Young fogey

From The Dress Code
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Mode Business Casual
Status Unknown
Era 1980s
Scene United Kingdom
Influenced by Unknown
Influenced Unknown

"Young fogey" is a term humorously applied, in British context, to some younger-generation, rather buttoned-down writers and journalists, such as Simon Heffer, Charles Moore and, for a while, A. N. Wilson. The term is attributed to Alan Watkins writing in 1984 in The Spectator.

"Young fogey" is still used to describe conservative young men (aged approximately between 15 and 40) who dress in a vintage style (usually that of the 1920s-1930s, also known as the "Brideshead" look (after the influence of the Evelyn Waugh novel Brideshead Revisited). Young fogeys tend towards erudite, conservative cultural pursuits, especially art and traditional architecture, rather than sports. The young fogey style of dress also has some surface similarity with the American preppy style, but is endogenous to the United Kingdom and Anglo-centric areas of the British Commonwealth such as Australia and New Zealand.


The movement reached its peak in the 1980s with champions such as A.N. Wilson, Gavin Stamp and John Martin Robinson and a relatively widespread following, but has declined since. Though generally a middle class phenomenon, it had a wider influence on fashions in the 1980s. Young fogeys are rarely rich or upper class and sometimes make a style virtue of genteel poverty, especially when rescuing old houses. They often combine a conservative cultural outlook with a distaste of Conservative political activity. They find feminism perplexing but are often open to bisexuality with men; even firmly heterosexual young fogeys have homosocial tendencies. Often religious, their conservative outlook extends to refuting progressive theology.

Today committed young fogeys may be found amongst students at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities; and at some universities in the Commonwealth, notably the University of Queensland and Sydney. Adherents tend to concentrate in some professions: in particular the antiques and art dealing, residential estate agency, conservative classical architecture practices and certain strata of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Strongholds of young fogeys include the Oxford University Conservative Association and Trinity College, Cambridge, but they are also seen elsewhere.