Lisa Markwell: Suddenly I see Brünos everywhere

Men now seem more interested in their appearance than women are

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The tight shorts, the expanse of tanned, toned thigh, the taut midriff. It's enough to make any woman jealous – except that, oh, it's a man. Sacha Baron Cohen, in the guise of Austrian fashion stylist Brüno, sashayed up to his film premiere in London on Wednesday night showing a physique that Madonna, Britney or Victoria would be proud to show off.

Yes, it's a role he's playing, but I can't believe Baron Cohen isn't getting more than a smidgen of pleasure from his buff body. He's right up there with Cristiano Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham as a pedigree peacock. Hot pants, or quite literally pants, are now acceptable day wear. (Would wearing them as nightwear be any better, one wonders?)

Yesterday Ronaldo was pictured in the latest of his almost daily appearances with a new fashion accessory. This time it was a Gucci "man bag". Earlier in the week, Ferdinand teamed his thigh-huggers with a crop top. It was, the general populace hoped, a joke. Last week Beckham posed in the skimpiest of undies for Armani (well, at least he was getting paid for looking foolish).

Based on the above, it's possible to moot that men are becoming more interested in their appearance than women. And it's not just celebrities. Even at the school gates the dropping-off dads are working a vaguely metrosexual look, which involves artfully low-slung jeans and a tight T-shirt that shows off their "guns". That's what some men – tragically – call their biceps.

A 13-year-old boy of my acquaintance insists on tugging his school trousers down on to his hips, the better to show off the waistband of his (non-designer) boxers. That tiresome trend shows no sign of abating (and Jockey has just announced that sales of brightly coloured pants have risen 60 per cent in three months...). This week, a high-flying executive I was having lunch with couldn't wait to show me snaps of himself in Ibiza, wearing a neon orange Calvin Klein suit. No, he's not gay, but a married father of two. It turns out, on investigation, that the New York branch of CK sold out of neon suits the day they arrived.

Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with men taking more interest in their attire – the neon orange was strangely alluring. If it means one less man this summer will step into the park in a sleeveless nylon t-shirt, or shorts with socks and brogues, that's got to be a good thing. Apart from anything else, it helps the economy.

In the face of financial doom on the high street, where sale signs are being hoisted all around, Harrods will next week unveil its newly revamped menswear department, complete with Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga amongst a plethora of other high-end fashion labels.

There's a fine line between attentiveness and narcissism, when it comes to men and fashion. Here are some tips. Manscara and guyliner are never acceptable. Strimmed nostrils are to be welcomed; waxed legs are not. A pale pink shirt can look jaunty; hot pink trunks just look like a joke.

Women have worked for years at looking chic in a nonchalant way; it's not easy, I'll grant you. But, men of the world, don't let Brüno's wet-look vest or leopard-spot smalls put you off trying to get in touch with your inner dandy. Perhaps Harrods could employ an on-site style guru to advise. And no, Sacha/Brüno, it's not a job for you.

l.markwell@independent.co.uk

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