If you take a look at a men’s fashion print magazine today, you will likely not see many men in their 40s, 50s, or beyond. Most models are barely out of their teens and mostly twens, and thus there is very little inspiraton for the seasoned or matured gentlemen who wants to look stylish but dress according to his age. You want to look good but skinny jeans, slim suits with short legs and short jackets with slim lapels are not your thing but that seems to be all you see online and offline.
We know that this is an issue for many of our readers and so we decided to interview David Evans, a lawyer turned men’s fashion blogger for men over 40. If you are in this age group, I am certain you will love it and learn a few things on how to be stylish, and what mistakes to avoid when you are a more seasoned gentleman, and even if you aren’t one of them yet – one day soon you will be and I am sure you have someone in your life who would love this kind of advice.
So read or watch the interview below. Please don’t forget to share and like it if you deem it worthy.
David Evans: Thank you very much! It’s great to be with you.
Sven Raphael Schneider: It’s great to have you. Thanks for being here. I think you are on of the very few men out there who actually focus on not the 20-year-olds, or the 30-year-olds, but older men. How did that happen? Tell us more about that.
DE: Well, I have absolutely no background in fashion or menswear or anything like that. In fact, five years ago, if we’ve been talking, you probably would have thought that I was rather badly dressed. So, about five years ago, I decided I want to do some writing, and I thought I’d start a blog to practice my writing so the next question was “What should I write about?”
SRS: Oh, really. So you just said “I want to write a book!” but you have no idea what to write about?
DE: Absolutely, yes! And the blog was really just to practice my writing skills and perhaps, put together a few ideas and hone them. I thought of all sorts of things, I thought of a cycling blog and a host of other things, but I think I thought that it’d be interesting to talk about something I know very little about. Something that I can maybe talk about with a little bit of humor because, after the age of 40, men find it quite hard knowing what to dress, where to buy their clothes, so I just thought if it made the blog a bit of a sort of journey or discovery, then maybe that would engage the readers. So, that very briefly is how it started.
SRS: Alright! You know I went through your blog, and I looked at your inaugural posts, and you mentioned the influence of your mother and The Sartorialist. Tell us more about that.
DE: Indeed, yes! Just trying to find inspiration for how I should dress to look a little bit better than I did. I went on to Google as I suppose most men would do, and I very quickly found the Sartorialist. There’s one photograph he took a few years ago of all the men at Pitti Uomo in Florence, and that was really my first inspiration. Although I say I really have no interest in menswear or clothes, or so on, I think there must have been a spark somewhere because my mother was a very, sort of artistic and stylish woman and I suspect that some of that influence maybe, rubbed off on me when I was much, much, younger.
SRS: I see, that’s good. But your background is law, is that right? What did you do before?
DE: Yeah, I took a law degree at University and so, then became a lawyer. I was in the branch of law that we called solicitors, over here. I did that for, what, approaching 30 years, probably. And then about, 10-12 years ago, I decided I wanted to do something else and so I re-trained as a teacher. I taught in a primary school which for us, over here, is for children up to the age of 11, for a few years. I still do a little bit of teaching, but otherwise, I’m now semi-retired really, so, I like to think of myself as a blogger who’s also an ex-teacher and an ex-lawyer.
SRS: Wonderful, that’s good! So, how old are you now?
DE: I’m 61 and a quarter.
SRS: Okay, so yeah, you definitely did go through the stages of 40 plus, 50 plus, and now, 60 plus so you have the experience.
DE: Indeed, yes.the demographic of the readers of my blog on Google Analytic because the largest chunk of my blog are sort of aged about 40-55 or something and then it became 60 and so I’m wondering whether I’ll ever get to the stage where I’m much, much, older than the vast bulk of my readers which could be quite interesting and maybe at that stage, I’d have to hand over to somebody younger, I don’t know.
SRS: Oh, well. At least, you’ve been there. You’ve been in your 40s, so you know what it felt like. If I write about men’s fashion in, you know, for 40 plus, and I’m in my 30s, I think it’s less credible.
DE: I’m not so sure really. I think, nowadays, menswear has such a sort of classic basis. You can be almost any age to write about it. To my surprise, I’ve got quite a high percentage of readers in their 20s. I think from the few that I spoken to, what they appreciate is the suits, the brogues, the ties, the pocket squares. There is a sizeable number of young men in their 20s and 30s who do dress that way, and it’s the same with you over in the States. So either way, I’ll advise you, almost whatever age you are to write about those things.
