By Jacob Solis
Fashion itself is a strange concept. The idea that human expression has found itself within the most utilitarian of human inventions — that is to say clothing — boggles the mind. What is more fascinating, however, is that the abyss between what men choose to wear and what women choose to wear has widened further than ever.
For example, why is it that men, at least in the western world, wear pants? Why not something a bit more “free” in the crotch department? Discounting the woman’s dress, the togas of ancient Greece and Rome or even the (relatively) more novel kilt of Scotland seem like pragmatic solutions to a very clear problem, that in modern times has become epidemic with the advent of skinny jeans.
I am neither anthropologist nor fashion historian, so the true answers to such questions elude me. Nevertheless, no one can stop my rampant speculation, so without further ado: men have clearly stopped caring about what they wear and have become leaves on the wind of society and moreover, that is a terrible thing.
Clothes, for better or for worse, are at the forefront of human expression. More often than not, clothes are the first messengers of personality between two human beings and can convey far more than a few meaningless syllables of small talk. A man dressed in well fitting flannel, jeans and work boots screams “I am rugged. Fear me. Love me,” before he ever gets to utter a word about how many trees he’s cut down that day.
In the same way, a man dressed in an ill-fitting t-shirt and fedora exudes a very different message, usually one that leads with an ill-placed “m’lady.”
The point must be stressed, however, that neither example is right or wrong. Whereas moral right and wrong are only somewhat arbitrary, fashion do’s and don’ts are completely so. However, what must be stressed instead is that clothing are as unique to an individual as a fingerprint or a strand of DNA.
What is distressing is that too many men leave their front doors wearing a shirt a size too big combined with pants that are less than flattering because they simply do not care. Take for example the common young man who wears the same outfit every day: a tee shirt and basketball shorts with calf high socks and sneakers.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with wearing such an outfit, but the ensemble carries the connotation that anyone wearing it will, at some point in the day, actually play basketball. Thus things become embarrassing when that never happens.
Even worse, on the opposite end of the spectrum there is what may be called “dadcore.” Tremendously baggy light wash jeans, a pastel pique polo one size too big paired with a dazzlingly white pair of Nike monarchs exemplify the style. Both of these outfits/styles are not “good,” subjectively speaking, because each fails to exude any kind of authentic personality.
Such crises could be avoided if men simply decided to care. That is not say that some men don’t care, many do, but in some cruel twist of fate, such men are the minority. In fact, men are often derided if they decide to care too much.
A man dressed in Rick Owens will draw more ire and disapproving glances than a man dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, even though both can be equal expressions of individuality. What is more distressing is that many men seem to hold the opinion that dressing well is somehow inherently feminine, and thus utterly abhorrent.
In the face of all that, I posit as such: go forth with renewed confidence and rock your personality on the canvas that is your body. While togas may be frowned upon here in the West nowadays, it is never too late to experiment with the styles that are already out there and find a piece of your identity that you never knew you had.
Jacob Solis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.