Fashion icons for men are few and far between. I’ve been trying to think of some, but then David Beckham keeps coming to mind. It’s embarrassing to admit he plays any part in my style choices but I suspect, in his own invidious way, he does.
Not the clothes so much but the haircuts. It’s hard to flick past pictures of old chisel- face in magazines without taking a wee squiz at his hair and wondering what those shaved sides denote. For you personally, I mean. For your life. The skinhead. Hmn. The Mohican. Ooh, I’m having that.
What ball-boy has in his favour, from my perspective, is that we’re roughly the same age. A slight anxiety creeps in when younger people are the ones to watch, such as Twilight “heartthrob” Robert Pattinson, who I think is only 12 but may be slightly older. In any case he has the pasty skin and bloodlust of a typical preteen. It makes you sick.
Ditto jeans worn round the kneecaps, frayed boxer shorts flapping gaily in the wind. That’s definitely a young man’s look, an act of stunning colonic confidence – no point pretending otherwise.
Trends, and the way they’re written about, can also make you queasy – the way words and expressions sneak up and give you a wedgie. “Fashion- forward” is a beauty. I am “fashion-forward” in that the clothes I’m wearing now will be “vintage” and “on-trend” in about two generations.
And calling clothes “pieces” – I’m not convinced by this. Rarely do I feel like saying, when pointing at new shoes, that I got these “pieces” in the sales.
Of course, if you cut them into small triangles you can legitimately say you’ve got another great piece in the wardrobe. Or if there’s a jam sandwich on your shirt – that’s a potentially great piece.
The military style is currently on-trend, particularly for women. All those jackets, those trousers, and not a rifle to be seen. The truly fashion-forward would go for a big scar down the side of the face, trench foot, a touch of dysentery, a few grenades swinging from the belt hoops. But why stop there? Pull some scuds over your khakis for the underwear-as- outerwear look; clip on skis for the sportswear-as-eveningwear craze; sew a couple of bra cups to your elbows to prevent chafing. Bish, bash, bosh – you’re rocking.
I liked the way Michael Hutchence dressed. I like how Jarvis Cocker dresses. But it’s all about how you carry it, and sometimes how you put things on. Martin Sheen, as President Bartlet in The West Wing, had a wonderful way of putting his suit jackets on that I would dearly love to emulate.
He’d place both hands on the lapels, facing away from him, before flicking the jacket round over his head and snapping both arms through the sleeves in one fluid, and remarkably speedy, movement. He was a very cool president; but it does depend on the man.
David Cameron could do that trick without incident and still come across like a fruit basket someone’s just farted on. Gordon Brown could snap his arms through a suit with a degree of panache but would inevitably punch a key aide in the face, triggering new allegations and calls to the National Bullying Helpline.
But fashion itself is a bully. The way pieces jump out at you when you’re trying to do the shopping. It’s outrageous.
First published on Herald Scotland.