The Model of Modern Men’s Style

Anthony Best Lifestyle Editor

He is snarky-cool, living on the edge, and the ethereal guy next door with devastatingly handsome features. This modern man is styled somewhere between Zuckerberg, Will Smith and Daniel Craig. Admittedly, herein lies some embellishment, well may be a lot, but somewhere amidst this persona inhabits the model of modern men’s style, an essence of character to which many men aspire. It may be safer to say, it is about loving what these men of honour embody – a style as endearing, as it is emblematic in simplicity.

Man 2.1

What if one’s style carried more punch than its price tag? What if style was the quietened voice of the individual, the subliminal expression? What would your style say? What would your man’s style say? It is arguable, that today’s men are a refined and centred version of his twentieth century self. This is perhaps an idea advocated throughout the pages of women’s glossies. The man ascending the escalator at 42nd Street–Bryant Park or Shoreditch Station, East London donning high-tops, skinny jeans, embellished with cardigan is Man2.1. He changes the oil in the car; fixes the blocked drains; assembles an outfit of pastels and prints; and while formatting your desktop.

Man In The Mirror

Over the last generation, fashion icons have come and gone. One whose notable individuality made a proclamation that was loud and clear, and contributed to cementing his deserved legendary status was the late Michael Jackson. His unapologetic, brazen style and presence, and seemingly reckless abandoned of the predictability of fashion canons, gave permission to world to take chances and wear a leather leotard, once in a while. His self-expression was a fine blend of substance and form, talent and vision. It was a blurring of boundaries that challenged the values of The Man in the Mirror that men should no longer linger in the roles of just father, brother, friend or chummy-uncle – the strong, silent misunderstood type, with an uncomplicated, comfortable and classic style.

Modern Men’s Style: Act Of Expression

MAN-1-258x300The model of modern men’s style is an act of expression envisioned in details – That Shirt; Those Shoes; The Watch. Some attribute this step change from men as being ‘less fashion conscious’ than his gender opposite to popular culture, as it redefined roles and responsibilities in broader society. It is fair to say that a man’s style was often a taught behavior – mom bought the clothes, and dad, if present, was indifferent with priorities to protect and provide. To imagine daddy teaching his son to colour-block and have fun with funky patterned socks would be visualizing a life on another planet. Granted, there are those whose refined sense of style is like a family inheritance. On the few occasions I was entrusted into the care of my father there was never a crash course in tying the perfect double Windsor-knot, but more an ordeal of a 7-year old figuring how to avoid the grease in the mechanics shop. These men were survivors of wars and economic uncertainty, and some only just succeeded in surviving 1980s. Understanding or even imbuing your son with confidence, individuality and a ‘sense of self’ through knowledge of style and fashion was never a priority, and certainly not an expectation.

Men’s Style Universal Lookbook

By the 1990s the emergence of the ubersexual was evident as men spent more hours preening and pampering, buffing and waxing, and experimenting with ‘products’ – the cosmetic industry’s saviours. This paradigm shift was simultaneous to the lifestyle drift of lads investing greater portions of income in clothes and accessories as they genuflected to the gods of designer labels. The jury is still outon the key drivers behind this metamorphism, but perhaps there has always been a stylish man deep within all men, awaiting valediction. In the kingdom of stars, there were always icons that provided prodigious style references in the ebb and flow between progress and repetition. Fred Astaire, Sydney Poitier, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Robert Redford and James Dean all attributed to the Universal Lookbook, as they gave master classes of style in the execution of their craft and talents.

Man Next Door Steps Forth

The modern man continues to evolve. Today he is a versatile, open and coordinated. He is a professional family man, with a dynamic lifestyle and ambitious. His sartorial signature is the idea that he is present in the decisions on how he is dressed. He is knowledgeable, yet the labels means nothing if he is not comfortable in what he wears. A stark juxtaposition of the modern women who would lose a toe rather than wear a more comfortable, nay, ‘sensible’ pair of shoes. It is not to say men never had an interested in fashion, the days of the dandies is evidence of that, but trends have once again reached that point of the cycle where the average man’s expression of style is the norm, not the exception. Fingers are no longer pointing as laughter is stifled in mocking judgments as the man next door steps forth carrying his Hermes Etrivière II.

It is clearer that men’s rapport with fashion is a kind of zone of comfort. He exudes self-awareness and gleams a pleasure from his appearance that suggests a sense of maturity. Fashion houses have diversified in presenting coed collections, or are completely devoted to menswear. The interests and tastes of men have translated into cultured, high quality apparel. Ermenegildo Zegna, Paul Smith and Dries Van Noten all have different perspectives of the model of modern men’s style, yet the single golden thread connecting these labels is an ability to produce garments and accessories tailored to real men and their lifestyles, that expresses subtler values of masculinity. So even when the man next door is not snarky-cool, or living on the edge, and the features are less than devastatingly handsome, his sense of style and self-expression may yet render him with sex appeal that carries more punch than a high-end price tag.

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1 December, 2012