Elegance – not vulgarity
By Mark J Hollingsworth
Just over two months ago I came across the blog site of the Grey Fox and, after reading his posts, became inspired to start my own complementary site on the subject of ‘lifestyle and the middle aged man’. I am very grateful to Grey Fox for asking me to contribute a post to his ground-breaking site.
Why did I start to write? I did not set out to become an expert on style – however, I felt if I had questions about middle aged lifestyle then so would others, so I am simply aiming to provide opinions which may help others form their own views.
|Photo - The Sartorialist|
Initially I was searching for help with two questions in my life:
1. Being an Englishman living and working in Canada was I alone in being shocked at the continual ‘casualization’ of society?
2. At the age of 51 was I becoming ‘old fashioned’?
Froma Harrop, on creators.com, answered the first question in her recent accurate attack on her North American compatriots entitled ‘Slobs and the American Civilization’. Ms. Harrop wrote of her recent experience standing at Chicago airport watching a “nation of slobs parading through the airport. Frayed denim hems swept the filthy floor, cleavage poured out of t-shirts bearing vulgar messages, big bellies flowed over the waists of ill-fitting jeans, mature women waddled in stained sweat suits….it’s a grim scene.”
Grim indeed. It seems the richer North America has become the more slovenly it has become.
So, I have partly begun a journey, through my blog, to take a stand against this ‘casualization’ in middle age and fight back against the past two decades of sloppiness and scruffiness!
Sadly though, and as the Grey Fox has also discovered, there is a very little public debate/discussion for middle aged men in this area. Conversely, there is certainly no shortage of excellent sites for middle aged women, which also contain a considerable amount of comment on how they wish their respective husbands/partners would dress more appropriately for their age! So the demand is there!
However, unfortunately we seem to live in an age where men have been told, over time, it is effeminate or shallow to invest too much in their appearance.
Why? That I don’t know yet. Which leads me to my second question whether I am ‘old fashioned’ in being concerned about my appearance and lifestyle?
The older I have become (and I am now 51), it seems the more the quality of my life matters to me. I am searching for a conservative but modern lifestyle – a style that says I’ve been around for a while, but I am still going strong and will be here for some time yet! I have learnt style has little to do with money – it’s rather an attitude. But, I feel I must not let my style threaten my notion of my masculinity. Overall I wish to retain my sense of individualism.
Perhaps the most inspiring quote I have found in the first two months of writing my blog, which helps answer my two questions, comes from Patrick Grant (Norton and Sons, Savile Row):
“There’s too much vulgarity today. I’d like to see a return to understated elegance, to decent codes of behaviour, to being men of purpose.”
Based on this quote, my own thoughts after my first 9 weeks of research and writing can be summarized:
a. Let’s buy less yet invest in better quality.
b. Let this middle aged generation set an example in menswear and create a new golden age of style.
c. Let’s remember every morning as we prepare for the day ahead that our style is our first means of communicating with the world around us.
d. The way we dress is a way we show respect to ourselves and to others.
e. Let’s communicate elegance, not vulgarity.
I know I echo the Grey Fox when I say I would welcome your comments on this post – or any issue related to our middle age experiences!
Mark J Hollingsworth