The boys are back in town - and shopping!
Teresa Collenette Oxfam Fashion blogger and stylist
21st Jun 2012
The English gentleman has always enjoyed a reputation as a snappy dresser. Back in the 18th century the 'dandy' Beau Brummel rejected the over ornate fashions of the day in favour of understated but perfectly fitted and tailored clothing inspiring the modern suit and tie combo. This was a man who took fashion seriously. He claimed it took him five hours to get dressed and recommended that boots always be polished with champagne!
Fast forward to the 1920s and the importance accorded to an Englishman's attire can be seen reflected in the sartorial deliberations of P.G Wodehouse's fictional character, Bertie Wooster. When Bertie admits to his valet, Jeeves, that there are moments when he asks himself "Do trousers matter?" Jeeves assures him that such a doubt is but a momentary weakness. A gentleman should always observe the rules of fashion and be appropriately dressed!
Several decades later came the advent of the swinging 60s and the rise of Carnaby Street with its male fashion emporia offering men an array of flares, big lapels and platform shoes! Men never looked back and male street style was here for good, encouraged by Britain's strong popular music culture that from the 50s onwards inspired many a look from mods and rockers to punk, grunge and even Britpop with its signature oversized parkas.
So about time I hear you say that men had their own London Fashion event dedicated to the betterment of their wardrobes! And what an exciting and illuminating three days last week's London Collections proved to be showcasing 48 designers and 15 Savile Row tailors. And therein lies one of the strengths of British menswear. The combination of traditional tailoring with the innate quirkiness of the native Englishman and the wide cultural mix of our cities results in an incredible diversity of national style admired the world over.
Backed by the British Fashion Council, the London Collections brought together British designers old and new in a celebration of British style. From Hardy Amies whose clothes still look sharp after over 60 years at the forefront of men's tailoring, to Meadham Kirchoff mixing heavily embroidered Indian silks with nylon striped tees and floral shorts hyper styled, there was definitely something to inspire every man. Not to forget in the ethical corner, Christopher Raeburn who continues to create ultra modern practical and beautifully made clothing from pre-existing items such
as parachutes and sleeping bags.
Menswear is currently the fastest growing fashion sector and according to Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, the new generation of men have it seems acquired a new appetite for shopping. Great for the economy as well as for their womenfolk! To see if men were indeed taking an increasing interest in their wardrobe I decided to check out my neighbourhood for some well dressed gentlemen! I liked the piped blazer and skinny tie combo accessorised with some serious eyewear (Fabrice) and I was happy to learn that the vintage badge print shirt worn by Louis was an Oxfam purchase! I
loved the whole look of the indie guy (Sorry I didn't get the name!) spotted on Portobello Road. The retro bomber jacket and Fred Perry monochrome shoes, modelled by Luli, (Oxfam Boutique, Westbourne Grove) also scored highly in the fashion stakes!
Back in the real world away from the dizzy glamour of the catwalk, charity shops are often a great place for a guy to dress himself with style and individuality in a less daunting shopping environment than the craziness of the high street. From designer jackets and trousers to vintage tweed, retro sweaters and shirts and some nifty ties, it's difficult not to find something to inspire the inner dandy! Look forward to seeing you on the streets, gents, and in the shops!