The Classic – Mad Men and James Dean.
The classic man’s suit has something important in common with its casual equivalent – the Levi jeans and shirt / t-shirt combo. The reason they have been popular for so many decades is that they both camouflage any figure problems men may have*.
* Men don’t have the same issues as women of course, but nevertheless basic body proportions vary, length of torso vs length of legs etc., wide hips, skinny legs / arms (you can see how the twin outfits of men’s suits / classic jeans / shirt perfectly do the job of disguising any problems)
Men, wisely or instinctively have recognised for years that they look better in these classics. However, while still attractive and readily available staples, they can be a tad predictable and men might feel the need for a change now and again too!
The Recent Past – Teddy Boys and drainpipes, flares & flowers.
There have been some forays into various options over the years, sometimes interesting, sometimes disastrous.
There was the ‘Peacock Revolution’ in London in the 1960’s – brightly coloured suits with flared trousers replaced the traditional dark ones. Cravats and slim fitting floral shirts made an appearance, often worn with high waisted flared trousers or jeans and platform soled shoes which enhanced the tall lean look.
These were a welcome change after the post war uniformity of the 40’s & 50’s, which was broken only by the Teddy Boys with their Edwardian style frockcoats, drainpipe trousers and crêpe soled shoes (brothel creepers). The drainpipes regained their popularity when they were adopted by punk culture. But on the whole, very little improvement has been made on the classics in terms of enhancing the male image.
The Future – Men or insects?
There was a vibe at the end of the 90’s when it seemed there might be an exciting change of direction in men’s clothing. It felt as if there might be a shift towards shapes and fabrics inspired by the east. Softer, longer collarless shirts, layering, looser unstructured pants. But 9/11 quickly quashed that particular possibility and sent men’s fashion running for cover.
There has still been a leaning towards eastern influences, unfortunately , very half-hearted, with garments arriving in the shops completely out of context, with no supporting image to aspire to. An example of this is the dropped crotch jeans/trousers which look dreadful worn with traditional western shirts/t-shirts.
The super skinny jeans so popular now are another example of a garment which needs to worn with appropriate tops – not just slotted into an existing wardrobe. There have been some terrible sightings of short legged, wide hipped men wearing really tight figure hugging jeans with short tops, looking like some type of two legged insect.
While we wait for something new…
So if we are looking for a gentle change for you guys – let’s look at some basic guidelines:
- Be aware that the male models you see advertising a look – they are picked, like the female equivalent because they are almost perfect.
- If you know you have short legs try to cover the point where your legs join your body – but don’t overdo it – just cover!
- Unless you are uniformly slender try to avoid the skinny pants look – generally speaking they don’t look good on any other figure type, unless accompanied by a longer, softer style of shirt (you will have to shop around – look online)
- Make use of the well tested outfits – suits, jackets, classic jeans but look for more interesting fabric, prints, weaves, textures, colours – be adventurous!
- Unless you are really well proportioned (look in a full length mirror, be honest, as a friend) avoid wearing a strong contrast in colour on your top and bottom halves.
- Consider your colouring – eyes particularly.
If you have blue eyes – wearing blue close to your face will enhance your eyes, likewise if you have green or brown eyes choose shades of these colours.