Here are five golden rules which men should follow when approaching the dark, dangerous depths of their wardrobe
My husband, like most men, experiences a lack of self-confidence when it comes to the art of dressing well. Every now and then he will suddenly and urgently demand my help in the dressing department. ‘Can’t you just go into my wardrobe every day and pick out an outfit for me to wear?’ he’ll ask. And I would offer my help wholeheartedly, the only problem being that when I open his wardrobe I am confronted with a vortex of black. He has a variety of jumpers ranging from black, to dark brown, to navy, and back to black again. His trouser collection consists of pairs of dark jeans, many of which he refuses to wear on the grounds that they’re not comfortable, and a pair of black combat bottoms that I am often tempted to accidentally shrink in the wash/give to charity/set alight. I’m sure I’m also accurately describing the wardrobes of the majority of the male population, confined to a dull and colourless collection of garments due to a sense of trepidation when confronted with the world of men’s fashion.
This lack of surety in regards to menswear that so many men seem to possess is completely alien to me. As soon as we had any money to call our own and could catch the 73 bus to Oxford Street by ourselves, my younger brothers and I would spend our weekends rifling through the rails of Topshop, H&M, River Island, New Look and we would pore over men’s and women’s fashion magazines in the Borders coffee shop. At the time, clothing was of unparalleled importance to us. For one, it was the quickest means of disguising our working class background, something that our Sports Direct-inspired outfits of childhood would give away with alarming alacrity. Attached to this was the transformative element that clothes afforded. Your choice of clothing said more than just who you were; it was a means of transportation, of enabling you to be who you wanted to be. I found the fashioning of my public self through the medium of clothes to be an exhilarating and liberating experience. Clothing and its aspirational element took on a spiritual meaning for me when at 18 I decided to observe hijab, the Islamic dress code of modesty. My thinking at the time was that if I dressed like a good Muslim, the rest would easily follow. And although the equation hasn’t quite worked out in that way, my change in outward, public appearance has certainly demanded regular bouts of introspection to examine the balance between my inward and outward states.
But anyway, back to the issue of men and their fear of the world of fashion. In the attempt to provide assistance to navigate the passage through the murky, oftentimes dangerous, waters of men’s fashion, I sat down and came up with Five Golden Rules:
Rule Number 1: Sportswear is for sports. The clue is in the name. Don’t wear tracksuits/jogging bottoms outside unless you’re actually partaking in some form of exercise.
Rule Number 2: Combat wear is for combat. See Rule Number 1 for explanation. Desert boots should be restricted to use in deserts. Camouflage is unnecessary and ceases to function in urban environments. The pockets on combat trousers may be useful for the battlefield, but otherwise a bag will suffice.
Rule Number 3: Men look good in well-fitted, well-tailored garments. A smart blazer, a neat pair of trousers or jeans, a pair of smart shoes, all go a long way.
Rule Number 4: Colours are OK. They are safe. They won’t alter your sexuality. They won’t hurt you (unless they are neon, in which case it may offend whoever is looking at you).
Rule Number 5: Trust your instincts and wear what you like. And don’t ask what happened to your black combat bottoms.
Image from: http://www.flickr.com/royaltymarketing
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