I was recently in Barcelona on a weekend away with friends for one of their 40th birthdays (any portrayal of individuals is purely fictional of course!).
I found myself zoning out of the Estrella-induced reminiscing on occasion to analyse what everyone was wearing. It wasn’t an exercise in nit-picking or oneupmanship, but I was curious as to who in the group really cared about what they were wearing. Is it true that the majority of men my age don’t care that much about what they wear?
The definitely-maybes are the best denim, t-shirts, shirts and shoes that I possess.
Having two small kids means that a weekend away anywhere with anyone at anytime, is a big deal in my social calendar. I tend to try and bring my “A” game style wise. This means possibly a new purchase to really get the juices flowing. It certainly means a meta-analysis of my wardrobe contents and consequently a ruthless separating of wheat from the chaff. The definitely-maybes are the best denim, t-shirts, shirts and shoes that I possess. Travel, daytime and evening wear combinations are all thrashed out. All the contenders are laid out on the bed and analysed like army recruits in their freshly polished boots. A weekend away is not the time for holding back and leaving your best clothes at home. Otherwise, why bother buying nice clothes in the first place? The chaff is anything that has been worn a stack of times, makes me look like an eejit or doesn’t have the special feelgood association.
The opposite hemisphere of my brain was singing “let it go, let it go.”
Looking around the table in Barcelona, I examined the apparel on show. Is that their best clothes they have or are they not making an effort? Does the fact some guys wear suits during the week make their downtime clothes ultra-casual? Maybe I should have asked them individually and saved myself the speculation, but then again it’s not manly to discuss clothes too much. Running gear, yes. Hill-walking gear, yes. Bicycles, car engines, sport, the attractive woman who just walked by, yes, yes, yes and yes. “Where did you get that shirt? It looks great on you.” NO! A definite omerta code is observed here. It’s up there with the “look straight ahead when at the urinals at all times” rule.
Everybody scrubbed up and we were all more presentable for heading out on the town that night. The style obsessive in me did find myself muttering something about a couple of outfits being more suited to the weekend supermarket run than a Saturday night out in Barcelona’s bangin’ Born district all the same. The other hemisphere of my brain was singing “let it go, let it go” (repeat viewings of Frozen with a 3yr old does this to a 41yr old man’s brain). In the end I forgot about it and well all had a great night out, regardless of how we were dressed.
I definitely witnessed a chasm between the casual attire and the step up to the dreaded “smart-casual” style at night among the guys. A loose-fitting polo and shorts is fine by day, I tend to go a bit smarter or preppy myself generally, along with the usual t-shirt and short-sleeved shirts. It is downtime after all and guys my age are obviously comfortable in laid back, easy-going clothes by day. From my observations in Barcelona and over the years, guys struggle to make the transition to smarter clothes and sharper style for night-time wear (aka hittin’ the town clobber). I think this is possibly where guys in their mid-thirties and beyond have most to learn. There is quite a jump from daytime denim to smarter, sleeker denim for a dinner date or a night out. Same goes for shirts, polos, sneakers etc etc. What is decent during the day quite often looks under-cooked on a night out. I get the feeling a lot of men simply don’t have the options in their wardrobe. Time to invest guys!
What made the cut for Barcelona (hand luggage only & covered 3 days & 2 nights)-
Sunspel Breton vest, Stone Island polo (slim fit), Oliver Spencer envelope tee, J Crew shorts, Ted Baker chinos. Adidas Spezial ltd edition sneakers.
Reiss black blazer, Paul Smith floral shirt, Acne Studios tee, Paul Smith black denims (slim leg), Paul Smith Kasmin boots.
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