I wore only Jack Wills for a week and everyone hated me

I felt like I was in Year Nine all over again


Before we start, for those unaware of the pastel-clothing behemoth, cutesy in a vomity way, I’ll catch you up to speed with the world of JW.

Supposedly inspired by “traditional British wear”, Jack Wills acted as an alternate uniform at my school and many others every time mufti day came around. Designed for kids with a lack of imagination and individualism, catalysed by moronic parents spaffing money on £50 t-shirts that their sprogs will have grown out of in 6 months.

An army of preppy soldiers emblazoned with “Jack Wills”, “Wills”, or the even more imaginative “JW” was forged.

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Luckily, about 83 per cent of the boys at my pleasantly lovely private school were called Will or Jack, saving their au pairs many hours putting name-tags in clothes. I can’t remember if I had made a conscious choice not to buy into the fad or whether the thought of asking my mum for a wad of notes just to buy T-shirts and hoodies terrified me senseless.

This experiment, wearing nothing but the “Fabulously British” brand for a week, would offer me the chance to see if I’d missed out on anything back in the haute couture days of year 9, and see whether it was indeed the perfect accompaniment to a time when nob jokes and bullying were still all the rage.

Walking downstairs on the first day of my transformation, my housemates said that the new look was deeply unsettling – a wonderful confirmation that I had luckily fallen on the righteous side of teenage fashion history. The element of surprise may have been ruined slightly by my plea on Facebook to borrow any Jack Wills for the purposes of this experiment, but concerned friends still seemed shocked and appalled at my fashion choices, worried that I had actually decided to follow through with it.

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In total I had managed to track down a rather uninspiring collection of clobber. A T-shirt and a pair of cotton shorts, described as “lazywear” on their website, from my housemate, as well as a zip-up hoodie from my 17-year old brother. It didn’t look like a Jack Wills shop had thrown up on me, but the danger of vomit from yours truly was very present throughout the entire process.

I felt comfier in a better quality of fabric than usual, but the shame and the disapproving looks were not worth it. Everywhere I went I could notice people clocking the atrocious T-shirt that I had surrendered myself to wearing. Now I know what it feels like to have two heads, or to have a really massive dog that you regularly take for walkies.

I have been judged for many things in my time but my wardrobe, filled with greys, blues and blacks, has always looked like it has been picked out by a cataracts-inflicted Alan Hansen and subsequently avoided judgement. Honestly, I’ve never felt worse about myself than when I was spending time in those clothes.

One night, I braved wearing the t-shirt out to a club. I feared that the shorts were a step too far if I was to be allowed in. I went into a bar beforehand packed with people that I knew, watching as they greeted me smiling, before their head and mouth turned downwards to look at the abomination that was protecting the public from my torso.

With the looks I was receiving being out on the town looking “blates Wills”, I might as well have gone naked – I probably would have received less dirty looks.

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Upon arriving at the club, I immediately staked the place out for the club photographer. “What better for the article…” I thought, “…than a club photo with a bunch of people looking in disdain at me and my choice of vetements. Maybe one of them could even pretend to be retching in the corner.”

The photographer must have gotten wind of what I was planning to unleash upon him and despite my search I couldn’t find him all night.

Refusing to be beaten, I promised myself that I would get a photo to prove that I wore Jack Wills on a night out. Leaving it until the final embers of the night, I managed to snap a quick one just before turning in for the night. Needless to say my one night stand* wasn’t too impressed.

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I admit, I didn’t manage a complete week solely encased in “JW”. In the middle of my “Wills Week”, my college were playing in the cup final. I could not pull on my floral second skin and stand alongside my peers. I needed to wear something that made me human.

That made me fit in, but not look and feel like a dick. It was all too much. In the end we lost the match. Maybe it was a curse put on me by whoever the real Jack Wills is. I wish I could say that I religiously subscribed to the middle-class circus that is Jack Wills, but I couldn’t bring myself to be that masochistic.

Only when reminded by my housemates of the challenge that I had undertaken would I slink back to my room and sulkily re-emerge wearing my finely tailored chains.

The one thing that I couldn’t escape throughout the week was the reinforcement that Jack Wills is the “basic” clothing brand. That’s what makes it so irksome. The obscene obviousness of their clothing makes you feel unsophisticated. You can see it in other people’s eyes when they talk to you, they’re amazed when you manage to put a coherent sentence together.

I’m thankful for my week wearing clothes outside of my taste and financial bracket but I think I’ll stick to my usual “did-he-get-dressed-in-the-dark” collection. At least that encourages pity instead of annoyance and rage.

*girlfriend who wishes to put as much distance between herself and my new found exhibitionist tendencies for the sake of “journalism”