Ask Hadley: Bandanas and men's sandals

Hadley Freeman: This week I'll be attending both Mark Knopfler and Bruce Springsteen concerts. Surely it is time to break out a bandana?

This week I'll be attending both Mark Knopfler and Bruce Springsteen concerts. Surely it is time to break out a bandana? And would this fashion amnesty extend to a patched denim jacket, despite your recent column banning them?
Laurence Mackin, Dublin

It's interesting, this popular idea that a certain occasion will suddenly render something that was heretofore verboten quite the dernier cri. There was an interesting example of this in a far inferior newspaper recently in which it was stated, without any suggestion of either irony or sarcasm, that, because the Indiana Jones machine was wearily creaking its overly franchised bones into cinemas this week, the aged archaeologist's leather jacket is "back".

This raises an obvious question and that question is: "Why not the whip?" Personally, I'd be quite taken with the sight of a bus packed with men brandishing whips. Or how about naming yourself after your dog, as Indiana did? There are just so many trends this film could start that restricting it to just a poxy leather jacket seems so unimaginative.

Personally, I have never really got this shtick. Getting suckered by subliminal advertising is one thing. But to actively try to dress up as someone, in such an obvious manner, what is that about? Is it to show your allegiance? Or a secretly harboured belief that perhaps your idol will see you and they will recognise a kindred soul and invite you into their limo? Very sweet, I'm sure.

But let's not kid ourselves that this is about style. It's about playing make-believe. And seeing as we're in the world of fantasy, we can all pretend that the bandana and the denim jacket don't make you resemble an 80s throwback. Anyway, as you'll be Dancing in the Dark, no one but you will know that you're not exactly the Sultan of Swing. OK, that totally didn't work, but you gave me Knopfler and I can only work with the materials I have.

My boyfriend complains that it's unfair that women can get their toes out at work while men cannot. What's your view on mens' sandals in the workplace?
CT, by email

You're both right - it is unfair, but so it goes. Look, boyfriend-of-CT: your feet are ugly. Don't feel too bad about it, though, because all men's feet are ugly. But compared to the hoiking and the cramming and the squashing that women's feet endure on a daily basis, being ordered to keep covered seems pretty small potatoes to me.

To quote that inexhaustible fount of wisdom, the 1987 film The Princess Bride, life is pain, and anyone who says differently is selling something. And here at the Guardian, even in the fashion section, we are far too right-on and leftwing to try to sell anyone anything other than the truth, goddammit.

Why is Cherie Blair so fond of pastels?
Robert Franklin, by email

Aw, poor Cherie. She is just a simple northern lass, you know? Of course you know, because she hastens to remind you EVERY OTHER SINGLE SENTENCE in her flipping book, generally in between yet another reference to her £3.5m house or her and Tony's favourite sexual positions.

I strongly suspect the blame for the pastel can be laid at Carole Caplin's yogic feet. Any woman who claims to sleep next to a bowl of water and eucalyptus drops, as Caplin proudly does, is almost certainly a firm believer in the importance of colours. "Darling," one can imagine her saying to her beloved Cherie with a beatific smile and a swish of her brunette mane, "always wear pastels. Pastels are from the moon family and they will instil a sense of peace and trust in all who look upon you." "Oh yes, of course, the moon family!" squeaks our lady QC. "It's so obvious. I wonder if I can get my robe re-dyed in a soft turquoise?" And with that, Caplin dips her head in calm satisfaction, like the Dalai Lama after a particularly satisfying meeting with Richard Gere.

But the sight of Cherie in her pale pink trouser suit on Lorraine Kelly's sofa last week was not an edifying one. It looked, instead, like a grating attempt to appear "soft" and "feminine", because that's the look Lorraine's lady viewers like. Pastels are the last recourse of a woman whose idea of femininity involves heart- shaped accessories and marabou scarves. The overall effect on Cherie is that it made her look both desperate and uncomfortable, like someone stumbling to speak a foreign language - "Oh this is how girls are supposed to dress," that pink suit all but vocalised. Indeed it is. If those girls are five years old.


Hadley Freeman

The GuardianTramp

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