Rule: Men can be muttony too

In Designers, Men on March 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Why shouldn’t Calvin Klein have a gorgeous boyfriend nearly fifty years younger than him?

Were the legendary reinventor of gentlemen’s undergarments still adopting the heterosexual lifestyle he has enjoyed at various times in his life (he’s married two women, although not at the same time), no one would bat an eye at him stepping out with a gorgeous young lady model.

Especially as the fascinating perve that is, which does exactly what it says, estimates Klein’s fortune as around US$700 million, putting him well up in the Normal Rules Don’t Apply category of wealth.

See also: Trump, Donald (US$2.4 billion), hair. Ecclestone, Bernie (US$4 billion), relative height of (former) partner. Berlusconi, Silvio (US$11 billion), general behaviour.

But while money makes anything possible, including having a date younger than your jeans size, nature has its own rules and one of them is that if you stand next to someone of the same sex, but much younger and more beautiful, in a similar outfit, you’re not going to come off too well.

Take this from someone who once went shopping with Kate Moss and tried on the same trousers in a small communal changing room. (True story.)

It’s terribly unfair, because Calvin Klein is in terrific shape for a man of 68. It’s just unfortunate in this instance that his current partner is a 21 year old underwear model with a physique in the 0.000001 upper percentile.

Were Nick Gruber, a Nicola, her physical beauty would serve only to enhance her partner’s prestige. As they are both chaps, it doesn’t come out well for Calvin. And the very uncharacteristic style mistake he is making here, is wearing not only a similar outfit, but an identical hairstyle as his younger squeeze.

Viewed side by side, the tight t shirt stretched so attractively across Nick’s pert chest, serves only to display the downward trajectory of parts of Calvin’s.

Likewise the buzz cut that sets off the youthful openness of Gruber’s face, draws attention to the slightly strained upholstery of Mr Klein’s.

Life’s a bitch, isn’t it?

But while this is all very unfair for Calvin there is some good to be found in it. It does even things out a bit for women in the mutton stakes.

For while there is at last now greater equality with regard to older women dating younger men, ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ remains one of the cruellest fashion judgements that can be made against us.

It’s hard to define exactly what makes something ‘too young’ for a particular age group – although too short, too tight, too wacky, too bright, too shiny, or just too fiercely on trend, all figure.

Yet more than any other style crime, breaking this hard-to-define rule seems to open the female transgressor up to mean vilification, from her own sex, on a level with ‘Celebrity beach cellulite! New pics!’.

It appears to call forth a collective fury, as though the muttoneer’s lack of clothing judgement somehow brings womankind into disrepute. She looks stupid and somehow we all feel vulnerable.

So rather than sneer at Mr Klein for his ram dressed as lamb fashion faux pas – and it’s been pretty ferocious in parts of the US media – we should thank him.

By making it so clear that the age appropriate mutton dress code applies just as strongly to men, it lessens the shame of it for women.

  1. I’m not sure how you always manage to be simultaneously laugh-out-loud-hilarious and yet 100% insightful, but this – as always – proves this to be the truth!

    Also, you’ve lived my worst fear realised (ie. trying on clothes with Kate Moss in a small, unforgiving change room).

    Briony x

  2. I agree 100% with your post – why should women be the only ones to be savaged for their appearances? Who was it said “If high heels are so good men would be wearing them”? The slightly creepy thing about Calvin & his friend is that they look sufficiently alike to be father & son (grandson?)… as for the rest? Well, who cares?

  3. PS Love “Muttoneer”!

  4. There has to be the fine art of photoshopping applied in that last picture. It’s just too strange.

    • I think there is a lot of shading going on in the abs area. There is another really bulgy one, if you care to Google him. It was a bit much even for me! x

  5. The thought of that old flesh fondling young flesh gives me the creeps, whatever the sex. Thank you for the last photo, it is nice to look.

  6. “…having a data younger than your jeans size…” Best laugh of the morning. It just floored me. Well done.

  7. mmm, he could have grown old so beautifully, I really expected more of Calvin (don’t have a problem with the young lover) but I think as guys get older a bit more coverage is better, and really what is sexier than a great shirt or a fantastic suit, it’s pretty easy for them really, I just have to say the most aging thing on an older man is a low V neck tee (my pet hate !!!)

  8. Ha, you are only as young as the underwear model you feel!

    Anything that takes the heat off women, and that stupid name-call muttony mummy is A-ok by me.

    Here’s my take on that – I would just die if you read it Maggie as you are one of my literary heros!

    To that end, I’ve been looking for an excerpt online of that chapter in ‘Gravity Sucks’, where you have a hilarious list of what you shouldnt wear anymore after you turn 40. Any ideas where I could find it? I keep getting asked about age appropriateness on my site, and this – along with the Jenny Joseph poem, warning – is what I always have in mind!


    • Hi Andrea, I’ll have a look when I have a moment (child off school all this week with migraine…. aggh!). Gravity Sucks is still in print, so that would be the best place to find that list. I’m touched you still remember it. x

  9. Oh good lord … that last photo. As someone old enough to be his mother (that’s the 21 year old not Calvin) it feels pervy just looking at it. As sublime as it is. And it always seems a bit sad seeing something that needs ironing dating something permanent press to be honest. However … what fun, however long it lasts.

  10. all the pics look scary to me!
    gotta live and let live…

  11. “slightly strained upholstery”.. love it!

  12. Loved this post! “Ram dressed as lamb” gave me the giggles.

    I remember an article in the 1990s, when Calvin had just married a gorgeous model (was her name Kelly?). Much print devoted to denying that he was gay.

    Not sure whether the choices of the fashion editor in the Sunday Age picked up on your point though: the recommended clothes for older men looked (to me) like those that Calvin is wearing!

    I agree that Calvin and the squeeze look like (grand)father and son.

  13. As you say, He’s in pretty good shape for 68, although the face & hair look a bit artificial. The dilemma is the recommendations for men over a certain age are nearly always the same, irrespective of size or shape, jeans or chino’s combined with a shirt and jacket (always a jacket). The alternative seems to be the beige look including of course a cardigan. pipe and slippers anyone?

    • Totally agree. That’s why I put in the pic of him in the shirt and chinos – he looks great. There are also others of him on line exactly as you describe and he is a very elegant dude. I even think he looks pretty good in a T shirt, it’s just the combo of the T shirt AND the underwear model which makes it a disaster… Nature is so cruel. x

      • Looking at the T shirts again, there’s the real problem, two sizes too small rather than slim fit. Those sleeves sit funny. Most men do the opposite, two sizes or more too big placing the shoulder seam almost on their biceps and very loose around their considerable waist.

      • aaaaagh I hate the overlarge T as much as I hate a short sleeved weave cotton shirt…

      • She is a true lady as well as a fabulous style icon.

  14. Gosh, that young man’s stomach looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle! I’m fast approaching the age where I might start facing livestock references on my attire, so am enjoying hairbows, whimsical accessories and other such fripperies whilst I still can! BTW, the next stage is Dragon Dressed as Mutton! 🙂

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