SRS: That’s true! And sometimes you know, maybe if you have a babyface, and you intend to actually want to look older, so dress can be part of that. There is this tendency in fashion ads to go young but sometimes, especially for men, it’s advantageous to look a little more seasoned. You mentioned Pitti Uomo, we did in fact, do a piece on the more seasoned gentlemen and how they dress versus the 20-year-olds because it is different. It’s more, I would say, flashy and flamboyant than the average 60 year old would dress but I think everybody at Pitti Uomo is dressed differently than the regular person. It just makes sense, and it kind of fits in.
DE: Yes! I suppose what’s interesting is that most of the men at Pitti Uomo are probably involved in some way in menswear and fashion industry, so they probably tend to dress that way. I think, probably what I’m trying to look for is something,is a style that men on the street can dress in without necessarily feeling too self-conscious. You can take elements from what the men wear at Pitti Uomo but perhaps, not go quite as extreme.
SRS: On a more personal level, what were the challenges you experienced with your wardrobe once you turned 40?
DE: I think when I was 40, 21 years ago, I certainly didn’t have the interest in clothes as I do now but, thinking back to that period of time, even without that interest that I have now, the passion for clothes, because you’re in that transition from being young to being older, there is a worry about whether you can wear that t-shirt or those shorts. Now I’m older, should I really be wearing these things? There are concerns that seem to sort of come to dominate your existence in many ways. I think, it’s all sort of encouraged by the menswear industry which you’ve touched on earlier, tends to just advertise too much younger men, most models are probably in their early 20s in menswear adverts. I think that it probably promotes a slight feeling of concern in the older men. if it’s only younger men who are wearing these things, what should I be wearing?
SRS: Exactly! There’s this kind of void where you just don’t know what’s going on.
DE: Precisely, yeah!
SRS: You probably have a chance to speak to your readers or exchange emails, what are the concerns or challenges they have? What do you hear over and over again?
DE: Interestingly, it’s quite often price. A lot of men, particularly over here, I don’t know whether it’s the same with you in the States, Is it right to buy cheap clothing? So, if I write about something which is fairly pricey, I will certainly get a few people commenting that they can buy similar stuff from X on the high street for sort of a tenth of the price. So, although I try and cover on the blog, clothing of all prices, I do find it’s one of the most regular comments I get from my readers. The price of something, I do occasionally try to make a point, that something cost more for a reason is because it’s good quality, it’s going to last longer, it’s going to fit better, the quality of materials is going to be better.
SRS: That’s true. When you say made in UK, you mean mostly made in England, is that right?
DE: No, I mean made in any countries of the United Kingdom, that’s what I’m talking about, really. I have on my blog a list of British-made menswear, and I’m really looking at companies that supply or make menswear within those four countries.
SRS: So, how do you think this is special compared to, let’s say, made in Italy, France, Germany, made in US, made in Japan. What makes it special for you?
DE: I don’t think I’m claiming it’s special in the sense it’s better. I’m writing about it because it’s my country and I suppose, I’m interested in it because this is a British thing. it would be equally easy to write about the menswear that was made in Japan, or France, or States, where there are very similar movements, I understand. Even in China, I gather there’s a rise in the sort of pride in made in China clothing and some of it is very quality. So, if I lived in the States, I’d probably be doing something very similar but for American-made menswear, sort of little artisan workshops that are producing denim and so on, would be a great interest to me.
SRS: You’re right! There’s a big movement here too, like just having this kind of boots, and jeans, and shirts, and so forth.
DE: I think there is a sort of pride to wearing stuff that is made in your country, and you can sort of think, well, I am helping the economy, I am helping employments, and in a way, maybe that’s more rewarding than helping the economies of countries that are thousands of miles away.
SRS: So, we take a step back from the British, UK made and more about age appropriate clothing. How would you define that?
DE: I think, looking at it from my perspective as the older man, to me, and many may disagree with this, age appropriate clothing is something that’s fairly classic in terms of its cut and its style. Not too extreme but having said that what interests me is that, I know men of my age who do wear Converse and very tight jeans, and Harrington jackets, so whatever and they look great in it. So, one of the things I haven’t yet quite got my finger on is why they look so good in what, with otherwise, clothing which would be worn exclusively by younger men. Some men manage it, and others don’t.
SRS: So, would you say, never get too old for denim and sneakers?
