Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Let's Tell Men What to Wear

How much if you throw in the lot?
Kidding! I'm just kidding. I belong to the "Accept them as you find them, or leave 'em alone" school of thought. That title was just to spark a discussion about what we like men to wear. I suspect men are interested in what women like them to wear even though if we told them what to wear they would get all mulish, like a ten year old who has decided he is old enough not to have to listen to his mother's opinion on the topic anymore. And fair enough.

But I think it sad that clothes are so ugly now. Last night B.A. and I went out to see  Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes, a French film noir of 1955, and I was charmed by how, even on their way to a heist, the French crooks wore snappy suits. The street scenes of Paris showed every man, young or old, in a smart suit and every woman, young or old, similarly well-turned out.

Where did you get that hat?
Okay, sure. The crooks walloped their ex-mistresses or slapped their wives on their behinds and said "Run along now, chérie." I'm not holding up the Paris Underworld of 1955 as some sort of model society. But their clothes were better than ours.

This is what I was thinking as our double-decker bus stopped at stop after stop, and I looked down (literally) on the crowds of people in black, grey and denim blue jackets, sweats, jeans. Urgh.

Fortunately, this is Scotland, and here many men choose to wear kilts to sporting events. Unless they were bought for £20 by a tourist in a tartan tat shop or worn without socks, kilts are inherently smart, even with a rugby shirt. A guy who goes to a rugby game in a kilt, knee socks and rugby shirt or (better) cable-knit pullover is infinitely better dressed than 99% of the men who don't.

Also infinitely better dressed than the average guy at an Edinburgh bus stop is a Young Fogey in tweed. No matter how wild the neuroses and opinions of a Young Fogey become, at least he presents a pleasant appearance.

Feel free to tell the men of the world via my combox what they should wear. They can't see you, so they may actually pay attention. Continuing this week's "let's praise men" theme, emphasize the great outfits you've seen men wearing.


Anonymous said...

I've never seen a man in suit who didn't look good. I love it when they dress up for weddings!
A more casual look that I love too is a dress shirt with a jumper (no print). I have to say I don't really pay a lot of attention to shoes and trousers.
A friend of mine always dresses up so nicely, I just love it! He always wears a dress shirt (don't think I've ever seen him wear a simple T-shirt) and matches it with a casual jeans or fancy pants for more special occasions.

MaryJane said...

Sorry, Seraphic- I love jeans! I was recently introduced to someone's boyfriend: he was wearing jeans and a collared shirt (oxford button down) and I thought he looked great. He also seemed to be very sweet toward his girlfriend which made it even nicer.

Magdalena said...

If they are Bavarian or Austrian, knickerbocker leather trousers with the right kind of stockings, shoes, shirt, and jacket.

Everybody else: I'm not sure. I like suits, but often they are worn by posh business men/bankers, and that is mostly not the kind of people I am drawn to. And I must admit that I find it depressing when I go to a conference and everybody wears the same type of black suits. Jackets are fine, but they can be worn with pullovers, or shirts, sometimes with, sometimes without tie (depending on the occasion). As long as you don’t look like exact copies of everybody else, and transport the message that you respect yourself and your fellow people, everything is okay with me! (Only don’t put on skin-tight jeans, and use belts so your trousers don’t reveal what you are – or are not – wearing underneath.)

But I love hats! Why don’t men wear hats any more?

Mary E said...

My fiance has asked me to pick out what he should wear for certain occasions...formal dressier occasions, Christmas dinner with my family, etc...

I don't think a woman should try to change a man, but if he asks for suggestions, I don't see how it'd hurt to help.

In my opinion, jeans are OK, as long as they aren't torn or too baggy. Slimmer ( but not tight) and darker tend to look more professional and classy. You can't go wrong with basic slacks in gray or khaki for everyday too, but without pleats. I'm not a fan of sweats or running shoes, unless you're hiking or exercising or something. So I'd say find a comfy loafer or dressier shoe that you can wear with different things. Suits, as long as they fit well are always great. I'm liking gray ones a lot right now. I'd say to err on being overdressed, if unsure. Some ladies don't care about clothing, but it can make a difference in a first impression for some.

Anne said...

You know what I love on a man? Vests. When paired with a button-down shirt and jeans (yes, I know)and possibly a jacket (with or without a tie), I find the look very appealing.

I agree, too, with Magdalena that hats are classy.

Margaret Mary said...

A couple years ago my teen son and a friend did a little demonstration to a parish boys' group (9-12 year olds) on how to tie a necktie. The next Sunday quite a few of them wore ties to Mass. It was fun to see such a direct influence!

Sheila said...

