BOOK REVIEW By Belinda Morris
Men of Style By Josh Sims (£19.95, Laurence King)
How do you define style? What makes one man stylish – as opposed to, say, simply well-dressed or well-versed in the vagaries of fashion? Well, it certainly isn’t all about being clad head to foot in designer labels or about changing your look religiously every season – it’s far harder to put your finger on than that.
In making his selection of 43 snappy dressers, writer Josh Sims, has made a pretty decent job of nailing the definition of style. You might feel that you could add one or two more names to the list… but he had to draw the line somewhere of course. And if picking more than one Rolling Stone was overkill, then Keith Richards – the man who inspired Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow – must surely be the chosen one for his trench coat, silk shirts, skinny jeans, bandana, kohled eyes and excessive silver jewellery. Rock ‘n’ roll sexy insouciance personified.
But style, as Sims points out, does not have to necessarily mean radical, it should (as Chanel dictated) be timeless in fact. But the stylish tend to have a way of playing with detail, tweaking convention a tad and they tend to be consistent – witness Gianni Agnelli’s habit of wearing his watch over his shirt cuff and his ties just off-centre – because it suits them to do so, not because fashion says they must.
While I will admit to knowing little about Fiat boss Agnelli’s dress-sense and nothing at all about basketball player Walt Frazier’s dandified look or Mark Twain’s preference for white suits… as dark ones lowered his spirits, I cannot argue with any of Sims’ choices in this book. From Churchill to Capote, Hendrix to Hockney and Warhol to Wilde – they’re all sartorial heroes and as Sims throws light on their lives he reveals just why all eyes are, and were, drawn to them.