Buttoned-Up: The East London Line (Penguin Underground Lines)
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Still feel bad about it. GJ: Can you remember the clothes you were wearing at the time? NT: I had a white tank top that I got from my mother – this sleeveless knitted top with a high round neck. You’re too young to remember this, but it was a very tank-toppy period. I’d wear it over a white shirt, buttoned up, and white Oxford trousers. GJ: Why did you button up your shirts? NT: I like functionality. There’s a top button, so why not use it? Also, an open shirt is just too casual. It’s not me.
We started doing disguises and costumes when… Well, I would say we always did a bit of costume. Even the long black linen coat was a costume, you know? I wouldn’t have worn that on the street. If I had worn that in public I would think that I was trying to look like me. That coat was in two videos, so we got our money’s worth out of it, but otherwise I wouldn’t wear it. GJ: Do you make sure you’re properly dressed whenever you pop out to get a pint of milk, just in case somebody would spot you?
white shirt, no tie. Maybe it’s a religious thing? Also, a shirt that’s unbuttoned reminds me of the ’60s and ’70s when people were showing off their hairy chests and gold chains. I don’t know… I think you also have to have the right neck to do things like that. GJ: You’re saying the act of buttoning up also has its physical roots? NT: Of course. If I had a thick neck we’d be having a completely different conversation. Dior Homme by Hedi Slimane, Spring 2007 campaign, photographed by Hedi
Children’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Scene’ and ‘Desdemona’ simmered with a spontaneous combustibility that was uniquely English, rooted in the characteristic native psychology of neurotic uptightness and lashing-out rage. With this came a deliberately unrelaxed, non-casual mode of dress that crystallized something essential about mod: the buttoned-up look. (‘Buttoned up’, or its equivalent ‘bottled up’, could almost be the definition of Englishness.) It’s a fashion move that involves the fastening