11 Style Rules To Live Your Life By

Writer Peter York shares his 11 rules for style and life, including why Jarvis Cocker can wear whatever he likes and why we all want the Bill Nighy look

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1 | The High Street Is Your Friend

I adore cheap clothes and regularly buy doses of cheap clothes. When I lived near Oxford Street, I was always going to Uniqlo. Their corduroy jeans are fantastic. I never go to Next. Never, ever. I did used to go to Zara, but they’ve gone all funny.

2 | Jarvis Cocker Can Wear Whatever He Likes

I notice everything. It’s really bad, and I should be punished, but I can’t help it. I notice whether people have buttoned the right button. The silliness of those too-short trousers with little cuffs on them. Wear Norman Wisdom jackets? You’re dressed like a little tramp. It’s difficult to take their brain seriously; they’ve worn such a silly garment. The only person who can get away with wearing something that singular is Jarvis Cocker. He can wear whatever he likes.

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3 | Look After Your Teeth

I’ve got this new thing from Amazon. I suppose it’s a combination of a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush and a Waterpik. Separately, I bought a Philips Sonicare brush steriliser, so I have three gleaming pieces of modern equipment in my bathroom. I do like technology. And dental hygiene is so important. But I do think people can overdo their teeth with a degree of excessive whiteness: often what spoils period films is there are all these people with gleaming 21st-century teeth.

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4 | Some Decorum In The Office, Please

I do firm handshakes because people seem to like it. But you shouldn’t cuddle in the office. I’ve seen it in the US, in a certain kind of American firm. Somebody greeting somebody they haven’t seen for a fortnight with a man-hug. Oooh, don’t look.

5 | Get A Hobby

I’m collecting ties: I’m consciously putting them together on a rack. Mostly they’re the Richard James Big Lunch Tie from about 1997. That period was extraordinary. They’re fabulous. They’re works of art. They were quite expensive at the time and I absolutely splurged on them.

6 | Yes, Brown In Town (To A Point)

People overdid the reaction to “no brown in town”. So you saw that fashion, which is grim, of wearing a blue suit with what I call “bright” brown shoes: Timberland-coloured brogues. They’re just awful. I think what you can do is what smart European people do: have a nice blue suit with nice dark tan or dark brown shoes with it. Euro brown. Not bright ginger or cream. So obnoxious.

7| Bill Nighy Is Right

We all want to get the Bill Nighy look. He keeps it simple and dependable. You’d know he was a Brit.

8 | Embrace Your Fellow Traveller

Last year, I did a book about the London Underground. In order to write it, I had to go on the Tube and go to all the stations I was writing about. I hadn’t been on the Tube for 25 years. It was wonderful. So clean and nice, and I loved the Oyster card and all that stuff. So now I do about 50/50 Tube and taxi. Most of the time going on the Tube is like being at a drinks party. People come from all corners of the world and they’re always standing up and talking to each other in a jovial way and you think, “Where’s the bloke with the drinks?”

9 | Learn From Your Mistakes

I have bought several pairs of what I call the “elf shoe”. They’re a bit pointy and a bit elf-y and they turn up at the ends. And then after a while, I thought, “I look ridiculous”. They were so terrible that I actually had to give them away. Now I wear the sort of stout boots that a person could very well wear in the country. I wouldn’t go and wear them to go and see Goldman Sachs. But they look all right when teamed with a corduroy jean.

10 | Don’t Trust The Stylist

I once wore, for a photo shoot, a pair of red trousers. I got an immediate email from a friend pointing me to this website Look At My Fucking Red Trousers. And, of course, they weren’t mine. I was just wearing them because the stylist had bought them. I have to admit I’ve now got some bright green cords. Very “Sloane’s day off”. But I don’t wear them in the media.

11 | Consider The Noses Of Others

My grandmother was brought up in France, but it didn’t broaden her mind at all. She was as Little Englander as could be. When I was growing up, she would say, “I hope you don’t grow up to be like a Frenchman, Peter. Frenchmen [long pause] wear scent.” When you’re little, a lot of things grown-ups say to you are mysterious because you don’t know what they’re on about. I didn’t really get that — what it was to be a man wearing scent — but I thought, “That sounds cool.” I think of it now when I think of my teenage years when I was absolutely slathered in Eau Sauvage. It’s a little pleasure for oneself, isn’t it? But it may be a great unpleasure for other people.

Peter York is an author, journalist and broadcaster. Check out the digital edition of Esquire's Big Black Book on iTunes.


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