MONDAY MARCH 30 2009
Why Do Men Let Their Partners Shop For Them?
Where Have All The Stylish Men Gone?
Throughout the ages fashion, style, icons and status have all been interlinked as part of the ever changing image of the world.
We consumers are told constantly by the media what to wear, what to like.
And too often we believe every word and every flashing image.
Do our clothes reflect who we are in today’s modern living? Or do we just do as we are told?
I want to explore men’s perceptions of fashion and style, and how style relates to our everyday lives. I want to show ordinary men how to feel confident in their clothes, and to show them how very easy it really is.
Is the big question of male fashion inadequacy a reflection of what’s on offer, a lack of encouragement, or just plain laziness?
Do the harsh words of Trinny and Susannah even permeate the consciousness of any men not actually on the show (and if anyone saw the episode with Jeremy Clarkson even that didn’t persuade him to opt for a little more style). Why do we men so rarely listen to these so called “style gurus?” Do we not care about our appearance the way women do? Or do we not have the confidence to go and experiment with style the way women do?
Why not? Men can be stylish as men, just as a woman can. Look at Clark Gable or Cary Grant.
The problem cannot be a lack of role models as there are more and more stylish men to take tips from. The likes of Jude Law (Actor), Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) and the effortlessly and undeniably cool David Beckham mean men have an example to follow or at least an insight to what’s sizzling hot as well as what’s definitely not in the world of fashion.
Why do so few men seem to notice them? And why do so many men seem to actively ignore them, thinking they can get away with a look that suggests they’ve barely got out of bed?
Maybe ironically the high street is to blame for the demise of the well groomed man, and not just the clothing stores: if you were to explore your local W.H.Smith or Borders for example, you would find over 100 different types of female orientated publications such as Vogue, Elle, Grazia and In Style. If you find yourself in a newsagent have a look at the male versions of these magazines: F.H.M, G.Q, Arena, Nuts et al.
99% of male fashion magazines are awful, unhelpful, and irrelevant to the average man. The Arena Homme + Summer/Autumn edition looks “like trashy gay porn” - and that’s a quote from a gay friend of mine.
I was under the impression that fashion magazines are supposed to guide the reader to various styles and brands that will improve their look/life/love. To my despair these magazines seem to be turning men off fashion and style and sending them running in the opposite direction.
To compound the problem – and for this I can’t blame the magazines - there is a major stigma attached to wanting to look good as a man; looking stylish on a night out is to set yourself up to be ridiculed.
What’s more is that very little guidance is given to those men I see out shopping on a busy Saturday. Few sales staff really care about the fashion credibility of their customers, and why should they? After all many of those shop assistants are not given the right training or guidance to help their customers, or much financial incentive to do so.
Another scenario I see time and again is the influence of the wife or girlfriend. So many men go shopping at the weekend under the watchful eye of their partner and seem completely incapable of making a fashion decision without them. If men are to conquer fashion for themselves, perhaps even reinvent the star style of old Hollywood, they need to be allowed some freedom to experiment learn how to do it – as the girls did when they were teenagers. We men need to reclaim some territory and start enjoying being individual again.
Another stumbling block for men seems to me to be that the fashion industry really doesn’t give the ordinary guy many genuinely stylish options. Having worked in the fashion industry myself for the last 5 years, and having seen the industry from sales adviser to now visual merchandiser and stylist, I can see why men lack the basic knowledge and the know-how to create a working and manageable wardrobe. For a lot of men the thought of making an effort to look stylish seems an alien concept. But why does the issue of looking good have to be so difficult? If men were given some clear and basic rules to follow the world of fashion would not be so intimidating. So read on…
STEP 1 - A double cuffed shirt is must for any man over the age of 18. It is easy to fall into bad habits and securing a stylishly classic look will keep you in good stead for many years to come.
STEP 2 - A smartly fitted suit has the ability to turn any man from an overly fed couch potato to a wannabe James Bond.
STEP 3 - As you get older the colours have to get softer. If you’re 45+ be wary of black unless you have very strong colouring (black is a harsh colour and will drain you, as can heavy navy). Try a softer grey/charcoal instead.
STEP 4 - Blue eyes and blond hair: keep the colours you choose light and bright. Try softer colours for brown eyes and brown hair, and add a chocolate base to add difference.
STEP 5 - Shoes are a vital to a man’s wardrobe and should be the piece de resistance in any outfit. Shape is very important to the style of the outfit and the style should change from casual to smart. Your shoes and belts should match closely colour-wise too. Black shoes = black belt and so on.
Go out and shop for yourself. There is a few serious fashion mistakes that cannot be remedied by the 28 day returns rule. Trend is not important because fashion trends change most weeks. Take elements of a trend by all means, but please don’t dress head to toe in one brand - it does not reflect who you are, only how good the store visual merchandiser is.
I admit I look up to my father as he is stylish man, on all fronts. He subscribe's to the old school of dressing, and I would love to take us back to those decadent times and re-live style in its truest sense.
Take care and remember trends come and go but STYLE is Eternal!