Sunday, October 21, 2012

Do (Stylish) Men Matter?

The Mad Hatter: mad about style?

Do you dress for men or for other women? What a loaded question. The answer should be, "Neither, I dress for myself". You would, of course, be kidding yourself. Who we dress for is a cocktail of one part fashion magazine, one part _____________ (fill in the blank of someone whose style you admire), one part friends and/or co-workers, a dash of Mother (what she taught you or what she liked), one part you (the part you're sure of) and maybe, just maybe, a squeeze of the man in your life (depending on the day and the hour).

Who do men dress for? Ask one, and he'll say—unhesitatingly— himself. Men have an easier time than women with their attire requirements— from boy scout uniforms to business suits to working kit to sports gear (fan or player). He doesn't even think about them. You would expect my husband, an art director, would have enjoyed mixing/matching and coordinating outfits, but it was I who put his shirts, ties and suits together. Why? He dressed in a certain way because he had to, but he didn't really care.

That's not to say he doesn't have some major likes and dislikes. He hates button-down collars and crew neck sweaters (alas not a Prepster) but has always worn cowboy boots, even in Brooklyn (style with chutzpah). No doubt the men in your life have their own quirks as well. Chances are, however, they are not stylish.

Most women don't want to compete with a style-obsessed man. We want him to look presentable but expend more effort appreciating us than themselves. The exception: gay men seem to be able to do both. I also suspect we women look on dressing our man as a bit like marking our territory.

When men try too hard to have style it becomes their undoing and is not admirable. Look what happened to Jay Gatsby. We'll have a chance to see Leonardo DiCaprio's interpretation whenever the latest incarnation of "The Great Gatsby" gets released.
Robert as Jay (1974)
Leonardo as Jay (2012? 2013?)

Tom Wolfe has style. So does Hugh Hefner. This is style as a joke, and style is not a laughing matter.
Tom is not crying wolf 
Hugh knew?

Movie star style is hardly trustworthy. Movie stars don't just get dressed; they are dressed. Thus Jack Sparrow has style to spare. Johnny Depp himself? Maybe not so much.
Jack knows...
...but Johnny knows jack

The true test of a man's style is how he wears a tux. He should wear it; it shouldn't wear him. Cary, Fred and Sean pass the tux test.

My husband's style idol, when asked? Steve McQueen. Now I know why I married him.
King McQueen


  1. Fun post. When asked, my husband would say he dresses in what's handiest at the time!

  2. I hate it when men try too hard...steve mcqueen, matthew mcconahey, robert redford, etc...never looked too styled. I agree with a well styled life my husband grabs whatever is closest...that is not always a good thing either!

  3. Insightful! Marking my territory? Hadn't thought about it that way, but I think you're right. My Huz has always had an enthusiastic talent for costume. He's dressed 14th Century style for our restaurant's Boar's Head feasts, tuxedoed-up for our Dickens Dinners, and sported his kilt at our wedding. He's always open for suggestions, and doesn't hesitate to consider how his choices will look with what I am wearing when we go out. Sadly, he cannot change the oil in his car or carpenter anything, but he understands an obsession with style! A keeper, for sure.

  4. Oh, BTW ... I removed the suggested feature from my settings. Hope it works better for you now.

  5. Yet another fabulous article! I love Steve mcquuen's style too, though as an actor most of his style was created by someone else. He still looked very cool.

  6. Great outfit! And such beautifull Corporate Uniforms!!