Being Modern: Mankles

 

Men, we are told, are increasingly interested in fashion. And with the first London Men's Fashion Week – sorry, the London Collections: Men – just finished and deemed a considerable success, who are we to argue?

We can take issue with one of the designers who took part, however: his name is Thom Browne and he is widely credited with having invented the mankle – the tendency of certain young men to roll up their chinos and display what can only be described as a total lack of socks.

Last summer, mankles – a portmanteau from "man" and "ankles", in case you hadn't pieced that together – were everywhere: from an insightful feature in Esquire magazine to a Quentin Letts rant ("Oh please chaps, DO cover them up!") in the Daily Mail. They were everywhere you looked on the high street, too. And we're not just talking "trendy east London". This, on the plus side, was a most democratic trend, totally free and available to all.

On the minus side, the mankle makes British men look like tossers. And perhaps because we've finally realised that what's OK for olive-skinned Mediterraneans may not be OK for us, the mankle has been less in evidence so far this summer and those in the know claim that the trend has had its day.

None of which solves the problem of what men are supposed to wear in urban areas when the sun's out. Shorts? You can make them pinstriped and fitted all you like, but they're still shorts and no one in the office wants to see your knobbly knees. Flip-flops? There is but one simple rule: if you're not on the beach, don't even think about it. Socks and sandals? Had a moment as a sort of chic postmodern statement, but just because you're being ironic doesn't mean you look any less stupid.

Which leads us back to full-length trousers, perhaps with a light sock and a sensible and not-too-heavy pair of shoes – a desert boot, say. Which is exactly what men have always worn. Men's fashion: a brilliant idea, as long as nothing ever changes and we can continue to dress as we always have.

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