Selfridge's Magazine October 1984
Men's fashion in 1984!
By Christopher Long
Men's clothes are looking particularly good this season. Gone are the days when we had about four standard uniforms, and woe-betide the man who broke the rules. Men's fashion at Selfridges shows that now we can break those rigid rules and choose what we want. Selfridges have selected clothes from all over the world that co-ordinate well, are smart, comfortable, casual, traditional or trend-setting. Clothes that look practical, sporty, romantic, or classic. But above all clothes to be looked at: clothes that have a look.
Designers from all over Europe like Valentino, Cerutti, Hechter, Faconnable, Cardin an Yves Saint Laurent - are transforming the way men look. Selfridges has signed them all up, plus traditional famous British names like DAKS, Aquascutum and Jaeger. One of the most exciting designers is Emanuel Ungaro, who appears exclusively at Selfridges this year. His clothes range from suits, sports jackets and coats to the ultimate in the layered look casual wear. He sees us wearing quilted, bomber-style jackets over layers of other clothing to create a rich combination of colours and textiles.
All this is a long way removed from the other casual look which predominates this year. This is the athletic, sports-wear style which has grown out of our increasing obsession with fitness and body consciousness.
Another difference is the Preppy look that was born on the Ivy League campuses and turned into cult on its way through Connecticut to Cape Cod. Fabrics such as cotton, wool and linen are what Preppies look for; and what they'll find in abundance at Selfridges. Shirtmakers such as Van Heusen provide the college look, which can be topped off with a Cardin school tie and the obligatory '50's style geometric sleeveless pullover. Look out for Gaeltarra, Coxmore and the rather sportier McGeorge knitwear. Add to this a herring-bone tweed jacket from Selfridges own label and a pair of light-weight grey, all-wool trousers, and one of the subtle variations on the Preppy look can be achieved in minutes.
No-one is likely to be out of fashion this year, because what's on offer caters for all tastes. Nowhere is this more obvious than Selfridges Shirt Department. Names like Ted Lapidus and Yves Saint Laurent are offering a huge variety of colours, cut, collar shape and pattern. So do John Langford, Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Balmain, Lanvin, Louis Philippe and Selfidges own label. The result is that if you like button-down collars you'll find them. If you fancy Bengal striped you'll find them too - particularly among the vast range of shirts in the Van Heusen collection. They are still the only people to offer shirts in five different sleeve lengths.
To go with the shirts, Selfridges offer one of the most comprehensive ranges of designer ties in London. In addition to Selfridges own label, you can find Armani, Givenchy, Dior, Valentino, Cardin, Balmain, Balenciaga, Dunhill, Yves Saint Laurent, Lancôme and Hartnell. This autumn the blades are neither narrow nor wide, but the gossip is that the 'kipper' is due for a comeback soon.
For daywear, the quality look is very strong. Selfridges predict that we'll be 'investing' in top quality suits from Pierre Cardin, Louis Feraud, Chester Barrie, Christian Dior, Emanuel Ungaro and other designers, and we will be rediscovering the glamour of overcoats and trenchcoats.
When it comes to footwear, the Bally Suisse range is still regarded by the cognoscenti as sorting out the stylists from the clones. There is also the appeal of patent leather shoes, such as those from Roland Cartier for evening wear, which are de rigeur nowadays. In fact, evening wear is the other area where big changes have taken place. Formality is with us again. Ungaro's dashing navy cape, worn over dinner jackets from Young's, and the vogue for wearing bow ties of almost any colour including white, with soft or winged collars with a dinner jacket is quite strong. The evening wear revolution symbolises the whole shift in men's fashions. You can wear a pink Frank Muir bow tie with whatever collar you like, and with whatever dinner suit you like, because now you're dressing to please yourselves and other people - you are no longer dressing in order to merge into the background.
What about nightwear? Well, Bonsoir have a range of elegant night attire; there are handsome pyjamas from Derek Rose, and smashing looking nightshirts and bathrobes galore.
This new-found fashion consciousness extends itself to our socks and underwear. Emminence, Hom and Mariner are tempting us to buy either the briefest of briefs or boxer-shorts. Even Cardin has haute couture briefs, though some Englishmen will be pleased to hear that traditional tastes are still admirably catered for by Chilprufe, Wolsey, Y-Front and Sunspel.
Cardin, in fact, turns up everywhere. His virtually see-through socks have become almost indispensable to those who wear top quality shoes, such as those from the previously mentioned Roland Cartier range. Selfridges foresee even more interest this year in cashmere socks from Coxmore and cotton-lisle socks from Pantherella.
The choice of textile is now all important in most menswear. There has been a rebellion against bulky fabrics in suits and casual wear. There is more drill and canvas available than ever before. Cotton, wool and linen dominate the scene, and designers are hoping that the British will soon learn to wear linen more easily than in the past. It's light and feels terrific, but it's meant to be creased. Continentals despair of Englishmen who try in vain to keep it neatly pressed. Don't bother! Like everything else in menswear, if it looks good and feels good to you, then you can't go far wrong, because almost everything can be worn with almost anything else.
A superb, grey, all-wool suit from Louis Feraud, for example, will look marvellous worn with a plain shirt from Christian Dior and a stripped college-look tie from Cardin, or alternatively with a striped shirt from Van Heusen and a plain tie from Armani. Take off the jacket, loosen the tie and put on a geometrically patterned knitted jacket from Sabre, and you'll look casual all the way down to the toe-caps of your lace-ups or burgundy slip-ons.
From there it's not a great step for mankind to exchange the shirt for a grey/blue/brown checked one to put on under a pullover, all topped off with a herring-bone tweed jacket from Selfridges own label.
Another trend predicted by Selfridges buyers is the over-dressed '30's style most associated with Sir Anthony Eden and even Gordon Selfridge himself. The City could well see a still more marked preference for traditional grey and chalk-striped suits from Chester Barrie, combined with the finest, ever present mallacca handled brollies from Peerless.
The suits aren't exactly like the originals because all suits are two-buttoned this year, but it is expected that button-holes, black brogues and leather briefcases will be seen in Bishopsgate again.
1984 is the year that the British male enjoys his clothes and enjoys choosing them. At Selfridges he can find both the quality and variety of good-looking style to complement his own expanding life style.
© (1984) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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