Over the festive period, many of us will have had the pleasure of attending the odd pantomime or watching period dramas on the television. While we can forgive a little artistic licence in the wardrobe departments, there’s a palpable sense that until relatively recently men took great care of their appearance. They would spend time and attention on their look to remain not just stylish but also have a little fun in the process. Somewhere along the line, this attitude has had all its rough edges worn away and the whole idea of looking spiffing has become a source of embarrassment, attracting accusations of vanity.
Take a wander around a fine art gallery and have a look at the collected portraits of aristocrats, royals, entrepreneurs, high-ranking military types and celebrities from the eighteenth century. You won’t find a hint of embarrassment in the extravagant garb. You’ll see feathers, tights, trinkets, jewellery, outrageous coiffures, knee-length boots, make up and clothes of the finest materials imaginable. Jeans, tee shirts and trainers are conspicuous by their absence (granted, partly due to their non-existence). Yet even with all this finery and attitude, men still somehow look masculine and powerful.
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