When Uncool Is Cool

by MR Magazine Staff

“That is a great shirt,” observed an editor at American Vogue. “Where’s it from?” Her colleague, wafting across an ersatz English gastropub to join us, agreed. Two $100 haircuts tilted expectantly. That the bar-room swam was thanks to neither jet lag nor gin. For I had bought said shirt – a blue short-sleeve button-down with a jaunty nautical print – that very day. Its provenance? The sale rail of the uncoolest shop in the USA: Old Navy. This is a store I love. Where other Euro fashion editors head to painstakingly curated Red Hook boutiques and Dumbo vintage merchants on arriving in New York, I beetle straight to the closest branch of this Gap subsidiary to revel in the banal. White T-shirts! Blue T-shirts! Chinos with built-in “flex”! The occasional jazzy button-down! When the Guardian’s fashion director called me “the muse of Blue Harbour” as an insult I took it as a compliment. Swanky suits make me feel like a fraud. For comfort both physical and psychological I prefer a base of Uniqlo, Old Navy, and (oh yes) even Blue Harbour, judiciously sprinkled with pricier prizes.My boring taste would normally be of no interest to anybody. Yet right now – as the reaction of my Vogue pals showed – fashion’s dog-whistle of cool is attuned to the banal. Like Halley’s Comet to Earth, my personal “style” is temporarily enjoying proximity to a far greater mass of consensus. Read more at The Economist.