Dapper: A Word That Needs to Die

I’m well aware that this spout may place me in an invidious position among a fraction of the menswear community, but I felt it had to be said.

I don’t think a there’s a word (possibly aside from Artisan) that frustrates me more in society’s modern day glossary than ‘dapper’. I’m not against the hashtag menswear trend, I think it has done wonders for positively influencing men and their style, but I’ve got a serious issue with the word that came with the trend.

The word ‘dapper’ makes me cringe, on a similar level to seeing a father sitting in a restaurant with his family, hitting on the twenty-year-old waitress.

I can’t even begin to describe the beautiful irony of the word, the people that use it or the situations it’s used in. Dapper has become this horrible by-product of the menswear trend and with it the notion that being ‘dapper’ equates to some improved social status* – but to whom is another question altogether. It’s no longer a simple description of a man’s neat appearance, but a microcosm of sensationalist menswear try hards who, in an effort to sound or appear suave, are in fact, anything but.

There are three types of people who use the word ‘dapper’. The first are young males loosely interested in, or vaguely (un)knowledgable of men’s style. Said individuals always refer to themselves as stylish and can be spotted in ill-fitted statement suits with gargantuan Windsor knots, pointy jester shoes and say things like ‘Sprezz’ and ‘I’m so pumped for Pitti in June’. The second type is the girlfriends of those males, and the third are Baby Boomers (often parents of the previously addressed males) who think they’re rolling out a fresh AF word to fit in with the kids.

What’s more concerning is that the word has filtered out of Instagram and into brand names and marketing jargon, giving the word an indomitable spirit. Brands that are based on trends, or loosely around trends, do not last. If you don’t believe me ask the Macquarie bank guy that quit his job to sell animal onesies five years ago.

Every application of the word dapper I see these days, spoken or written, is to something woefully shit. A quick search on Instagram reveals nothing but Chinese made watches, Chinese made menswear accessories and faceless Instagram accounts where the owner recycles other people’s images and includes his email: [email protected] for ‘business enquiries’.

The word dapper has become so bastardised that anyone who wants to be considered remotely serious, or stylish, simply cannot use it. And those who are truly stylish never used it in the first place.

*The feature image is from GQ and was simply chosen by searching ‘dapper’ on Google.


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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