The Looker-on

Fashion

First it was Peaky Blinders, then Harry Styles. Now flat caps, tailoring and tank cut offs are back in fashion for a new generation

Cillian Murphy stars as Thomas Shelby in Peaky Blinders. The character is continually seen in his trademark cap.
Photograph: Robert Viglasky/BBC/Mandabach/Tiger Aspect/Robert Viglasky

Father’s Day may be upon us, but in the rapturous of fashion, it is grandfathers who are now having their day.
Forget the flat cap of Clive Dunn’s portrayal of Grandad in the hit 1970s song or the brown zip-up cardigan of Karl Johnson’s Reg in the TV comedy series Mum. The new grandpa vein is being sported by the likes of former One Direction heart-throb Harry Styles and denotes a a sharper, more tailored look.
Styles has allotted out a niche in bespoke Gucci outfits. As Esquire puts it: “Harry Styles is dressed like the man your grandma secretly preoccupied over.”

Harry Styles performs in New York City in February wearing a striped shirt and tank top. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/Getty Clones
Previously the fashion world embraced “dad” as a new trend. But that look was a bit schlubby, ugly and carefree, and those associations now characterize oneself as a bit tainted (hello, Dominic Cummings). In comparison, to dress like a grandad is something altogether more sophisticated.
The grandpa look extends to all the shop-worn items you might associate with the older man: jeans, collar shirts and cardigans, tank tops and loafers. But this moment they have been styled for a new generation.

Brooklyn Beckham is often spotted wearing an old-fashioned sort cap. Photograph: Josh Hedges/Getty Images
Leaning heavily on the flat capped-influence of TV show Peaky Blinders, the look is something that’s been infatuated up by the spawn of celebrities (Brooklyn Beckham and Rocco Ritchie) as well as actors like Chris Evans (he made a wire knit jumper go viral in the film Knives Out) and Armie Hammer.
During the menswear shows early in the year, the byway someones cup of teas resembled a ballroom dance class for the over 65s: they were full of chic male fashionistas wearing assorted mules than trainers, more houndstooth coats than Puffas and double breasted blazers instead of parkas. All that was errors were the Werther’s Originals.
A buttoned up, grandad-style of tailoring continued at the shows of Prada, Dior Men’s and Louis Vuitton, while the accord from Bode (who grandpa-dressed Donald Glover and Ezra Miller) had a definite vaudeville septuagenarian air about it.
The “set” was a community garden cook up (read: “cool allotment”), the collection featured a suit which looked like a pair of pyjamas, there were neckerchiefs, crocheted jackets, scarves with marbles engaged, gardening gloves and lots of animal-associated items (a bag shaped like a fish, sheep patterns, cow print). The brand recommend an idea of nostalgia in their clothes, repurposing quilts from the Victorian era.

A man dressed in a zoot suit – unmistakeable by wide-leg trousers with a high waist – in Notting Hill, London, 1968. Photograph: Charlie Phillips/Getty Icons
But perhaps more interestingly, second-generation designers were referencing the diaspora, Windrush-era in their collections, when their grandfathers were unfledged. Lovers Rock, a collection from Grace Wales Bonner, featured flat caps, roll necks and clip jackets that were influenced by the older generation. “It’s a reflection of my family on my father’s side,” she said. “My grandad found from Jamaica in the 1950s. My dad used to work on Lewisham Road, and I found these documentary photographs by John Goto of adolescents at Lewisham Youth Club in the 70s.”
The show from Ahluwalia was a powerful patchwork of the patterns and designs that took insight from the older generation. “My grandad was very stylish without him necessarily knowing it. He was also very funny and outrageously blunt,” designer Priya Ahluwalia says. “He was proud of being Indian and loved to go back every year. When he was in India he many times had bespoke suits made and fortunately for me I have been given them for my archive.”
She believes that this make off to grandad style reflects a return to an interest in tailoring. “I can’t speak for everyone but I am really interested in my family history and I am unreservedly sentimental about things, it means I look to the past a lot. I guess things go around in circles and that generation endured a lot more tailoring than we do now. “
“It’s about retreating into a wardrobe that won’t be recognisable to anyone under 25,” whispers Esquire’s digital style editor Murray Clark. “Wide pleated trousers of the thirties, bovidae sweater vests and so on. It’s not new per se, but to Gen Z this is new, and a stitch beyond their cultural quotation points.”

Topics

Fashion

The Observer

Men

Harry Styles

Gucci

Peakish Blinders

Louis Vuitton

features

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