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Reader question: Fashion and age

14 December 2008

Nigel, London: How would you recommend that a slightly older man with an interest in youth-driven fashion incorporates this into his daily attire? Jeans, for example – some are so skinny they make you look even older than you are.

Men’s style is and has always been about subtlety. The wearing of suede rather than patent leather shoes to a black-tie occasion was enough to draw howls of protest in the past. Today, the best dressed men are often those whose clothes are simply well cut, well fitted or individual in small, subtle ways.

The individuals highlighted in my previous posting are a good example. These Italian gentlemen will use a sombre or conservative background as a means to express themselves elsewhere – in purple driving shoes, for instance, or an oversized watch.

Gianni Agnelli, pictured, is also a great (and well-used) example. His quirks, such as wearing his tie outside this sweater, his watch over his shirt cuff or his monk-front shoes unbuckled have become so adopted by others they have lost most of their originality. Yet they retain their appeal, and everyone wishes they had such individuality of their own.

These are the kind of subtleties one might take up to be more Italian. If one wants to adopt more youthful Anglo-American trends, the key is to do so again with subtlety.

Your suit jacket, for example. One with slightly narrower lapels, a slightly shorter body and just one or two buttons will be instantly more contemporary. Don’t go over the top: narrower, but not narrow lapels; a body that is a little less than half your height, but not on the scale of a ‘bum-freezer’.

These are the kind of things one will not notice at first glance. Certainly not the particulars. But they will notice a more youthful look, perhaps even trendy.

Ideally, the suit would be designed by yourself to these specifications. But you’ll have no trouble finding many suits of this cut or similar to it in the stores today. The key is to try and compare all, and to go for the subtlest you can find.

Another example. Jeans that are straight, not skinny; in a very dark indigo; an inch or so short of touching the ground. Perhaps even with a dark stitching. Contemporary but not extreme.

There are many others. Clean, new Converse trainers with a suit (the key is that Converse are just as narrow and neat as formal shoes. Most trainers are too chunky or rough.)

I hope this helps Nigel.