Hey guy, look at what you're wearing ... no really, look

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 20, 2013 

It was recently fall Fashion Week in New York City, a time of year that always seems to make me think of the sorry state of mainstream men's fashion.

This is not to say that designers like Billy Reid and Mark McNairy and Michael Bastion aren't upping the ante season-by-season but let's be honest, most of their designs are well out of the price range of the average American male, present company included.

And most of us need help, pronto.

Sure, not every woman dresses like she's consulted with a high-end professional stylist before stepping out of the house, but as men we are being significantly outpaced sartorially by the fairer sex.

Some believe this to be the natural order of things, that men should spend less time thinking about their clothes than women and those who do are narcissistic and effete.

Was Paul Newman effete? What about Steve McQueen? Anyone think George Clooney is less of a man when he steps onto the red carpet in a tuxedo that costs more than your car?

Not a chance, and that's because dressing well is about respect.

Respect for yourself, respect for your significant other or whomever you're hoping to make your significant other when you head to Bay Street or The Triangle.

Yet we consistently fall short.

For evidence of our failings, one needn't look any farther than an average local bar, a watering hole teeming (most nights) with dozens of girls who have actually made an effort. For starters, they've showered, which is more than you can say for at least a quarter of the guys crowding said establishment, and they've put some forethought into what they're wearing.

There was some deliberation and perhaps multiple outfit auditions before they finally settled on a look that they felt best represented them or the person they hoped to project that evening.

The same cannot be said for their male counterparts, most of whom appear to be wearing the one American Eagle button-up shirt they own and a pair of jeans -- usually adorned with ghastly and random splotches of whitewash and large holes in the knees and elsewhere -- and sometimes an old hat replete with sweat staints

It's the slob trifecta.

We can do better. Now, I'm not advocating a tuxedo to bar in July. No one wants to be bought a drink by the sweaty lunatic inexplicably wearing dressed for a gala but, as is the case with everything in life, there's a happy medium.

Style is about knowing what to wear but it's as much about knowing when to wear it.

So, let's start simple -- buy a pair of jeans and few shirts that actually fit. And that fit might be, initially, snug. You might feel, for a moment, like you belong in an Italian disco but don't worry, they will conform to your frame and the effort will be appreciated.

And there's never been a time to dress better. American heritage brands like Red Wing Boots, Woolrich, Filson, Levi's and L.L. Bean are enjoying a comeback, and J.Crew is consistently churning out quality looks regardless of seasons.

A better, well-dressed you is within reach and within your budget. It's time to step up your game and retire that idiot "Female Body Inspector" T-shirt.

It's not ironic or clever but it is astoundingly creepy.

In honor of Fashion Week, I've compiled my ideal fashion show playlist.

No more ironic T-shirts OK, guys? And that especially includes "Cool Story, Bro" and "Sorry for Partying" neon shirts and tank tops.

  • Royal Bangs, "Waking Up Weird" -- Love the little guitar ditty that runs throughout this show.

  • Delta Spirit, "Empty House" -- This band feels distinctly American. Like a well-worn pair of work boots.

  • Cory Branan, "Survivor Blues" -- No fuss, no frills. No chance anyone listening to this song is wearing an Ed Hardy T-shirt.

  • Plants and Animals, "Lightshow" -- Gritty and real.

  • The Cave Singers, "Dancing on Our Graves" -- Nothing at all wrong in letting loose.

  • Dr. Dog, "These Days" -- I will never leave a bar playing songs like this.

  • John K. Samson, "When I Write My Master's Thesis" -- Feels hip but not asinine. A delicate balance.

  • * Dawes, "When My Time Comes" -- A song too cool for Abercrombie or Hollister.

    OTHER COLUMNS BY PATRICK DONOHUE

    "Hey guys, let's think outside the drug-store quality chocolate box this Valentine's Day"

    "Lessons learned from living in South Carolina (that don't involve sweet tea)"

    "A holiday miracle: Man learns Christmas trees don't put themselves up"

    Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

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