During Paris Fashion Week in January, I shared a cab between shows with a friend of mine. I thought it was just a question of convenience, but as soon as we closed the car doors, he revealed his true purpose: he wanted to tell me about his new vintage Versace scarf.
He yanked it off his neck and began rhapsodizing about the design, which looked like the Art Deco illustrator Erte decided to draw the denizens of the South Beach gay club Twist. “Of all the people, I’m definitely him,” he said with zero irony, gesturing to a shirtless belly-dancer in yellow and red harem pants. And then he wrapped it gingerly around his neck and knotted it loosely, like a grandmother would—which is to say, like a pro. My friend is not a razzle-dazzle dresser—this is a guy who wears jeans and trench coats—but then we hopped out of the car and I noticed he had a Longchamp bag slung in the crook of his arm, and a cableknit crewneck tossed over his trench. (An advanced Olsen twin-ian move.) I wondered if he was an outlier—until our own style editor Noah Johnson revealed he had carved out several hours in Paris to hunt down his own Hermès scarf. Something, I thought, was afoot.
And that something is this: many men, it seems, have started to dress like Rich Older Women. They are knotting scarves around their neck, and slinging tasteful bags into the crooks of their arms, and even wearing ballet flats like they need you to apologize but will never tell you why. (Not to make everything about my mom, but lately, when I walk around New York and Paris, or check in on His Royal Highness Marc Jacobs on Instagram, I really have to wonder: why are all of you dressing like my mom?) The American doyenne aesthetic—dazzling jewels, silk, cashmere, and the nice coat—has migrated to menswear’s street style cognoscenti, so that the twenty- and thirty-something guys hanging on Howard Street, eating at Dimes, and going to museums look like they’re hunting for headbands in Zitomer’s.
Take a look at none other than menswear icon Timothée Chalamet, who wore a Prada nylon suit and a Cartier pin to the Oscars. His look is sublimely understated—and exactly what a grandmother wears to eat a club sandwich at the golf club. Or look at G-Dragon attending the Chanel couture show last month. He looks vibrant, elegantly garish—and like he asked for that vodka neat, damnit!
Designers like Emily Adams Bode, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, and Grace Wales Bonner have always worked a little of this feminine bad-taste delicacy into their runway shows, but lately those undertones have become more extreme, both on and off the runway. Thanks to A$AP Rocky, the new hoodie is the silk scarf babushka. Collected by Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, and Marc Jacobs, Birkins have become the hottest bag in menswear, and men from Rami Malek to Jared Leto have discovered the joy of the well-placed Cartier brooch.
The new menswear muses are Nan Kempner, Gloria Vanderbilt, Brooke Astor, Lauren Bacall, Bunny Mellon, and anyone with a wardrobe for gardening. And as we always ask ourselves when we come to this moment in a trend story: why? A lady never reveals her secrets, as they say, but the appeal of Rich Older Woman dressing is that it takes as its foundation a few key elements done with extreme taste and even integrity—the Loro Piana cashmere suit, the St. John knit set, the Uniqlo cashmere sweater, the well-ironed bellbottom jean, the turtleneck under a button-down—and adds ritzy and even hilarious accessories to give things personality. Like $4,050 Bvlgari ice cream brooches, mushroom-print Hermès scarves, designer belts, and witty loafers instead of sneakers. (Although no swan can pass up a nice pair of kicks, like Gloria Vanderbilt and her Margielas.) Sling that sweater over your shoulders, dudes—it’s time to hit the hunt club for Southsides!
Originally Appeared on GQ