Expanding rather on a theme from earlier in the week, this is why I believe dressing well is a source of unexplored pleasure for men.
For a few years it has been acceptable for men to be into cooking (to care what goes into their body). The feminine aroma has finally been left behind with the previous generation. It’s also now acceptable for men to regularly visit the gym (to care what their body looks like). The homoerotic associations have pretty much gone.
But caring about how you dress is still considered effeminate or ‘gay’. Clothes are the last area where modern man cannot be seen to be making an effort. So he doesn’t.
That’s his first mistake. The effort should never be seen, whether you’re into clothes or not. The best style is casual, easy, nonchalant. It’s just something you threw on in the morning. Such is the quality of your wardrobe and your accumulated taste that it may actually be what you just threw on that morning.
What’s more, the world’s male style icons were not pretty boys. Cary Grant, Gianni Agnelli or Edward VII; Steve McQueen or David, the Duke of Windsor: all of them probably had more women than you. They were real men, famous men, stylish men. And they never flounced.
Clothes are as necessary as food or fitness. You have to put something on, so why not make it something you like?
Make it something that flatters you. Or, perhaps a more alien concept today: make it something that flatters other people. For dressing well to meet someone is a compliment to them. If you turn up to a meeting dressed smartly, then it reflects your opinion about the importance of the person you are meeting and the meeting itself.
Women understand this well. If someone throws a dinner party and goes to great lengths to make their house, their food and their person attractive, what impression do you give by not going to a fraction of that effort in your own dress?
But all this could just sound like scolding. By far the biggest reason for dressing well is that it is an opportunity to express who you are. I don’t care if you do that through wearing bespoke suits or vintage seventies Japanese-print T-shirts.
However, the fact is that most men that wear jeans and a T-shirt are not expressing anything, apart from laziness. They say they’re comfortable. They’re not. A soft-cotton shirt and flannel trousers are much more comfortable – they feel more like pyjamas than jeans. Men are comfortable in that attire because they are used to it, because it is easy.
It’s time to stop hiding behind excuses that mask fear, and dress up.
Bespoke, if you can afford it, is the answer. Because bespoke allows you to design your own clothes. Not everyone that uses bespoke has suits made. My tailor has made cycling jerseys, cropped jackets and capes. It’s limited only by what you can imagine.
Of course suits make up the majority of bespoke clothing and most of this book will be concerned with them. But many of the principles, from cloth selection to tips on the fitting process, apply equally well to other types of dress.
Tailoring can be scary. It’s not easy to know how to describe what you want or whether you’re getting value for money. That anxiety is dispelled by knowledge, which is what these posts endeavour to provide. Whether you’re bespeaking a whole new suit or just having some jeans altered, the facts you need are here somewhere.