Monday, 26 October 2009

Style Tips

To go back to something I've already mentioned, the invitation from a men's magazine to give my top ten style tips (and I do mean give – no fee mentioned for something that could easily fill half a page). I can't believe that sub-editors are so cluless that they actually think anybody can possibly write anything about style tips for men that would ahve anything to say to their readers - or engage their attention for even a moment. They were a cheap and brainless idea fifty years ago when magazines like Man About Town were trying so hard to persuade men that it was OK to be seen reading a fashion magazine. There is nothing to say about style. It is entirely individual and the moment you try to codify it you've lost it. Even Beau Brumell was reduced to idiotic platitudes when asked to explain the way he dressed - although I believe that all his pithy comments on dressing well were almost certainly made up on his behalf long after the event.

What passes for style is rules and they are always popular, especially with pack animals like men. They are usually to do with class, as well. On both counts, the rules of taste have almost always been conceived in order to separate the savvy sheep from the gormless lambs. The Victorians and Edwardians loved them: 'Brown boots are only suitable for working men'; 'Suede shoes are incorrect in London'; 'Tweed is only permissable in the country'; 'Only clergymen may use an umbrella in the country, but in town a man should carry a tightly furled one'. And so they go on, useless suggestions to keep those of us whom the arbiters think inferior in our place.

Does all this sound familiar? Of course it does. We are back in the schoolyard again - somewhere the person who asks for ten top style tips has clearly never left.