Clown trousers
Even worse! Image by Eleventh Earl of Mar via Flickr

It takes some kind of skill to totally piss off your husband with one word. And a word that’s G-rated.

But I did.

Poor Jose. The other morning my first word when I saw him dressed for work in beige gabardine trousers was the P-word, uttered in horror.


Shoot me. I’m shallow like that.

We live near, and work in, New York City, a place where the streets are filled with people whose style, income and devotion to looking good can be a little overwhelming. Every time I head into Manhattan, I have to up my game a little. People you hope to work with size you up within seconds.

So when I see my husband wearing a pair of pants that screams 1986, I scream too.

It made for a very tense day. No man wants to be criticized for his fashion sense. But Jose also runs a wedding photography business and some potential clients may see things as I do.

The sad truth is that every time we step out the door we’re being judged by how we look.

Whatever your style statement — including the fact you can’t be bothered making one — it’s saying something to others about you.

If you hope to compete, and win, it matters, (even you personally couldn’t give a rip.)

How much does appearance — yours and others’ — matter to you?

9 thoughts on “Pleats?!

  1. I teach in a university where I’m not that much older than most of the students. I tend to dress smart casual – pants, shirt, jacket, nice cardigan/sweater in winter, ordinary looking shoes. I worry that if I look younger the students mightn’t take me as seriously.

    At the weekend I wear jeans, hoodies, t-shirts, over grown stubble, etc. Once I met a student by accident on a Saturday dressed like this, and his response was ‘Oh, I didn’t recognise you. You look…..younger’ My heart skipped a beat. Now mind you, he did say afterwards that I look good and that he liked seeing me out of work clothes, I looked more comfortable, and he was a fashion major in my school.

    Still, I think that it’s important how I dress in work – being taken seriously is very important in my job (at least I think it is)

  2. Appearances are important in many ways because the choices we make in dress and other things can be used to send a message, and it’s always smart to be in control about the messages about yourself.

    More importantly – pleat solidarity! It took me a couple of years, but I’ve converted J. to European cut suits, and replaced all the pants his mother (who does not share my sartorial ambitions) bought him. Pleats are pretty horrifying…

    1. THanks! I know that two of Jose’s colleagues’ wives — both very stylish women who I consider good friends with excellent taste — have campaigned similarly with their husbands to de-pleat their wardrobe. If you’re slim, a flat-front trouser looks terrific. If not, pleats may be necessary. But they really aren’t the thing for many men, at least where we live now.

    1. I did admit to being shallow on this point. And I’m OK with it.

      I’m aware that for many men such attention to one’s appearance and style isn’t a big deal, but NYC isn’t one of them. Both my husband and I work in visuallly-oriented, creative and highly competitive fields — so looking dull or out of style sends the wrong message. For better or worse, I grew up in a family that dressed with a lot of style and, having lived in Paris, I really appreciate elegance. I enjoy it. One the things that first attracted me to Jose was the style with which he dressed.

    2. It depends where you live and what matters to you, I guess. We both work in highly-competitive, visual and creative fields. Looking out of date, for us, here and now, sends the wrong message.

  3. I know my female fashion to a tee. However, I am not as up on what is smart for men. I had no idea about pleats. My hubby is a physician in Ann Arbor and is surrounded by pleats. He is very fit and trim. I think you are right it depends on where you live and work. When next we travel to NYC or other large more sophisticated cities abroad, I will keep the pleat advice in mind. Thanks!

    1. I know that in many places — including NY! — pleats are totally normal. It’s not easy to wear a flat-front trouser well unless you’re slim and in very good shape so it’s an easy solution for many men…and even those who are fit, still wear them. But pleat-front khakis can mark a man as an American tourist in many places.

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