How to dress for an hour on the plinth

Hadley Freeman can ease your fashion pain 

Pigeon in london The pigeon look: a hot new trend coming to a plinth near you soon? Photograph: Jon Cartwright/Getty Images/Flickr RM

What should I wear on the plinth? I’ll be doing the crossword and having a cup of tea, and will certainly not be wearing a cute animal costume. But colour? And accessories? It’s a worry.

Ann, Glasgow

Ann, I’m not going to lie to you. Some questions with a practical context bring joy to my heart – what to wear on University Challenge, say – because I highly approve of the context itself. This, however, does not. I am dismayed by this Trafalgar Square plinth malarkey. Have we now fallen so low in terms of artistic skills that we can’t even shove a wheel up there? Even just an uncarved hunk of stone? No, apparently all we can offer up is a selection of, um, people. I am not denigrating you, Ann, I am merely denigrating the idea. And to those of you saying, “Why don’t you come up with an idea, you smartarse?” How about this? I’ll come up with three:

1. A big statue of a pigeon – this is my favourite. A giant stone pigeon. Awesomeness to the power of a million.

2. A statue of a man looking up – get it? Just as you’re looking up at the statue, the statue is looking up at the sky. That postmodern enough for ya, Gormley?

3. A pigeon looking up – sorry, I really can’t get past the pigeon idea.

But fine, I appreciate that nothing I say here is going to make the slightest difference and, more importantly, this is not what you came here for today. You’re going on the plinth and I’m just going to have to deal.

So I like your idea, just playing it cool. But I do think you need to splash on some red (or is the verb now “pop”?), just so your friends can see you from down below. A hat, perhaps, would not go amiss, both for sun protection and for attention grabbing. Although that could be a nightmare when the wind blows.

OK, Ann, look, I’m going to level with you here. I’m trying to be professional and do what you ask me but I just cannot. I understand your hesitation about wearing a “cute animal costume” but have I mentioned my pigeon idea to you? I have? Well, I think you should take it to its logical, compromising conclusion. I mean, a pigeon isn’t an animal. It’s not even cute. And you dressed as a pigeon would just look a-m-a-z-i-n-g on the plinth.

Fashion is all about context, with your outfit working with or playing against your personality and the environment you’re in. And now with everyone becoming so steadfastly interested in using materials that work with the environment, this feels even more important. We all know that Trafalgar Square belongs to the pigeons. Thus, it seems only right to reference them in your outfit, no? And the fact that this is a very un-you thing to do emphasises the specialness of your plinth day. Go Pigeon!

I’ve spotted half a dozen grown men walking round with their trouser legs rolled up, a la George Michael on Top of the Pops in the days of Club Tropicana. Isn’t it taking the 80s revival a step too far?

Poppy, Islington, London

Oh Poppy, Poppy, Poppy. Perhaps you are shielded from the usual manoeuvres of popular fashion up in Islington so I shall explain. You are saying, in a very decorous way, that you have noticed straight men dressing in a decidedly camp way and you are attempting to explain this to yourself as being part of the “80s revival”. One has nothing to do with t’other. The fact of the matter is, where the gay gentlemen go, style-wise, the straights shall follow – but about 20 years later. I am not quite sure why this is. Perhaps the straights are just slower learners. Perhaps they think 20 years is the time period it will take for the style to lose its camp associations (bless their innocence). If you are finding all this hard to compute, think of David Beckham as their beagle down the mine of camp style, plumbing the depths and encountering all manner of treasure – leather waistcoats here, jeans burdened with metallic chains there – way sooner than the lesser mortals.

And so the Wham! look now comes to the men of Islington, about, I’d say, four years after it came to straight men everywhere else (seriously, have you never seen a photo of Peter Andre?). Don’t fight it Poppy, don’t even question it – just let the poor loves have their fun. They have so little else in their lives.

Post your questions to Hadley Freeman, Ask Hadley,The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU. Email