In the Seattle suburb I grew up in, men’s fashion wasn’t a top concern of the guys I hung out with as a teenager. They were concerned with other things, like their cars and winning beer pong tournaments. The fact that style was overlooked in favor of more masculine interests is one of the reasons I decided to leave Seattle.
Fashion seems to have been cast aside in many men’s views as too feminine to be a worry of theirs. In fact, being fashionable is a rebellion against conformity. Calling it girly is just an excuse to not make the effort to establish individuality. A man in clean-cut clothes that fit him (a button down shirt, blazer, cardigan or classy tweed jacket, for instance) is actually incredibly masculine because he takes the time to consider his appearance, groom himself and step out into the world thoughtfully put-together. Fashionable men use style to communicate other aspects of their personalities.
Before I get to know the guy that walks into class in sweats and an old T-shirt, I might think he’s lazy or messy, that he thinks that pure charm will get him by with the ladies. If his clothes are bland, he might be, too. If the same guy walked in clean-shaven, shined shoes, with a crisp shirt and jacket, I’ll know that he’s patient, attentive to detail and confident in himself. Going out in public looking respectable means he respects himself and that he expects the same respect from others. The clothes themselves are certainly part of the appeal, but when a man is well-dressed it shows me that he’s paying attention to his environment, that he cares enough about his surroundings to look good in them. People looking at him will inevitably create an opinion about him before he has the chance to open his mouth. That’s where good style can come in to supplement his persona as a whole.
A fashionable man suggests qualities that translate to how he interacts with others. He doesn’t want to be overlooked or ignored and spends his time with people who stand out as individuals, have strong personalities and aren’t afraid to express them. Basketball shorts or saggy jeans blend easily into the crowd, a look that’s safe because it means the guy wearing them doesn’t have to attract attention. Safe fashion is too easy for men — it means that they doesn’t have to be judged by people purely on appearances, even though men constantly do that to women. But this is New York. Trying to stand out is hard enough as it is, and I’d rather approach the guy who gave standing out a shot, rather than the one who gave up before he even walked out the door.