Since having a baby, my life is just a landscape of stretchy denim and children’s books. But it turns out that’s OK, because I had forgotten the contents of most children’s books, and they contain a lot of salient fashion information. Take Paddington Bear, for example. Sure, his story might seem on the surface to be merely that of a bear who is taken in by a well-off, middle-class British family, but really it is a story about fashion and manners. I mean, honestly, if Paddington had not been wearing a floppy red hat and blue toggle coat and did not politely greet everyone who passed, would the Browns have invited a random bear to come live with them? I should say not! Inviting a random strange bear into one’s home is absolute madness, but inviting well-dressed bear into one’s home is a much different proposition. Here’s what Paddington can teach us about fashion:
1. Embrace contrasting colors.
Would Paddington be as cute if his hat and coat matched? Probably, he is a teacup-sized bear, after all. But the contrast between his blue toggle coat and floppy red hat draws the eye in a very appealing way. (Marvel’s Agent Carter uses this very well.)
2. Preppy kids’ clothes are great on adults.
Suddenly I know why Taylor Swift looks so good all the time. If you saw Taylor Swift sitting at the lost and found at Grand Central Station, you would invite her home to live with you. Now I genuinely want a floppy red hat and a practical toggle coat.
3. Good manners go a long way.
If Paddington was not in the habit of lifting his hat to strangers by way of polite greeting, he’d still be waiting in the Left Luggage department at Paddington Station. Nice manners are a good ice breaker. (This is a common theme in children’s books. Eloise who lives at the Plaza might be a hotel-destroying terror, but she always says please and thank you.)
4. Don’t rub gunk on other people’s clothes.
When Paddington smears cream and jam all over the cab driver’s coat, the driver is characterised as a mean old grouch for getting huffy about it, but come on, rubbing jam on someone’s clothes is just rude.
5. Names are important.
It’s important to pick a name with a sufficient amount of gravitas. Paddington Bear might be named after the railway station where he was found, but everyone agrees that “Paddington” sounds very important.
“Come along, Paddington, I’ll take you to the snack bar,” says Mr. Brown.
6. Always be tidy.
After a bath to remove all the jam and cream he was rubbing all over everyone beforehand, Paddington is described as being “so clean nobody could possibly be angry with him.” That’s pretty clean.