Glad Rags

In the latest of a series that sees Standard Issue writers celebrate the clothes that make them happy, Sally-Anne Hayward explains how her black polo neck can transform the Bristol branch of House of Fraser into the Sacré-Cœur.

Polo 1“You’ve got a long neck. Like your dad.”

That was lovely Mrs Hassell, my ballet teacher, circa 1978. I felt my neck and wasn’t sure whether I agreed with her or not, so I went home and looked at my dad’s neck. She was right. It was long.

My neck was pointed out to me again in 2011 by an audience member at a comedy club (he didn’t mention the bit about it being like my dad’s though). And again, more recently, by an anaesthetist: “Nice long neck,” he said. “Good for oxygen”.

I took this as a compliment; I’m at an age where the only real compliments I get are from medical professionals.

The long and the short of it is that I have a long neck (the long of it…hahahahahaha). I also have really dark hair and pale skin, which means I go all red and blotchy on my neck when I’m nervous, excited, sad, happy, anxious, embarrassed, upset, tired, apprehensive, angry, frightened…basically pretty much any emotion sets off a meningitis scare. A black polo neck offsets the dark hair, sits nicely against the pale skin and covers the blotchy red giveaways.

The black polo neck is also perfect for my build and was clearly designed with me in mind. When I slip it on, to finish off yet another ‘safe’ outfit, I feel ready for anything. I leave my house and I’m immediately sashaying down the Champs-Élysées (Stokes Croft in Bristol) towards the Sacré-Cœur (House of Fraser: they’ve got a sale on). Tres posh, non?

The black polo neck is a staple item of clothing in the Hayward wardrobe. Whenever September rolls around I start to look forward to the temperature dropping to polo neck settings.

Believe it or not the right polo neck is quite difficult to find. I don’t currently possess the perfect one but I am on the look out for it. I can see myself in it: quite long and fitted with a ribbed neck. At the moment I have one from a cheap chain store that has a bit of a “shine” to it and a hole under the armpit. I also have a cashmere one (fancy) but with a cowl neck (not so fancy).

I’ve tried other colours: I spent 1987 in a cream version with a small gold cross on a chain hanging over the neck bit. I’ve also tried a red one (too orangey),  a blue one (meh) and various white ones (all see through). But the black one, the champion of champions, keeps coming back.

Since writing this a friend said: “I wonder why nobody seems to wear black polo necks anymore?” News to me, buddy. I Googled it and it seems the last sighting was Tom Cruise. Before that, a mime artist. Oh, and Dapper Laughs on Newsnight.

I really don’t care. I love my black polo neck and I will fight for it. I am typing this while wearing it and as a result I keep accidentally typing in Français. I am chic, stylish, classique.

Polo neck, you are le best. My neck and I amour you.

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Written by Sally-Anne Hayward

Sally-Anne Hayward is a comedian, writer and dribbling fool. She reckons she has got 30 years tops left on this earth so enjoy her while she is still rabbiting on.