Since I retired I have adopted a rather relaxed dress code. The bespoke suits and shirts, the Zegna ties, they all remain in the wardrobe but rarely see the light of day. I dress as I feel comfortable and the approach to shaving is similar. I can scrub up decently enough under duress. My DJ still fits and I can, as you all know, still tie a proper bow tie. In Europe the ‘understated’ dress code I adopted proved rather interesting.
I think it is fair to see that Mrs. Ha picked decent hotels for our trip and we flew at the front on all legs. The hotel staff seemed somewhat taken aback at my attire, especially as Mrs. Ha looks immaculate even when she thinks she is dressing down to my level. Women can accessorize (I think that is the right word). My accessories were all photographic. At the check in for our flight from Venice to Doha the Qatar Air lady saw us queuing in the line signposted ‘Business Class’, walked across to me and asked if I really was a holder of a valid business class ticket. I decided to eschew my normal diplomatic approach and asked her outright if I did not look good enough to fly business class. She went red and hastened to assure me that she had not intended to suggest such a thing. Nevertheless it was clear that hotel staff were also baffled by the apparent conflict between the tramp and the ability to pay the bills. I am happy to relate that they ultimately were more interested in my money than my unshaven appearance. As long as I sat quietly in the corner.
So what is the dress code in Venice? Here are two ends of the spectrum: Dress down…..
And the more elegant look:
I was somewhere in between. It is a sad fact for me however that Continental European Man generally seems to find looking elegant a natural way of life. Only the Swiss and some Germans let the side down with their penchant for white socks. This is a gross act of indecency that goes beyond wearing brown shoes with a dark blue suit. One of my boyhood heroes, Phil Bennett, lost his lustre when he turned up to a pre-Lions tour rugby dinner (I was at his table) in what he euphemistically termed a ‘tan’ suit and shoes. Martin Bayfield put him firmly in his place by quipping “we may not have a Grand Slam but at least we know how to dress for dinner”.
So having extended my reach to art critic I may soon have to consider a role as a fashion correspondent. After all, even in my shorts and T-shirt I still sported my panama each day and its hard to look down on a man wearing a panama. I shall be happy to answer any questions you may have on what to wear but you follow my advice at your own risk.
And here (on the right) to finish off is what I think I shall wear when I go to my next board meeting.