What’s needed is a little straight talk about a sensitive matter. I am referring to men’s fashion. There are a few myths that have to be expelled from our collective memory if we are going to move forward in a productive way. The first myth is that fashion is only for women. To be clear, fashion is more embraced by women. But it is not exclusively a women’s issue.
Second, you don’t have to be gay to embrace fashion as a man. Shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy probably did more to set men’s fashion back than it did to help. That particular show went through a name change and was just called “Queer Eye” to reflect a broader scope. But at the end of the day, the damage was already done.
Another myth is that purses and other utilitarian accessories are strictly feminine. There was a time when men’s coin pouches were called purses. Hosiery, skirts, and wigs were equally fashions for men as they were for women. Men’s wear even included high-heeled shoes.
Today, men like to pretend that they don’t care about fashion. It would be less masculine if they wanted to look and feel beautiful. Well, that nonsense has to stop. Here’s why:
Eyes Are the First Line of Communication
Communication begins with how you look. I’m not talking about appearance. I’m talking about how you use your eyes. A negotiation can be won or lost based on eye-contact. If you are photophobic or meeting someone outdoors underneath the hot, bright sun, your choice of eyewear will have to convey what your eyes cannot in that circumstance.
Designer glasses for men serve an important purpose. They have to convey confidence when your eyes can’t. They also have to convey good taste and attention to detail. They serve the same purpose as designer sunglasses for women. Without them, we would be forced to shield our eyes and look away at awkward situations. Don’t lose the social advantage because you underestimated the importance of this accessory.
Body Odor Is Off-putting
You can call it cologne instead of perfume if you prefer. But the bottom line is that the original purpose was to cover up the body odor exuded by both men and women in the upper classes. Indoor running water and plentiful cheap soap were not on offer. There was a reason one needed servants to run a bath.
The other reality was that it was not common to change clothes every day. A woman might have a single dress that was patched and sized for years. A man might have a single suit. Doing laundry was no easier than bathing. People stank. And great was the stench.
That is why perfume was invented. Today, we have the magic of deodorant and antiperspirant. But days still get long and odor still escapes. The top branded perfumes for men still serve the same utilitarian purpose as they did 200 years ago.
Of course, the animal kingdom has been using scent to attract mates and not just to avoid repelling them. We use scent in the same way for the same reason. If anything, men have more reason to wear artificial scents than women. It is not uncommon for men to carry a bottle of cologne in their inside coat pocket right next to the breath spray, another must-have for men.
Because Men Are Just As Judgmental As Women
Perhaps the most unspoken reason why men’s fashion is so important is that men are judgmental of other men. Wearing a $400 watch can be worse than wearing no watch because the $400 watch says you wanted to buy a nice watch, but couldn’t really afford it. The wrong suit can sink you if you dabble in suit culture. And let’s not get started on shoes.
The point is, you have to know a bit about the fashion world just to avoid social snafus caused by fashion disasters. You should care what other people think. It absolutely matters. So be mindful of how you present your eyes. Conceal natural odor with something less off-putting. And know that someone is making assessments of you based on your appearance. Women have known these fashion truths for ages.