Patrick Leigh-Pemberton: I like the cold

Pat Pat tells us about the importance, or lack there of, in picking your winter coat.

I have previously used this August organ to talk about how I like the rain, but today I will be talking about the cold. Except I won’t. I will be talking about one of the things that bothers me about prolonged bouts of cold weather, which is how a period of wrapping up warm has been warped by a few into a period of wardrobe based flagwaving.

Let me explain. Some people who wear few clothes oft use warm weather as an excuse. I am one of those people, having recently discovered the joys of wearing a wife beater (photo not needed). This, however, is nowhere near as commanding a sight as when I wear an overcoat. When I don an overcoat, the full power of my authority and gravitas, the inherent strength of my character, and the awe of my purpose immediately become more recognisable. And I am not the only person for whom this works. In fact, it works less for me than for other people (mostly because no matter what I wear, these things are obvious about me anyway, or that’s at least what I keep telling myself).

More clothes seem to cast away our vulnerability as we encase ourselves in more and more visible layers of armour. Now, I do not think that more clothes actually do this, they do not make us less vulnerable, and realistically, they do not make us anymore powerful, but they give us a little extra frontage, an extra coating of seeming respect, and this seems important to some.

Obviously, there are downsides to this. Everyone begins to wear more sombre clothes, and the town around us seems to lose its gaiety, but this all works as a setting for the all-new season of power dressing that is beginning. Fashion, as anyone will tell you, is a big thing in St Andrews. I have covered this issue many times before, because it is obviously such an important part of our identity as students to worry about what clothes we should wear and try and appease our peers by using cheap (I wish) tricks such as big coats. But watch out, because it all starts now.

The most obvious downside to this all is that some people don’t have the right coats. I most certainly do not, because wonderfully warm as they are, they were either made for my grandfather or my mother, both incredibly stylish people in their own rights and times, but dangerously dated and feminine (my mother’s) now. I wear them because they serve the purpose of keeping me warm, but some people will be bringing out the big guns. Coats that also serve the purpose of actually making you seem more important (rather than coats which allow your well developed egotism to think you seem more important), and in this weird generation of students that are more likely to recognise Cashmere than Kashmiri, this can only be another way in which some people will try to ram home the artificial hierarchy of clothes. So get out of their little trap, buy a bright pink parka, and have a cheerful colourful winter without worrying what they got.