Looks aren’t everything, as people keep saying, and yet image is the first non-verbal signal we give other people. What signals do men of Kraków send?
GOShA Kusper: My questions are answered by three of Kraków’s specialists in men’s visual image: Wojciech Szarski who is dedicated to classical attire, hair stylist Tomasz Marut, and Wojtek Bednarz, chief designer at a major clothes label. Let’s get started! What do you pay the most attention to in men’s appearance?
Wojciech Szarski: Whether they simply throw on clothes, or really wear them. I like it when clothing does more than performing its basic function – when it expresses a certain style. And it doesn’t actually matter whether it’s my particular style.
Tomasz Marut: For me it’s about the quality which makes people individual, special. We get into a habit of following certain patterns. Of course I’m not expecting everyone to suddenly break down conventions, because I don’t actually like the idea of men wearing dresses. But I do look for something special, a personal touch.
Wojtek Bednarz: Personally, I always look at shoes. I think they are the basis – literally and figuratively. Even if we assume that clothes are irrelevant, that clothes do not make the man, I do believe that footwear can tell us not only about the person’s aesthetic preferences, but also about their character.
G.K.: I’ve heard it said that clothes have a voice. What does Cracovian style tell you?
W.S.: Most of our main streets are dominated by tourists, so by contrast we could speculate that the style preferred by men from Kraków is rather conservative.
T.M.: Cracovian style doesn’t speak – it shouts. And it shouts, “Paint my world!” In terms of colours, spontaneity is limited to three shades of grey and six tones of black. I’m surprised at how consistent Cracovians seem to be in apparently believing that colours are strictly reserved for ski fashion or ads for cold medicine – the second part, when everyone is well again.
W.B.: Perhaps it would be better if clothes did not have a voice. Of course things are changing, getting better, but it doesn’t mean they are actually good. They seem so cautious, and often so neutral. I am not saying that Cracovians are actually like that, so maybe it’s time to show it!
G.K.: What would you recommend as a priority?
W.S.: Polish men are increasingly well dressed. We buy better clothes, drive better cars... There’s now external pressure to look better. And that’s good! I think men should start from investing in good shoes with leather soles, which will last a long time and serve as a good foundation of a complete wardrobe.
T.M.: In North Korea, the dictator has proclaimed ten permitted hairstyles for men. And that’s a lot, because we seem to have just one – short and spiky. Taking care of one’s appearance, clothes and hairstyle, and having a consistent style, is certainly a male thing. We should start by shifting our way of thinking, and appreciate that the concepts of attractiveness and masculinity go hand in hand together.
W.B.: Good appearance is about more than just what we wear. It’s also a certain elegance, which is not to do with wearing fashionable or expensive clothes – it’s about a way of being. Personally, I’d start from some simple basics: the right trouser length, picking clothes to suit your shape, being neat. That’s enough for starters, and it makes it easier to take care of the rest.
G.K.: So the recipe seems simple: choosing a better style of clothes, a touch of colour, good shoes – and more confidence!
GOShA Kusper – one of Poland’s first personal shoppers, image coach, stylist.
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