Sunday, 17 August 2014

What not to (sports)wear

The other day whilst out for a cycle ride I passed through the nearby town of Soham. There were the usual people out and about as you would expect - mothers with babies in pushchairs, harassed looking individuals hurrying to the bank, and little old ladies shuffling to the supermarket to stock up on cat food and incontinence pads.
There was one sight, however, that caused me to do a double-take as I passed, just to make sure my eyes had not deceived me. A distinctly overweight bloke in his late fifties with a buzz-cut, wearing an awful blue tracksuit with white piping and covered with enough gold chains and signet rings to give the average gangsta rapper an inferiority complex, was leaving his house and getting into a Chrysler 300C. It looked like a marriage made in heaven between these two prime examples of everything naff and tacky - a tribute to chavdom in all its glory.
The 300C is basically an off-the-peg pimpmobile with its garish overbearing looks set off by enormous shiny wheels. It's the car for those who aspire to a Cadillac Escalade but haven't quite managed to deal sufficient narcotics to afford one. This I don't really have a problem with. If someone wants to go around trying to look like a tribute to Puff Daddy then that's up to them. It gives me something to laugh at.
The thing that gets to me is the sportswear. If you're playing tennis, doing a marathon, or riding the Tour De France then sportswear of the appropriate nature is to be expected. But most sportswear seems to be bought by ageing fatties who wouldn't know which end of a cricket bat to hold. These are the people that are permanently accompanied by a lingering odour of stale tobacco and fried food. Not exactly the target audience Nike had in mind, surely?
The big name manufacturers of sportswear spend a fortune on advertising, with professional athletes appearing in magazines and on billboards promoting the latest in running shoe technology or whatever. We all know that the sort of person they're trying to sell their products to looks something like this:


Unfortunately for them, the sort of person who actually ends up buying clothing with their brand name or logo splashed across it is quite likely to look more like this:


Not exactly the image they were hoping to portray, now is it?
These people, who's idea of exercise is walking from the sofa to the fridge and back really need a good talking to. They're either seriously in denial, or stretchy tracksuits are the only thing they can squeeze their monstrous bellys into. If it's not some beer-and-burger-bloated epsilon holding a cigarette and with drool running down their chin, then it's a wobbly thirty-something woman who hasn't seen her feet since she was eleven that feels the need to squeeze her revolting body into leggings and a 'Just Do It' vest top. It's grim. Can these people really not understand what they look like? Do they really have such low self esteem that they feel this is all they deserve?
I own three pairs of tracky bottoms. This is bad. One pair is for slobbing around the house in comfort, but I would never venture into the outside world wearing them.
The other two pairs were bought when my knee was wrecked and they were the only thing that I could get on over the leg brace. The shame I felt when I had to go out, even to the hospital, was terrible. I'm not someone who feels it necessary to go around in expensive designer gear - I'm usually to be found dressed in jeans and t-shirt - but even I have to draw the line somewhere.
The one good thing about all this is that in a world of dull grey bleakness, people like Chrysler Chav Man do at least put a smile on my face.