Experience Required: Style Lessons From Men In Their Sixties

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Experience Required: Style Lessons From Men In Their Sixties

Words by Ms Fedora Abu | Photography by Ms Tami Aftab | Styling by Ms Catherine Hayward

12 August 2022

Watch out, Gen Z. Step aside, millennials. This is the season of the stylish sixtysomething. Fed up with fashion’s fixation with youth, we think it is time to pay homage to a slightly more mature crowd of clothes lovers, the men who’ve done a little living and accumulated an enviable wardrobe in the process. In 2022, 60 is looking pretty cool. No longer bound by antiquated rules about what’s age-appropriate, men in their sixties or older might be inclined to mix their bespoke tailoring with adidas sneakers, take style cues from the rapper Slowthai and sport vintage Helmut Lang (dadcore this is not). But don’t take our word for it – see for yourself. We’ve photographed five of London’s best-dressed sexagenarians who could give #menswear TikTok a run for its money – and then some.

Model and vintage clothes seller

Mr Herbie Mensah, 63

Mr Herbie Mensah began modelling in the 1980s after a chance encounter with Mr Malcolm McLaren, who introduced him to fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood. His modelling career was revived in 2018, when he was signed by the Grey Model Agency. His true passion, however, is customising, upcycling and selling vintage clothes at his stall in Portobello Market in Notting Hill, west London.

Who influenced your style when you were younger?

I was a soul boy initially, so I went to the soul clubs and I lived to dance. I lived through the New Romantic era and those clothes at that time were sort of the clothes to have. And there was a little punk thrown in because Vivienne used to pay us in clothes. At first, I didn’t like it, but then it grew on me and I started buying the stuff, obviously at a big discount. I have so many one-off pieces and a lot of samples.

How would you sum up your style now?

My style these days is sort of a 1970s, 1980s vibes meets 2022. For day, I wear a lot of workwear. The jackets and the trousers. Sort of beat-up, quite scruffy looking. I don’t like to look like I’ve tried too hard, like all smart and coiffured. I hate that look basically. I’d wear a pair of scruffy shoes with a smart suit or a suit with a pair of trainers.

Is there anything you’d never wear?

I don’t wear anything too skinny-fit. That’s a no-no for someone of my age. And I try not to go too mutton dressed as lamb. I steer clear of hoodies, put it that way.

Who are your favourite designers?

Dries Van Noten ticks all my boxes of what I like to wear. It’s loose fitting. It’s casual. It’s colourful. It’s got that sort of 1980s, 1990s, a bit workwear vibe. It feels like something someone of my age would wear without looking like you’ve tried too hard. And it’s got that sort of quirkiness.

How did you feel about turning 60?

I tell everybody I’m 40! I’d say 60 is the new 40. When I was younger, I thought, 40? My God! I’d hate to be out clubbing and partying when I’m 40. I used to think, that’s it. You’re way past it, but no. I’m still out and about. I can still hit the dance floor and party with the rest of them. And I’ve still got my hair.

Have you always worn your hair in dreadlocks?

I’ve had my hair like this for almost 40 years now. It’s gone grey, mind you, but I’ve still got it.

Did you ever think of cutting it?

Never. No way, no way. It’s part of your identity. I have a few friends who’ve had dreadlocks and they started to recede in the middle part. You kind of have to have a word and say, “Look, it’s time to let it go,” rather than wear a hat or have it sort of combed over. I’m going to hang on to it for dear life.

Writer

Mr Paul Gorman, 62

The arts and culture writer Mr Paul Gorman has written books on everything from the history of the fashion magazine The Face to the work of the graphic designer Mr Barney Bubbles, although he is perhaps best known for his definitive biography of the punk pioneer Mr Malcolm McLaren. His latest book, Totally Wired, a history of the music press, is out in September.

Who and what has shaped your style?

When I worked as a West Coast editor in LA during the late 1980s, early 1990s, acid house and rave had just come along and freed people like me who wore pretty buttoned-down suits. I came back to the UK a different person with a different attitude to clothes and visual culture.

How do you like to dress now?

Whatever I wear, there’s always an element of blue. I don’t think I’m capable of ever being too neat. I kind of like to be slightly more shabby. If I wear a suit, then I’d like to wear a scarf made from a 1950s kimono or boots that I haven’t polished.

Has your style changed since you turned 60?

It’s definitely more relaxed. And kind of experimental, in a way. I’ve got a tie-dye T-shirt with teddy bears on it and to wear that with a suit just makes me laugh. Other people go, “What the fuck are you wearing?” But I kind of like that.

Is there anything in your wardrobe that you don’t wear but can’t let go of?

I’ve got a shirt from Let It Rock, which was Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop – kind of Teddy Boy, rocker emporium from 1974, I think – which my brother gave me because it no longer fitted him and it is absolutely tiny. I can’t believe I used to walk around in it.

Whose style do you admire?

I quite like Slowthai’s style, the way he won’t wear a shirt a lot of the time or he’ll be in a pair of pants almost, but then other times he’ll wear a great pair of creepers. The same with Iggy Pop. He’s all about his body, but he can wear clothes really well. Those people are interesting because they’ve got interesting bodies. The clothes are not an adornment, but an addition.

