1.How do you feel about getting older?
Fragments of two well-known poems summarize my feelings quite well:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
The first is Dylan Thomas. The second, of course, is Tennyson.
I don’t particularly like getting older and I try not to do too much of the
“back in my day...” stuff. But getting older is far better than the
alternative. As I’ve gotten older, I have struggled to come to terms with
my mortality. I realize now that I have a finite number of sunrises to see,
sunsets to marvel at, and so on. I’ve become far less tolerant of people
who waste my time (not that I ever was all that tolerant). I won’t get those
minutes back and I resent their loss more than ever.
But, at 62, I am much more healthy, much more fit, than my parents were
at the same age, and much, much more healthy than my grandmothers
were. Both my grandfathers died before they were my age, of what are
now preventable diseases. So, better nutrition, better health care, and a
life lived in what we may come to see as a golden age (at least for the
western democracies) have been to my great good fortune.
2. Have you changed the way you dress as you get older and if so, how?
Yes, considerably. My career has been in the computer industry and for
most of that time I dressed in the uniform of jeans and a polo shirt, or
something similar. I have, however, always been interested in fashion, both men’s and women’s.
And over the years, I bought one or two pieces, like a jacket, say, or a suit. But I hardly ever wore them. And, especially while raising a family, one has other things to focus on. But I’ve never been afraid to be a little different, I’ve always loved colour, I hate looking
drab. And, to me, most importantly, I’ve never wanted to be the guy
looking at someone else thinking “I wish I could wear that”, or “I wish I
could pull that off...”. I want to be the man that other people are looking
at and wishing they could pull off what I’m wearing. I know that sounds
terrible and narcissistic, but what I mean is I don’t want to have the
regrets of omission.
And so, after my kids were grown, and after some major life changes, I
started to dress more in the way I wanted to dress to express my
personality. I had always wanted to commission a “savile row” suit, and so
I did. I enjoyed the experience and the result and from there it was a
short trip to falling completely down the rabbit hole.
I love wearing a dinner jacket and all the stuff that goes along with that.
Most men will say something like “I would wear a tux, but I never have the
occasion”. My attitude is that I don’t need any else’s permission to wear a dinner jacket. So I wear one out to dinner with my wife.
It’s a dinner jacket, after all. It bothers me not in the slightest that I’m usually the only person dressed like me.
3. Do you feel there is too much pressure to look younger these days?
Only on people who have little or no confidence in themselves. I think if
you look to others for your sense of self-worth then you will always be at
the mercy of some cultural pressure. I believe that if you know who you
are and have confidence in yourself, you simply don’t notice pressure from
others to do much of anything at all.
4. What’s your response to the guidance on how to dress over a ‘certain age’?
I ignore it, to the extent that I’m aware of it.
5. Where do you seek inspiration?
Old Hollywood. Fred Astaire, for example. I do envy (to gainsay what I
wrote above) how effortlessly he wears white tie in some of his mid-
thirties movies. He wears it because it’s after 6pm and that is what one
wears, or so he makes it seem. I try to do the same with black tie. Cary
Grant is another inspiration. Classic, English tailoring. I love tweed. Robert
Hardy, as Siegfried Farnon, was an inspiration when I was a young man.
Present-day, I find inspiration from people I’ve come to know, such as
Nigel Cleaver, a client of yours. The man is just so beautifully dressed.
Oddly, one place I find inspiration is Cesare Attolini lookbooks. I’ve blatantly copied several things right out of those books. And their model, TR Pescod, is one guy who I might consider swapping places with!
Mostly I see a look and I try to copy it, if I like it. It might be a tie, or a jacket design or a fabric. And sometimes I just make stuff up for myself.
6. Where do you buy your clothes and is it different to when you were younger?
Vastly different to when I was younger. I buy my suits and jackets from Steed, Steven Hitchcock, Edward Sexton, and Hemrajani Brothers. Some trousers, too, although I do sometimes buy casual trousers off the rack. Shirts from Emma Willis and Budd. Ties from H.N. White in London and a few other places. Shoes are bespoke from Nicholas Templeman or ready-to-wear from Edward Green. Overcoats from Burberry. Hats from a variety of places, but lately I’ve bought from Optimo in Chicago. I’ve recently discovered a hatmaker in Florida run by some Ecuadorean ladies that have beautiful Panamas, but also Brent Black, in Hawaii, is excellent.
Jermyn Street is hallowed ground to me and always has been. I’ve worn Floris almost all my life.
7. Are there certain aspects you look for in clothes that you might not have before?
The most important thing I’ve learned is fit. Both what constitutes “good” fit, but also how I want clothes to fit. Fit is also strongly related to my perception of overall quality. And fit also goes right back to your question about pressure to look younger. I simply won’t buy a jacket that is too short or too tight, for example, even though that has been fashionable. Same with trousers. so, I suppose, good fit also implies comfort.
I’ve also become much more impatient with poor quality, but more than anything else I have no tolerance for poor customer service. If I’m paying for a premium garment or anything at all, then I expect an equivalent level of customer service. I won’t tolerate repeated mistakes, say, or carelessness. I simply take my business elsewhere.
Life is too short.
You can follow Andy on Instagram @Styleafter50
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