This pains me to write, I cringe in depths of embarrassment I never thought I would delve to, never in the history of mankind has there ever been a bigger fashion crime committed upon an entire country’s population than…
The shell suit.
I had several.
There, I’ve said it.
Its my cousins fault, the one who is occasionally seen on TV these days, the one who is always seen on the weekly pages of shite womens magazines, they wouldn’t be so keen to pay to use his image if they knew what crimes of fashion he once was guilty of, for he was a dealer of the shell suit.
1992 was the peak year for the shell suit…
You don’t know what a shell suit is/was ?
Then I must tell you for a nation which ignores or worse still tries to edit out parts of its history is doomed to repeat it and for the sake of God we do not need to repeat the shell suit.
There was a time, many, many decades prior to this time when only athletes wore what was known as “track suits”, they wore them over the top of their sporting kit in order to keep warm or dry before their competition started and generally they were made of a warm towelling or fleece lined man-made material which had a stiff outer coating to protect from the wind and rain, they had elasticated cuffs on leg and arms with zips on the bottom legs so that you could pull the trousers off over the top of running shoes or football boots, they were made by Adidas and you never wore one unless you were a competitive sports person.
Then in 1986 whilst on holiday in Benidorm we noticed more portly people wearing soft fleecy brightly coloured track suits many of which advertised cigarette company’s, they were being sold cheaply on market stalls by the shifty, greasy looking people known as “Gypsies” by the local Spanish people, they didn’t trust them and neither did we but we paid them a few pesetas and we came home with our cigarette branded soft leisure clothing and we thought we looked like right bobby dazzlers, in truth we looked like wanna-be athletes who had eaten too much, the sort of athlete who’s experience of athletics was of wearing the clothing, period.
That fashion trend trended for a few months that year until people realised how ridiculous you looked when wearing athletic gear whilst being distinctly un-athletic in appearance, but half a dozen or so years later the fashion returned, bigger, better, and even more pathetic, for this time nylon was involved.
The nylon shell suit relied upon utilising batches of the brightly coloured shiny material and the track suit design of matching zippered jacket, baggy elasticated pants, elastic cuffs and zippered legs and this time around we all convinced ourselves that we did not indeed look ridiculous, but instead looked absolutely the dogs bollocks whilst dressed in a shiny, ill-fitting casual suit in colour combinations that had previously only been experienced during explosions in paint mixing machinery and the factory that had briefly employed blind people as colour coordinating designers.
My cousin, the aforementioned now famous cousin who appears in shite-mags most every week, was in his pre-famous days at this stage, the days when gigs were few and far between and the only income he had was from selling stuff, any stuff, he once made a good living from selling artificial arms complete with shirt sleeves to tie to the boot lid of your car so it looked as if someone was stuck inside your boot trying to get out, yes, he was responsible for that craze in the 1980s.
He called to our house one day with a huge pile of brightly coloured nylon clothing wrapped in polythene, “Do you know anyone who wants a shell suit ?” he asked, clearly believing that myself and my new wife weren’t quite trendy enough to clad ourself in trendy brightly coloured nylon and pretend that we were athletes.
We bought the lot.
And worse still, we wore them all whenever the opportunity to go outdoors and look trendy and athletic raised its ugly head.
We went to Centre Parcs with our shell suits and so did everyone else, Centre Parcs that year looked like a horrible experiment in bad taste, like a Picasso painting come to life, browns coordinated with light blues, maroon and lime green, diagonal stripes of random highly coloured nylon like a camouflage experiment gone wrong, and we all sparked, every time you brushed against someone one or both would get a terrible static electric shock so that people started to trail copper straps behind themselves for better earthing.
Then, as quickly as it started the shell suit trend stopped, as suddenly as that, overnight, people awoke the next morning, looked in their wardrobes and actually yelled out loud “What the fook was I thinking ?”, holding their head in their hands they moaned to each other “You didn’t let me go to the shops dressed in THAT did you ?”, except in Liverpool, where of course it is still the dizzy height of fashion to wear nylon in random dayglo combinations, with the trouser bottoms tucked into your white sports socks.