The return of David (now Lord) Cameron to the Cabinet may or may not herald the return of the posh boys in politics, but it is certainly part of an overall new trend. Because chic is back, after years in the wilderness when anything with even a hint of chic did not fit the atmosphere of that time.
Most films, books and television (with the exception of The Crown) have focused on issues of social diversity, mental health and sexual abuse for years. The backgrounds of stately homes are hidden.
But somewhat curiously, in what appears to be the final days of a Tory government, chic has crept back in.
Although historic chic has always had a strong following, with the success of Downton Abbey, Bridgerton, The Gilded Age and now TV’s The Buccaneers (about a group of wealthy American girls trying to find an aristocratic husband during the 1870s the debutante season in London), contemporary chic was put under dust sheets.
Moss: Posh people like to look like they don’t care what’s posh, but they just love lists like Haslam’s, especially if they can claim an ounce of commonality for themselves, says Shulman, who puts Kate Moss at the top. her chic frame
Breakaway: So what’s chic these days? Is it still dog hair on the couch, gross food, and tiaras? Read on to find out who and what qualifies… Apparently, trips to the country are a strong contender
Emerald Fennell’s critically acclaimed new film Saltburn (although not exactly contemporary as it is set in 2006 and shares the same story as Brideshead Revisited and Alan Hollinghurst’s 1980s novel The Line Of Beauty) explores a young man’s infatuation with the posh, privileged family from his friend. . Rosamund Pike is perfect as the matriarch, a faded beauty who probably would have once been a Tatler cover girl. The atmosphere is enormously authentic – not surprising, since Fennell, the daughter of popular social couple jeweler Theo and author Louise Fennell, is said to be an insider in that world.
On the book front, the same publisher, no doubt hoping to captivate the vast global audience who loved Lady Anne Glenconner’s memoir Lady In Waiting, has released The Likenly Duke, a chronicle of The Duke of Beaufort, Harry (Bunter)’s memoir Worcester on his irreverent but undeniably chic life.
Fittingly, last week’s lavish launch party, attended by Samantha (now Lady) Cameron, was held at the Turf Club, which required ties and suits.
Designer Nicky Haslam, no stranger to the world of chic, has released his annual tea towel list of the usual, with Aperol Spritz and the Cambridges, all dressed in blue, in the spotlight.
Of course, listing such concerns is itself a fancy activity.
Posh people like to appear as if they don’t care what’s posh, but they love lists like Haslam’s, especially if they can claim an ounce of commonality for themselves.
When I left Vogue, my successor announced he was getting rid of all the fancy girls he thought worked at the magazine. This was somewhat to my surprise, as I hadn’t thought that the almost exclusively middle-class staff could be qualified as even remotely posh. In my opinion, most really posh people don’t have office jobs and are strangers to PAYE.
But as posh people certainly don’t say… it doesn’t matter.
Exotic: Kenya makes Shulman’s ultimate chic list as she reflects on the definition of chic today, compared to six years ago
Breakfast: Apparently asking for ketchup with your eggs is also a fancy thing these days
Sweet tooth: According to Shulman, fancy people like to have a bowl of jelly for dessert too
It’s now been six years since I left that job, and assuming I myself was part of the supposed posh crew, I’m seizing what will undoubtedly be a brief moment of posh acceptance and possessing all the luxuries to which I can lay claim.
What is chic these days? Is it still dog hair on the couch, gross food, and tiaras? Read on to find out who and what qualifies…
Your club or mine?
Some of the chicest places I know in London are definitely Robin Birley’s private clubs – Oswald’s and 5 Hertford Street. Recently, Lord Cameron and Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell were seen huddled with the latter, while many of the Tory leadership’s fandangos of the past year were plotted from one of the beautifully upholstered corner armchairs. During her short tenure, Liz Truss was rarely absent.
Question: Who pays the bill?
As beautiful as these spots are, they are extremely pricey. While there are always stories about MPs getting subsidized food and wine in the House of Commons, every meal in Parliament is a bargain compared to when they eat out at Birley’s and pick up the tab on their taxpayer-funded expenses.
Being seen, not heard
No one can accuse Nadine Dorries or Suella Braverman of being posh – not that I imagine either would aspire to this condition.
Posh people tend to keep their mouths shut, especially in public, which is clearly a position that neither woman subscribes to. Compare them, for example, to Lady Susan Hussey, who was thrown out of the royal fold within a nanosecond for unintentionally insulting a guest at a charity event at Buckingham Palace.
Did she immediately get a publisher for a story about life as the late queen’s trusted companion? Did she send a complaint for unfair treatment?
She didn’t do it. And guess what: she’s right there in the back, folded into the bosom of the family.
Creaking old joints
Worrying about noise is a sign that you are not chic.
Last week, London businessman Sergey Grazhdankin and his wife Maria won a lawsuit over the ‘unbearable’ noise their upstairs neighbors made on their creaking floorboards.
Heavens! Posh people always live with creaky floorboards in those big old houses, usually with terrible internet because the walls are too thick for the WiFi signal.
Alexandra’s chic list
- Kate Moss
- I hate your days at Eton (but send your son there anyway because it’s all different now)
- Only white towels in the bathroom
- Holiday in the Outer Hebrides
- Use of light switches without dimmers
- Allow smoking in the house
- Blooming voices
- Consult Ordnance Survey maps
- If you’re buying a house for your child in Peckham, South London – apparently Denmark Hill will get you to Victoria in no time
- Subaru cars
- Ask for ketchup with your eggs
- Never stay in hotels
- Apologizing for everything without feeling the least bit sorry
- Bookshelves full of books
- Pubs – never cocktail bars
- “Are we rocking it for Martin’s work?” – Should I get the jewelry from the bank before the party?
- Building stocks of light bulbs
- Claiming not to know what label you are wearing
- Eat everything
- Mick Jagger
- Shepherd’s pie on Meissen porcelain
- Anonymous handbags – sorry Louis Vuitton