A unique study into older men’s experiences of fashion has revealed a trend of ‘peacocks’ pioneering a new generation of male image-consciousness.
Ania Sadkowska, a PhD researcher from Nottingham Trent University’s School of Art & Design, has said that former ‘mods’ and ‘rockers’ in their 50s and 60s are rebelling against the stereotype of older men toning down their fashion sense.
They were among the first generation of fashion-conscious young men, and now see themselves as among the first generation of fashion-conscious older men.
Ania Sadkowska, a PhD researcher from Nottingham Trent University
“Their memories of the days as mods and rockers are something which they reflect on with pride and use it to justify their often-rebellious attitudes towards the current fashion system which actively discriminates against older people,” said Ania Sadkowska.
Sadkowska’s study, Third Age Men’s Experience of Fashion and Clothing: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, was published on Wednesday May 20.
Image: Ania Sadkowska with her fashion case study, Paul Gidley
With older men’s experiences within fashion usually overlooked, the study states that this is the first generation where style is being used to communicate masculinity. Much like a peacock.
“From the 1950s onwards menswear has been especially exuberant and many older men today have a very distinctive attitude to their appearance and use it as a way to communicate their mature masculinity,” said Sadkowska.
“In many ways they are like peacocks. They are replacing the old fashioned type of masculinity, often represented by their fathers, with new appearance-conscious forms of masculinity.”
Participants of the study said they prefer to wear modern, bright attire and were keen to distance themselves from older people who wear clothes that belie their age – the equivalent of “mutton dressed as lamb.”
All respondents even said they were happy to sacrifice comfort in order to improve their outward appearance.
One said he would go as far as wearing a corset beneath his clothes to ensure they fit properly.
Paul Gidley, 62, developed an interest in all things sartorial when he was 14 – buying bespoke suits as part of the mod youth culture.
Image: Paul in the early 80s
He added: “It’s inevitable that people from my generation have carried that through, and I think it’s having a massive impact on things today.
The generation before me would wear the same suits as their dads. It made them look older.
Paul Gidley, fashion case study
Paul, from Nottingham, thinks contemporary attitudes towards gender and style have played a crucial role in changing the way older men dress.
He said: “We’re not the same as the previous generation.
“In many ways, we’re showing the world that when you’re older you can still have style.”
You can see more on the story on 27 May on Notts TV News at 5:30 and 6pm.