Editor-at-large Alexi Duggins is at your mercy. Decide what London experience you’d like him to have. This week: he attempts to dress like a gent…
Kudos to male life-coaching company The Perfect Gentleman. Their courses aim ‘to make the world a more respectful, stylish and gentlemanly place… one man at a time’. Manners-wise, it’s a lovely ethos. After all, London could definitely do with more politeness.
But, for some reason, they seem to think this requires you to dress like an extra in ‘Downton Abbey’. ‘You can never be overdressed,’ enthuses ‘First Gentleman’ Zacchary Falconer-Barfield, pocket square standing erect as he steps into my bedroom and rifles through my wardrobe, as part of his ‘Stylish Gentleman’consultation. He skips my sweatshirts, pounces on the formal wear and announces: ‘You should always wear a suit on a date.’ Really? But what if you’re just going for a couple of drinks? ‘Well, you should at least wear a blazer.’
Then a baseball cap derails Zacchary’s train of thought. ‘This hip hop stuff might last for a while, but real style is timeless.’ I agree with him wholeheartedly, and produce a fashion classic: a 1989 Tony the Tiger shirt (RRP 20 tokens from Frosties packets). ‘Actually, I quite like that,’ he concedes, though he’s less enthused by my ’80s-style American football jacket. ‘People will think you’re a gangster. I’m not saying that’s what I think, just what society thinks.’ He has me try on my jackets to check I know how to buy clothes that fit (I do), lists the suits, shirts, V-neck jumpers and leather shoes that are wardrobe basics, and then we go shopping.
‘Style needn’t be expensive,’ says Zach,as we delve into TM Lewin’s range of £600 suits. Soon I’m clad in a dark blue two-piece and voluminous cravat, feeling like I’ve undergone the sartorial equivalent of being fasttracked to a safe Tory seat in middle England. As I try to fasten my belt at the side, Zach stops me. ‘That’s ungentlemanly. That’s how gangsters do their belts, because they don’t know how to do them.’
Sensing my discomfort, he insists that women will go wild for this look. I change back into jeans and leave unconvinced. With reason, it turns out. One emailed photo to my female colleagues later, and my inbox is full of reactions like ‘It screams young Tory bed-wetter’ and ‘The date you’d wear it for, is it a murder mystery?’ But I’m not sure it matters. Isn’t London’s beauty its celebration of nonconformity? That society doesn’t ostracise you for how you dress? Paying money (£250-£1,500) to be told you can’t wear clothes you like flies in the face of all that’s best about our city.
TPG’s courses on manners sound better. But surely it’s meant to be fashion forwards, not backwards?
So ladies, which one do you prefer?