Former Barnsley PE teacher Darren Padgett spends his life getting people fit
But his staff thought Darren himself was far from shipshape - on the style front, that is.
They were so fed up of seeing the boss of Barnsley-based social enterprise Team Activ in baggy shorts and the company polo shirt every day, they nominated him for what they reckoned was a much-needed makeover.
“We are experts in transforming lives by making sport for all fun, challenging and life affirming. We organise inter-school tournaments, run after-school sport clubs and teacher training to ensure children get fit for life,” they wrote.
“But Darren needs transforming too. He spends a lot of time teaching children sport so his “uniform” tends to be polo shirts, tracksuits and trainers. We’d love to see him looking smart, especially as he now has to spend a lot of time networking and in meetings with businesses and organisations.
“He may meet school headteachers in the morning followed by the Leader of Barnsley Council and MPs in the afternoon and he needs an outfit that will fit the bill every time. We really hope you can help Darren get dressed for life!”
At Business Monthly, we were eager to help; we are now on hand to remodel the shabbiest movers and shakers in South Yorkshire in every issue.
Darren, a PE teacher for over 30 years, has won numerous awards for his company’s work with local schools. And since launching it two years ago, Team Activ has got thousands of children more active. It was time to get him looking fit.
We sent him to John Lewis, where the expertise of stylist Kim Bennett and menswear assistant Lorraine Shepherd, plus £100 for him to spend, was waiting.
“My staff are correct; my default setting is comfy shorts, trainers and a Team Activ top. It’s been the practical choice. But I’m now pitching to businesses; the aim is to introduce sporting tournaments to companies to get employees fitter and I do need to project a more professional image at meetings. I only own two very old suits so I do need help,” ” Darren admitted, gazing, somewhat over-awed, at the choice awaiting him on the menswear floor.
John Lewis saw only the winner’s tape, not the hurdles, though- and got to work.
“We took smartness with comfort as our criteria - it was obvious to us that a man who lives in sports gear all day is not going to feel good if he feels confined by his clothes,” said personal shopper Kim.
“But we knew we definitely had to get him into a suit. We chose one with a minimalist, retro look from our new lifestyle label Kin. It strives to create the balance between smart and casual dressing and blue is THE colour for tailoring this season. It’s available in a hues and is a very flattering colour to wear.
“We added a snappy polo shirt by Ted Baker in a deeper blue. Our thinking was that forcing him to be ultra-formal in a shirt and tie would be a step too far. A pocket handkerchief added formality, while tan shoes and belt dressed things down.”
Darren’s second outfit was intended to be more casual, yet with a sophisticated look. “The classic blazer, done in a softer fabric, is really comfortable to wear but still looks dressy, and the Levi jeans we selected are trendy but pretty special; they are from our 150th anniversary range and feature a retro print lining,” explained Lorraine.
“We thought the high fashion, printed shirt would meet his approval - it’s another anniversary special by Fred Perry, a classic sporting name.”
Concluded Kim: “In smarter clothes Darren’s entire posture changed. He stood straighter, looking taller and more confident. We hope he leaves his shorts out of he boardroom from now on!”
“I am always willing to try different things and to listen to people who know more than me, so I happily let John Lewis take charge.
“But when I saw what they had chosen, I was very dubious. I would never have tried on a blue suit, especially one with a silky finish -, and I thought the colour of the top that went with it was far too bright for me.
“They also handed me some very narrow-looking jeans and a very retro-style shirt, plus a floppy jersey jacket and some trendy brogues with a chiselled toe. I wouldn’t have picked out any of them.
“But they were right and I was wrong; I really liked how everything looked and felt once I tried it on. The suit is an absolute bargain at £159. It’s a great fit and looks smart, yet fashionable too. And the shoes are nowhere near as horrendous as I thought!”
n Is your boss in need of a makeover? Nominate him or her with a 200-word email to Jo. Davison@thestar.co.uk