Katie Trotter: On the new-look British male

Why our fashion expert is steering clear of British men who uses moisturiser.

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My mother, in her infinite wisdom, advised me to avoid men who smell of cheap aftershave, or wear flashy jewellery or - strangely, now I think about it - slip-on shoes. Until now I obeyed her; it was easy. You see, the last time I lived in London the men were all a little - for want of a better word - grubby. That was just the way it was. If you wanted a white-toothed, altogether more shiny package, you packed your bags and headed to the land of the hamburger, where glossy Americans preened and polished their way up in the world.

London boys, on the other hand, were messy. Their hair was tousled, and not purposefully so - part rock star, part dangerous and, of course, part exciting. The problem with age is that most of us change direction slightly. Good living and a bit of self-pampering - "because we are worth it" - slip into our routine in the way that staying up all night and eating sugary cereals did in our twenties.

Which is surely a good thing. The problem is, what starts as a bit of leave-in conditioner and night cream spirals into a terrifying series of rituals that threatens to take over. And that's only the girls.

My worries were heightened at dinner last week. I was sitting beside a rather famous actor who (without a whiff of shame, I might add) announced to the waiter that he wished to "hold the bun". The man was British, and he held the bun. He was "doing the Dukan", he explained to the confused waiter. Of course he was.

For most of you this isn't a new thing, but in Britain no one holds the bun. Come to think of it, in Britain nobody holds out on anything - not in public, anyway. In fact, it's rather shameful to reveal that you have resorted to a diet - like waving a giant neon sign that says, "Hey, over here! Come join us at the wildly out-of-control table."

Of course, Americans have been doing it for ages. Power bars and four-hour gym sessions on a Saturday morning are the norm; the reward - half a banana and a Saturday- night bike ride.

But I thought this generation of British men was different: they were allowed, indeed supposed, to laugh vanity in the face. Yet here we are now with "age-defying" injections and hair implants, and the Dukan diet. It's all looking so, well, so Nineties - a bit Flash Harry. Narcissism and the quest for the perfect biceps have replaced the five o'clock shadow and old-fashioned good living.

Me, I'm with my mother on this one. Stay away from any man whose hands are more than a little clammy with moisturiser.



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