After much pushing and prodding, I am finally giving in to the pressure and writing a column about men’s clothing. It’s not that I don’t like men or their clothing. It’s not that I don’t have some great male clients. It’s just that men generally don’t want to read about clothing and fashion.
From my experience, men approach dressing and fashion much in the same way they approach car maintenance. Every 2500 miles, the oil in the car gets changed. Every year or two, men shop for clothing. When the tires have been on the car a certain amount of time, they get rotated. Men do the same with their wardrobes. I am not saying that every man hates to shop, but a large majority do.
My husband’s technique is to write his name in my appointment book so that I have him on my schedule, just like a client. I know that I have about 2 hours to shop with him, and it better be productive! Men expect results, no excuses.
Shopping with men is in some ways the same as women. Men have areas that they like to show off, and some they’d rather camouflage, just like women. The difference I find with male clients is that if I tell them how good they look in something…they believe me! They do not second guess or need convincing. We buy that piece or pieces and move on.
Much like women, men look good in certain colors and not as good in others. My job is to point out the ones they look good in and stay away from the ones that don’t. I remember my sister’s 40th birthday party at a beautiful private room in a restaurant overlooking the S.F. bay. My brother in law had picked a really high quality button down shirt to wear that was the most beautiful shade of cantelope. It was the perfect hue, and everyone commented on how great that shirt looked on him. I think that was a lesson, on how the right color can really make a statement, man or woman.
Another major difference between shopping for men and women is fit. Men’s clothing tends to be very consistent. A 34” waist and 32” length is pretty standard no matter what vendor or designer you try on. This makes is very easy to pull clothing for a man. Keep in mind though, that certain cuts are better on some men than others. Some look good in a pleated pant and others in a flat front. Men have their “problem areas” just like us women! The good news is that shopping with men is a much quicker experience. Most of what I choose for men will fit them, it’s more a matter of choosing what looks best.
Another difference is that men generally understand that better quality is going to translate into more miles before they need new tires (shoes). A pair of Cole Haan shoes at $300 is going to last a lot longer and be more comfortable than and pair of $59 leather look a likes from Payless. More miles on the shoes, translates to more time between shopping trips. Comfort is usually higher on the priority list than looks, so I have to be careful here to choose something that satisfies both requirements.
Sometimes, it’s important to tell a man that the car is a lemon, or that it is no longer running well enough to drive, and junk it! Men are just as guilty of holding on to clothing longer than they should. Men’s bodies change with age also and clothing should evolve to fit that shape. Khakis that are threadbare from all of the washings should be tossed, as should any clothing that has lost its shape, shrunk or faded in color.
Clothing should not be thought of as a uniform. Just because something looks good, does not mean you need to buy it in every color. Again, using the automobile metaphor, you would probably not want two of the same cars. You might want to drive an SUV on the weekends and a BMW for the work week. Keep your clothing fresh and rotate shirts and bottoms so that you are not always pairing the same shirt with the same bottom. The ratio of 2-3 tops for every bottom applies to men’s clothing as well as women’s. Variety, good taste and high quality are the hallmark of a well dressed man, and the same can be said about cars!