The power of style is illustrated, perversely, by the fact that it’s the fear of dressing well that drives many men to be slobs. So powerful is the fear of being ostracised for taking an interest in clothes, that they simply don’t bother. There is a feeling, possibly stronger in the US than in Europe, that the man who spends time on his appearance is somehow emasculated; his sexuality is suspect and he might even be interested in arts and culture, rather than football and drinking.
The man who subscribes to this view condemns himself as a loser in society because he spurns the best means of making a high-impact statement about himself. Why do politicians, heads of state and leaders in commerce look well-groomed? On the other hand, why are those who lose out in society generally illustrated as shabby, down-at-heel and dirty?
The reality is that dressing well helps us in our personal, family and business lives – making us more attractive to employers, strangers and potential lovers. It reflects self-confidence and success.
Style needn’t be costly, so there is little excuse not to bother. However, standards of dress are generally low. Spend a few moments looking at people passing by. The overuse of sportswear, ill-fitting and poorly designed clothes worn by people who do not look after themselves suggests a loss of self-respect. We can’t be bothered, fear being criticised for trying too hard, are unaware of the power of presenting ourselves well, or simply don’t have the skills to achieve style. Retailers peddling cheap and badly made clothes, totally lacking in style, add to the problem.
More positively, things are slowly changing. Men are taking greater care of their appearance and classic styles remain popular, providing an alternative to ugly and ephemeral trends. I am a symptom of this change. Two years ago I didn’t bother much. I recognise that the road to style isn’t always easy, but things that demand effort that are worth doing. With style comes self-respect and increased respect for others.
Fashion and style may seem unimportant, but history suggests otherwise – since man started to wrap himself in skins, there has been a divide between those who care and those who don’t.