Style Tips From Five Year Olds
Mr Dan May, West Wittering, West Sussex, 1980
We take wardrobe cues from a time when things were simpler (and the clothes sometimes better) .
Five year olds are terrible at a lot of things: algebra, world politics, operating heavy machinery… you name it, they probably haven’t mastered it. However, one thing they are very good at is decision-making. Why? Because they lack a fully developed ego. Insecurity-riddled adults change their mind a thousand times a day, constantly check Instagram for approval, and wear clothes that are “on-trend” instead of what simply looks good. With little concern for external factors, children benefit from straightforward logic and a raw imagination. They decide if they like (or dislike) something in a second. And if they want to wear a cowboy hat to their grandmother’s funeral – that’s what’s going to happen.
With this in mind, we figured our five-year-old selves could teach us a thing or two about style. We asked some of the MR PORTER staff – and our famous friends – to dig out a picture from way back when and take a style tip from it. Whether it’s getting back to basics, or being a little more daring – find out what we learned below.
Mr Nick Wooster
Designer and style icon
Mr Nick Wooster, Salina, Kansas, 1965
Style tip:Never underestimate the power of horn-rimmed glasses
I was five years old when I was diagnosed with myopia, but I was delighted because I was jonesing for glasses. Little did I know that within a couple of years they would be of the Coke-bottle variety (-7.50 for people who know about that stuff). After the advent of soft contact lenses and laser eye surgery, I’m happy to report that 50 years later, I have rediscovered how amazing these frames look on a 55-year-old face. I look at them now as nature’s plastic surgery.
Mr Toby Bateman
Managing Director, MR PORTER
Mr Toby Bateman, Isle of Wight, 1978
Style tip:Act casual and think Mr Steve McQueen in The Great Escape
My affection for head-to-toe-blue outfits has never waned, and never will. As a five year old (in 1978 – you do the maths), I have to give credit to my mother for this look. Her choice of a navy rollneck with navy Farahs is not too far from what is relevant today. For SS16 we saw a lot of men’s collections referencing the 1970s trends. For anyone unprepared to embrace the more colourful aspects of this era, they can adopt classic items that were prevalent back then – such as a navy rollneck. These days, I’d wear it with a pair of slim dark jeans or a pair of dark navy trousers and some Chelsea boots – and feel confident that I am evoking the “style” of the 1970s rather than the “trend”. This, I feel, is a rule that we should all follow.
Mr Alexandre Mattiussi
Mr Alexandre Mattiussi, Gisors, L’Eure, 1985
Style tip: For a special occasion, bust out a bow tie
This picture is taken from my school year book when I was five. I was wearing a polo shirt, a yellow bow tie… and an extremely pleased expression. When I was a kid, I had several bow ties – they were an important accessory for me – but I especially loved this leather one. I’d wear it all the time, whatever the occasion. I don’t wear bow ties very often anymore, but for a celebration such as MR PORTER’s anniversary party, I could put one on especially.
Mr Robbie Rogers
Soccer player, LA Galaxy
Mr Robbie Rogers, Palos Verdes, Los Angeles, 1990
Style tip:Discover your style and adapt it
Fashion is always changing, but your style is something that is established at an early age. Staying true to my California roots, I have always had a pair of Vans in my closet. There is something cool about a pair of canvas shoes that get better with age. Also, having spent most of my life playing sports, I usually try to dress comfortably, so I think it’s important to find the right pair of sweats. I clearly did exactly that from the age of five, as these ones aren’t too far away from the side-stripe trousers that were seen on the catwalk this season.
Ms Jodie Harrison
Editorial Director, MR PORTER
Ms Jodie Harrison, Trafalgar Square, London, 1986
Style tip: Try to resist the dark side
It only occurred to me after unearthing this photo from the Harrison archives in Yorkshire recently that working in the fashion industry for more than a decade has drained the colour from my outfits. It’s black or nothing around here these days and, as I write these words, I’m wearing nothing but Darth Vader’s hue of choice. This photo, taken on a rather dreary winter’s day in London in 1986, shows me trying to persuade (read: force feed) a few unsuspecting pigeons to nibble on my loaf-y wares. It also highlights how a bright colour can really lift the mood when animals simply won’t do what you command them to do, and it won’t stop raining. While I certainly wouldn’t recommend mixing a red wool parka with tracksuit bottoms, striped socks and patent Mary Janes, I’m slightly envious of my childish disregard for rules (or aesthetics).
Mr Dan Rookwood
US Editor, MR PORTER
Mr Dan Rookwood, Liverpool, 1983
Style tip:If in doubt, wear navy
I have an older brother and sister, so by the time I came along, I had to make do with hand-me-downs. The size of the turn-ups on these jeans would suggest they were originally my brother’s, or else my mum bought them a couple of sizes too big so that I wouldn’t grow out of them in a hurry. But what can we learn from this picture? That navy is that most democratic of colours: it suits any man or boy no matter his age, size, skin tone or hair colour. As I write this, 32 years later, I’m not wearing a dissimilar outfit: straight-leg indigo jeans with a turn-up, chunky boots and a fitted T-shirt. I don’t tuck in my T-shirts anymore, though. And these days I tense my abs as a vanity reflex whenever posing for photos.
Mr Chris Elvidge
Senior Features Writer, MR PORTER
Mr Chris Elvidge, Allesley, Coventry, 1991
Style tip:A little cultural appropriation goes a long way
Here I am at the Allesley Village Fete in the early 1990s. My mother tells me that the theme was “Cowboys and Indians”, which I suppose you’d struggle to get away with today. Gross cultural appropriation and all that. Understandable, but still, it's a shame, because as my five-year-old self so deftly demonstrates, this is one fancy dress theme with real crossover appeal. A few style lessons, then. One: trust in the enduring style of a plaid shirt. I’d probably hit up Levi’s Vintage Clothing or RRL for this kind of thing now. Two: try patchwork denim. The Japanese do this best – they call it “boro” – and the names to remember are Junya Watanabe, Kapital and Visvim. Three: avoid hats such as the above at all costs (unless you can pull them off like this guy can).
Mr Dan May
Contributing Style Director, MR PORTER
Mr Dan May, West Wittering, West Sussex, 1980
Style tip:It’s all in the details
Here I am, five years old, on West Wittering beach in West Sussex, having just returned from a stint living in South Africa. This shot shows that my enduring love of knitwear started at a very early age (although I tend to stay away from rollnecks nowadays). It also reminds me never to ignore the benefits of a contrast shoulder or elbow patch. I own a lot of Maison Margiela knitwear with such details, and I’ll often have my dry cleaner add patches to my favourite cashmere sweaters so I can wear them for longer. The only thing I don’t condone in this picture is the undone fly. Thankfully, I’ve mastered that little detail these days.