| illustration by Charles Marsh |
As you have probably noticed, this month’s cover story focuses on the most stylish men in Fort Worth. You might want to double check, but I didn't notice my name on the list. I'm a little disappointed, because I am usually the best-dressed person in all the places I frequent. That's because prior to hitting the nearest Dollar General or Walmart, I always make sure that my pajama top matches the bottoms.
Apparently, Fort Worth, Texas magazine is more impressed with the cosmopolitan look. You know, guys that are familiar with things like duffle coats, a zip-up funnel neck shirt and sleek, slouchy trousers. But frankly, I see nothing wrong with a V-neck T-shirt and a freshly laundered pair of cargo shorts. It also might explain why I'm single. Truth is, I probably have as many clothes as the next guy. And I bought a treadmill for the same reason they did. I ran out of closet space.
But being stylish is not just about clothes. Grooming is equally important these days, particularly hair care. Barber shops have given way to salons, and haircuts can get pretty expensive. We are being told that a good hairstyle can play up your best features and hide your flaws. This, combined with about $20 worth of "product," is supposedly the best way to attract someone romantically. Well, I might as well give it a try. The only reason a woman ever ran her fingers through my hair was because she didn't have a napkin. But a number of stylish guys are just shaving their heads these days. There are some good reasons. You never have to worry about being carded or turning gray. I think it looks fine, but if you're thinking about it, I wouldn't recommend a headband. Someone might mistake you for a giant stick of roll-on.
Thinking about all this made me curious about men's style and fashion back in the old days. Turns out it was just as important then as it is now. According to a recent article, men's fashion has always been ruled by history and tradition. For instance, in the late 1800s men were slowly coming out of the stodgy Victorian age, which included top hats, pocket watches and walking sticks. Those folks might have had a little problem with crocs and tank tops. But the Georgian period that preceded it was really weird. Men's fashion included feathers, high heels and panty hose. (Yep. At one time, men actually worried about runs.)
Fashion really took a turn in the 1920s. England, in particular the Duke of Windsor, had a huge influence on the way American men began to dress. You couldn't go wrong with a button-down shirt and argyle socks. In the 1940s and 1950s, individuality gave way to conformity. Check out the movies back then. Every guy pretty much dressed the same. That all changed in the 60s. It was time to rebel, and guys could get by wearing almost any combination. My dad would look at me, shake his head and offer to buy a new light bulb for my closet. The 70s brought on the "disco" look and ties so wide they looked like lobster bibs. But over recent years, styles have become more casual, and these days trends can change in a heartbeat, thanks to the internet and social media.
Now obviously, I'm no fashion guru, but I do think I can offer men a few examples of styles that just flat don't work. In fact, the following "looks" should all but guarantee you a sex-free evening.
Embroidered jeans. Hey, stay out of your daughter's closet.
Mesh shirts. You're not a tennis net.
Any pant that can be mistaken for capris. No explanation needed.
Neck tattoos. I get it. You're not paying back your student loans.
Okay, I will admit that my cargo shorts may be past their prime. But my Nehru jacket and bell-bottoms? Trust me. They'll make a comeback.