Men who really care about clothes can come across a bit sinister. Vanity is a tiny bit serial killer isn’t it?
But then a lot of men go the other way, wearing clothes because they are there, because they fit, possibly not even sure how they came by them. They can be as resistant to shopping as I am to watching football, or sitting on the loo for 9 hours or whatever other ghastly stuff men think is fun.
I hope that a lot of men dress badly, in weird and awful clothing, because they don’t know that other options exist, rather than they dress in this appalling way out of choice.
They are simply living in a cave and will not know that they are living in a cave until they leave it. Won’t they?
Men also do not have access to male role-models when it comes to getting dressed. And other men are not helpful, I don’t think they really sit about talking about clothes in as open and honest way as women do. For men I just don’t think there is that kind of conversation about clothes, except occasionally possibly that this person or that person dresses like a tit because he once wore a panama hat. Or possibly not even that – this is the gender that can’t tell the difference between a dress and a skirt, after all.
And men’s clothing departments… oh my Christ alive! I live to shop, right? I can get excited about a trip to Homebase. And even I used to get the fuzzy eyes/brain within 15 seconds of being in any mens’ clothing shop or department. What… is it? What does it all… mean? Do you really have to wear those pointy shiny shoes? Is a duffel coat really mandatory? Save me.
And mens’ magazines are not helpful either, featuring lithe male models or David freaking Gandy all trussed up in tight suits and hilarious pastel casual wear, like someone dressed up as a pretend nice person because he wants to rob your grandma of her pension. It’s all so passive, these men sitting about wearing clothes and pointing off into the distance, when men – as we all know – are supposed to be active.
There’s never anyone looking like any normal, sane British man would like to look. Why don’t men’s magazines feature slightly chubby adorable dads mending a Frog bike in a great sweater/jacket combo? Don’t answer that.
My fear, of course, is that men who dress badly are wearing the double denim or the gross trainers or the foul ski jacket because they have looked at the alternatives and gone “no, thanks”.
Or it might be for even worse reasons.
A lot of men suffer consciously or unconsciously from the awful thing that my husband and dad are occasionally prone to, which I have decided to call Clark Kent syndrome.
Both Giles and my Dad would, left to their own devices, wander about the place looking like utter shite, despite being reasonably handsome and in decent shape.
This is because they rather enjoy encountering strangers and thinking “Aha you think that I am a poor destitute tramp but ACTUALLY I AM GILES COREN/A BALLIOL DON/SUPERMAN”.
But the fact is, to go about looking dirty and shabby is not cool and unstructured – it’s just rude. People are looking at you! It’s nice to look nice, for you and for other people. It’s as much as a civic duty as washing or smiling. (This is what I told my Dad anyway.)
Sometimes, once a man gets his head around the idea that it’s just not really cricket to dress like a slob and embarrass one’s family, or that it’s not just terrifying homosexuals and perverts who have the right clothes for the right occasions, excellent changes can quickly follow.
Of course, you and I can’t make the man in your life want to change the way he dresses. You may well be stuck with it and I would say there are worse men to be stuck with than a bad dresser.
But, if you detect vulnerability, or if your male specimen openly yearns for change and yet you both simply have your minds on things other than clothes, I might have a few answers for you.
This is all with this caveat that also comes with all the things I write about clothes, or about the capsule theory: I’m not saying that this is what men ought to wear, just that this is what they could wear and it won’t make them looked like a preened thingummy out of GQ.
It won’t make him look like Tom Hardy either – when I find the solution to making them all look like Tom Hardy, I’ll let you know.
So we’ll start on Wednesday with SHOES, as is only right and proper.
In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below and let me know which occasions you or the man in your life finds it difficult to dress for.