Sometimes I think there are whole different strata of mens fashion. It seems to me that a person who likes one kind of fashion is very unlikely also to like another. For example, if you like that kind of late 90s inflected going out in the evening fashion, all sharp shoes and tight jeans and Ben Sherman shirts – I just can’t see you putting yourself into a check shirt or a 50s style rockabilly shirt and having a good time.
Of course what I am really talking about here is the tribe. There are tribes in everything – football supporters, jobs, social standing, everyone takes a cue from somewhere and identifies themselves as “with” this lot and “without” another group.
And what that means, really, is that mens fashion is there for different kinds of men. Because the kind of person you see yourself as being, is the type of person that fits in with the group you identify with.
Ultimately there may be several different types of tribe to which you belong – which gives you leeway to get involved with several types of mens fashion. For example, the football fan is not the same across the board – he may well have other aspects to his personality that drive him, when he isn’t wearing a football shirt, down differing fashion avenues from the bloke standing next to him on a Saturday afternoon.
So here we start to realise that there are just as many potential ranges of mens fashion for each individual man, as there are different kinds of men in the world. For instance, the working man has a fashion responsibility unique to his job no matter where he lives, where he comes from or how he identifies himself.
If he works in an office where suits are a rule, then he has to fit in with that rule or find himself a new job. So from one angle this is an arena of mens fashion into which he is railroaded, without any real consent or input of his own.
Except of course that he is able to express his personality through the type of suit that he wears. So if he fancies himself a learned man, or a bookish one, he may affect suits of a more liberal arty type – which at the moment means brown pinstripes, normally, wider lapels, and brogues. While the sportier, or more urban type of man, may favour the pencil thin lapels and shiny wool of retro fashion suits, which are commonly seen these days on Channel 4 presenters and media loveys of a certain type. And also on groups of lads out on the pull after work on a Friday.
The point is, the kind of mens fashion you elect to wear denotes your membership of all sorts of clans – even in environments where the clothes you are sporting are foisted on you by the authorities or the management. So a suit wearing worker, who may prefer when at home to wear tracksuit pants and a football shirt, can denote himself to other workers by picking a specific kind of suit. And fashion prevails again.