Once upon a time, celebrities amassed their fame and fan bases through talent. Be it acting, music, design or modelling (yes, the latter is harder than you’d think), gaining entry to the upper echelon of paparazzi fodder wasn’t as easy as strategically leaking a sex tape.
Then Geordie Shore came along, a show whose only prerequisites for airtime were a six-pack, a bad spray tan and a knack for ‘tashing on’ – three things that came to form the blueprint for ‘reality’ TV shows that followed.
And with the arrival of The Only Way Is Essex, Love Island and Ex On The Beach, a picture of the modern-day reality TV star rapidly began to surface: talentless, bereft of dignity and, most worryingly, here to stay.
But these shows aren’t just masterclasses in contracting chlamydia, they’re also vehicles for their stars – the false prophets of fashion. Yes, reality TV ‘stars’ are standard-bearers for abysmal style, attempting – through those almost hour-long takes of their faces struggling to muster even a semblance of a facial expression (damn that botox!) – to brainwash us all into thinking half thongs and string vests are acceptable things to wear.
Don’t be fooled. If you’re big on style – not so much on Buckhurst Hill – then follow our guide to the fixes for reality TV star ‘style’. Bosh.
The penchant for skintight clothing is one thread that’s been stretched taut across all reality TV shows known to man. Be it jeans, tees, shirts or pants, fabric struggles to cover creatine-swole muscle resulting in not-so-flattering disfigurement.
Sure, body-hugging clothing is complementary to a toned body, but there’s a difference between a cuddle and a squeeze.
Opt for clothing that not only physically fits but flatters your frame. Better yet, get measured so you know exactly what chest and waist measurements to wear, lest you come off a bit like The Incredible Hulk and Katie Price’s lovechild.
Available In HD
From The Beatles to Steven Gerrard, Liverpool has many things to be proud of.
However, the HD brow is not one of them. First pioneered by women that wear rollers to the petrol station, the high-definition brow (see below) soon permeated the world of men’s grooming, prompting a wave of lads emerging from beauty salons with meticulously shaped, excessively arched and artificially darkened brows.
Some, not content with a good tint, even have them tattooed on (shudder).
No man should suffer an overly bushy brow – but there’s a happy medium between Tarzan and Terry from Love Island.
Regular plucking can keep your slugs in shape without going too sculpted, while threading and minimal waxing (done by a trained professional, of course) retains a tidily au naturel appearance.
Handbags At Dawn
Whether it was festival drug dealers or Essex rudeboys, nobody is really sure where the trend for cross body bags came from. What we do know however, is that they’re goddamn ugly.
In contrast, larger bag styles like the weekender and tote were embraced by men everywhere despite at first being viciously ridiculed. But we’ve got nothing but scorn – sorry streetwear fans – for their uglier, boxier little brother that can barely fit a mobile phone let alone two ounces of green.
Most menswear brands have some iteration of a weekender, barrel bag, tote or backpack to meet the needs of a modern man – a modern man that should never ever need an over-the-body coffin with a fake Louis Vuitton print.
Tribes & Tribulations
People are quick to call out fashion’s cultural appropriation of Native American headdresses and Gujarati bindis, but what of tribal tattoos?
Since the dawn of reality TV shows, Samoan and Maori symbols of manhood have been regrettably tarnished, taken from their original context and tattooed onto spray-tanned skin across the UK. Which begs the question – just exactly which tribe do you belong to?
Other than the Clan of the Complete Cretin, one can assume that most (incidentally mostly white) UK reality TV stars’ familial links to Polynesia aren’t especially strong.
Tattoos should be planned well in advance so you can be certain you’re not going to regret what’s getting inked onto your skin forever. If you’re getting a certain style because it looks ‘cool’, chances are it’ll make you cringe in years to come.
Rolling In The Deep
You’ve got the Virgin Active gym membership. You’ve got the gains. You’ve got the liberally applied baby oil. Now, all you need in your quest for ITVBe stardom is a racer back vest.
From Mark Wright to Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, an extremely low-cut vest is hands down reality TV’s most popular choice to flaunt your muscle-bound physique (and look like a VD-ravaged Faliraki club rep while you’re at it).
Granted, scorching temperatures warrant less clothing, but there’s nothing wrong with a regular vest or sleeveless tee. No swishing material, no glimmers of side-moob and no regrettable rib tattoos on display.
If you really must show the world what your PT gave you, try a muscle fit T-shirt.
When hitting just above the knee, tailored shorts are as much Ralph Lauren material as they are an Oxbridge staple – classic, sharp and smart, they’re three things that are remarkably elusive in summer looks.
But take the hemline any higher and you tip the scales. As Joey Essex has taught us, tailored shorts verging on hot pants are a little too Daisy Duke to guarantee decency.
Getting your pins out in summer is inevitable. But the secret to saving face is in the cut.
Wear a chino short or cut-off denims that cover the majority of your thighs or you’ll broach Chigwell territory. Not to mention suffer crippling sunburn on flesh that’s not before seen the light of day.