WHAT WE WORE.
By Paul Comrie | May 11, 2018
The Man Who Wore Those Clothes.
This morning at House 17 in the library Nic and I discussed how he used to dress in The City in 1983, 1990 and 1996.
There was the issue with the clothing, the brands he wore and what things cost at the time. And, as ever, pricing is important because there is the actual value and then there is its purchasing power.
“A pair of Church’s shoes was £100 in 1983. Must be three or four times that amount now. But if I had done it right, I could have never bought another pair of shoes for the rest of my life.”
Facts, Figures and Looks:
Let’s start with dressing my character – what Nic would have looked like in The City in the 1980s.
A note about the figures. We’ve tried to calculate what something was worth technically and what it could be worth figuratively, or how much purchasing power it could exert in today’s terms. For example, in 1985 £500 was technically worth £1,050 by 2018 standards. But that doesn’t quite compute. Let’s put it into context – let’s find the drama.
In 1985 the average earnings in the UK were £8k per year.
In 1980s a London a broker could earn a £50k in salary alone – more than five to six times the average pay packet. Their clothing on any given day could be the equivalent of six months’ wages for the average person! The figures grow even faster after that.
By 1990, the average pay had only gone up to £13k, whereas Nic had now doubled his money and was earning a £100k salary, not counting dividends or bonus or stock options.
These types of figures give us a realistic understanding of just how outrageous the income disparity was. And it was what allowed these men to dress as outlandishly as gangsters and aristocrats.
The story about Nic’s first Hugo Boss suit at Royal Ascot in 1983:
£500 suit in 1983 would be worth somewhere between £3-5000 in today’s money. This was when Nic first started wearing Hugo Boss. It was grey Prince of Wales check, with a very feint pink line running through the cloth. It was two buttons, single breasted. Double breasted blue blazers, white shirt, grey trousers which you could wear casually were another staple at that time.
He had another grey double breasted suit from Reiss, London, from their shop on the King’s Road.
Nic remembers the first time he wore it out:
“I wore it to Royal Ascot Races. Went to the races with a lot of my mates. Some of them were quite scruffy. I went there with a new suit. We went there, had lunch at the Bery Stede Hotel. This was kind of leafy, suburban, like Surrey, big detached houses. We were all standing up having drinks, must have been 6 pm at night, June. Third week of June maybe?
We’re standing up on the drinks terrace, mucking around. Been gambling all day, most of us have pockets full of money. If you’ve had a good day. I said to someone, ‘I’ll give you £500 if you’ll go jump in the pool fully clothed.’ I say that to Enrico, the Italian guy. He doesn’t do it. So I decided to do it myself. So I take the bet myself. If you want a job done you’ll have to start doing it yourself. A lot of noise goes on as people begin to realise that I’m up to something; I jump into the pool fully clothed. My sunglasses were on. My sunglasses went down to the bottom of the pool, new Raybans. Enrico, the Italian guy, who is wearing all his clothes says, ‘Don’t worry Nicky, I’ll help you out,’ takes off all his clothes: carefully takes his jacket off, folded his trousers, hung his jacket over the chair, he might have been fucking naked, dives to the bottom of the pool, retrieves my sunglasses, casually goes back to his suit, walks back up to us.
I’m standing there soaked, dripping, and Enrico hands me back my glasses. The bystanders give him a standing ovation.”
I think that’s a story I can work with. We have the brands we’ve associated with the event as well. We’ve listed them below. They’ll be useful later on.
- Hugo Boss
- Rothman’s Cigarettes
- Gold Dunhill lighter
- American Express Card
More on this later next week as we begin assembling the world the character was in. Bye for now.