The man-skirt makes a fool of us all

Last weekend I was celebrating. It was my first weekend off since Christmas, always a cause for celebration. I spent it with four of the Girlfriends in the Bahamas, which in itself is one long celebration. But most of all, I have written my last ever school fees cheque for Cost Centre #2.

I realise that this is not the final expense my middle son will incur. But, assuming CC#2 gets the grades he needs to take up his place at Imperial College, even if I book him into the most expensive hall of residence, it is “only” £245 a week. This deluxe option includes, I am pleased to see, an ensuite bathroom and a leather chair. He is allowed to take a musical instrument (to the best of my knowledge he does not play one) but no pets (I had not considered sending him with one of the dogs, but you never know).

CC#2 also has his eye on a dress kilt for formal functions, which as I know – I have already kitted out both Mr M and CC#1 – does not come cheap. Both the Moneypenny kilts were made by Kinloch Anderson, a family-owned business whose tartans are all derivatives of the ancient, the modern and the hunting. I am taking my show to the Edinburgh Fringe again this summer so I will book him in for a fitting. CC#2 will be doing front of house duties so he will have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate that he is worth it.

He can count himself lucky if he gets to step out in a Kinloch Anderson ensemble, as I had previously spotted a cheaper alternative. The men’s Marylebone Skirt is the latest offering from Boden, to which I was alerted by an email marketing campaign. It looked to me like the ideal purchase for today’s metrosexual, and was offered in no fewer than nine fabric choices. And a snip at £49-£55. Boden’s website assured me that “the relaxed shape flatters all figures (even the ‘well upholstered’) and looks great with brogues and knee length socks for work.”

I am clearly not on planet Boden and/or don’t read the internet enough, because, until my FT colleagues pointed it out, I had no suspicion that this was an April fool’s joke. Apparently had I tried to change the colour or click on the purchase button it would have said “we sheepishly confess that our man-skirt is a joke”.

What is not a joke is that today, April 13, I have agreed to have a pop-up Boden shop in my house. These are billed as “Tupperware with rails of lovely clothes,” although I am no longer expecting to surprise my fellow villagers with a rail of Marylebone man-skirts.

Now, I am not given to hosting Tupperware-like parties in my home, and especially not on what will be my first free Saturday in the UK for four months, but I just couldn’t resist seeing what the experience was like. Already I have had to pass a strict test on location selection. They specifically do not want “something resembling a jumble sale”. Indeed not! They also want the occasion to be “a great experience” and “lots of fun”. No pressure then. I have rented a bouncy castle. That should do the trick.

I have already been sent some filter coffee (I hate filter coffee, but never mind, I can take a hint and have dug out a cafetière) and a laminated card with five final tips, including to declutter one’s home “as if it were up for sale”. I have duly decluttered: I have banished Mr M to the golf course, outsourced the two dogs, sent CCs#1 and 3 away, and put #2 in charge of the car parking.

Guests who place orders at my party will get 20 per cent off and free delivery. I’ve pleaded for a code to extend that offer to UK-based readers who can’t make it to South Oxfordshire today. Here you are: K395. It is only valid until midnight on Sunday April 14. By which time, I suspect, the thing I shall be celebrating is that the experience is finally over.

Mrs Moneypenny’s Careers Advice for Ambitious Women‘ is out in paperback

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