HUMANITY seems at some point in our ancient past to have taken a different evolutionary tack to the rest of the creatures which roam planet Earth. Look at the bird world, or lions, or even some of our primate cousins like the mandrill. The guys are pimped – with plumes and manes and painted faces, while for the females of the species it’s a permanent dress-down Friday. Here in the human world though, it’s the ladies who get to look amazing – women can do what they want with their hair, their faces, their clothes, their shoes – but for us blokes, it’s a drab suit, a short back and sides (which is becoming increasingly uncomfortable to wear since the alt-right adopted it as the hair-do du jour) and don’t even think about a wee dash of guyliner. Even in 2017 a fella daring to wearing a dab of make-up has carried out a sin severe enough to merit a fatwa from Straight White World.

As a straight, white bloke I’ve hated this straight white set-up since I was a kid. In Northern Ireland in the 1980s, I tempted serious levels of homicidal street violence with my punked-out look and full face of make-up. I ended up in more fights than I can count, wound up on the deck a few times, and put a few of my fashion critics horizontal too, purely in self-defence. Should I feel guilty for leaving a hood (that’s NI-talk for a hoodlum) with a flock of tweety-birds around their head while wearing a face full of Max Factor?

Guilty or not, that was in all my teens, and it’s a long time since I wore the kind of clothes I really want to wear, or got involved in bouts of fashion-related self-defence (which would have been totally unnecessary if most men had the wit to allow other men to dress and look as they please in the first place).

I’ve always tried – and hopefully succeeded – in avoiding the North Korean uniform of the working male: the anonymous suit, tie and shoes (and don’t forget the taupe socks), so drab and nondescript that they say the person wearing these has lost their personality inside the stereotype of what a man with a career should look like.

But there is only so far you can buck the trend and still be acceptable in the working world. Sure you can wear a nice linen suit, a foxy pocket hanky or flamboyant set of cuff-links but you’re only twinkling when you could be shining. The problem is, men think it is scary to shine – which could explain why so many of us are so depressingly bland.

However, things may be changing for me. I’ve taken to tailoring, and my lonely thirst for men’s clothing which allows me to look how I want to look – to be a little creative, and avoid appearing to

the rest of the world like an office drone who wants to actually die on the suburban commuter train home – is finally being sated.

Now, some men reading this will share my loathing of the dullness of male fashion but be thinking to themselves – this guy Mackay is an elitist ass; I can’t afford a tailor. Well, it might be more affordable than you think. See those off-the-peg office suits you buy that go at the crotch within eight months, don’t sit right over that belly that’s starting to remind you that you are definitely middle-aged, and hang too long on the arms so you feel like a chimp? Some blokes go through at least a couple of those a year; three probably. So let’s say three of these off-the-peg numbers cost you a minimum of £450 – which means you’ll be getting a pretty naff two-piece suit for £150. A good tailored three-piece suit, which will last several years, can cost as little as £450 – and you get to decide what you look like, what cut you want, the style, the fabric, the vents, the lapels. It is your little work of art.

So last week, I took myself off to the recently opened new Walker Slater store in Glasgow’s Merchant City. (The Scottish firm already has stores in Edinburgh and London.) We’re talking classic old-school cool here, which matches the fashions I am most attracted to at the moment: the look that hovers somewhere between the Edwardian and the 1940s: ghillie tweeds, pre-war elegance, suits Clarke Gable or Jimmy Stewart would have been

naturals wearing.

The store itself is a treasure trove of oddities – radio sets from the 1900s, gramophones, antique toy soldiers made from nickel and tin, shooting sticks, binoculars. The staff are probably the best I’ve come across anywhere – brimming with knowledge, witty, dressed like a set of young swells. Really good guys. The experience is as close as men can get to pampering – for example, I’ve got a thing for cuffs, I like just the right amount of cuff to show from my sleeve, but when a tailor is pinning you here and tucking you there, you know that everything will look not just good but downright princely.

And princely is an apt word here. The staff at Walker Slater encouraged me to try a Prince of Wales check. Now, you’ve probably worked out that I am not a shy, retiring violet and don’t mind a wee bit of glam, but I’ve always thought a Prince of Wales check very, well, spivvy. If I was selling knock-off nylons and chocolates during the blackout in wartime London then, yeah, I could see myself in a Prince of Wales check, but in Glasgow in 2017? I’m not a gangster. And to add to my discomfort it had a double-breasted waistcoat. I hate double-breasted anything.

How wrong I was. Once the guys had the suit on me and tucked it here and pinned it there, it looked subtle, downplayed, really damn elegant. This is where the wisdom of staff comes in to play. I think I know a bit about fashion. They really know. So I just let them get on with it, and recommend what they think will look good on me. Nine times out of 10 they are right, and all you need to do is tweak the look here and there with accessories. And the accessories are exquisite. Pocket hankies that might have been made by a Japanese artist from the Edo period; hand-crafted ties; and something I am increasingly finding hard to resist – the gold pocket fob.

If you go, you’ll spend a good few hours getting suited and booted – and you’ll come out feeling a dandy, not dowdy, and certainly not a pimp. We are talking refined, classy elegance with just a dash of flamboyance thrown in for good measure. Men need to learn that there is nothing wrong with a little understated showing-off when it comes to the clothes they wear. Forget the bland uniform we’ve been forced to endure. Unleash your inner monkey and follow the mandrill – the best-dressed of all the primate males.

How to make a suit

Here’s how Walker Slater describe their exclusive made-to-measure tailoring experience: “Our made to measure service allows you to have a unique garment crafted to your taste and measurements. The process to create an outstanding piece starts with a candid chat over a cup of coffee – or a nip of the whisky of the month – where we discuss your needs and aspirations, covering all aspects of the process. We take into consideration your taste for colour and texture, preference of cloth make up, provenance of yarn and weave and, if it’s done for a special occasion, the environment it is being worn in.

“After the initial idea for your garment is pinned down, we will carefully measure you, taking into account your figure and posture. We can then choose the cloth from our diverse array of sample swatches. The choosing of the cloth can be trickier than you would think but we will assist you through this, slowly, to ensure the impact you desire is translated into the final garment.

Once the initial measuring is done and the cloth has been chosen, we can get to what some think is the most enjoyable part – styling. Whether you prefer a classic styling, a contemporary feel or want to exude David Bowie circa the Ziggy Stardust days, we can cater for all your preferences.

“When the style is chosen you have the opportunity to imbue your own individuality to the piece(s) by choosing the smallest of the details, from the type of lapel to the colour of thread. Only once you are completely satisfied with all your options will we put the garment into production. The standard made-to-measure process takes 10 weeks.

“On receiving your garment back from the workshop we will invite you for your first fitting. Here we assess if your garments require any adjustment. At times, a second fit is necessary — we want your outfit to be perfect.”