A few years ago I read something disturbing in the Telegraph. This is unusual as I normally find most commentary in that particular publication agreeable, if not positively sensible. But not on this occasion. Indeed, so perplexing was the assertion under scrutiny that it led me to question my own sartorial judgement – something of which I am normally entirely confident – and has weighed heavy on my mind since.
I was coaxed into reading the offending sentence because it was neatly wrapped inside a generally sound editorial. But then the best way to conceal a lie is always between two truths. Adam Edwards was espousing the benefits of England’s grandest county – Yorkshire – as it prepared to stage Royal Ascot, the greatest flat-racing festival of the season, in 2005.
About two thirds of the way through, quoting Lady Ingilby of Ripley Castle, the article stated: “Yorkshire men dress conservatively … Pink for a man is fine in Gloucestershire or Hampshire, but thought of as unmanly here.”
Nausea was the first sensation I remember, followed by a sudden difficulty in breathing. Much of what followed is now just a haze of out-of-focus objects, low guttural noises and darkness.
Finally however, after much soul-searching I came to the conclusion Lady Ingiby was in fact speaking utter balls and, as is normally the case in these matters, my judgement is superior.
I have lived in all the Yorkshire ridings and I own a number of pink shirts – two by Hackett and one by Aquascutum, plus a couple of polo shirts. The Aquascutum is particularly nice due to a ribbed twill weave. And I can assure you, never once have I felt unmanly in any of them, nor for that matter, in any other attire (Ok that’s not strictly true, one New Year’s eve, many moons ago, I went round York in a dress, high heels, orange lipstick and a purple boa, but that’s the only time. I was young and stupid). Nor have I ever been accused to being anything less than a man while wearing pink, here or anywhere else.
In my career to date, I’ve had just two job interviews and on both occasions wore a pink shirt. I got both jobs. After one of them, the person interviewing me said something along the lines of: “I knew you were confident when you walked in because you were wearing pink.”
And that about sums it up; it’s not about what you wear but how you wear it. Commit to the colour with a well-cut pink business shirt with semi-cutaway collar, combined with a dark suit or, if in the country, a stiff tweed, a quality pair of English patent leather shoes and stand up straight like you have a pair. If you can accomplish that then yours is the earth and everything that’s in it.
And, which is more, you’ll be a Yorkshireman (my son).