Monday, December 5, 2011

The 7 Sons of Men's Fashion

Do you enjoy people watching? Some people love nothing more than sitting at an outdoor cafe on a busy city street and watching the people go by.

In this post, I've made a list of seven of the main style categories of the modern North American man. Of course the list isn't perfect, but the next time you go people watching, why don't you see how many of the men fall into one of the following categories.

1. The Agnostic

The Agnostic only sees the utilitarian value of clothes. Essentially, they are means to protect his naked body against the elements.  He really gives no second-- or even a first --thought to what he wears. For the most part, he blends into the crowd, although you may notice the socks underneath his sandals or the holes in his gym t-shirt. But he has no problem with that; if it fits, and keeps him either warm or cold enough, as the case may be, he'll wear it, thank you very much.

Representatives: Steve Jobs (and every other tech guy you've ever met); your dad; Jimmy Kimmel; Phil Collins; 85% of the North American male population

2. Mr. Tee

Unlike the Agnostic, Mr. Tee cares about his appearance, in fact with a zeal that is belied by his casual appearance.  You see, given the choice, Mr. Tee will only wear a (fitted) T-shirt and jeans, but since his wardrobe selection is so limited,  his fastidiousness about the fit of both items borders on OCD.

 In fact, if he finds a t-shirt or pair of jeans he likes, it's not uncommon for him to buy multiple pairs. Diversity is not his trade-mark, but he is apt to accessorise with thumb-rings, wrist-bands, belt buckles, tattoos and almost certainly, his hair and chiselled pecs.

Whence the narrow-mindedness of his closet? Endemic to mainly North American guys, I suspect two reasons:
First, Mr. Tee views any conformity to sartorial norms dictated by occasion as the ultimate capitulation of his maverick spirit. Sure he's got one forlorn navy suit hanging in his closet, but that's only in case he has to go to a job interview or a funeral.
Second, these guys are usually fixated on youth culture and will whatever it takes to pass themselves off as being far younger as they really are, bro.

Representatives: The Sitch, Danny Bonaduce; Every MMA fighter; dudes with a suped-up Japanese imports; the "39 year old" guy at college-aged nightclubs

3. Runaway Runway

Those showcase pieces at runway shows that are intended as theatre aren't worn by regular joes. Except this breed isn't a regular guy. The whole world is his canvas, so be forewarned. He's also keen to roll off annoying platitudes such as "gender is just a construct", but considering he's liable to be wearing a man-skirt himself, maybe he's onto something. And for someone who complains so much about the 1%,  he obsesses a bit too much over the $1,500 Gareth Pugh handbag that he so desires.

Representatives: Adam Lambert, Prince, Marc Jacobs (or any other dude in a skirt), guys at Fashion Week

4. Hipster aka Ironyman

The hispter has become all too ubiquitous and so well-described such that any satire here is likely overwrought. Essentially, the hipster's credo is irony. He wears a moustache, sports ironic tattoos and dresses like your father and/or your grandfather out of a pure sense of irony. Fiercely individual, he slavishly follows hipster conventions of the day, including of late, ankle high pants and of course, his beverage of choice (Pabst Blue Ribbon).

Representatives: Justin Timberlake (qua actor not rockstar), Dallas Green, the Black Keys, Fleet Foxes (and too many other indie bands to list); Terry Richardson, Dov Charney

5. Preppy Le Pew

The prep isn't seen in Canada nearly as much as he is in the U.S., especially in the American North-east, but the presence of brands such as Polo, Brooks Brothers, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Lacoste and Gant are testament to his influence.

Preppy tries to cultivate a sense of clean WASPy elitism-- and for the most part, it works. Just about every guy you know owns a Polo shirt, but the true Preppy brings it to a whole other level with his salmon-coloured pants, blazer-sweater-vest-tie combos and showing up at pick-up  football games wearing all of the above.

 In the past decade, Preppy has been the beneficiary of a sartorial windfall when the hip-hop guys started to get into preppy-chic, endowing the look a whole new modern twist.

Representatives: Carlton from the Fresh Prince, Pharrell Williams, Ralph Lauren (duh!), private school boys

6. Fancy Pants aka P.I.M.P.

This guy loves to dress as the toast of the town, the cat's meow, the bees knees--whatever gets attention. When he's with his tailor, he's like in a kid in the candy store, fascinated by all the bells and whistles available to pimp his clothing. Should he get a racing stripe on his shirt collar or maybe three lime-coloured stitched button-holes on his lapel, or maybe a paisley pattern on the underside of the cuff of his shirt? How about all of the above!?

He's perpetually overdressed in something bold and flashy, but then again, he has usually shelled out a lot of cash for his custom made suits and jackets, so why not? Velvet and silk are his forte--subtlety is not. To him, clothing isn't so much artistic expression as it is status.

Representatives: Robert Herjavec (from the Dragon's Den), Don Cherry, Diddy, High paid African-american athletes

7. The Sartorialist  

Ah, the prince of men's couture. His legion has been  growing steadily thanks to the explosion of street style fashion blogs inspired, of course, by the father of them all, the Sartorialist. Not to be confused with Fancy Pants, the Sartorialist accepts the Maimonidean ethic that once should embrace the truth from whatever the source  and thus seeks to combine all the style elements of the men described above in order to satisfy his sartorial whim.

Indeed, he strives to look equally compelling in a t-shirt as he does in a 3-piece suit. He exudes pride over the fact that he has paired his luxurious Brunello Cucinelli jacket with a vintage pocket puff he obtained at thrift shop.

Some other random facts:
-He has been featured in four local street style blogs in the city in which he lives in.
-He is familiar with and can recite all the  rules of men's fashion, and the circumstances under which  they can be broken (so don't ever think about pointing out to him that his red belt doesn't match his two-tone shoes).
-He brings in his t-shirts to his tailor for alterations because they don't "fit right".
-If he is late for work, it is likely because he changed his outfit three times. And yes, his sweater is real cashmere, so there is no need to ask.

Representatives: Lapo Elkann, Gianni Agnelli, Andre 3000, Salesmen at Bergdorf Goodman

-The Scandal

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