Our car recently got a flat tyre, and I leapt at the opportunity to prove that while ostensibly an office-bound aesthete I’m also man enough to change a wheel. However, once the jack and wheel brace had been fished out of the car’s trunk a problem arose. And the problem was that my trousers were cut so slim that I couldn’t easily kneel down in them to use the wheel brace.
This happened one Sunday afternoon and I was wearing a pair of jeans, some casual shoes and an old shirt. Yet wearing a 21st century iteration of a garment originally designed for Californian miners rendered me near-incapable of even the lightest manual labour. It was one more reason to dislike tight clothes.
The origins of the current skinny look lie in the work of Hedi Slimane, who, in the first years of this century, dramatically slimmed down the prevailing male silhouette while designing for Dior Homme. This established a dominant aesthetic that real guys simply cannot emulate – very few men over the age of thirty look good in the clothes, regardless of the intensity their gym routine. It’s probably no coincidence that when applied to tailoring this second-skin silhouette neatly side steps the need to use decent fabric, because a tight suit isn’t going to drape whether it’s made of luxurious 18oz flannel or cheap 9oz twill.
Casting one’s eye over the style icons of the past, from JFK to Gianni Agnelli, it’s obvious that men’s clothes are at their best when they create a silhouette, rather than merely skim frail flesh. This is something that Tom Ford knew when he launched his menswear line, but, judging by Daniel Craig’s “spray-on” suits in Skyfall, he now appears to have forgotten. The good news is that men who use tailors are well placed to distinguish themselves with an elegant, but fuller silhouette that’s cut to flatter their body shape. The bad news is that this fails to address my need for some proper jeans.