Gay or A Londoner?
You must have heard of that saying that goes something like this. You see an extremely well put together guy, attractive, fit, incredibly well dressed and you think to yourself is he “gay or European”? Of course all your straight male friends jump in and say for sure he's gay because straight men don’t dress like that. Well here in London they do and as a woman I say AMEN, God Bless and Hallelujah. London is rich with extremely well put together men, and although I cannot attest to all of their sexual orientation I am hear to say that they are not all gay (phew)… they are Londoners.
I recognize that I do tend to frequent the more creative places to hang out. I practically live at the Soho House, the birthplace and resting spot of the creative metrosexual. I recognize that with fashion there will be some aspects that I can’t understand or relate to. As example, the "lumber-sexual". I can’t be certain about this, it is just a theory of mine but I believe that lumber-sexual look was born not from the giant Red Woods Forest in California but rather came directly out of the Soho House on Greek Street, London. You know the look, that big bushy full manicured bread that must have taken forever to style, sculpt and grow. Unless you are chopping down trees for a living I say, NO.
I believe years from now (and maybe not that long) looking back at this facial hair fashion faux pas it will be remembered and thought of as fondly as the Mullet or the Flock of Seagulls hair-do of the 80’s. While I am at it, no again to the man-bun. Nothing good can come from that. So although I do not get all fashion trends, and they do come and go, what is enduring is style.
Fashion is what you buy, but style is what you do with it and London men really seem to know what to do with it. I think the men here in London start early learning how to dress. I recently went to this Polo event, I know, I know…polo. But it wasn’t one of those haughty events rather it was an event that was trying to bring polo to the masses. There was no dress code (I checked online before I went) but when I arrived everyone was dressed like they just stepped off the pages of a Ralph Lauren ad. There I was, out-fashioned by nine year olds as I stood there in my mom jeans and a pair of communal Converse that I occasional share with my daughters.
I am not accustomed to being out dressed or better put underdressed. I am seriously going to have to kick this fashion thing up a few notches. The kids were stylishly dressed and not just the girls. The boys were in tailored summer suits or a sports jacket or a crisp linen shirt with not a wicking property or sports logo insight.
In clearer contrast to the "North American style" of suit, the boys weren't wearing the kind of suit that we would buy our sons when they had to attend some wedding or Bar Mitzvah or something. You know the one, the oversized suit that he is going to have to make last for his entire adolescence. Where the "window"of it fitting perfectly happened while he was away at summer camp. These kids look like Tom Ford himself had dressed them and they were good with that.
My daughter who was a tomboy growing up would refuse to put on a dress. In fact I shopped for her almost entirely at the Old Navy boys section until she was 12. So I look at these stylish kids and think how do the parents do it? Are they not chasing their kids around the house trying to stuff them into some dress or ill-fitted suit? The truth is it's just a way of life for the Londoners, it's in their DNA. Their peers and friends are all dressed accordingly and there was not a single "Kardashian style" belt-like slutty dress or a belly-top in the crowd. God bless.
The women of course looked wonderfully turned out and very stylish which is not a surprise other than this wasn’t even a “dress code” event, did I mention that I checked that online? One thing I had taken away from this day was I am going to need a whole new wardrobe. I also vowed to myself that very day that never, ever again be it man, woman or especially child would anyone be able to look me up and down and think , "oh those shoes look comfortable".
All of them, men, women, boys and girls they all dress the part of success and style. They are The Londoners.
But I am focusing on the men today. Not because the women aren’t incredible, my God that is a whole other chapter but rather that the London men are so vastly and superiorly dressed to the average North American dude that the contrast is crazy. Even walking the streets of London I have yet to see one guy dressed with those saggy "gangsta" jeans barely hanging on to their hips with the waistband of their underwear clearly readable. London men are stylish and proud of it. A young friend of ours recently moved to London from Toronto for his work. In the short time he has been here his social calendar has been filled with all sorts of events, most requiring “proper attire”. As result his wardrobe has expanded to include a pair of plus fours (baggy shorter pants usually found on an golf course from the 1800's), several linen jackets, a tweed riding cap, a few new scarfs (not a single one with a sport franchise name on it) and most recently a rented black tails and a top hat for a horserace (required attire).
He even needed "proper attire" to go watch a cricket match or so he told his parents. I believe he as an North American male has adjusted beautifully to the British social and fashion scene. Why? Because he is surrounded and influenced by well dressed, stylish people and peers of London.
Can you imagine if North American guys put that much thought and care into what they were wearing at a baseball or hockey game? I believe it is expected that when Londoners go out, attend an event, party or even just go down to the pub there is an understanding of what is proper attire. I have yet to see proper attire on London men looking anything like this right here.
This city is rich with stylish people. If style is a way to say who you are without having to speak then London you are talking loud and clear. I think the fabulous fashionable Coco Chanel summed it up best, “dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccable and they remember the woman (or in this case man)”. I believe that the London men got that down. Not the “dress” bit…but you know what I am saying.
So London men I thank you. I thank you for your street style, your well fitted suits, your beautiful shoes and your noticeable lack of team sport jerseys as your “ready to wear” collection. As I have watched and learned you have taught me something very important to which again I say, thank you. For it has become so very clear to me now more than ever, that although I have been shopping all my life I still have nothing to wear.
This will be an expensive lesson.