DE: No. I don’t think they do. Denim has been around longer than any of us and jeans have been around longer than any man on the planet. Seems quite wrong that it should just be seen as something that’s exclusively for young men and the older man may want to choose the slightly more relaxed fit because you get to an age where your shape changes, you may not look great enough in a tight pair of jeans, but I don’t see why men of any age shouldn’t wear jeans and the same with sneakers and trainers.
SRS: Okay, so, when men get older, things change. Your hair, it turns gray, your metabolism slows down. Let’s assume you’ve already developed a wardrobe in your 20s and 30s, will that have to change once you get into your 40s and 50s?
DE: I think that’s a slow process. I don’t think you wake up one morning and throw open the doors of your wardrobe and think Oh, I can’t wear any of this. it happens slowly, suddenly, you’re no longer a 32-inch waist, and you might become a 34-inch waist and then a few years later, 36, it goes on like that. I think it sort of happens slowly so, you adapt your style slowly, and as your clothes wear out, you change them.
SRS: Are there any colors that work particularly well with gray hair, in your experience?
DE: I quite like that gray, silver vibe with gray hair. So, maybe, a gray flannel suit but then you can pick out a bit of color, pocket square and the tie and so on. I like dark blue, I’m wearing a denim shirt and a sort of chambray pocket square with a sort of silvery gray, denim jacket. I think the great thing about gray hair is that almost anything will go with it, so you probably want to try bringing out a bit of color, maybe just pops of color around the tie, accessories, and so on.
SRS: Do you find that there are certain patterns that work better for you now that you have gray hair than before?
DE: That’s quite a difficult question because I think patterns as a concept is something that I never really thought about longer than 5 years ago anyway and so I have no real experience of how I would have treated pattern when I had in my original hair color. It can, I think probably, I can’t really see that having gray hair would make a great deal of difference to be quite honest. I like patterns! I like checks, Glenn checks, and herringbones and so on. So many of them do have a gray base to them, so they do go well with gray hair. As I was saying earlier, you could bring out the color in a nice paisley tie, or a pocket square, or striped shirt or something.
SRS: That’s a good point! How about socks? I’ve heard like older men tell me, you know I got these socks with some color, and now I get compliments all the time, is that something you’ve experienced as well?
DE: Yeah, I do wear colored socks. I tend to wear plain, colored socks. I’m not a great lover of patterned socks, I think that’s something you’ve got to be very, very, careful with. I remember in my less educated days, in the 80s, I used to wear with my pinstripe suit as a lawyer, I used to wear a sort of Disney pattern socks, which, you know, I think about now, and I just cringe. So, I think that probably gave me a disliking for patterned socks. Yes, I think it can be really interesting to play with, with color because we were talking earlier about the gray suit, the gray hair even may be a white shirt and then you could wear a bright blue paisley tie and a bright blue pair of socks with a pair of black shoes. Suddenly, what is a very gray look is just lifted by two items of clothing, two accessories which bring a little pop of bright cobalt blue or whatever it is to the look. I think it can really work well.
SRS: There’s always a kind of series of questions that we ask people, and it’s a simple one or the other and so let’s start. Oxford or Derby?
DE: For me, Derby. Simply because the shape of the oxford isn’t so suitable for my poor injured foot so Derby.
DE: Either! For me, it’s going to entirely depend on the color, the shape, and so on. I have no particular preference on the type of cloth in that sense.
DE: Unfortunately, I put bowties in the same category as cravats. it’s something for me to experiment with some time.
SRS: Absolutely. Belts or suspenders?
DE: Well, it’s interesting. I just thought to experiment with what we call braces, and you call it suspenders. I just had a suit made with buttons or braces for suspenders. I really just tried them out for the first time last week, so this is a very timely question. I have to say, I really enjoyed the experience. Inevitably, I had the braces too tight to start with, I loosen them and loosen them, and loosen them, and ended up with something that was very, very comfortable. So, I think, I’d probably be using those a lot more but for the time being, I’d have to say belt.
SRS: Alright! Barrel cuff or French cuff?
DE: Entirely depends on the circumstances. I’ll wear a French cuff, what we call the double cuff, for something fairly formal. So it’s sort of horses for courses on that one, for me.
DE: Generally, no unless it’s very cold in which case, I will wear an undershirt, what we call a vest but you call the vest something else. We sort of got this transatlantic terminology clash here, haven’t we? (laughs)
SRS: Exactly! So off the rack or bespoke?
