​How British Men Quietly Became The Most Stylish In The World

Forget Milan and Paris - no where are men better dressed right now than at home

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I've spent much of my life, both in my guise as a style journalist and before – as a teenager from the home counties with a thing for Bluebolt jeans and skate T-shirts sourced from TK Maxx – believing that the only well dressed people in the world live in France (or more specifically Paris), Italy (or more specifically Milan, Naples at a push) and maybe New York.

The reality is though, that without really realising it, British men have become the most stylish bunch in the world.

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It's difficult to pin point exactly when the shift started. There's always been a strong tailoring tradition in the UK, and not just on Savile Row. Head to most small British towns and you will invariably find a local gentleman's outfitters specializing in tailored separates. From the royals to factory workers, as a nation we have long enjoyed dressing up and, in turn, appreciated those who do it well. We take pleasure in dressing formally and the traditions of uniform - find me another country with such a passion for dress codes. You'll be hard pushed.

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This ingrained national sartorial sensibility is as palpable in the style icons our small island has produced over the years (from the Duke of Windsor and Prince Charles to Idris Elba and David Beckham) as it is to the menswear designers we've nurtured (John Galliano, Christopher Bailey, Richard James, Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen and Kim Jones to name a few) and the world class art and design schools which continue to foster creative talent from across the world.

The global gateway between the eastern and western hemispheres; London has – over the past two decades, in particular – become as much a hub for the world's fashion brands and businesses (last year the British fashion industry pumped an extraordinary £26 billion directly into the UK economy) as it has a bolt hole for the most urbane, interesting and ethnically diverse people on the planet.

Where the Italians have sprezzatura (an artfully disheveled way of putting tailoring together which is all their own), the French do rakish elegance, the Scandinavians have their thing with monochrome and the Americans love clean-cut preppyness, in the UK we have embraced a way of dressing which amalgamates so many diverse influences it's impossible to define exactly why it works – but it does. This combined with our deep-seated national sense of understatement (as embodied by the likes of Bill Nighy and Eddie Redmayne) makes us – for my money, at least - a very stylish bunch indeed.

Where the future of fashion in the Far Eastern and developing markets looks shaky right now, in the UK our combined sense of collective style, or proud sartorial history and our continued global-reaching creativity will ensure that we remain the most stylish nation on the planet for many years to come.

Read about the 8 modern style rules Britain gave the world.