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Ben Cobb: The Seventies’ Man

By Xinyu Wang

As a long-time fashion enthusiast, I have developed an addiction to perusing street style photos as soon as a fashion show ends. Scrolling through the immense photo archives of different photographers like Melodie Jeng or Adam Katz Sinding is like descending into a vintage market: most of the styles you see are simply compilations of the newest and trendiest gadgets and It-items: be it the Celine furkenstocks of 2012, or the unimaginative Gucci getups that duplicate an entire head-to-toe look from runway to real life. Clothes so often overwhelm the person, and these photos frequently read more like a price-tag post than manifestations of genuine personal style.

So when I first saw Ben Cobb in one of the Phil Oh photos for Vogue, it felt at once both out-of-place and refreshing: out-of-place because he was wearing a prim black double-breasted blazer with 70s high-waisted black bell bottoms in 2019, with a Matthew McConaughey moustache a la Dallas Buyers Club; and refreshing because he was wearing said outfit amidst a sea of youngsters in loose, sporty T-shirts and candy-hued hair colors. It was a deceivingly simple, all-black look that I scrolled past, but not without going back and staring at it for a long minute. It puzzled and intrigued me, and that’s when you know you have come upon something truly unique and amazing. 

The photo that started it all.
(Photo: Phil Oh / Vogue)

Thus, I fell into the Internet rabbit hole search of Ben Cobb. As it turns out, he is the editor-in-chief of Another Man magazine (which came as no surprise at all), the publication fiercely redefining modern masculinity, one issue at a time. Its feature line-up seems to be entirely plucked from the romantic fantasies of me and my girlfriends: Harry Styles, Ezra Miller, Ben Whishaw, Ashton Sanders have all graced its covers, dressed in ruffled shirts or nothing but a pair of python flares. Their style was a modern reinterpretation of 70s’ retro: romantic, sexy, and almost always chest-baring. In other words, it was Ben Cobb in full curator mode, finding like-minded souls clad in silk shirts and silver pendants across continents and generations.

However, dressing in retrospective fashion carries a certain risk. One cut amiss, and your vibe becomes not old-fashioned charm but regular street sleazy. Therefore, going full-on vintage is not always the best option. In an interview with The New York Times, Cobb commented that although he owns a couple of vintage pieces, some of the proportions of the blazers “almost veer into parody”. So instead, he sources a significant portion of his collection from the modern market, which tends to be better tailored and more conforming to the male body. His go-tos include Dries Van Noten, Tom Ford, and Saint Laurent, brands who stick to one iconic style and then render it in different finishings. 

So, how to achieve that impeccable seventies’ style? Here, we have brainstormed a list of keywords you should stick to, as well as styling inspiration fresh from the runway. 

Peacock in Your Silks

Tuck, roll, and unbutton. The best 70s’ shirts always come in sensual silks and reveal a perfectly sculpted chest. If women can flaunt their cleavage with dashing confidence, why can’t men do the same? For the Spring 2020 offerings, shirts in watercolor silks come under acid-color suiting, but you can wear them by themselves all the same.

Repeat Your Jewelry

Mr. Cobb is wearing the same three necklaces in almost all of his photos, making one wonder whether it’s because they hold some sentimental value for him. In any case, repeating one single statement accessory is like wearing a signature scent — a surefire way to establish personal style.

Flare It Up, but Subtly

There might be a Bowie dream in you, but if you are not going to commit to the matching sky-high platforms, then dramatic flares can look a bit “much”. Instead, choose a high-waist pair that only subtly flares at the bottom.

Make It “Rawr”

There’s nothing sexier than a man dressed in animal prints (see the Ashton Sanders photo above for reference) or faux fur – you could be Mrs. Robinson’s long lost brother!

Xinyu Wang is a fashion writer at Honeysuckle Magazine, and a rising senior at New York University majoring in Media and Communications as well as Spanish. 

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