Ah, I'm a casual one, I guess. Jeans and flannel shirts for me. Fleece too. Really, anything soft and fuzzy.

But I WISH I could put an end to this buzz-cut obsession! The cancer-patient look is not attractive. Even the military crew cut isn't so nice. I'm not saying we need to go back to the eighties, but a man should have at least some comb-able hair.

In My Humble Opinion. I find the suit-wearing type to be Not My Type. Besides, that type would never go for me because I'm in jeans. ;)

Jam said...

I am sort of anti-kilt, unless the wearer is actually Scottish. I'm also pretty much anti-fedora. I'm mean like that. The banker's collar is an abomination, and pleated front trousers are unfortunate on younger men. You don't want the first impression to be "jeepers, he dresses like George Michael [from Arrested Development]" which has actually gone through my head once or twice.

What I really like is a three-piece suit, or better, the shirt-jumper-jacket combination. Men generally look really nice in pullover sweaters in my opinion (with a collared shirt under of course), and rugby shirts are also nice.

Jessica Brewer said...

I agree with MaryJane! I just love men in jeans, but with a few stipulations:

a) That they are NICE jeans - no holes, darker denim, more trouser-y than not.

b) They MUST fit decently - not too tight, not too loose, and for goodness sakes let them please cover thy rear end. More than 1 cm. boxers in view (because that may be just accidental) is not cool.

c) This is important for men who want to maximize their attractiveness to me - the jeans must be worn with a nice shirt. Not a t-shirt. So, think collared, or polo, or button-down. Really I just discriminate against t-shirts. :p A blazer or sports coat is also VERY nice.

(I think men who wear trousers also look very nice, but there is something about the ruggedness of jeans combined with the gentility of a nice shirt that really grabs my attention. If you are male and wearing this combination successfully, I will notice you instantly even in a crowded room. :)

Marisstella said...

To hats, I would add: waistcoats! Why don't men wear wastecoats anymore?

You know that look, jacketless with waistcoat and shirtsleeves turned up a bit, when a guy has dressed up nice but now has to do something practical? Squeal!

c'est la vie said...

This post was written for me. I am a very great fan of the well-dressed man.

I love it when men wear classic-style clothing with good cut and quality fabrics. I lost my heart temporarily in a coffee shop last summer to an individual wearing a crisp white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up, tucked into belted (non-pleated) chinos, with a metallic watch and brown leather deck shoes. Sigh. In cooler weather, v-neck wool sweaters over button-down collared shirts are pretty groovy, and wool/felt coats trump sporty coats every time in my books!

I also have a soft spot for suits and jackets. Suits definitely do not have to be black! But they do need to fit… beware of baggy pleated trousers and ill-fitting jacket shoulders. Tweed, twill, pinstripes, and solid colours can all be smashing, as long as the cut is good. (Why aren’t there Young Fogeys where I live?) Cut and fabric type really matter though. Going with good brand names is the best way to ensure you’re getting both—it’s more expensive but the clothes last longer so it’s worth it in the end. Also non-synthetic fabrics are often more expensive but also more comfortable.

However, unlike some previous posters, I am not a fan of jeans. Agreed, some look better than others, but when worn in non-labour situations, they express a disappointing fear of formality.

And I know hair doesn’t qualify as clothing, but in my opinion neatly trimmed hair is the crowning glory of the well-dressed man…

Domestic Diva said...

I agree with MaryJane that well-fitting jeans and a pressed, collared shirt (with a pullover sweater in cool weather) make a nice outfit for a guy. Pressed khakis might sub for the jeans if the occasion warrants.

lauren said...

I think real shoes (no trainers!), properly-fitting jeans, and a nice (ironed!) button-down shirt always look good.

Seraphic said...

Continental and British readers should take note that when Americans and Canadians say "pants", they mean "trousers" and when they say "vests", they mean "waistcoats".

Although I trained myself to stop saying "pants" in public rather early, it took me longer to stop saying "vest." (In the UK a vest is an undershirt.)

Sitting Pretty said...

To me, men always look good if their clothes:
1) fit properly
2) are clean and in good repair
3) are appropriate to the situation
After that, it's all a matter of personal style. If I guy were interested in appealing to me specifically, I would recommend that he buy a three-piece suit... or join the military and get one of those handsome dress uniforms. ;)

My brother has an excellent eye for clothes, despite the fact that his frame is not an average size. He has to look harder for things that fit him correctly, but he never compromises with "close enough". It makes a big difference!

MaryJane said...

Jessica, I think we must have exactly the same taste! I would have added those same stipulations had I thought it through.

And American readers should know that "jumpers" means "sweaters", not those ill-fitting dress like things :)

Seraphic said...

