Always in Style

Over the years it has become so much easier and more natural for me to write about women’s fashion.

Maybe women just notice other women especially when they have style. But we cannot neglect the impact of a man’s fashion statement, whether his statement ends in a question mark or an exclamation point.

I am a California girl, so my natural preference in men’s fashion leans more toward soft jeans that fit just so (!), flip-flops on tanned feet, thick waves of shaggy sun-bleached hair, and a worn T-shirt that outlines a surfer silhouette (!!). Add to that an old flannel shirt that I can borrow when the night gets chilly.

I went to college in the Midwest, which was more J. Crew and Lands End. Cozy barn coats and preppy, clean-cut guys in collared shirts weren’t really my style, but I grew to appreciate them. Their style reflects their nice manners and conservative, reliable upbringing.

After college was Texas. I found two predominant styles in my early Austin years—hippie and cowboy. I alternated between fancying Birkenstocks and boots. I am not sure I can handle ironed ropers, belt buckles, cologne, and a hat, but those guys really do know how to dance and how to treat a lady. Later, Austin welcomed tech fashion (?) which means khaki slacks (I laugh at my grandmother’s word for pants—I never understood that), golf shirts, sensible shoes, and clip-on items like pagers, cellphones, and lanyards with corporate IDs. Meow.

There are some things that mothers should teach their sons about fashion from an early age general principles that apply across the board, no matter where a man lives. I make this list, but I must tell you up front that I am a failure. My son wears Nike shorts that go to his pale knees, long neon-colored socks that cover his calves, neon Nike shoes in an opposing color, and Dri-FIT shirts (some of them sleeveless). He wears this every day, no matter the weather or the occasion, and I still love him.

Now the list: Jeans and tennis shoes have never been, and will never be, an aphrodisiac. Running shoes are for working out, and then they must go immediately back in the closet.

Gross feet should never be seen; I don’t care how hot it is outside. If you aren’t sure if yours are gross, they probably are. So cover them.

Tank tops and visors are cheeseball. No matter whether your arms are strong and lovely, stubby and Popeye-ish, or with an abundance of forearm hair, a regular T-shirt leaves all necessary things to the imagination. This is as it should be.

If you are fit, tight clothing makes you look sleazy not hot. If you are fat, tight clothing makes you look fatter. Loosen up and let us wonder. Women do not want to see your nipples; we have our own.

Manscape, manscape, manscape. Puffy, woolly chest hair is not a nice pillow. Back hair is the equivalent of a Wookiee bikini line, and we girls are not allowed to do that. Neither are you.

Elastic waists? Nope.

Fanny packs: American men really do wear these when they travel in Europe (usually with tennis shoes). Wear one, and not only will no one steal your Euros, but no woman from anycountry will ever go near that region of your body, ever.

Bad jeans are just bad. Can I say that old Levi’s (not the faded, button fly, Christian Grey variety in the Red Room of Pain) that are too short are not acceptable? Husbands, stop taking these unflattering jeans out of your wife’s Goodwill bag and putting them back in your closet. She’s trying to help you. Turn yourself in, and get a gay guy in an expensive store to help you shop for a pair that make you look like a man that a gay guy would look at. Women will then look at you too.

If people notice every time you get a haircut, it’s time to go to a new place. Making your hair puffier on top does not make it look like you have more of it. Creative combing is also a non-option. Relax; hopefully by now, you have other skills that render you irresistible. 

Your mouth really does say a lot about you. Bleach your yellow teeth. Floss.

Don’t be crass or inappropriate unless you are extremely witty and aware of your audience.

Do not under any circumstances end sentences with the word “at.”

Don’t fret if these things are news to you. It’s okay. Women love a project, especially one that’s easy to love. Sweet, smart, kind, funny, and generous are always in style.


Illustration by Joy Gallagher


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