Even if his face had not been familiar, Michael Gove would still have attracted attention on his clubbing adventure in Aberdeen for one particular reason – he was wearing a suit.
The hoi polloi at his nightspot of choice must have thought they had taken too many pills – legal, of course – as they watched him hit the dancefloor like some demented dad at a wedding and wondered if they were hallucinating.
Pictures informed us that Mr Gove’s acquaintance with the casual look came in the form of removing his tie as he attempted to paint the town red rather than the blue favoured by his political party.
Suits, as worn by politicians and funeral-goers, are being bought in ever decreasing numbers, with suppliers now selling jackets and trousers as separate entities, breaking up the traditional two-piece.
Suit jackets are referred to by retailers as blazers, pinching the name from that traditional garment, once the mode of dress for golf club captains and bowling club committee members, and often weighed down by enamel-badge ironmongery.
Big decisions for young men
Men of a certain vintage will recall buying their first suit. Indeed many, like me, went for the made to measure variety, as there were several tailors in high streets up and down the country where salesmen with measuring tapes around their necks stood ready to examine your inside leg.
Burton’s, Claude Alexander and my favourite, Jackson the Tailor – I was influenced by two older brothers – were popular destinations for young men keen to look the part, although sometimes mistakes were made in a choice of material; too bright, too dark, too stripy or enough loud checks to give passersby a headache.
Marks & Spencer, once popular with suit buyers, now stock them in only 110 of their 254 clothing stores
The dapper man with the tape – they were always impeccably dressed – would shout measurements to an assistant, pen and paper at the ready. Trousers touching the shoe or longer, sir? Width of the trouser at the bottom of the leg? One vent, two or none at all on the jacket? Sleeve a little shorter to show shirt cuffs? Big decisions had to be made by young men still finding their way in the world.
Alas, suit sales have slumped as we go casual and carefree in our dress. Marks & Spencer, once popular with suit buyers, now stock them in only 110 of their 254 clothing stores, for example, as the need to dress formally diminishes. Unless you’re Michael Gove thinking he’s John Travolta above an Aberdeen city centre pub and auditioning for the Masked Dancer.