I’ve had the luxury of playing dress-up with some of the most powerful men in my city. I am the conduit between customers and their wardrobes, also known as a sales consultant. It’s not a glamorous gig, but I’ve been privy to a whole new perspective when it comes to how women shop for and dress the men they love.
There’s this notion that most women know how to dress men. Rightly so, women run the world of fashion. Here’s the issue: Believe it or not, fashion differs from style and style differs from gimmicky trends flooding every facet of pop culture. Fashion is a reflection of pop culture. On the other end of the spectrum, menswear is a collection of pieces that are actually timeless and unaffected by trends. His cuffed trousers do not care about who did what on which runway, or which Hollywood power couple wore what to Mr. Chow on Friday.
Most men don’t pay attention to what’s going on in the world outside the office. With that said, the more difficult thing for them to figure out is how to dress once they step outside the boardroom. This is where the problems start. I see it every day—the same conversations, leading to the same arguments. Women trying to convince the men they’re with to try something new, then ask me for the encouraging pat on the shoulder. There’s much more that goes into what he wears then simply putting on some cloth. It’s a mental exercise. I often find myself tired of dressing up. I wear suits every day and when Friday rolls around, I just want my jeans and pullover cashmeres. This bores most women.
The big issue is understanding that women dress themselves very dissimilarly to men. The fashion industry peddles this notion that looking good is the same as looking up-to-date. Whatever happened to being comfortable and appropriately dressed for the occasion? The way men dress themselves often involves comfort and appropriateness. Well, some men just don’t give a damn about the latter. This is frustrating and usually a losing battle.
The point I’m making here, is that it’s not just about putting men in certain garb simply because you’ve seen it pop up in a magazine this season. I use the skinny jean syndrome quite often with my clients as an example of what not to do. The conversation starts with, “Honey, try these skinny jeans on, I saw Ryan Gosling wearing them!” Sad part is the man is usually on the George Clooney side of things. Awkward when he can’t walk and in frustration, throws up his hands in defeat when nothing fits quite right.
His frustration stems from his apathetic approach to the situation. Most people, men in particular, don’t enjoy spending hours in a store trying on a slew of random odds and ends that just don’t fit or look good on them. What’s the solution to this sartorial conundrum? I really can’t tell you that just yet. I’ll start with nudging you to get to know what he wants and what he needs. I’ve learned the hard way, not to buy just because but to buy for the right reasons. Maybe, just maybe, trying to revamp his wardrobe isn’t going to take one stop at your local mall. Maybe it might take months or years. Get to understand him and know what works. Those two things I mentioned above, you know, comfort and appropriateness, weren’t random mentions. They’re just the beginning of a beautiful new relationship you’re creating with your beau.