Cor­byn’s worst pol­icy? Re­viv­ing the shell­suit!

Daily Mail - - Life - by Jane Fryer

SIR CLIFF favoured geo­met­ric multi-colours. Tony Ben­nett still wears his with gold jew­ellery. fidel Cas­tro has worn noth­ing else since 2006. And David Icke chose a lurid turquoise num­ber in which to an­nounce, on Wo­gan in 1991, that he was the son of God.

It’s safe to say that shell­suits have never, ever, been cool — at least not for very long. Even dur­ing the Eight­ies, when you couldn’t see for highly flammable polyester and El­ton John, rod Ste­wart, Paul Gas­coigne and half the cast of Brook­side wore them day and night.

They were ridiculed by Ali G, dis­missed as ‘chav leisure wear’ and were the world’s great­est fash­ion dis­as­ter of all time — nar­rowly beat­ing the mul­let hair­cut for breath-tak­ing aw­ful­ness.

So when Jeremy Cor­byn stepped out boldly — not just once, but sev­eral times over the past month — in an ex­tra­or­di­nary grey (or should we call it pewter?) Wil­son shell­suit, com­plete with ny­lon sheen, enough baggy ma­te­rial to clothe a small con­stituency and cherry red go- faster flashes to match his smart red raleigh push bike, he caused quite a stir.

Per­haps he’d seen the por­ten­tous an­nounce­ment on the web­site Vogue.com in Septem­ber: ‘The track­suit is back!’

Ei­ther way, the Twit­ter­sphere went mad. The in­ter­net was swamped with pic­tures of Cor­byn’s ‘vin­tage’ Wil­son, a renowned fash­ion brand most as­so­ci­ated with ten­nis. Ev­ery­one wanted to know where he’d got it. How long he’d had it. Was he wear­ing it for a dare? Was his sar­to­rial style slip­ping un­der the strain of all that nasty Syria busi­ness?

More wor­ry­ing, some com­men­ta­tors mis­took Jezza’s shiny two- piece for ‘ just a track­suit’. Heaven for­bid.

A track­suit is some­thing you might ac­tu­ally find an ath­lete in, and is oc­ca­sion­ally even made of nat­u­ral fi­bres.

Whereas a shell­suit is tra­di­tion­ally made of a re­ally nasty mix of cel­lu­lose tri­ac­etate and polyester, pos­si­bly in a Chi­nese sweat shop — not some­thing Jezza should ap­prove of — and usu­ally sports a gar­ish geo­met­ric design of some sort. It’s also shiny on the out­side and un­com­fort­ably elec­tric- shocky on the in­side against your skin.

On the up­side, shell­suits are won­der­fully prac­ti­cal — all those zip pock­ets, plus a nice elas­ti­cated waist and cuffs to al­low for that third Cor­nish Pasty. Not for­get­ting, ma­chine wash­able, dripdry, no-iron, and shower-proof.

And so much com­fier (if you have a nice old T-shirt be­tween the suit and your skin) than all that hor­rid white tie stuff the Queen likes so much, and which the Labour leader reluc­tantly climbed into for a state din­ner last month. And just the job if you’re fac­ing a stress­ful by­elec­tion on Thurs­day and find the sound of rustling polyester strangely sooth­ing.

Next April, syn­thetic two-piece out­fits will have a place in a new ex­hi­bi­tion at the Vic­to­ria & Al­bert Mu­seum in Lon­don fea­tur­ing loungewear and ‘leisurewear’.

No doubt there will be high- minded spiel about how the first track­suits were made from wool in the Twen­ties, but that syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als were adopted af­ter Nasa de­vel­oped them for use in boiler suits. They were at least used for sport un­til they be­came day­wear in the Seven­ties and Eight­ies.

So, back to Jezza’s own shell­suit. Is it the real deal? Is it au­then­tic vin­tage? How long has he had it? Was it part of the orig­i­nal Eight­ies mo­tor­cy­cling get-up which helped woo Diane Ab­bott all those years ago?

Who knows? But what is cer­tain is that the minute Cor­byn walked out in his Wil­son, head held high and hands deep in those vast ny­lon pock­ets, all those ea­ger young Cor­bynistas will have rushed to their lap­tops to log onto eBay to try to buy their own.

So, be­fore we know it, shell­suits (even the polyester kind) will be back in fash­ion again.

Which will of course be won­der­fully com­fort­able. Just so long as we steer clear of can­dles, sparklers, bon­fires, cig­a­rettes and, well, any­thing vaguely hot.

Was it the orig­i­nal out­fit he wore to woo Diane Ab­bott?

Shell shock­ers, clock­wise from above: Jeremy Cor­byn, David Icke, Sir El­ton John, Paul Gas­coigne, James Cor­den, Tony Ben­nett and ex-Cuban Pres­i­dent Fidel Cas­tro

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