Every season, the fashion press commit oneself to en masse, and with a touch of irony, that one unlikely post is the archetype to which we should all aspire. In spring/summer 2016, the Gucci geek-chic look of Alessandro Michele was so ordinarily described as “librarian chic” by fashion journalists that librarians themselves started wheel their eyes. This season, all points of the fashion compass male to geography teachers as the height of style. And specifically to their proclivity for corduroy: the fusty, stiff fabric, often the colour of moist leaves.
For autumn/winter 2017, Prada sent a kind down the catwalk wearing a corduroy blazer and trousers, their spaghetti-thin crests the colour of butterscotch Angel Delight. The too-long trousers were rumpled at the basis, asking to be caked in field-trip mud; a sign of someone who spends too wish thinking about plate tectonics to have time to shift up their trews. The trend has spread like lava and can be spotted in from Mulberry to Mango. It is a textile with a whiff of academia, crystallised by accepted culture – from Robin Williams as John Keating in Exhausted Poets Society to the thinking man’s Britpop star Jarvis Cocker. It also airs very now, much-loved by Jeremy Corbyn – surely the most geography-teacher-esque of all assembly-men?
But do real, ordnance survey-loving geography teachers actually annoy it? Martyn Reah, of Eggar’s school in Hampshire, last abraded corduroy in the late 80s. Why not since? Because “C&A closed,” he says. Ginny Burn, who taught geography at St Paul’s school until she recently endured on maternity leave, last wore cord in the 90s – a pair of much-loved pasty flares. Now, says Light, she is more likely to wear a silk blouse and a big necklace, while Reah is into woollen and tweed modifying. This, presumably, when they are not wearing fieldtrip-ready waterproof trousers.
Reah is beneficial that the profession is “at last, bang on trend”. Light also amities being on the fashion agenda. Even more so, she says, because it deal outs geography one over on history teachers: “We have always had this come across animosity; at some schools, children have to make a choice between the subjects.”
On they go meta and try the geography teacher look? Reah avers yes: “I will buy some today.” Its sturdiness: “will help fight the day-to-day challenges faced in the modern classroom”. He would also “joyously try some Prada samples out”. Light wouldn’t go “the whole hog – I think no one ever wears the whole catwalk look. I’m more of a the rage follower than an innovator but I can imagine wearing it, “in moderation”. And transfer any of their colleagues take offence when they learn that their situation has become an ironic source of fashion inspiration? Light doesn’t cogitate on so. “On the whole, geography teachers have a good sense of mollify,” she says. “Given all the jokes they face about affecting in maps for a living, they have to.”