Matthew Munson: Blending in – until it comes to hats and shoes

Matthew Munson Photo Thanet Writers

I’m not that clued up when it comes to fashion, I must confess; I’m a fan of fairly simple colours and styles, and get ratty if I have to spend more than a few pounds on something – charity shops for clothes are friends to me for that very reason.

I’m caught off-guard, however, by peoples’ thoughts on hats; I had a rather tough-looking gentleman approach me in King Street this morning as I walked home, specifically to compliment me on the hat I was wearing – it was red, so it was quite striking, to be fair. I stuttered a thank you, and he continued on his way quite merrily; it reminded me that I shouldn’t pre-judge someone’s personality by their appearance. Who knows what else he was like, but he was complimentary about my sartorial choices, so I wasn’t going to argue.

But fashion is such an individual thing, isn’t it? What someone likes, or thinks suits them, is entirely different to the next person, and the one after that; and to many, it just doesn’t occur to them to even consider what colour goes with what. I have a vague and dim awareness that certain colours might clash, but I’m only reminded of it if I happen to pass by a mirror and think, “Ouch, there’s too much beige going on there” or maybe even see that I’m wearing mostly stark primary colours. I prefer to blend into the background with my clothes, so too much vivid colour will undoubtedly do just the opposite.

I was talking to a pal of mine the other day, and they were astounded that I would even consider buying clothes from charity shops. It hadn’t occurred to them, I suspect. For them, buying three items from Next was entirely normal, whereas I couldn’t help but wonder how many shirts or pairs of shoes I’d have bought for the same price. That’s certainly no criticism of anyone who shops differently to me, merely an indicator of how differently we think.

One area where I am obsessed is shoes. My friends’ daughter, when I was looking after her the other day, peered into my wardrobe and declared that I “had more shoes than mummy.” Now, her mother and I have never discussed her shoe collection, or lack thereof, but perhaps the young lady was right – I’m something of a hoarder, and probably have twelve or thirteen pairs lurking around my flat. I’m not quite sure why I have such a fascination with shoes and hats, except that they offer a slight flash of colour. On that, I am willing to be flexible, and I do like to be slightly avant garde with them. Why that and nothing else? A writer’s mind is an eclectic one.

I wonder who else might feel the same – or does this leave me in a minority of one? I certainly hope not, as I like being quirky and spotting others with the same quirks; there’s often a flicker of recognition between two fellow club members. Eccentric we might be for wearing a variety of hats or a wide collection of shoes, but I accept that fully – and, to be honest, rather enjoy it.