You don't dress yourself, even if you think you do
Men don't realise that they aren't dressing themselves. It's incredibly difficult to step out of the norm when it comes to men's fashion. If you're a women you get to be expressive, creative and extreme if you choose it. Almost no one would judge you for wearing short shorts to a night club, a pantsuit to work, a skirt to the mall or a bikini to the beach.
Imagine if a guy wore short shorts to the mall, a skirt to work, a pantsuit to the gym or, Zeus forbid, a speedo to the beach? Judgement.
It's a strange thing and one that has irritated me for years. The specific scenario that has always frustrated me is dress codes at night clubs. Men are always forced to wear collar shirts, smart shoes and some form of long pants (even in the scolding hot days of summer). While upon entering the lovely establishment, badly lit and smelling like cigarette smoke, you're presented with scantily clad women, women wearing dresses, shorts, pants, kicks, high heels, skirts, dresses, jackets, ripped t-shirts, button ups, pinks, greens, blues, lycra and more. You get the point.
The next time you're out in public stand still for a second and take a look around at what the men are wearing. I'll take a bet that almost 80% of the men are wearing close to the same thing.
Conversely it's very rare for women to be wearing even a similar outfit (both in a dress, skirt or pants).
That's because firstly men don't have a lot of variety and secondly men aren't dressing themselves.
Who's dressing men?
This one is easy. The biggest culprit for this zombie-like dress sense is other men. For whatever strange reason men are bitchy and judgemental when it comes to out-there dressers. If you wear the faintest hint of something that is deemed to be outside of the norm, you get the evil eye from across the office or shopping centre. People immediately question your sexual preference if you're wearing something loud and fun and remotely pink.
What's that about?
Yes, I'm doing it. I'm blaming "the media" for our warped sense of what it is to dress like a man. 007 anyone? The problem has a lot to do with our perception of what a "real man" is. Sitcoms, series, movies, books, news reports, and adverts are continually banging on about manly men, how they look and act and how we're all meant to fit that mould.
I know that this is usually the domain of women: The media's unrealistic depiction of what a woman should look like. But it's definitely something that is carrying over onto men.
Lack of Choice
The other major culprit in this vicious cycle is the brands themselves. The next time you're at a wedding, have a look at the choice available to men: black suit, dark blue suit, charcoal suit and then maybe, MAYBE, a grey suit in the mix. They'll all be wearing black or, at a push, brown shoes and maybe a few of them will have a brightly coloured tie or pocket square. That's it.
Then take a look at the vast colour, size, cut and pattern choices that the ladies at the wedding are wearing.
Men are being strangled by the lack of choice that exists. Brands need to catch up and start giving us more choice.
Don't settle. That's the solution.
If you've got an urge to wear something crazy, try it. Most men are more concerned with how they look than how you look. That's why they point out your different choices if you make them.
Don't shop in a single outlet. Don't walk into Edgars and buy your suit, tie, socks and shirt and then throw in some shoes. That doesn't cut it any more gents. Walk around, browse the stores and see what looks you think you might like. Then go into those stores, try the clothes on and leave if you don't like them.
Go into the expensive stores and ask questions about the items you like. Get rid of that feeling that they don't want you inside, trust me, they need to make sales and want you there.
Lastly, ignore what everything is telling you about how real men dress.
Real men dress like themselves.
The perfect item to help you start your new fashion experimentation is a brightly coloured pair of socks:
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