Badly dressed people sometimes make me angry. I wish they just made me frustrated, or feel sympathy. But all too often they make me annoyed and shout silent commands in my head (“button that jacket up”, “your tie makes you look like a teenager”, “what’s the point in buying a nice suit if you’re not going to hem the trousers?”).
I wish it wasn’t like this. I always admire friends with strong faith that don’t bang on about it. They believe absolutely that there is a God. They believe that I will go to hell. And they care for me. Yet they will not badger me, hassle me, ask leading questions or in any way shuffle me towards confronting my agnosticism.
Most impressively, they will not take offence at me comparing menswear to religion.
They do this because they believe I will only come to God through my own curiosity. They will provide the example, answer any questions and make it known what they believe. Then they will stop.
So I endeavour to make people aware of how much joy there is to get out of an interest in how you dress, without shouting about it. I emphasise the fact that seeing well-dressed people makes me happy, just like being surrounded by beautiful countryside, or well-designed buildings can make me happy.
It’s not an arrogance about only liking beautiful clothes or beautiful people. It is appreciating beauty where you find it. Without that there wouldn’t be much point in anything aesthetic.
I consciously strive for this because I believe passionate interests split people into two types: the snobbish and the tolerant.
When someone becomes very involved in a particular activity, it is usually because they take great joy in its pursuit. I take great joy in considering what I wear everyday and discussing it with others.
Such enthusiasm can easily become obsessive, and with that obsession comes a danger of arrogance. You end up judging people because they do not share your interest – in this case, because they dress badly.
It is a constant battle to keep your interest a positive one, to communicate your passion to other people because you want to introduce joy into their lives – not because you think they are wrong.
Losing this battle leads to the greatest self-involvement, the biggest geeks, nerds and haughty snobs. One should evangelise, but not preach.
In fact, that sounded like preaching. I apologise. I should evangelise, not preach. I wish I was better at it; I recommend it to you as something to strive for.