For a long time, Man of Kent has been featured on the banner for Streetwear & Denim, which should give you a sense of how diverse that particular subforum can be. While these days he mostly wears a blend of workwear pieces from different parts of the globe, he had his beginnings in Classic Menswear, and hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
I joined Styleforum in my mid 30’s and almost a decade on I’m still here. Initially, I was exclusively on the Classic Menswear side of the forum (or Men’s Clothing, as it was called) and picked up some good advice and interesting viewpoints from other members. Over the years, I probably raised my game when it came to dressing for work and it was interesting seeing regional differences in what was considered ‘conservative dress’. I still spend some time lurking on that side of the forum even though I only post there with great infrequency.
Then somehow, I wandered across the rather artificial divide to Streetwear & Denim. I confess my preconceptions were baseball caps and heavily logo’d sportswear worn with oversize trainers. Much to my surprise, I loved the diversity of looks I found there.
My first steps were fairly safe. I’m a middle-aged Brit who lives in a semi-rural part of the UK; market-town rather than big city dweller. I was comfortable in a Barbour with jeans; I didn’t stand out from the crowd. However, there comes a time when you realise that dressing safely isn’t really fun. I moved onto designers who were producing British Heritage based pieces: Nigel Cabourn, Oliver Spencer, the short-lived Heritage Research, the supposedly re-launching Cro-Jack, and so forth. I still wear much of what I bought from that period, but my head was being increasingly turned by slightly bolder takes on workwear, and I fell in love with Engineered Garments. From Engineered Garments, it is only a small step to Needles then other Japanese brands. Kapital quickly beckoned, along with the odd Blue Blue and Post Overalls piece, getting bolder and bolder in my choices. Some of the appeal of the Japanese designers is their age inclusivity; a browse through any Kapital catalogue (somehow I’ve accumulated a few) shows older guys wearing the same pieces as younger guys. European fashion seems much more focused on specific age groups.
I’ve dabbled with some of the European designers. I’ve dabbled in lots of directions; a bit of Marni here, a little Dries Van Noten there, a few bits from Maison Martin Margiela. I’ve played with French workwear, Scandinavian simplicity, and gone back to England with Margaret Howell. I own a few bits of Yohji Yamamoto, and if finances permitted, could easily be persuaded to further explore that direction.
I’ve ended up with a veritable dress-up box of different styles and designers. Maybe I should have been more selective about directions taken, but for me that would take the fun out of clothing. I want to be able to dress to different moods. I like experimentation. I dress for myself rather than other people. Yes, at work, I’m pretty conservative, generally in suit and tie or at least a sports coat and flannels. Of a weekend I can wear what I feel like wearing. Do I worry what other people think? Not really, I get the odd comment, mainly positive and occasionally negative, but I think if you wear clothes with confidence most people don’t really notice what you’re wearing, and even fewer care what other people wear.
I don’t know where I’m going in the future. I’m might be inspired by one of the many great posters on Styleforum to try a new direction. The wardrobe is large enough that I don’t really need more clothes. I’ve started dabbling with denim more, and to my great surprise recently found I liked some sportswear – not a direction I’d ever have considered a few years back. I’m buying less clothes than I was as other interests divert funds: photography, fountain pens, gardening and whatever piques my interest next, but I’ll continue acting like a big kid with a dress-up box.
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