Latest 3 Things

Saturday, April 7, 2012

3 Dressing Do's

Over the past three years, I have offered all measure of fashion criticisms.  From the subtle to the ravingly overt, if nothing else, THREE THINGS has provided an intricate road map of what not to wear.  As society has all but eliminated even the slightest bit of personal shame, I have endured a visual onslaught of the unimaginably poorly dressed at sometimes so disgusting as to literally eliminate my appetite.  But for all this identification, and foolish attempts to inspire consideration by way of pointing out the obvious, I have offered little, if any, in the way of constructive suggestion.  After all, what good is a critic if he can’t provide at least a modicum of solution to the problems he identifies?  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t the slightest idea of how to remedy the deep-seated and systemic social issues which have gotten us to a place where it’s a acceptable for men to wear skinny jeans, for women to poorly-knit ponchos or for anyone to wear their sunglasses inside at night, but I do know a few things that you can wear and not look like an asshat.  That’s right, after a three decades of dressing myself, and usually not doing it well, I have learned a few things (mostly thanks to patient advice of the women in my life) about what to wear.  And so, in the interests of pointing out a few solutions to the countless problems I have ranted about, here are 3 things to wear to keep everyone from laughing at you:

1. The Plain White Tees.  Men’s fashion has a love-hate relationship with the gay community.  On one hand, they have delivered a profoundly greater level of personal grooming to their straight counterparts, and more than a few style ideas that keep us all from dressing like we did in the seventh grade.  On the other hand, they have also misled a number of otherwise well-intended fashion convertees into androgynous fashion disasters (not everyone looks good with a pocket square).  On balance, though, the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy phenomenon has been a good thing for us.  At the pinnacle of this mountain of gay contribution to the straight community is the v-neck t-shirt as a fashion staple.  Now I know that this has already been taken too far by some.  The deep v-neck is an ill-advised an idea for your average man as as a Speedo swimsuit.  But, your standard v-neck t-shirt is about thing to happen to the male torso since the t-shirt itself.  If there is a universal panacea to the screen-printed apocalypse that is Affliction (and similarly douchey brands of skulls, crosses, crowns, swords, etc.) it is the plain v-neck shirt.  And by plain, I mean plain.  All the same color.  No printing, no fancy stitching, and for God’s sake, the right size.  I first discovered this beautifully simple solution while observing the actually successful crowd in LA (as opposed to the wanna-be/poser crowd).  It’s brilliant, understated, masculine and simple.  If you know someone who can’t stop wearing 80 dollar shirts that look like the art project of an 8th grade boy who watches too much TV, do them a favor, burn their shirts and leave them with a 3-pack of Calving Klein V-necks.  It’ll be the best twenty bucks you ever spend (and it counts as your wedding gift if this finally lands them a girl who doesn’t think Twilight is “literature”)

2. Up to the Chuck.  If there’s one area of fashion where men are almost permanently doomed to being behind their female counterparts, it’s in footwear.  Women know shoes like a native language - a way they learned to communicate that predated their ability to speak.  And men?  We treat shoes like our car keys - something we grab at the last second while heading out the door - and only because we have to.  Men have a hard time even matching their shoes to their particular utility.  Because if this isn’t the case, then there are a lot more people heading off to a skateboarding session than you can tell from watching the local skate parks.  Seriously, skateboard shoes are the footwear equivalent of Underoos - and yet, I see them on grown men daily.  But I get it, dress shoes are about as comfortable as a healthy punch to the groin, and even less cool.  The brands that attempt to create a hybrid (Sketchers, Aldo, Clarks) end up making you look like that asshole that used to work at Chess King in the mall, and (hopefully) you feel ridiculous in flip-flops.  So what to do?  Look to the 1930’s.  The Chuck Taylor All-Star is the most universally acceptable shoe since they started making them.  They come in literally thousands of varieties, and they are, at once, grown-up without being too grown up, stylish without being too stylish, and comfortable without being, well, Crocs.  They also cost less than $40, so you can own more than one pair without being that guy.  Wanna know something you’ll never hear? “Hey look at that guy’s Chucks, what an ass.”  If there’s another kind of shoe you can say that about, I’d like to hear it.     

3. A Great Pair.  There was a time when jeans for men was a simpler concept, and my theory is that this was due in large part to the fact that it was very difficult to screw this up.  Jeans came in pretty much one style, a handful of colors and the sizing was relatively simple.  In fact, the worst thing we ever did with our jeans was to “peg” them against our ankles, in a suburban homage to the hip hop artists of our time.  But while we weren’t paying attention jeans got completely out of control.  They actually developed different “cuts” for men.  Of course, if you’re looking for the ones we used to just call “jeans”, those are now listed under “straight leg”; but now there are also “bootcut” (your girlfriends jeans in your size); “relaxed fit” (previously listed under “husky”); “skinny” (heaven help you if you think this is a good idea) and “slim fit” (listed as - no joke - “for those who want the hipster style of skinny jeans but don't make the cut weight-wise”; if this is you please stop reading now).  Here’s what you need: one great pair of jeans.  If you’re doing well and have the coin, maybe two.  They’re straight leg.  The following things on your jeans are considered an abject failure (and in a world where I was king would result in an immediate rake-slapping): rhinestones, studs, pre-cut holes, flaps on any pocket, embroidery that spells anything or makes a picture and decorative buttons/snaps.  You’re going to spend over a hundred bucks - just suck it up - after all, you’re only going to have to do this once a year or so.  You’re going to make sure they fit - and by fit, I mean, it doesn’t look like you’ve crapped your pants but I also shouldn’t be able to reliably opine on your genital grooming from a glance below your waist.  You’re going to get them hemmed by a professional and you’re going to take good care of them.  With these simple steps, you’ll find they spend a lot more time crumpled up on the floor in the company of their female counterparts than just protecting your couch from your ass.  

* * *

I know what you’re thinking: these tips won’t work for everyone.  What about young guys?  What about older guys?  And to this I would say:  maybe you’re right.  After all, I can’t say that I didn’t violate all of these rules/suggestions during my second decade, and my own retirement may bring on a fashion malaise so profound that I abandon wearing pants altogether.  But (as you might expect) I would ask that you remember three things:  first, if any of my readers are gentlemen in their 20’s, they’re certainly well ahead of their peer group intellectually (as my work rarely includes lingerie photos, fart jokes or nut-shot videos) so they’re probably up for dressing ahead; second, the only guy in his 60’s that reads my stuff is my dad, and he taught me all this stuff; and third, I’m not sure the world wouldn’t be a whole lot better place if men acted a little more like men and I’m not sure I’d mind if that started with dressing the part.  


Jen and Tonic said...

Nothing is sexier than a guy wearing all three of the above at the same time. This is definitely the place to start for a guy who doesn't know what to wear, but knows he needs to do more than a tracksuit.

Your best fashion advice in my opinion.

Eric said...

I wish I wasn't such a penny pincher because I swear to god the only thing that you can guarantee yourself as a man over the age of 25 is that you'll never look really good in any pair of pants (jeans or no) that costs less than $90. Yeah, you can slouch around the office alright in $40 Dockers and not look like you're from a country that actually PRODUCES Dockers...but you won't look GOOD.

OZ101 said...

I am literally wearing all three of these right now.

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