My father is a jazz musician and happens to be one of the most stylish men I’ve ever met. Though my view is hardly objective, he has been known to be stopped and snapped by style bloggers in the street. His own style runs from a midnight blue Brioni suit to a loose linen shirt with ticking-style striped shorts but he has a way of making even the most basic denim shirt and peacoat look interesting.
Just recently he asked me if I’d ever thought about the style of the jazz greats. I hadn’t; but when he started reeling off a list of examples, it was clear that there is a thread connecting jazz musicians with a certain dandyism. Think of Miles Davis in leather jacket and skinny silk scarf, Duke Ellington in razor sharp tailoring, or Thelonious Monk in a tasselled skull cap. For the females, Billie Holliday’s gardenia was her style signal and Anita O’Day had her distinctive hats.
Perhaps its an extension of the extraordinary creativity of these individuals, expressed in everything they put their hand to. Perhaps its the irrepressible performer’s instinct or ego. The effect may be subliminal, but their impact is even more powerful for being multisensory.
Perhaps there’s also something for all of us here: the notion of treating every day as a performance: a chance to make an imprint on the world. Style need not be the message but it works a dream as one of the media.
Me? This reinforces an experience I had last week, striding down the street in my brogues, I drew level with a lady walking along in a great pair of heels. I couldn’t take my eyes off her feet and, at that moment I knew that after spending the last four years in flats, I needed to sharpen my style.