Fashion is often still thought of as something that is only of interest to women. Despite centuries of astonishingly elaborate menswear before the Great Masculine Renunciation of the late 18th century, plus a recent resurgence of menswear, many people still believe that an interest in looking good is something rather feminine. The vast majority of men are taught to make an effort with their appearance only for dates and for job interviews so, when there is no need for either, many don’t see the point in bothering about what their clothes look like. It is seen as superficial to show an interest in fashion – even more so with men than with women – but making an effort with your appearance can have benefits in other ways that are not just about how you look. Selecting clothing due to the feel of the fabric against your skin, or that of others, can have many benefits – like a classic cardigan that feels comfortingly soft to wear, or that velvet jacket which always gets stroked by admirers. There’s also the confidence which comes from putting a look together and knowing you look your best. And the immense pleasure of a received compliment from someone who is clearly delighted by a garment, accessory, or your entire outfit. Plus the joy of standing out, even just to those who recognise the effort that’s been made with fabric, cut or colour coordination.
I chatted to David Evans recently – the man behind the Grey Fox blog, pictured left with Shaun Cole of London College of Fashion – and one of the things we discussed was men’s attitude to fashion and style. Are more men becoming interested in dressing well, or do most still view clothes as an unavoidable necessity? David started his blog in December 2011 to offer advice on what to wear and how to dress for men over 40, because he couldn’t find much acknowledgement online that older men with style exist. Even when he found brands selling clothes he liked, they were only marketing their garments using young models so he got in front of the camera to show his readers how these clothes looked on someone who might be able to afford them.
I think this is a sign that things are changing with regard to men’s attitude towards fashion. There are now more menswear blogs than ever, catering to a variety of different styles, budgets and looks, plus sales of menswear are reportedly increasing even more rapidly than those of womenswear. The catwalk extravaganza that is London Collections Men continues to go from strength to strength and, according to Business of Fashion, ‘it is not only socially acceptable but desirable for men to care about (and spend money on) their personal appearance’. Perhaps more men are now understanding what Ralph Waldo Emerson meant when he said that ‘being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquility that no religion can bestow.’