Men Make Great Toys: A Journey Through Men’s Fashion
So, I mentioned last month that despite my talking big in March about being the most conspicuously single Femme, I recently started dating someone. (Amusingly enough, a friend of The Ex’s, and a guy who I’ve known for years and whose Hidden Talents I have mentioned in previous posts.) One of the most entertaining parts about dating a new guy? Dressing him up after your own tastes, of course! Assuming he’s cooperative, there is a special kind of fun in ignoring his actual wardrobe and putting him in exactly the outfit in which you think he will look the hottest. This is particularly true if you have been admiring said guy’s looks for several years but have not previously been in a position to do anything about it. Now that we’ve been dating for a couple of months, I figure this is all fair game.
Despite the fact that I’ve known The Man With The Hidden Talents for years, what I didn’t know is that he has a previously hidden talent for hoarding plaid. He has a truly impressive collection of button shirts, long and short sleeved, in a rainbow array of plaids. I don’t really have a problem with that — there’s nothing wrong with plaid in concept. It’s in execution that it becomes problematic. Anyone with eyes can hardly have failed to notice there are some really horrifying plaids out there. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to exercise my fashion talents/treat him like a giant doll and play dress up. He needs a few more shirts that are not plaid, for choice green. (He also has several shirts that snap rather than button, but I’ve decided to leave that alone. I was initially unconvinced by the snap thing, but I am willing to admit I’ve been converted to the point that I suspect he is slightly sorry for having convinced me. Snap shirts do in fact provide good entertainment value. Particularly in public.) And hey, I have time on my hands!
After the jump, my quest for good men’s fashion… which turned out to be a little harder than I expected it to be.
One of the first things I noticed is that men have a lot less choice and variety than women do. Sorry, guys. Admittedly, I already knew that from past shopping expeditions. The plain truth is that the average guy is not going to be interested in the kind of wild experimentations with cut and shape that take place in women’s fashion. I figured that would be the case. What I didn’t expect, though, was how heavily skewed the offerings were by the current trends. More specifically, there is a lot of plaid out there right now. Wow, is there a lot of plaid. I had no idea plaid was so fashionable for men right now. He of the Hidden Talents claims that plaid comes into fashion for men every few years in an alternating schedule with stripes and that he is thus fashionable on approximately the same schedule as El Nino.
While I was initially irritated by this trend (I’m looking for something he DOESN’T already own), I am disturbed to realize that I am starting to want to buy plaid for myself. This shirt (again from Elizabeth and James, damn it!), for example, is starting to seem like a better and better idea:
While plaid is admittedly looking better and better to me, well, that’s beside the point. I refuse to buy more plaid for a wardrobe already stuffed to the gills with it. (The phrase “coals to Newcastle” comes to mind.) Thankfully, other alternatives do exist.
The problem with looking for interesting fashion for men is finding something that’s maybe a little interesting, out of the tedious common way of things, without being so odd as to be unwearable. The vast majority of regular men’s clothing falls into a very limited number of categories in a very limited list of patterns (plaid, stripes, check…) Thankfully, even if you don’t have ready access to physical stores with more thoughtful men’s offerings, the internet has some very solid options. My favorites include the men’s shop at Revolve and the men’s shop at Urban Minx, which they dub Urban Monarch. I also like Nordstrom’s website for and include some younger-skewed fashionable lines like G-Star Raw, 7 Diamonds, and Dirty English. And of course I had to stalk a few of my favorite lines (Royal Underground, John Varvatos, Thomas Pink, Ted Baker. Would that all men would wear more Varvatos!).
I’m also happy to say that the guy in question is broad-minded and thus comparatively easy to shop for. Being as he’s an artist, he is pleasingly lacking in the too-common male terror of any pattern other than stripes. I’m not saying he’s going to be tossing on a chartreuse and aqua Hawaiian shirt any time soon (I have, no joke, seen this in the wardrobe of a prior boyfriend), but a masculine low-key floral a la Ted Baker is not out of the question, and tasteful abstracts are an easy sell. I was disturbed to find that gingham is also in right now. I’m not going to get into that except to say that I’m pretty sure I’m never going to think a guy looks hot in something that reminds me of a picnic table. After much searching, here are a few of the items that caught my eye.
Ah, Ted Baker. I’ve had my eye on this shirt for a while — I love the idea of a masculine floral for the guy not afraid to step out a little:
I also loved this more laid-back floral print from Hugo Boss:
I like that this print is a little bit interesting without the floral being too in-your-face; it’s a great choice for guys who are a little less daring in their choice of wardrobe but still don’t want to be limited to stripes. The spring/summer offerings from Michael Kors also offer some fun for a guy willing to take a few risks. The shirts (and shorts) are full of slightly trippy paisley prints in colors with just enough pop to keep them from reminding you of your grandfather:
I was also impressed with the offerings from Ben Sherman, a line I’ve never really had cause to have much contact with before. Admittedly, a lot of them are plaid right now, but I love this print:
Seems like there’s hope for a fun wardrobe yet! I’ll be interested to see what this fall brings for men’s fashion — playing dress-up is fun for all seasons!