David Evans started his blog in 2011 as a means of honing his writing skills. His choice of subject – men’s style for the over 50’s – was chosen simply because it was a subject that he could write about from a personal viewpoint. With no background in the fashion industry and no prior knowledge of what he was going to write about, David set out to explore style for a demographic generally overlooked by the fashion press. A decade on and his Grey Fox blog has been a phenomenal success. With a regular column in The Chap magazine, David has become a global source of style advice and inspiration for the mature and younger man.
We caught up with David to find out what he has learnt in the past ten years about style and British fashion in particular.
How would you personally define British style?
British style is hard to define but is one of those things you now when you see it. It’s a fascinating mix of unforced casual/untidy seen in the traditional slightly unkempt tweedy style of the country gent on the one hand and the far smarter tailored town look of the pinstripe or grey flannel suit for city wear. A British man might be wearing a crumpled dog hair-covered tweed at the weekends, but he’s also quite able to look immaculate in a crisp dinner jacket for a formal dinner. These totally unselfconscious extremes of style are admired and consequently emulated over the world. The Italians make the British look more comfortable by using softer and lighter cloths in their tailoring, the Americans adopt it in its entirety, with brands like Ralph Lauren taking the British-inspired preppy look to a new level of commercial success.
What three bits of advice would you give to gents looking to break out of ‘wardrobe doldrums’?
Buy better quality classic clothes – they will fit better and you won’t tire of them. Follow stylish gentlemen on Instagram and find inspiration for new ways of using your existing wardrobe. Think about the styles that you enjoy wearing and develop them. If you don’t have the confidence or time to do this I recommend trying a personal stylist at least once to start you off.
You are an advocate for buying British and have visited many of our brilliant mills and makers over the course of the past ten years. Why do you feel it is important to support them, and what have been your highlights on your travels?
Modern western menswear styles largely originated in the UK and, despite the move away from British manufacturing in the last century, there are still valuable reserves of the skills that made the British products which were shipped around the world from the nineteenth century. These skills make products that are sought after around the world and such exports are worth a lot to the UK, contributing to our balance of payments. It’s hard for me to pick out any particular highlights from my travels. Wherever I went I saw huge pride in the people making British goods. We forget that making things well brings enormous employee satisfaction in a way that many more routine and less creative jobs cannot do. We should support British industry as we can also be reasonably sure that our workers are well treated and that products are made sustainably – something that we cannot be sure of when we but cheap products made overseas.
You are an advocate of finding your personal style – rather than following trends, which links to the concept of buying better / buying less. What practical advice would you give gents looking to create a more sustainable wardrobe?
Buy fewer clothes – a huge number of clothes are sent to landfill unworn each year because people buy for the sake of it without considering what they really need. Buy as good quality as you can afford as these clothes will fit better, look better and last longer. Ask brands about their products, where are they made, how sustainable and ethical is their production?
Who would be your style icon and why?
I don’t have a style icon but if I have to select one man it would be The Prince of Wales. He subscribes to the ‘buy fewer, buy better, buy sustainably’ approach. He’s often seen wearing suits and shoes that are decades old. They have lasted because they are good quality, have been looked after and repaired. If you look carefully you can often see the highly polished cracks in his shoes and the patches in his suits – yet he is superbly well dressed.
It is always a pleasure to catch up with you in Piccadilly – what in particular do you like about Cordings? Do you have a favourite garment or part of the collection?
I’ve already written elsewhere that I think that Cordings is one of the last bastions of true British style. While overseas brands like Ralph Lauren have taken the British look, americanised it and made it hugely successful we tend to overlook smaller gems like Cordings that offers the real thing – beautifully made and reasonably priced. I love my polo coat but have a particular love for my Skipton tweed suit which is such a pleasure to wear and fundamentally British in style.
Never work with children or animals. Harry features regularly on your Instagram – has he become a diva with his growing fame?
Yes indeed, I’m afraid Harry has become quite insufferable as the fame has gone quite to his head. I have constant battles with his ever more demanding agent who is fleecing me mercilessly.
Images courtesy of Tommy Martin Photography, Jonathan Daniel Pryce and David Evans Grey Fox Blog.