Grace Dent: Now it's men's turn to be manipulated by fashion

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The Independent Online

A Richard James suit, Oliver Sweeney shoes and M&S pants," said David Cameron, breathing tantalising secrets of his "look" to journalists at the opening of Men's London Fashion Week. This week's events promise to be the largest, most ambitious British male fashion hoopla to date. Behold, David Gandy, Tinie Tempah, Benedict Cumberbatch et al, wrapped in bank-balance crippling garms on front rows, pulling the blasé "constipated goose" face one must while "frowing" (front-rowing – oh, do keep up). So, yes, men's fashion week... it's very serious. Even if I cannot read phrases like "blah was famed for introducing the man clutch" without a small smile playing around my gob.

"Crikey, Sandra," one might say, "I fancied Lee so much when he walked into the bar with his deep brown eyes, holding his lovely man clutch." Actually, no, one wouldn't say that. It can't be done. However, I bet there are hundreds of unclutched male clutch bags lying neglected in the bottom of British men's wardrobes right now. Because over recent decades one wonky by-product of equality in the sexes is that men are being as cajoled, manipulated and peer-pressurised by fashion as women are. I'm not sure if I'm happy for them or not.

As much as I love a nice frock and expensive heels, I did learn a long time ago that the fashion industry – and I know they won't mind me saying this as they are a famously thick-skinned bunch – is a crock of crap. A hollow cacophony of smoke, mirrors and pixie dust, it brainwashes idiots like me – and a million other intelligent women reading this – into buying hyper-expensive coats (the arms of which fall off in a fortnight), while saddening me that I'm not a sample size due to my utter insistence on owning tits. And it is almost wholly written about in the media and fashion blogs by people too terrified to put a foot wrong as advertisers will pull budgets or their ticket to "frow" next season might be reneged. But now it's 2013 and men are embracing all this, too! Welcome, boys. We've been expecting you. Have you thought about going on a diet? Summer is coming and pastel-coloured super-short short suits can be very unforgiving!

Or later on, I see the men in my life glued to the Mr Porter online sale, or arranging Saturday dates to go clothes shopping. (I still don't believe straight men really meet up to go shopping. To my mind, this sentence can only be an elaborate cover for visiting a brothel.) I see them pondering how much of a month's salary to blow on a good winter coat.

In the Seventies, if my grandfather needed trousers, my gran – so that he would not have to suffer the inconvenience and emasculating horror of stepping inside a clothes shop –would go to town, purchase three pairs, schlep them home, then take the two unsuitable pairs back the next morning. Job done. Clothes bought. He could get on with fannying about up a ladder.

But times have shifted, and now men can and should be as curious about Tom Ford's Autumn/Winter plans and the quest for a signature scent as me. Aren't you lucky. Of course, at the root of all this desperation to look fabulous is, I believe, the inner quest for sex, money or power. Expensively and fashionably groomed men must be an aphrodisiac for some women if the Bernie Eccleston-a-likes I see in London SW1 festooned in Bond Street's finest leisurewear being fawned upon by 20-year-old girlfriends are anything to go by. It seems to be easier to love someone at first sight when their Oswald Boateng suit suggests they winter in St Barts.