We Brits are never wise in our own eyes. It’s for this reason that Oscar Wilde noted that many of us are other people. That our thoughts are someone else’s opinions, our lives a mimicry and our passions a quotation. We say this because it would be far too close to wise to assume we know anything. It’s for the same reason we make a point of changing fashion several seasons a year. And why we base an entire industry on snobbishly snubbing those erring the wrong side of a brogue or for their efforts to characterise a Hawaiian shirt.
Just as there’s more to cooking than knowing how to cook. There’s more to dressing than knowing how to dress. And there’s more to thinking than knowing how to think. In fact, with the latter, it’s more about knowing what to do and then not doing it or even doing the opposite. To put it Frank – Bob, Barney or Bill (because I wasn’t thinking) – you’ll end up with something you otherwise wouldn’t have.
We must all learn to appreciate or show disconcert for the mantra of the man who went before. This usually comes in to fruition about the same time you learn how to behave in a lap-dancing club, drink whiskey and carve the perfect turkey – usually too soon to remain humble, or never.
If we were all to follow the false Vedic’s of an individual then we would lose that very quality about ourselves. '64 was a year probably dandy enough. I doubt many complained about the current state of affairs. I bet they didn’t even mind their current government. But sandwiched somewhere between Harris tweed and house slippers is Hardy Amies discontent for a new wave of atrocities:
“Never wear shorts except actually on the beach or on a walking tour. No continental, except a German, will wear shorts even going to the beach. He knows them to be inelegant and often considers them indecent.”
I wonder what his views on the current state of politics would have been given half the chance?
We would not follow Hardy to the waterside; we doubt he’d accompany us either. Efforts would not be made with a laborious etiquette to compile this guide if scores had not changed.
Trends are as certain as rain at Wimbledon and as reliable as trains are not. It’s the divine right of any fashionista to demand a leg-baring lineage from the runway. The season that will soon be the season is pulling all manner of rabbits out of the sartorial hat. Dapper denim, municipal mutes and powerful prints – we look at them all.
To start off on the back foot. Stripes are not a trend, neither are they an anti-trend. They sit somewhere on the blurred line in between dinner-date etiquette and sex scandals. They are a reoccurring presence – the stripes, not the sex scandals.
Designers the sea-over are redefining, altering and adjusting maritime expectations on shore. The new wave of striped looks are stripped down and tipped to be at the forefront of your cabin.
The nautical nod has melted down to reach your shorts. No longer is your torso in sole preservation of sideways lines. On a more regarding note, err away from wearing stripes top to toe (not top to me). Use your shoes and t-shirt to anchor your look.
The muted micro-trend is the distinct opposite of what men usually are about their affairs: silent. Men are pushing through menswear development faster than the Tories are pushing through your pay cut or p45 respectively.
With khaki neutrals taking centre stage in runway collections we would have bet a pony on muted tones acting as a follow up. Take your muted and neutral tones right the way through to summer and incorporate your new lighter tones into summer party and wedding reception ensembles.
Shopping for denim shorts is three-thirds the plight pre-arrogated when shopping for jeans. Denim shorts will form part of the oxymoron that is the ‘relaxed’ trend. Why an oxymoron you ask? Because men’s attitudes should never be relaxed about dress – only in appearance.
Many will feel nudged away from their addiction to denim by designers pushing chino and tailored shorts. However with any remarriage – and we expect you to be married to your wardrobe otherwise you wouldn’t be here – you always consider slipping back to your ex; just because they make a better cup of tea. For use of a sleazy analogy.
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You don’t have to wait until spring has sprung in abundance to read up on how to skin a rabbit. The same applies to denim shorts, skinning aside. Resurrect your made-for-winter jeans and cut them in to shorts – leave enough length to roll guise shoddy hems – and pair with a knit up top.
To dilute your summer wardrobe of any colour would be equal to ironing only the front of your shirt when wearing a suit as a guise; it’s cheating.
Colour isn’t on offer to you during SS11, it’s expected of you. You would not ignore the expected accord of giving up your seat to an elderly lady – you may begrudge it, but you don’t ignore it – so why should this expectation fall under anything different?
Toy with shades to find a palette that suits you, head to toe tonal or colour pop – either can be on show.
Q. I am going to a wedding this summer, can I wear a short suit?
Richard Adams via email.
A. Absolutely not. I once dismissingly claimed that any consorted etiquette on the part of wedding attire died out with the collapse of Sunday best – it’s true, it did – this will only aid it’s decline.
I am in little acknowledgement of your legs; they may well be preened to perfection and resonating with an Adonis. However, short suits are often best saved for summer garden parties. If your plan is to steal the bridge away with your taut calves, make it your priority at the engagement party.
Q. My girlfriend keeps telling me to wear horizontal stripped shorts because I have stocky legs – does this work?
Freddie Scott via email
A. You’ll love this answer because you’ll get to stick two fashionable fingers up at your girlfriend and her myth (notably before running). Because it is just that – mythical. Like leprechauns, the tooth fairy or the TV license van.
It has long been debunked that broad horizontal stripes do not aid a larger frame. Instead of this try dressing for your body type using accessories and staple pieces. The mistake of many men is to be in abandonment of accessories when the mercury rises. Add weight to your top half by bringing a lightweight scarf in to your look. Simple tricks such as this and knowing how to use colours to create a frame illusion can all be found here on site! [Ed: try Tom Bloomfield's author archive for some great body type tips]
The passion of Hardy Amies does not resonate solely within an archaic quote. His presence can still be felt shivering down the spine of any man who dares to wear grey to a wedding without invitation (it’s more often than not reserved for the groom).
The dandy in training does not rely on the knowledge or Vedic’s of others; the only time he’ll take notes is in a board meeting or in an effort to manage upwards with his superior. He understands it’s not knowledge that is taught, neither is it style. It’s the knowledge of his style that is gained and put to work in penning his own memoirs and Vedic’s. That’s the long, the short and tailored of it.
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