Should British men reveal more of their skin?

While metrosexual males across Europe bare all, men in the UK are still afraid of getting their ankles out

Share

There is something un-British about good weather. Our knee-jerk response is to bare as much skin as is legal and never mind the sunburn or skin cancer. And, I’m not just talking about socks with sandals.

We’re a bit wary, especially, of men who do make the effort: those who sport linen and cotton, dare to wear pastel (especially pink)  and go sockless in loafers.

Such males are either  “a little bit gay” (yep, you still hear it) or, said with a vaguely disparaging tone: “European.”

The old stereotype of the British male was that he never changed what he wore, whatever the heat, and just put a knotted hankie on his head. These days that era seems exactly what it was: another century, as we survey parks, high streets and beaches swarming with  flip-flops, singlets and cropped trousers that haven’t been near an Egyptian cotton field.

There is suspicion of famous males who, despite their prowess in the macho sporting arena, like to cut a dash off the field. David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo have come to epitomise the stylishness other males are wary of, or even get angry about. Could it be a projection of our own insecurities?

Britain still hasn’t entirely come to terms with the metrosexual male – look at the ridicule heaped on Joe Hart’s head for his shampoo and shaving ads. I’m very aware there are two Britains here: urbane, metropolitan big cities (not just London), and another world where fashion stood still. Every time I write about style, at least one reader writes in to say “I dare you to try that on the streets of Middlesbrough.”

Of all things “European” it’s the sockless loafer that elicits the most suspicion. So, real men must wear socks? It’s funny that this small glimpse of male skin can elicit such antipathy. The male fashion revolution has a long way to go before the “continental” style is as ubiquitous in influence as it has been in the nation’s welcome food revolution.

But, as Gandhi once said in a lot more words: we can all be the change we want to see in the world. So, before you go out, look in the mirror, swap that football top for a cotton polo shirt, ditch the cropped nylon trousers for some fitted linen shorts and lose the socks. It’s liberating, I promise you.

Stefano Hatfield is editor-in-chief of High50

READ MORE:
Someone should tell Lady Gaga that porno-chic is out
Don't blame foreign players for England's demise at the World Cup
When will Britain admit to its alcohol problem?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law