DE: I’d love to say bespoke but like any other man, I couldn’t afford to be bespoke all the time, and so I’d have to say off the rack although my preference would be to have bespoke.
SRS: Tell us more about you current wardrobe. What does it consist of? What does it look like in terms of ratio, bespoke, made to measure, ready to wear?
DE: At the moment, there’s very little bespoke. There’s a fair amount of made to measure suit, but the vast majority of it is off the peg. Of course, being a blogger, I get quite a lot of stuff given to me. Having said that, I think it’s actually probably a smaller wardrobe than you’d expect from a blogger because I tend to have this rule that some stuff that comes in at the bottom, it goes out at the top, and I take it off to a charity shop, I think what you would call a thrift shop. So, I try and keep a fairly small selection, partly because my wardrobe is physically quite small.
SRS: So how many suits and sportcoats do you have right now?
DE: I’ve probably got about 4 or 5 suits, maybe 6. About the same number of sport coats, maybe 20 shirts, 2 or 3 waistcoats, vests as you would call them. Probably about 15 pairs of brogues, hundreds of pairs of socks, what else haven’t I mentioned? Probably about 40 ties, something like that, probably about 60 pocket squares all stuffed in a drawer, maybe 5 or 6 pairs of chinos, a couple of pairs of denim jeans, a pair of trainers, about 4 or 5 bags of every sort, leather, tweed, shoulder bags, handbags… Not a huge wardrobe really. Probably, if I was going to have a wardrobe of choice, it would be three bespoke suits, one for summer, one for very formal, and one for sort of in between. Maybe ten handmade shirts from Turnbull & Asser or something, you know but it never quite works out like that, does it?
SRS: You mentioned a suit that was being made for you, tell us more about that, the pattern, who makes it?
DE: My first, sort of proper bespoke suit was a very nice tweed suit made for me by a tailor in East London, which, very unfortunate, I lost the trousers, I lost the pants on the bus somewhere after I’ve taken them to be repaired. So, my one bespoke suit is just a jacket at the moment. I’ve got three of four suits which were made for me, offered to me as a blogger, made to measure. Various services where one of them is a service where you all your measurements online and the suits eventually appear. Another one was a combination of that. It’s quite interesting, those suits are, you know, they fit reasonably well but not as well, obviously as a bespoke suit. I am having a bespoke morning coat trousers made at the moment by a tailor called Cad and the Dandy in Savile Row, and that’s for my daughter’s wedding. I’m also in the middle of a very interesting project with Johnstons of Elgin who are in Scotland, and they weave cloth. They very kindly invited me to help, to work with them, to design cloth and are then going to have that made into a suit by Dege & Skinner, who are very well established tailors on the Savile Row. The cloth is sort of a Prince of Wales check sort of variation so that, for me, is very exciting because it’s a new departure for me to have a truly Savile Row bespoke suit.
SRS: That sounds very exciting! What are things you’re planning for the Grey Fox blog in the future?
DE: Well, one thing I started to do last year was a photoshoot where I borrow or call in, or I’m given clothing by a brand and I work with a friend of mine who’s a superb personal stylist and a photographer. I’m just photographed wearing their products and the reason I do that is linked to this concern I have that these brands are using just young models to sell their products, so the older men do not really get a chance to see that they do look good on older men, hopefully. So, that’s something I want to do a little bit more of, and I’m also interestingly being asked to do various talks and hosted events, which is quite interesting, being put forward as the guru, the expert, which I don’t really think I am but that’s a very interesting experience for me to sort of pass on the results of my journey so far to all the men in a similar position to. So, there’s plenty happening in a way, almost too much. I think being a successful blogger when you’re on your own can be great fun, but it also brings a lot of pressure. Every day I get a dozen or two emails asking me to work with brands or to write about products, I’m sure you get exactly the same thing. When you’re on your own, it can be very difficult to deal with that simply because you haven’t got enough hours in a day to deal with the administration, and the emails, and so on. All that is a challenge which I’m trying to work on at the moment. Thinking about whether a blog should be commercialized because I think when you’re a personal blogger in my position, people do like to think that what they’re getting is your personal opinion rather than the opinion that’s being paid for. I don’t want to stunt the blog development by being suddenly too commercial so, I’m not complaining, it’s a very interesting period to be going through as a blogger, I really find the whole thing very stimulating and enjoyable.
SRS: Wonderful! Thank you very much for the interview, David. I thought it was very interesting.