More about: Paul Weller
Few artists have married style and substance quite like Paul Weller, a man whose sharp look is part of the parcel, where pride in his appearance is ingrained since his youth and all part of the aesthetic of a artist who doesn't compromise.
With nearly 40 years in the music business and on the eve of releasing his brilliant 12th solo album, the former Jam and Style Council man still sounds and looks as fresh and invigorated as ever.
As part of our Gigwise takeover, we sat down with Weller to talk about fashion, his teens, how to wear a suit, the ageless cool of Mick Jagger, the style of Noel Gallagher, and he can't abide tracksuits or cowboy boots...
Gigwise: You once said that the only thing you wanted from your dad's wardrobe when you were growing up were his copies of Playboy.
Do you think men used to dress better back then than they do now?
Definitely. Mainly because people dress more casually these days, don't they? People dress for comfort. The standard issue really is jeans and trainers, tracksuits - which are beyond me. I come from a time when everyone dressed up. When I was 12 or 13 from around 1970 onwards, there was a whole kind of post-skinhead thing which became suedehead - that was like a skinhead haircut but grown out a little bit. I remember seeing some of the most amazing dresses round that time. They were all street fashions as well, they came from the streets upwards. It wasn't a designer or branding thing - it was the kids actually deciding what they were going to wear and they dictated what the fashions were.
Probably the last time that really happened was maybe punk, but from the Eighties onwards it's just really been about designer labels and branding and stuff, hasn't it? There's still some natty dressers out there, but I think that's the biggest thing globally - the fact that most people wear casual clothes. Whether you go to Rome or Paris, pretty much everyone wears the same thing and there's very little individual expression. Japan's the exception, they really seem to go for it.
People have been feeling nostalgiac about the Nineties a lot recently. Obviously 'casual' was the drive behind Britpop fashion. Were you a fan of that?
I'm a bit hazy, but the Nineties were cool, there was a lot of good music in the early Nineties, and the way people dressed was cool. There was a little bit of a mod crossover thing going on, which was always nice to see. What else were people wearing in the Nineties?
Bucket hats, fluorescent fleeces and combat trousers.
Mmm, doesn't sound to appealing does it?
No. What would you say is essential when you look for a suit?
The cut of it - does it fit you in the right places? It depends how much you're spending on the suit and what your budget is. You need to feel comfortable but look sharp at the same time. It depends on the shape of your shoulders. I've seen some nice, natural shoulders on jackets, but it doesn't suit me because mine look like an emaciated cows.
You once said that Mick Jagger between 1964-1966 was your style icon. What is it about him back then that struck you?
Any photo I've seen of him from that period of time, he just always looked great and really immaculate. He's got the right physique to wear those clothes - whatever he wore he looked good. Something went wrong around the mid-Seventies to a lot of great dressers, but when I see two-piece suits and trainers, I just don't understand that.
You've also said that your son gives you the best fashion advice. What would you say was the last thing he told you not to wear?
He's totally into his clothes, like me, and we talk a lot about what we wear and how we wear it. I don't know if he gives me good style tips. I'd probably go to him more for a good face wash or shampoo.
You collaborated with Liam Gallagher on his Pretty Green clothing label. If Noel was going to launch a label, what do you think would be in it?
I don't know, probably wellies and anoraks. I often see him walking around Maida Vale in wellingtons, which seems a bit odd but he likes it. I don't know what Noel would do - leather jackets and jeans probably.
Photo: Gigwise/Richard Gray
Do you feel like something has been lost in the marriage between style and music?
It's hard for me to gauge really, because I come from a time when there was a different aesthetic to clothes. I never saw anyone wear trainers or tracksuits unless they were out fucking jogging or something. When I was a kid and I used to go to the local dance on a Thursday night, every kids was dressed to the nines. I guess that forms my view of what is style and what looks good. Those initial things always stay with you.
I couldn't begin to tell you what style is today. A lot of women's clothes look good these days. There are good clothes out there, high street clothes. People like Reiss make a fairly good suit for a fairly reasonable price, but I wouldn't be able to tell about style overall because it's just 'casual'.
You've mentioned tracksuits quite a lot, but what is the one style habit you can't abide?
Two-piece suits with high-top trainers, I don't get that look. Cowboy boots are something that really upsets me as well. I think they look alright if you're on a horse, but I don't know about the high street.
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More about: Paul Weller