Oh, yes. Thank you! I forgot about the jumper confusion.

Amusingly, there are similar vocabulary confusions between France French and Canadian French.

Seraphic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cordi said...

I think men look best in uniform. Not sure why, but they do!

AM said...

@Jam, great comparison:
"You don't want the first impression to be 'jeepers, he dresses like George Michael' [from Arrested Development." Yes! :-)

The charm is in the jacket! A nice tailored tweed or sporting blazer always catches my attention.

truthfinder said...

Oddly enough, I love seeing men wearing suspenders - preferably with a vest but sometimes without. (As long as they are nice dressy ones, and not some terrible garish orange logging suspenders - oh the horrors!)

I agree dark jeans are usually nice, but it's nice to see when men go a step further every once and awhile.

In my grad department, we tend to wear working casual, but when there's a presentation or something, we dress up a bit. So much better than undergrad when people would wear pajamas. Bleh.

In conclusion, suspenders and vest =good; pajamas =not good.

Seraphic said...

In the UK we say "braces" instead of "suspenders" for men's belt-alternatives, because in the UK "suspenders" are those things that attach stockings to garter belts (UK: "suspender belts"). Thus, the word is considered as giggle-worthy as "pants." You have no idea of my sufferings. I'm just telling you this stuff in case American and Canadian girls travel to the UK, where men will hovering hoping childishly that you will mention pants, vests and suspenders, especially within earshot of the priest.

I'm glad the post got such an enthusiastic response. I am very fond of the trousers-pullover-tie-tweed jacket combination in the UK, but I am less sure tweed jackets work on the non-British, non-Irish. But suits look good on everyone, especially if they wear their local suit, e.g. if American men wear American suits, Italian men wear Italian suits, German men wear German suits. Of course they are all wearing a variation of the same suit, but there are enough differences to add real interest.

I have done a mental thought experiment to see how I feel about jeans. The obvious thought was Italy-young-dark-haired-Vespa-T-shirt, but no. Not interested. Not a flicker. I am over jeans. And also over dark-haired Italian giovanotti on Vespas. Dear me. Am I THAT old?

Urszula said...

I can't say I have anything particularly original to add, except that men in well-cut suits are incredibly dashing. Emphasis on the well-cut - here in the US men seem to prefer loose trousers which hardly ever look good, especially in a suit situation.

I don't mind men wearing jeans - even on a date, although probably not a first date - as long as they are paired with a nice button-down shirt and some type of leather shoe, even a loafer.

Also, please, no baseball caps, whether on your head sideways, backwards, whatever.

I have a thing for men in uniform too.

Seraphic said...

Baseball caps are an abomination on any man over the age of 14, unless he is an American or Canadian farmer. Scottish farmers still wear tweed caps, chwała Bogu.

Katy said...

I love it when my fiance wears lovely cashmere sweaters that I bought him, and soft fluffy fleeces with jeans and loafers. It makes him cuddly and looks MUCH better than the horror show too-tight print t-shirts he would wear habitually if I hadn't banned them.

One guideline I would advise men to use is to observe the lady of their interest and what she wears when being casual, dressy, etc. When she is casual - does she wear print t-shirts and ripped jeans? If not, you can bet your bum that it's because she thinks that would be gauche. On herself and definitely on you. When she dresses up, is she classic? Jackie O type suits? Retro hippy sundresses? Take your cue from her genre of clothing if you want her to find you attractive. If she's in smart suits in church, she'll adore you in smart suits in church. If she's in pretty floral dresses, she'll adore you in khakis and blazers that go along with pretty floral dresses.

Never dress "down" further from how she dresses when she thinks she is dressing down - because she will only go as down as she thinks is acceptable. If you are below that, she will not approve. Just my opinion, take it for what it's worth.

MichelleMarie said...

Suits? Yes please. But they MUST be well-cut and fitted. A suit can look awful if it's too big, especially in the shoulder and trouser areas.

Besides that, I like it when men can wear vibrant colours and still look masculine - even pastel yellows and pinks. But I like bright colours in general, and wearing them myself.

And I like fitted shirts. Mmmm.

Jenna St. Hilaire said...

Splendid topic!

Being a casual American West Coaster who wears jeans everywhere but Mass and the symphony, I like denim. I spent those long single years searching for a casual man. As it turns out, I fell for a man who wanted to be taken seriously and therefore wears slacks most of the time. I am older than he is, but you'd never know it by the way we dress.

