It’s chic...but only as parents know it

COMMENT: University has to prove it offers value for money

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Icaught a glimpse of myself in the mirror yesterday and pondered ‘Who is this beast that looks like he dresses himself from a skip?’

As a man who is perilously close to being 40, it’s only fair that I blame someone else for my shabby appearance, so I’m going to blame my children.

Looking back through milk-spattered, rose-tinted spectacles, I used to look pretty smart and I actually cared about my appearance.

My dad comes from a military background and always instilled in my brother and I that we should look smart and respectful when stepping out. Clean shoes, an ironed shirt and tidy trousers were essential.

For years I bought into this mantra and sneered at men who looked like they’d been sleeping in their shirt, or whose trousers would sway around at mid-calf revealing an odd pair of novelty socks.

As with most of life’s cycles, the sneer-er has eventually become the sneered.

I’ve never been a style icon, but I did try and more importantly, I cared. Although, I can actually pin point the exact moment when it all changed.

Just over five years ago, my daughter Molly was born and I was sent into a fashion tailspin. When she was about eight months old, I remember lovingly bouncing her on my lap and (as per usual) she coughed up some milk and then dragged her slimey hooter across my chest leaving a glistening snail trail. And do you know what I did at that pivotal moment? Absolutely nothing.

Previously I would have leapt up and grabbed a tissue or muslin and daubed myself down, or even pushed the boat out and actually changed the jumper. But, at that very moment like a defeated bloodied boxer on his knees holding on to the top rope, bleary eyed, listening to the referee count me out – I just gave up.

It was over for me, it was a battle I knew I couldn’t win. One hour later, I was walking around the Co-Op in Fawcett Road in the afore-mentioned garment, badges of honour splashed across my chest. Shoppers were looking me up and down, questioning the consistency of my spillages and my state of mind. I couldn’t have cared less – I was a new parent clutching at my own survival, a splattered and soiled pullover didn’t even register on my radar.

Five years, two new jumpers and one additional child later and it’s the same deal, I dress like a man who is preparing for the worst. When I buy clothes, I’ll actually opt for outfits that can camouflage muck .

Hang on… I might have stumbled across a fashion line that hasn’t been exploited yet?

For the adult who has abandoned hope, try…Worzel Gummidge Chic.