Hello boys. You look awful
But if you'd rather dress like these two smoothies, then read on
Wednesday 09 September 1998
"The average guy would go shopping to buy trousers and either buy a new version of a favourite pair, or a pair similar to those of a friend. He will then go home and put new trousers with favourite shirt. He won't be thinking about what suits him, or what goes together, just that he likes it. This is what we are trying to change."
Scott-Gray is spending all this week, (which in case you didn't know is "Dress for Success" week) trying to help men to look better. His team are running around the country giving make-overs to male drinkers at the Slug & Lettuce chain of pubs, and even targeting radio DJs to get the "we want to take the chore out of shopping and give men the confidence to dress well" message across.
The best offering of the week is surely the Dress for Success booklet. A pocket-sized pamphlet full of style tips and non-intimidating fashion pictures, such as those shown here. Some 250,000 have been printed and distributed all over the country to men's clothing outlets. One page offers the top ten Dressing for Success tips: Tip one: "Be aware of fashion, but never be a slave to it." Tip seven: "Get a haircut, and think of finishing touches such as clean finger nails." Tip nine: "Think shoes - ensure they go with the rest of the outfit."
Hold on a minute. Are British men really that bad? Scott-Gray doesn't look at it that way. "Fifteen to 20 per cent of the male population are fashion literate. This campaign is not aimed at them. About 30 per cent really don't care about clothes. We want to get to them."
That's a lot of men. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the retailers involved in this scheme (all the big players including M&S, Austin Reed, Burton, Moss Bros, Levi's, Next and more), 45-50 per cent of men would like a few basic style tips to help them while shopping. Scott-Gray himself admits to not being fashion-literate. "Don't get me wrong, I know what's going on, but it doesn't come naturally to me, and I'd say that I'm pretty average when it boils down to it."
His booklet reflects a straightforward attitude towards dressing. Indeed the basic suit with shirt and tie combinations are featured at length. As a general rule, it is suggested that checked suits should be worn with a plain shirt and tonal tie. A plain suit can either be dressed down with a relaxed button-down shirt but no tie, or a high v-necked jumper. Every man is also recommended to own at least one navy blue single-breasted suit, because it's "versatile, fresh and modern".
Which is all very well, and I was convinced by Dress for Success until I read this: "Combat pants can look smart but only when they are fitted and not sagging at the hips." But, dear Menswear Council, being sagging or low-slung (as fashion types call it) is the whole point of them.
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