The Wall Street Journal – your source for fashion news! – has a great piece despairing the demise of the dapper dandy.
In essence: the 21 Club no longer requires a necktie! The 21 club! Young men all dress like slobs, the world is falling into shambles, this is what T.S. Eliot meant, Mistah Kurtz – he was a snappy dresser.
Author Tom Wolfe – known for his cream colored three piece suits – claims “the death of dressing accordingly isn’t the end of civilization. But it is the end of courage—men being afraid to be caught in fancy clothes, or even a jacket.”
Gay Talese remarks, “I’m mostly appalled [by clothing people wear to dinner]! It’s amazing they get past the maître d’…let alone me. I think, why aren’t you at a baseball game, or eating popcorn somewhere? Anywhere but here.”
I think that’s a good point, and I think it would be a shame if it were the case.
But is it actually true? I’m a bit doubtful, if only because I know so many men in their 20’s who take a bizarre amount of pride in their suits and other accessories. Let’s take a moment to discuss the trend with a group of young men in Manhattan who seem to regard bow-ties as “textile butterflies”. Heterosexual men, too!
A male friend of mine in his mid-twenties claims “guys in their 50’s all run around wearing rocker t-shirts. They look like tools. It makes casual dressing look like something that is for tools. I think younger guys have figured out that you wear a suit and you just look better, and, weirdly, cooler.”
Another super secret inside source says, “There are no more worries about looking like your dad – which I think was the older generation’s worry – because your dad is wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Turnbull and Asser is the new rebellion. I mean, Don Draper, right?”
And then another, in his late 20’s says “my company started having “non-casual Fridays”, which slowly transitioned into us wearing suits every day when we realized that people suddenly started treating us like grown-ups.”
I find this reassuring, but then, I’m really just getting this from three random male friends who happen to be on GChat right now. Though I’m also comforted by The WSJ’s statement that:
“The art of looking sharp could be saved by a new subculture of metropolitan men, aged loosely from 25 to 40, who have an affinity for a new-old hybrid of sartorial swagger. With fetishistic glee, they’re following how-to-dress blogs and websites for men such as Mr. Porter, A Continuous Lean and The Selvedge Yard, and formal-informal designers like Billy Reid, Michael Bastian’s Gant, Freemans Sporting Club and Band of Outsiders. Their appropriated tastes are inspired, though, more by ’60s idols like Bryan Ferry and Steve McQueen than their own grandfathers.”
I do wonder if they’re doing it out of a sincere respect for retro styles, or if it’s just a matter of pissing off their Grateful Dead-apparel clad dads. Maybe both! And I’m fine with it either way, because I love seeing men in suits. But that could just be because I have the same sartorial sensibilities as 70-something authors. Do you like seeing men more casually attired? Or do we all need more textile butterflies in our lives?