A little over a year ago I fell in love and started to sew buttons onto old jackets. These two happenings might seem unrelated at first, but for anyone who has ever felt the searing pain of Cupid’s arrow you will know that love, much like a really good whiskey, gives you new eyes with which to see the world. And the new world I saw needed different buttons.
Perhaps I should back up a bit. At some point during my second year of law school I started to dress better. I understand this is a highly subjective comment, and that for some people my sudden predilection for ties and sweater vests and blazers was not a step in the right direction. And in the beginning, all those elements were not singing in harmony, their voices united in glorious song. So for a while we were a little out of tune and underpowered and maybe coughed up the odd fur ball now and again. I only knew that somehow I had gotten it into my head that I needed a style change. If I’m honest, I just needed a style.
I spent a significant portion of my developing years believing I was fat. To compensate I tended to wear really large sweatshirts, and buy all my pants a little too big for fear of outgrowing them too quickly. I pin rolled my jeans. I wore lurid rayon shirts. For more time than I care to recall I wore a baseball hat, hair lacquered thick with Aussie Spray Gel, brim pushed down onto my bangs creating a tight wave effect. Don’t ask.
Club Monaco sweatshirts. LA Gear high tops. In university I became obsessed with Ethan Hawke and Before Sunrise and took to wearing slouchy sweaters and corduroy blazers and carrying notebooks around with me all over the place. I also started to quote T.S. Eliot and in general became impossibly annoying.
I went though a weird Birkenstock phase that included hemp necklaces and pyjama pants. I think it was a summer camp thing.
Maybe it was in reaction to all of that that I started to dress really plainly. V-neck Gap sweaters and khakis. T-shirts with funny pictures on them. Jean jackets.
Then one day I wore a tie to school and someone said, I like that look. (Of course another friend said, “What, really thinly knotted ties?” The first few times you tie a tie it’s like riding a bicycle backwards.) So I wore a tie the next day to similar effect. At the time I only had two sweaters and one was so big on me I could hide my knees up in it, Flashdance-style - if you’re not a woman with a power-mullet, it’s probably a bad idea to be able to tuck yourself into your clothing; over the next six months I bought 20. And during this entire period people kept remarking on what I was wearing, which led me to one inescapable conclusion:
When it comes to fashion and style, the bar for men is set very, very low.
You put a well-fitted suit on the average man and he is golden. We may not all work Armani like George Clooney, but even the least groomed of us can up the ante significantly with a properly sized shirt and tie. Throw on low profile boots, tuck your shirt into your pants, run a comb through your hair (or professionally dishevel it), and you’ve already surpassed 90% of your simian brethren.
There seems to be an increased interest in what men wear, but no subsequent rise in the amount of people writing about it…at least not in this format. So for as long as I can keep it going, I’m going to write about what men wear and what it means, and along the way give my opinion on denim three piece suits and the merm.
So to answer the question “Why write about men’s fashion,” the simple answer is one, because I like to write, and two, because few people are.
But really it’s because I fell in love and started to re-button old coats.