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?
And I am not alone in this respect. Two popular blogs, this one and this one, recently weighed on on the deeply important issue of things men wear that make women cringe and flee.
Writes Vanessa Lawrence:
An ill-fitting suit or an ugly pair of shoes or a Silicon Valley–worthy bag signifies not what bodily imperfection he might be hiding but who he is on a more cerebral and existential level. Artsy frame glasses: intelligent, sophisticated, well-educated. A Savile Row creation: exceptional taste, drinks his scotch neat, financially stable (or loaded). A perfectly rumpled button-down and Levi’s 501s: easygoing, likes a good beer, open-minded worldview.
With such high stakes, it’s inevitable that every woman has her own opposite-sex style dealbreaker, an instantly registered faux pas that inspires revulsion and, in some cases, fight-or-flight vital stats. I know one girl who shudders at the mere thought of a popped collar. And many ladies are self-described “shoe people,” keeping their gazes resolutely directed downward for flagrant footwear offenses. (Sandals of any kind, bulky orthopedic sneakers and cowboy boots come to mind.)
I was tickled to see that the sweetie brought home the latest version of GQs Style Guide, and we had a great time looking through it. I can’t say I’m too excited about the trend toward very tight-fitting men’s suits and I really dislike almost all hats on all men, including (sorry) caps.
I feel lucky to be with a guy who enjoys dressing well and whose classic sartorial tastes — tattersall, cashmere, thick wool, a Barbour jacket — echo mine.
(I’m lucky, of course, he appreciates my style. Not every man would want a second date with a woman who wore a turtleneck sweater to their first date. But that’s me.)
I still recall exactly what the sweetie wore the night we first met. I liked all of it, from the vintage gray wool trenchcoat to (yes, definitely eccentric, but it worked) the red silk Buddhist prayer shawl worn as a muffler. As someone lucky enough to have grown up with a Dad who — still at 81 — is an extremely snappy dresser, I admit to having my male style-o-meter set early and high.
Good-looking clothes don’t have to cost a fortune. (Vintage shops and consignment shops carry much great stuff.)
They do need to be spotless, fit well and flatter your shape and complexion. I fell head over heels for my ex-husband when he was a penniless medical student, and still recall a thin white cotton shirt of his I liked. I have a thing for white cotton on men. Few things are as hopelessly sexy as a pristine white man’s shirt.
Especially when you give it to us….
Pleated, cuffed pants.
Baggy-bottomed trousers of any description.
Square-toed shoes. Thick-soled black or white exercise shoes worn outside a gym. Ditto white athletic socks. Clogs, shoes with tassels, hiking boots.
Synthetics. Prints. T-shirts with logos. Anything with logos.
Baggy/striped golf shirts and polo shirts and all athletic clothing worn as default casual wear.
Lovely grooming. (Not the baby chick, too-much-product-in-your-hair thing.)
Well-fitted crisp cotton shirt, tucked in, ironed. Maybe even starched. Probably uses collar stays.
Leather shoes with leather soles, polished to a gleam. Heels with new(ish) lifts. Suede shoes well-brushed.
First-name acquaintance with a tailor, barber and store clerk whose taste you trust.
A clear idea which colors and textures best complement your hair, eyes and skin color. Having the guts (if unsure, which is unlikely) to ask someone whose style you admire to help you with this.
Avoiding most trends for the innate elegance of simple, well-made garments. Think Cary Grant, not Bret Michaels.
Younger men — in their 20s and 30s — are turning into snappy dressers, reports today’s New York Times. It’s the old farts, age-denying boomers in their leather jackets and sneakers and jeans and T-shirts, who are starting to lose the sartorial race.
Good thing? Bad thing? The one thing that struck me in this story are the prices of the clothing in the fun photos in the paper’s print version: a wool-cotton sweater for $295, a $370 cotton shirt, a Paul Stuart wool plaid blazer at $1,184 and an Omega watch for $4,450. Only young u’ns with well-paid jobs can afford this sort of stuff — their older brethern are paying for their kids’ college educations, trying to recoup their 401k losses or just trying to find another job.
I love a well-dressed man, having grown up with a Dad whose style, (as they often do for their daughters), raised the bar high for me with the men I would later choose to date: crisp tattersall shirts, cashmere sweaters, twill trousers, highly-polished shoes and boots. Not for me the boys in skinny jeans and Chuck Taylors. I still recall exactly what my sweetie wore on our first date ten years ago, classic, elegant clothing he still wears and looks great in. I’m all for a return to elegance and chic, lovely, rich colors and well-tailored clothing and a polished, tied shoe.
“Not only do I see these guys out there, but I get agitated letters from their wives,” said Mr. Smith, the advice columnist. “One of the most frequent letters I get is: ‘My husband has moved up in his career, but he’s still dressing like a kid. I am embarrassed for him whenever he leaves the house. What do I do?’ I don’t get those letters from women in their 20s and 30s.”
So, in an age of irony, here’s a whopper: Given how zealously baby boomers have clung to, or hopped on, all kinds of youth trends, no matter how age-inappropriate, why can’t they hop on this one?
What’s the worst that could happen, Pops? Someone might think you are 10 years younger?