2017 Resolutions In Masculinity #5: Start Dressing Better
Somewhat to my surprise, my fifth resolution for 2017 intended for men hoping to reassert their masculinity was the one which received the most push back. Of all the ones I listed this struck me as by far the least controversial, as the gentle suggestion that young men should take more pride in their appearance by taking more care in their manner of dress to me was one that no one could possibly take offence to. It’s certainly hard to argue with the fact that the art of dressing well has declined among men of my generation (level what criticisms you will of young women, but they do still take a keen interest and indeed enjoyment from dressing well). Despite this, the complaints I received for this one probably exceeded all my other resolutions combined.Therefore, before going further I would like to lay out a few qualifications of my initial resolution that I assumed could simply have been taken for granted but apparently can not. If you work in a profession that has a standard uniform, or requires you to wear safety gear, or is simply would put your nice clothes at risk of wear and tear by all means you should place convenience and safety before fashion. I’m not advocating that janitors wear tuxedos to work or that chemists should come to the lab in designer clothes that will simply be ruined by chemical stains and burns. Additionally I’m not suggesting that you wear three-piece suits in the middle of a Texan summer. The art of dressing well is one that combines style with comfort (plus sweat stains are never stylish). Practicality, professionalism, and climate are all valid factors to consider when choosing ones outfit for the day.
That being said even when these factors are taken into account it is undeniable that the entire idea of dressing well and with style has become something of a foreign concept to an entire generation of men. Go back to the turn of the century and look at pictures from the era of the Great Depression, and you’ll see unemployed men queuing up before soup kitchens wearing suits and ties. Even when they were gainfully employed, most of them likely would have been considered members of the working class but to them it did not matter; when one is in public one presents their best face.
That is the key point. As I’ve written before, in our modern age we are very much in love with the proletarian ideal – the idea that rather than projecting an aspiration image of ourselves we instead embrace the look of the every man. It’s a rejection of the old saying “dress for the job you want and not the job you have” and instead of the modern notion of radical equality. We see this in other areas of life too, such as the stereotyping of the classical works of art and music as “stuffy” and “boring”, but the area of dress is one of the most readily apparent.
Being a man means taking pride in yourself, and one of the easiest ways to do this is by showing pride in yourself through how you present yourself to the wider world. This is not about having the latest designer clothes (indeed, as I’ve written before tying your identity as a man to such a consumeristic outlook is highly inadvisable) but instead about showing your best self to those around you. This needn’t mean wearing clothing that is expensive or of the latest trend but instead choosing items that are clean and fitted to your body and show at least a basic understanding of what is and is not appropriate for different social situations (a beginner’s hint: formal situations mean at the very least a suit and tie and sweatpants are shameful anywhere except the gym).
It should be taken as no surprise that the truely great masculine icons of the first half of this century – men such as Carey Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire or Frank Sinatra – were also great style icons. Mastery, dignity, and refinement were characteristics that they did not just possess but also projected. How you present yourself is goes along way towards how you are perceived, and that is half the battle to how others will react to you. Man up, and suit up. You’re life will be the better for it.