Dressing in the full traditions of men’s clothing can make one a caricature. It must be combined with a touch of originality.
Some men want to be an embodiment of what is – necessarily – historical dress, and become an illustration from an old copy of US Esquire. They take every aspect of, for example, early twentieth century English country wear, and they copy it. They wear the cord trousers, the tweed jacket, the checked shirt and the wool tie. They add the flat cap, the brogues and the bright socks. They may add a hunting jacket with leather padding on the shoulder to protect from the impact of a gun’s recoil, or a waxed Barbour jacket with bellow pockets to accommodate shells.
These items are all correct, historically. And the chances are they will be of the highest quality, complement the wearer’s skin tones and fit him perfectly – as he takes great care over these elements as well. But it is just mimicry. He is in costume.
Even Prince Charles, on a hunt around Balmoral, doesn’t follow the traditions of hunt clothing this fastidiously. And he has an excuse for wearing something similar – he is actually hunting, he is actually English and all his forbears wore similar pieces throughout their history.
The style aficionado who copies it is just dressing up. He has none of the creative element that can make dressing so enjoyable, and so personal.