My preference nowadays is something maybe Clinton Kelly would say: wear colors that look good on you, and a style that works for you and is whole in itself. That husband-o'-mine looks smashing in his K of C tux and baldric. He also looks smashing in khakis and a nice button-down in strong, cool colors. I also think he looks smashing around the house in nicely-fitting jeans (nicely-fitting is important) and his untucked dark red T-shirt, but, as noted, I am a casual person.

As an artist, albeit of the literary sort, I just love seeing anyone look put-together and attractive, whatever the scale. Mass in the Seattle area can be trying--around here, traditionalists tend to be dowdy and non-traditionalists can be anything and everything (and oh, are they ever.) But our very diverse parish affords many a fine aesthetic, including one hipster friend in Steve Jobs black knit and what strikes my memory as a Gryffindor scarf; one beautifully earnest young friend in a tie and a light button-down that emphasizes his blue eyes, with a black wool coat; one very sharp father-in-law with perfectly combed white hair and a classic dark suit; and one husband in neatly polished shoes and either the aforementioned slacks-with-collared-shirt or a suit like his father's.

And never fear, I do dress up for Mass--throw my very best at it; at least, shy of the cocktail dress. I was raised by Southern Baptists. Jeans and church are barely allowed in the same sentence. ;)

tx lurker said...

Here in Texas, the subtle, put-together cowboy is omnipresent... and perfect. I grew up seeing my dad (and most men around me) don mirror-polished black cowboy boots and a felt cowboy hat with everything: suits (not cowboy type suits, just regular suits) to weddings and church; with nice jeans and a pearl snap; with slacks and dress shirt; and with his police uniform. It fits in here, and everywhere else, it's his trademark.

In my history class last semester, there was a guy who wore perfectly fitted jeans, dress shirt, belt and cowboy boots. Every. Single. Day. He was also perfectly coiffed. Never once wore a t-shirt or trainers or sandals (EWWW man sandals...). His existence gave me hope in this sad world of pajama-wearing undergraduates.

Hipster types do well in Chuck Taylors, loafers, or non-cowboy boots; dark trouser-y jeans or corduroy; flannel shirts, non-metro-looking v-necks, or sweaters; leather or cotton military style/denim jackets; and some kind of spiffy wool coat and scarf for winter. And hats, boys. Hats. But no fedoras. Fedoras don't count unless you are eighty years old or a professional swing dancer. Watches with sturdy leather watchbands are manly-looking. From a glasses wearer, cool glasses are a plus. I may be wrong, but it seems so much easier for guys to dress well than it is for girls, that I wonder why more of them don't!(!!!!!)

Caelaeno said...

@Sheila: I actually like buzz cuts. For whatever reason, they just look manly to me.

Tanya said...

Ah, Seraphic, I just returned from my second trip to London, England (particularly the Kensington area.) It was uncanny how handsome the men were, but what the girls in my entourage noticed is how, young and old, all the men wore a collared dress shirt. It would be paired with khakis, jeans, dress pants, with everything from a hooded sweatshirt, vest, suit jacket or denim jacket thrown on top. And I gotta, say it increased the appeal. Compared to the east coast of Canada, where hoodies, golf shirts and sports jerseys reign, it was delightfully refreshing!
Way to go, UK!

Brigid said...

Oh great scott. Buttondowns with vests/waistcoats and the sleeves rolled up make me swoon. Figuratively.
I love high-quality hats worn well at appropriate times. (Cheap cotton fedoras at the dinner table are a no.)

Hair is huge for me. I like slightly longer hair with a nice side part, trimmed in the back and on the sides. With a smidge of flow or curl to it, like an old movie star. Has been known to literally (no, not figuratively, literally) make me dizzy. Combined with a good cologne...deadly.

Also a fan of tx lurker's cowboy look--if and only if worn by a man who knows his way around a ranch.

TRS said...

I just like a sense of style. Sometimes a well chosen tshirt and jeans can look really good, sometimes it's just sloppy.

You can tell when a man has his own sense of style, and when they're cluelessly wearing shirts and khakis just because they don't know what looks best on them.

My particular aversion is polo shirts. Hate polo shirts. If you got it in a swag bag at a golf tournament... Bah!! Polo shirts are what you wear to work at McDonald's or to wash cars! They're made of ugly patterns - they don't flatter man boobs - and they are not stylish. Go ahead, wear them to play golf or to volunteer at some function but they should not be a wardrobe staple.

Now, there are such things as stylish polo styled jersey shirts... The kind that don't have the ribbed collar... That show a sense of style. Something that's a riff on the polo...
I really don't know what to tell men to wear. Jeans, boots and a cowboy hat... Great. Suit and tie... Also great. Slacks and a button down shirt... Fine.

Oh and I hate turtlenecks too. Especially if the male wearer has a ponytail. Creeper!