Style in the New Economy

Good morning comrades!

Well today is the start of a new era, with the return to a state-managed economy and the final, petering-out swawk of Thatcherism. Now if this sounds a little like overstatement, just consider: by the end of today, it is likely that the banking system of Britain will be committed to becoming state-controlled and state-backed. Politically it isn’t possible to pour such unheard-of amounts of money into banks without ensuring that the Chief Investor (the State) has control over its investment. It appears that over the weekend, even those countries which appeared to balk at this step, have been forced to fall largely into line with the actions of Britain. Comrades Brown and Darling have their political stars in the ascendent, internationally and domestically. In terms of economic theory, as it pertains to Western democracies, Capitalism has bowed to inevitability of Socialism rather than face a total meltdown of the world financial system.

Now I’m aware that there are a lot of people out there, not least those working in the City of London, who were born after the year 1979. (Historical note: this was when Margaret Thatcher‘s government was elected to power in Britain). The New Order which has emerged in the past week might leave many younger adults culturally and stylistically at something of a loss as to how to present themselves in the economic environment our New People’s Republics (of Britain, USA, etc…) So, some words from an Old Lag on these pages will, no doubt, help as people get up and dressed for their work this morning.

Your Dress Code

In the bin needs to go your natty suit, Italian-styled jacket, soft-leather booties or shoes, white shirt and silk tie. Embrace neo-Punk.  What need is the following (and today’s stock-traders may wish to take note of the companies who will be called upon to supply the new People’s Uniform):

  1. Trousers (US: Pants) — Black or dark blue drainpipe jeans with definite signs of wear, ideally turned up at the ankles to about mid-calf length
  2. Tee-shirt — Either Che Guevara, Anarchy in the UK, or something with a quote by Ginsberg or Marx, unwashed and definitely un-ironed, over the top of which you should wear…
  3. Woollen jumper — ideally knitted by your mum, gran, or aunt, with cigarette-burns, unravelling at the cuffs and elongated in length (to just below the crotch) through washing many times on unsympathetic wash-cycles **without fabric conditioner**: hard water is better than soft, giving that true Hammersmith Palais look. Should have the texture of cardboard.
  4. UnderwearY-fronts: the older the better, if you must wash it every day, don’t make a point of telling anyone
  5. ESSENTIAL — Doc Martin 1460 8-hole boots *in black only*
  6. ESSENTIAL — a Donkey Jacket, as worn by true comrades on picket lines in the golden years

With your donkey jacket on, you will look sufficiently a part of the New Lumpen Proletariat to do some hot deals in the trading rooms today.

Your Accessories

With the turn of history’s wheel, you will need to completely re-evaluate all the other items you may have got used to carrying about with you. There’s an immediate problem here with electronic items which were produced by the old capitalist economy. The New Socialism is emphatically not anti-technology, but some rethink on the effete stylistic elements which had grown up in the era of the fat cats…

Take, for example, your iPod™. If anything symbolized the era of unrestrained individualistic capitalism, it was this little box. So as of today, you should rebrand it a statePod. In addition, you need to get rid of those wussy white earplugs. This change may be more difficult to manage than most, as all options were designed to be either discreet or linked to the capitalist style economy.  But a careful look up on internet army-surplus sites should produce the right kind of replacement:



Of course, you will also have to do a major replacement of your listening tastes (partly because the sound isolation of the cans above is such that everyone will hear what you’re listening to). Delete all that Lounge, RnB, Ambient and NuJazz. In comes anything recorded in Britain between the years 1976 (the arrival of Punk) and 1981. Essential listening as you get out of the underground and walk to your dealing room is London’s Burning (The Clash), Ghost Town (The Specials), and, probably most appropriate of all: Babylon’s Burning (The Ruts).

Your Politics

Of course, the ability of political parties to weather economic changes and to completely re-invent themselves for new circumstances is nothing new. At the moment Gordon Brown is safer as Labour leader (and possibly as Prime Minister) than he’s ever been. So the Conservative Party needs to do some serious re-alignment for the new Socialist Order. This won’t be too difficult after turning into New Labour just a couple of years ago. This new change obviously means dumping David Cameron and making a truly inspired and innovative leadership appointment for the New Political Era.

Tory Leader: Yesterday’s man …

Tory Leader: an Inspired Choice for the New Era …

Your investments:

National Savings Certificates
Doctor Martens
Army Surplus Stores

Your Charitable Giving

Just because you’ve just lost 55% of the value of someone’s investment portfolio and will never see a personal bonus again in this life-time, that doesn’t mean that there’s any excuse to be ungenerous in this new economic era. There will inevitably be some time-lag before the State manages to take control of all aspects of social security, so consider, particularly those causes which may have fallen through the grid (or who had invested in Icelandic banks), especially those who are presently facing a greater-than-usual number of calls for their help at this difficult time; for example, the Fat Feline Protection League.


Well, that’s a start. Now you know how to roll up to work, (with a copy of the Financial Times cautiously wrapped-up inside a copy of the Socialist Worker ) without suffering stylistic death. But this is only a survival guide. There is now ample opportunity for other old geezers to offer further stylistic advice in the comments below to help our younger colleagues to survive stylistically in the New Keynesian era. Over to you …

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7 replies on “Style in the New Economy”

  1. Personally, I am expecting a comeback for the V-neck cardigan amongst managerial types, especially as even the richest companies won’t be able to afford to heat their executive offices above 16C.

    Cunning audiophiles will be buying headphones from Grado Labs, which have the right 1950’s look but sound great. Still no sound isolation mind you.

    Finally, those like myself who remember Red Wedge will be mortified that you left Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and The Communards off your recommended music list.

  2. Paul – brilliant! And amid the humour you make one point that rings some bells with me.

    It relates to music. I’m a child of the 80s, and worked in the City in the late 90s. So that whole Thatcherite version of finance is all I’ve ever known, and a return to the pre-79 model is a total reversal of everything. Not that this is a bad thing – at all. In fact I’m in favour, and exhilerated at the prospect. Even so, it’s a huge change and completely alien.

    Music reflects the spirit of the age. Today’s music – at least the kinds you cite, which are certainly those that I associate with City workers – is amorphous pap with no soul or substance. I’ve been taking trips back to the 76-81 era ever since about 2000.

    So if the change to the City means replacing the ethos of lounge music with that of the Clash and the Ruts, which is the cultural stuff that’s “home” to me already, then there’s nothing to fear. This situation can’t be as alarming as all that. Back then the music meant something – and if our economic culture were to get back in line with the one that produced those sounds – then we’ll be just fine.

  3. Great post! I found the statepod comment particularly interesting/amusing. I’ve developed a strange aversion to Lindsey buying me an Ipod for Christmas (previously this would have been an ideal present!). Perhaps it’s just a symptom of the new order of things. But how will I get a statepod?! Will the State issue me one?

  4. Oh, it’s fine for Lindsey to buy you one, provided that you inscribe “OHMS” or “HM Govt Issue” on the side of it. It then, therefore, becomes a statePod. (Of course, by the time Lindsay has paid the tax on it, it will be a statePod anyway as she’ll be forced to sell shares in it to the state to pay said tax.)

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