A critic of mine, eavesdropping on a conversation I was having with a colleague, smiled wryly across the table as she uttered the utterly unanswerable; ‘Why do you criticise people so much?’ Few awkward silences have matched what followed; it was a terse remark, warranted but strangely alien to the spirit of discussion. After ponderous finger drumming, cheek reddening and forced smiles I offered the deadpan and rather gauche riposte; ‘Because I am dissatisfied.’ I was aiming for self-deprecation and humility, instead the response was taken for arrogance, resulting in a tirade of high-horsed sermonising, my own social debasement and a singularly surprising attack on, what was considered, ‘a bourgeois sense of self-importance.’
As it happens, I dispense neither criticism nor advice out of any conscious feeling of superiority or grandeur. My advice is simply rather honest, and it is difficult to keep criticism out of the largest chunks of my conversation; the danger of thinking is always that your view, or at the very least the simple fact that you possess an alternative argument, is likely to upset others. For example, in criticising openly the actions, attitude or apparel of a group, you alienate yourself from sympathisers or followers of that group, whilst gaining stronger support from those of a similar mind. The trade-off is probably equal, but actually disappointing: I always hope that my advice, sometimes keenly sought, does a varying amount of good rather than any degree of harm.
I have been harvesting information on the subject of sunglasses, of seasonal interest to many, that follows on from the article I composed on the Aviator and Wayfarer models of sunglasses almost two years ago. Whilst I remain adamant that these two models of glasses, so widely available (and widely worn), are simply the finest designs available to purchase, I believe it is important to offer more to readers than a simple escort in the direction of a Ray Ban boutique. For one thing, the immense popularity of these glasses does render them slightly commonplace: the Louis Vuitton Theory of availability and popularity dictates that even price is not a sufficient barrier to ubiquity. Commonplace items can be instantly unappealing, no matter how brilliant they may be; if Apple are to conduct any further research on the appeal of their iPhone, they would undoubtedly discover a number of people unwilling to purchase the product due to the simple fact that they detest using the same product as Tom, Dick and Harry.
Whilst some men possess more than one pair of sunglasses, using the different models on different occasions, many men are only willing to purchase one pair. Unless you happen to be a person who requires sunglasses for sport, do not purchase wrap-around mirrored bug-eyes of the Oakley variety; they are extraordinarily unattractive and, to my eye, offensively, overtly and aggressively ‘sci-fi’ – there is nothing of the elegant or the beautiful about them. They lack both character and charm.
The best glasses to purchase should you only be willing to purchase that one pair should be practical but suitable for all occasions; the Wayfarers, as mentioned previously, are wonderful in this regard but if looking for something a little more recherché, Persol manufacture attractive and versatile frames. For something a little more ‘retro’ – oval frames, ‘horn rimmed’ 1930s style, Ralph Lauren has a good selection and for a slightly-dated-but-still-chic 1970s effect, Tom Ford is the place to go.