cuff and preferably blue in colour. Over the years I have encouraged him to branch out with different colours, and have even persuaded him into a lilac one. But there are some things he will not countenance no matter how hard I have tried; a v-neck jumper is one suggestion guaranteed to induce a sharp intake of breath. Braces may cause an outburst of foul language. And if a short-sleeved shirt ever made its way into his wardrobe, he would probably be less upset if he found Daniel Craig in there, cowering in his speedos.
Bearing the above criteria in mind, I spotted a shirt that I thought may come up to his exacting standards. And then I noticed on the photograph that it had a buttoned collar. I read the details of the garment on the website just to double-check and the company concerned felt very strongly that the reason I should plump for a shirt with a buttoned collar is because:
“A button-down collar means these shirts are a wonderfully versatile choice.”
I had never thought of shirts as particularly versatile, more of a specific garment for a specific task. Now you may wish to accuse me of over-thinking the point, but how does a button-down collar make a shirt versatile? More versatile than a shirt bereft of a buttoned collar? Are collars known to be particularly flappy? Is one of the many problems with the environment that we have entirely overlooked is that it is becoming more windy and that there could be a serious sartorial (not to mention health and safety) knock-on effects from this? If in a festive fit of peak, one were to strut into the office one morning wearing the collar of one’s shirt erect, is it easier for colleagues to remedy the issue on a more permanent basis if the collar has buttons? Just what was happening in that marketing meeting when someone said “Yes, Janine, I agree the buttons do make it a wonderfully versatile choice, put that on the website. Now turn on the wind machine and let’s test the theory”?
Bewildered and confused, I threw the question out to the Facebook floor. One of my friends from university was straight onto it. Apparently a buttoned collar was originally made for when playing polo to stop one’s collar getting in the way. Ah, I see. Well I don’t, but I accept it. Sort of. Just how big are the collars in polo? I haven’t ever been to a polo match but I am quite sure that I have never seen a photograph of Prince William powering along on his steed but also doing battle with his wayward collar. I was still no further forward with the versatility point. And I remain none the wiser.
In order to reassure myself that the problem is not mine, I have been looking for other marketing lines that have been sent to press this festive season in order to entice us to make a purchase. Here is my top five, in reverse order:
5. “You’ve just put the little ones to bed and they’re up again within seconds. Opt for power pieces that make you feel fabulous no matter how tired you are.”
No, no, no. Opt for pyjamas so you can get back into bed and go to sleep.
4. “Truly boosts creative self expression.”
Only if you snort it. Piffle.
3. “Investment pieces.”
Diamonds are investment pieces, these are shoes. For your feet.
2. “Add an air of sophistication to your Christmas presents….even the most fashion conscious will approve of your wrapping.”
[Metallic wrapping paper]
Has anyone, ever, dedicated follower of fashion or no, tutted disapprovingly at your gift wrapping?
And my personal favourite, which I am sure you will agree encapsulates the Christmas spirit:
1. “Make them owe you one.”
Who on earth thought that was a good idea? Who? I would have thought that beauty products are in a fairly high risk category (rather like kitchen equipment) and should not be given unless specifically requested. And I don’t want to make you question the motives of someone who may be planning on giving you face cream but if you haven’t asked for it, then it is either a) they think that you need it or b) they want an expensive present back. And with friends like that, you don’t need any enemies. Get them a shirt with a button-down collar and be done with it.