John Considine was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1966, the son of an academic and a poet. He grew up in England, and was educated at a fee-paying boys school called Bedford Modern School, and at Oxford. He has lived and worked in Canada since 1996, returning annually to England, where he spends most of his time in hill country or at the edge of the sea.
I first met Dr. Considine as a student in his class on Etymology. Although I was there to learn about word origins, I couldn’t help but spend some of my class time growing more and more curious about Dr. Considine’s style: a mix of bowties, tweed jackets, waistcoats and, every so often, a kilt. Here, he talks to WORN about well-dressed literary figures, fashion-related etymologies and what makes a good tie.
How did you dress as a university student?
I think I wobbled rather from attempts at grandeur to hopeless shabbiness: jacket-and-tie shabbiness, of the sort which one sees on some of the people who spend their afternoons in pubs in England. I remember once walking through a quadrangle in Oxford, in a dinner jacket (I mean the whole suit, what you’d call a tuxedo, with the trousers and black bow tie) and a new pair of dress shoes with hard leather soles, and being very happy at the way that the clattering of my footsteps echoed within the stone walls. I remember also dining with the Principal of my college, a mathematician called Sir Christopher Zeeman, and looking at his clean shirt cuffs and golden cuff links, and comparing them with my own shirtcuffs, which were not as clean as they should have been, and hoping that Sir Christopher hadn’t noticed.