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Tied up in knots January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion, MetroSexual.

Traditional, macho, metrosexual or just a bit chilly, is the way in which a man wears his scarf really that telling?

What is the right way to wear a scarf? What is the right kind of scarf? Why are men dressing like women? Why is Mr Shorter so very interested?

I don’t claim to have any answers to these questions. But I do seem to be wearing a scarf as I write this and it does appear to be knotted, though in what style I’m not sure, have invented a glossary of knots that include The Fling, The Arctic Tuck, The Classic Traditional and The Boho. I guess mine might be The Arctic Fling.

What does this piece of neckwear say about me? Firstly, and most apparently, that I am fighting a preventative battle against the common cold. If 70% of the body’s heat escapes through the head, it’s surely a fair guess to say 25% escapes from the neck. If I can keep that 25% in, I lower the risk of having to dash around looking for Sudafed come the weekend.

The second point is that I am a ponce. I wear things because I think they’re fashionable and because I think it distinguishes me from other people. This is not an uncommon thing to do. In fact I’m looking at a colleague with a shaven head, triangular goatee beard and floral Hawaiian shirt worn underneath a Next sweater at this very moment. But while it may be common behaviour in the modern age, it was less so when Britain had an empire and all that. When men, without exception, wore their scarves in the Classic Traditional way.

Tied up in this woolly debate, it seems, is the theme of metrosexuality, which I have no time for. Mainly this is because the phrase was deliberately invented by some bloke in order to further his media career but also because it covers such a wide range of behaviour (from moisturising to liking milk in coffee) that almost all men might fall under the definition at some point.

I get the general gist: that wearing scarves with knots in them is a signifier of the fact that men are less manly than in the past and that if, God forbid, we were all drafted into combat we’d quail in the face of the enemy and demand the opportunity to have a nice cry. But we don’t know that would be the case, because it hasn’t happened, while it is true that those people who do bang the drum for men being men are those who have benefited from the most cosseted period of existence in history, namely that which followed the second world war.

If men wear a tie in a knot, or wear it indoors, or even wear it when they go to sleep, it says less about modern masculinity that it does about modern individuality; the prevailing sentiment that people should be allowed to express themselves in the way they choose without facing the reproof of others. And in that I guess I do agree, as a little more communal experience, a few more common threads in our national knitwear, might be a good thing. But not in the domain of the scarf,  on that point I remain steadfast.

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