Why the British can’t dress for sunshine

Summer sunshine

It’s sunny! Hurray, I hear you cry!

But when the sun shines in the UK something very strange happens. Normally sensible, right-thinking people suddenly take leave of their senses when it comes to the matter of clothes (or, in many cases, the lack of clothes).

Walk down any high street on a reasonably sunny summer day and you’ll be confronted with some fashion choices that beggar belief.

So here, in my completely uninformed, doesn’t-know-fashion-for-toffee kinda way, is my guide to why the British can’t dress for sunshine.

The sunshine cynic

For the sunshine cynic, there is NO sunshine. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, they will always leave the house in the same massive, cumbersome coat. It’s usually beige, or a shade of brown that used to be beige before years of accumulated dirt were ground into it.

This big, dirty coat will be buttoned all the way up, obviously. Not one excess inch of bare skin will ever be seen, other than face and hands. There may even be a small hat atop this apparition.

The sunshine cynic exists to deny the existence of good weather. They hate the sun and they want the rest of humanity to know this. In a world of summer weather, they are an icy blast of North Sea wind sent to spoil everyone else’s fun.

The sun worshipper (male)

The flipside of the sunshine cynic is the sun worshipper. These guys LOVE the sun. They can’t get enough of it. And to show this undying love they will choose to leave the house in as few clothes as possible.

For the male of the species this will usually mean shorts and very little else. What the male sun worshipper really loves is stripping off that Ben Sherman polo shirt and exposing his manly physique to the world. There’s an inverse law here that the more out of condition, flabby and generally pasty the male sun worshipper is, the quicker he is likely to whip off his shirt and show you his excellent choice of badly spelled tattoos.

There is also a sub-genre of the ‘sun worshipper’ who is so whippet-thin that you’re worried he may fall straight through his cut-down cargo pant shorts completely. This scrawny examples of the male sun-lover, are usually even whiter than their chunkier cousins – mainly due to them being so thin that the sunlight has great difficulty in actually hitting them at all.

Shades are de rigueur with both varieties of male sun-worshipper, with the really hardcore sun worshipper opting for the wraparound variety that they believe makes them look like Bono from U2, but everyone else thinks makes them look like a doorman on holiday or a naturist snowboarder.

The sun worshipper (female)

These ladies LOVE a bit of sunshine. No, I mean REALLY love it. So much so, that they are willing to wear a singlet, mini-skirt and flip flops in March or April, the very nanosecond that a brief hint of weak sunlight hits the British skies.

There’s usually quite a fair amount of fake tan going on here too, mainly to cover up the fact that getting a tan in Britain in the spring is about as likely as getting frostbite in Dubai. To get the full effect, you must apply this fake tan yourself and leave a tantilising white gap on the backs of the knees.

If you thought the male sun worshipper loved a bit of sunglasses action, then this pales into insignificance when compared to the female sun worshipper’s obsession with expensive shades.

For the lady sun-lover, no sunglasses are too big, too costly or too horrifically branded with high-fashion brand logos to be discounted. If the end result is a look that could be adequately summed up as ‘Jackie Onassis on crack, styled by Romford market’ then they are very pleased indeed.

The indecisive dresser

In between the polar opposites of the sunshine cynic and the sun worshipper is the ‘indecisive dresser’.

They come in both male and female forms, but can be spotted by their inability to decide whether it’s hot or cold outside today. This usually ends up with them wearing a mish-mash of different clothes in the hope that at least one of them fits the current weather conditions.

For women, there is the pairing of shorts and sandals (summer legs) with a big scarf or wrap (winter body) in a vain attempt to catch some rays, while also remaining toasty warm if the clouds roll in and ruin the sunshine.

For men, there’s the omnipresent combination of skater shorts and trainers (summer legs) with a massive hooded sweatshirt and woollen beanie hat (winter body). Why, beanie-wearers, why!?

The funky vicar

Lastly, and very much not leastly, is the look that no British summer would be complete without – that of the middle-aged man in shorts, socks and sandals.

It’s a crime which is yet to be recognised by either the UN or the European Commission on Human Rights, but wearing taupe-coloured socks with clunky brown sandals is certainly a no-no for the majority of humanity.

These are men who just don’t DO casual in their everyday lives. Their natural attire is a dull, grey suit or something tweedy that helps them to blend into the background. So when the sun comes out, these men are at a complete loss as to what to wear. So ingrained is their love of Argyle-pattern socks that they just cannot bear to leave the house without them, even if it’s 30 degrees C outside and the rest of polite society is wearing flip flops.

We can do better, Britain

So, there you have it. It’s not a complete list of the fashion faux pas we make as a nation in the summer – I’ve not even mentioned sockless men in boat shoes with Pringle jumpers draped over their shoulders – but it’s a taster of our inability to dress for the weather.

So, come on, Britain. Let’s try a bit harder, eh. Wait until it’s actually hot before you whip your tops off. But enjoy that sunshine when it’s here – let’s be honest, we don’t get much of it, so it’s best to make the most of that summer heat while it’s here.

Just no socks and sandals, please, or I’m calling Amnesty, ok!

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