There’s a rather sexist term that makes me laugh: Kronenbourg. The beer’s full name is Kronenbourg 1664, so a Kronenbourg is a woman who looks 16 from the back and 64 from the front; the whole mutton dressed as lamb thing. I’m wondering, is there a term for the male equivalent? “Kidult” doesn’t quite do the job.
I was thinking about this the other night in the pub, where the bloke in front of me at the bar was wearing a Weird Fish top. It’s one of those surfer-dude things, really thick yarn, overly big collar, the sort of thing that I’m sure looks great on a bronzed surfer when he’s, I dunno, chilling with his homies or whatever the hell young, athletic people say they do. This bloke, though, was a peely-wally late-forties (I’m being generous) Glaswegian, and it just looked utterly, utterly wrong. There wasn’t anything wrong with the top; it’s just that he was far too old and pale for it. He wasn’t the only one, either. Most of the customers were male, over thirty and wearing clothes designed for teenagers and twentysomethings.
I think it’s fair to say that while most sensible men don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to fashion, there are still rules that we’re all aware of. Take light-coloured sportswear, for example. Absolutely fine if you’re a muscly, twentysomething black kid in America. Pathetic if you’re white and Scottish, no matter what age you are – although the older you are, the more pathetic you look. Bow ties never work, and suits for anyone who doesn’t work in a place where you have to wear a suit are weird too. To my great shame, when I had a day job that required a suit I did own some wacky ties, but I’ve been self-employed for a decade now so thankfully the memories of that particular faux pas have faded.
But what should you wear when you’re getting on a bit? This is something I’ve become subconciously aware of recently. I’ve noticed that I’m developing an aversion to big logos, to things with hoods that don’t need to have hoods, to extremes of any kind whether they’re extremely baggy or extremely tight. It’s not just a body shape thing, although as a lazy, smoking drinker I have the same physique as a packet of lard that’s been bashed about a bit. It’s that I’m beginning to think certain things are simply off-limits for people of my age (I’m 36), either because of age inappropriateness or because they’re hideous.
The list includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Anything with a slogan on it
- Anthing with a picture on it
- White trainers and black trainers
- Leather jackets
- Suede jackets
- Denim jackets
- Anything “distressed”
- Chinos, unless you’re in the US air force
- Combat trousers
- Sandals when you’re not in a country where nobody knows you
- Deck shoes if you don’t own a boat
- Proper shoes if you’re not wearing a suit
- Jeans that show your arse
- Jeans that you feel the need to stuff with socks
- Suits if you don’t have to wear them for work
- Coloured trousers
- 3/4 length trousers
- Anything you’ve seen in a rap video
- Bright colours on anything
- French Connection (for no other reason than their ads are really, really annoying)
- All designer tops with big designer logos, or with price tags that defy logic
- Rugby shirts if you don’t play rugby
- Anything connected with golf
- Anything you wore as a teenager
- Blazers with jeans
- Anything too tight, especially on your upper half, unless you’re (a) gay and (b) in good shape
- Anything too loose
- Band t-shirts (I’m trying to wean myself off this one. I still wear my Eels T-shirts with pride)
- Anything shiny
The problem with all that, though, is that once you eliminate all of those, what’s left? Fleeces, jeans and clumpy boots? I suspect the answer is yes, because that’s generally what I find myself wearing when I’m not being lazy and living in my dressing gown.
It worries me, because I recently found myself watching an episode of Top Gear, seeing James May, and thinking “Hey! Nice jumper!”. No, I wasn’t being sarcastic. It really was a nice jumper.
Help me out here, Internet. What should late-thirties men wear, and what should they avoid at all costs?