What style and life advice would you give to a man approaching 60?

Relax into it. Free your arse and your mind will follow.

Designer and director

Mr Patrick Kinmonth, 64

Director, designer, decorator, writer – the polymath Mr Patrick Kinmonth does it all, and very well, too. He began his career at British Vogue, where he held the role of arts editor and worked with world-class photographers and stylists. His latest projects include directing and designing for the Royal Danish Opera and Danish Dance Theatre and creating a line of fabrics and wallpapers for Chelsea Textiles.

How has your career shaped your style?

Costume is a big thing that I do, so I do care about how things are made. Designing for an opera is almost like doing a couture collection and I’ve gone through phases of trying to simplify my wardrobe. There was a period where I thought all you need is a beautiful blue suit that’s lightweight in the summer and a woollier one in the winter – very stripped down. In fact, I’m happier not wearing classic clothes and my wardrobe is extraordinarily eclectic.

What sort of clothes did you wear when you worked at Vogue?

I liked the first Japanese new wave – Yohji Yamamoto and Helmut Lang, basically. And quite honestly, Yohji Yamamoto and Helmut Lang could see me through. I still wear the things I bought then. They’ve stood up to the journey.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

My favourite things are by Rubinacci, the Neapolitan tailor. He had this incredible ability to cut in linen and in very light, unlined fabrics. After he died, they had a sale of all the samples when they were moving and I bought a lot of his clothes. Those will not be going to the Red Cross.

Which fashion designers are you most impressed by?

You can’t avoid the influence of Alessandro Michele at Gucci and Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga. Alessandro has a passion for the past and putting it into the present and I have always been very sympathetic to what he’s doing. And I think the intelligence and rigour of Demna is a new layer.

What style and life advice would you give a man approaching 60?

Keep the foundation, which is yourself, in as good order as you can, because then you can wear anything. Don’t lose the architecture.

Business owner

Mr Charles Aboah, 62

Alongside his wife, the talent agent Ms Camilla Lowther, Mr Charles Aboah has worked behind the scenes in the fashion industry for many years, in location, connecting glossy magazines and high-fashion brands with glamorous locations and backdrops for their photoshoots. He also runs a production app, CiMS, which helps busy creatives manage their projects.

Who were your style influences growing up?

One of my influences was my father, who was a diplomat, and the way he put his outfits together. It was sort of a very tailored uniform. He always dressed in a classic manner. He’d have his suits made on Savile Row and his shirts made in Hong Kong and he’d never be without cufflinks or a tie.

Is there anything in your wardrobe that you no longer wear but can’t let go of?

I think in my present wardrobe, everything that I’m attached to I wear. If I no longer wear it, I give it to my girls, although they tend to come in and steal whatever they want.

Who are your go-to suit and shirtmakers?

I like a classic suit. I don’t want a deconstructed suit with a lapel that’s one way or the other. Timothy Everest on Savile Row made my black tie and my lounge suits and Ozwald Boateng made my wedding suit and a few other suits that I’ve got. I have a lot of my shirts made at Charvet. It’s great because, once they have your measurements, you can just call them up and all you have to do is choose a fabric.

How do you wear a suit in your sixties without looking stuffy?

I never wear a T-shirt with a suit. Some people do and it suits them, but I don’t. I’d do a casual shirt, maybe a colourful Charvet shirt or a linen shirt, and then I like to wear trainers with a suit. They have to be box-fresh though.

Who do you go to for the perfect pair of glasses?

Oliver Goldsmith. It was making glasses in the 1970s for Audrey Hepburn and the likes of Michael Caine and it’s got sort of old, vintage styles.

What’s the last thing you bought?

I’m mad for a bit of a tracksuit top. I just bought one from the Gucci x adidas collaboration.

Illustrator

Mr Stewart Walton, 69

Mr Stewart Walton is an illustrator who works mostly with watercolour. As well as his commissions, he has been drawing performers at Glastonbury since 1995 and is even granted on-stage access. “One day I’ll put a book together,” he says. “I’ve drawn so many legends.”

How did you dress in your twenties?

It was the usual art school jumble sale chic, but through a girlfriend I inherited lots of Jermyn Street shirts from a deceased aristocrat relative. After that, I started dressing more like a 60-year-old country gent – all Barbour jackets and corduroy.

How did you feel about turning 60?

Honestly, the idea didn’t thrill me, but a dinner party with family and friends and a weekend with my wife in Rome made me realise life is for living. Move on.

Which item of clothing are you most looking forward to passing down?

A pale green and grey shirt with a Navajo pattern that I’ve worn for the birth of my children and then at my first meeting with all my grandchildren. It’s very soft and faded now, and they all know the story behind it.

What’s your shoe collection like?

A mix of desert boots, old brogues, Birkenstocks, Blundstones, Novesta plimsols, Converse and adidas Gazelles. And recently, a pair of blue Saucony trainers that were a gift from my son.

What style and life advice would you give a man approaching 60?

Keep it simple and be comfortable, but don’t think of elasticated waists as your friend. Trust me. They’re your enemy.