“Strange” wrote Graham Greene, in relation to his character Henry Miles, “how much dignity there can be in a hat. Without it he looked like one of the anonymous, the dispossessed.” From a 1951 perspective Mr Greene’s observation is accurate; hats were everyday accessories of gentlemen and barrow boys alike. Men of purpose and place had headgear.
Author: <span class="vcard">Winston Chesterfield</span>
Many wardrobe items experience a renaissance. It is well known that even fashion has its limits; classic designs are rarely bettered, and instead of replacing what works, designers merely alter and sometimes improve timeless pieces.
The necktie has ballooned and dieted more than a narcissistic Californian; a tiny slither one minute, a vast kipper the next. Shirts had frills, and then no frills; the fact remained that it was still a piece of cloth which buttoned down the centre of a man’s torso.
Imagine the scene; it is a hot day in Yangon, and at the Strand Hotel, in the lobby, afternoon tea is being served to the exhausted new arrivals. One of whom is a man who fits the picture-postcard perfectly. Dressed in a cream suit, with white buck shoes and a panama hat, this gentleman might have walked from the pages of a Somerset Maugham short story.
It is September in South Kensington, and that means one thing for the fashion-creatives of London; London Fashion Week. From the 15th to the 20th of September, London’s creative fashion centre switches to a white construction outside the Natural History Museum. Hopeful designers exhibit their clothing and press and buyers from around the UK and around the world scrutinise the offerings for a period of just six days. For the fashion elite of London, this is the event of the autumn, providing a glimpse at the future. But does it really offer anything for the stylish man-about-town?
Who will admit they do not care for underwear? Who will claim that concealed clothing is unimportant and irrelevant? Many actually. I know plenty of men who buy the cheapest underwear due to a feeling that it is an unimportant article of clothing for the male.
Individuality is hard to come by these days. So often we see something we have seen before. Our eyes, narrowing with boredom, look upon ubiquity every day. And yet, there are the moments of pleasure; the simple smile on seeing something new, something unique.
Johnny Depp has exhausted most interpretations of the word ‘unique’ in his acting career. His roles are his own. He brings cocktails of personalities to his characters that both delight and surprise film fans. The same can be said of his style.
Whether or not you are Ivy League at heart, the preppy-chic looks which have been so important for fashion not just in America, but all around the world, are likely to have had an influence on you. Smart-casual, words often used on party invitations and for after hours work meetings have their origins in preppy clothing; that marriage of the formal and the sporting look. Shining shoes with denim, blazers with casual trousers, training shoes in the same outfit as a necktie, preppy style is actually a daring clash, though due to its history and long list of designers and style icons inspired by its combinations, is considered conservative.
Style is evergreen. It is the leaf that never browns, never wilts and never falls from the tree. Throughout the seasons of our life we can be reassured by it. So many in life will look to the shining light of youth for inspiration. The temporary beauty of youth is so intoxicating that we sometimes forget how little it has seen and how little it knows; the ‘blind confidence’ belies the naivety within. I believe in the power of youth, but I also believe in wisdom through aging. Especially where style is concerned.
“There are other measures of self-respect for a man, than the number of clean shirts he puts on every day”, so said Ralph Waldo Emerson. I would like to know what these are – as yet I have not been furnished with details. However, triviality aside, Emerson’s mockery of the pride a gentleman takes in a shirt is only half-strength; shirts are terribly important, and the donning of a good shirt should give a man pause for a little self-congratulation.
There is a single, tiny moment in a man’s life which is always one of exquisite fear. That moment comes upon hearing that it is time to meet your future prospective in-laws. You could refer to them as your partner’s parents and nothing more, but this would not give the occasion of dread the correct gravitas.