One of the least discussed and most left by the wayside fashion realms is that of men’s fashion. In a recent class activity, our professor asked us to go out into the college and observe then interview faculty, staff and students. What we found when asking a male staff member of IT was that “there was no reason” for what he was wearing that day and then later he added that he dressed for his occupation. This statement often holds true for men and throughout the history of fashion since the 19th century men’s fashion focuses on work related dress. This man wore dark black jeans, only acceptable because of their color, a white pinstripe shirt, and a black sport coat. Rather monotone and a bit serious but certainly professional and acceptable for such a position. While this may (and is) be a vast over-generalization and serving of stereotype, the few who are socially “allowed” to dress with unique style are usually gay men or especially creative and serious artists, something I find to limit all men’s ability to dress as they please.
However, it comes as a surprise that recently a good male friend of mine who happens to be straight allowed me a bit of insight into how he chose to dress. As much as I had previously assumed that this man dressed haphazardly with little forethought into his clothing, I found that he in fact deliberately wore dress shirts on a regular basis because he felt that first impressions are a huge part of building relationships. While his personality leans on the goofy side, he intends to offer a respectable first encounter by his dress with those he does not previously know or does not know well.
Upon further study of this man’s dressing habits, I realized I had immediately written off the subtle but deliberate dressing choices he had made and potentially had missed in many dressing habits of other men I know. Women are in most, or many to my knowledge, the primary consumers of fashion and dress. We tend to fixate on this and ignore the idea that men have something to contribute as well and some have serious thoughts about their dressing habits. I put a large emphasis in the opinion of men on fashion and in the future intend to value their opinion even more. We women are missing something I feel and this realm of design is far too narrow as it stands today.