Why is Men's Fashion so Boring?
Photographed by Joelle Beauchamp of Marc Woodworth
By Brady Pitcher
Walking into any clothing store, the differences between the men’s and women’s sections can be quite juxtaposing. The men’s side is filled with many of the basic and foundational pieces needed in any man’s closet. Men's clothing is limited in variety and offers fewer options than women's, with most items being plain t-shirts, jeans, hoodies, and coats in various colors. Looking at the women’s side, we see an array of amazing clothing. From beautiful dresses to boyfriend jeans, the women’s section seems to have it all. But why is this? Why does the men’s side have such little selection? Why is it so much harder for men to find quality, well designed pieces compared to women?
Men’s fashion seems to be going through an identity crisis. Though many high-profile male celebrities, such as Harry Styles and Lil Nas X, are experimenting with their fashion and expressing themselves more freely, others are not as willing to follow this movement. This is putting men’s fashion in grey areas, filled with a sense of the unknown for the future. While some men are starting to express themselves in their fashion, trying out new things and experimenting with their feminine sides, many others continue to wear their basic and comforting clothes they have worn for years on end; showing no interest in changing or experimenting with their style. This leaves us with the question: When did men’s fashion become so boring?
Now do not get me wrong, there are plenty of men in the industry who transcend the norms set within men’s fashion. But it seems that these days, all it takes to be a stylish man is to dress in baggy pants and a hoodie, add some sneakers, and accessorize sparingly. Is this truthfully a well-executed, thought-out look, or is this a man putting forth effort into his look? The standards regarding the way men dress are incredibly low compared to women. It is no secret that women have always been criticized for their looks and the way they dress. Whereas, in comparison, men have never received this type of criticism. For instance, a man and woman could be dressed identically in baggy trousers and a hoodie, but the man would receive praise for doing the absolute bare minimum while the woman would be criticized for being "lazy." Men are nowhere close to the standards women are held up to and can get away with a lot by wearing very little. This should not be the case. While there is nothing wrong with men wanting to wear the same pair of jeans every day, we should not be criticizing women for doing the same thing. These standards allow men to stay in a comforting box, allowing little room for improvement or growth in the fashion industry. This puts fashion design for men at a standstill, with no improvement movement in sight.
However, many male fashion designers have made their mark in fashion history with their iconic designs that helped shape the industry. Male fashion designers currently run several of the most well-known brands. A handful of the men that have dominated the fashion industry recently include Tom Ford, John Galliano, and Alexander McQueen. You would think that with all these incredible men at the forefront of the industry, men's fashion would be progressing even further. But this is simply not the case. Many of these designers only focus on womenswear, as it is where their designing talents can best shine through.
The fashion industry has a feminine predominate feel to it, making it easier to experiment and create for women. Designing for men is not always simple. The fact that these amazing designers are set in their ways and have a history of not changing their styles has led to them producing straightforward suits that do not compete with their collections for women. Since these incredible talents are not focusing on menswear, it is hard for the industry to progress and grow, as womenswear has done and will continue to do. Not creating or inspiring other men to create new looks leads to wearing the same outfits we have done for years, not paying attention to what men’s fashion could be. Due to the lack of innovation in menswear, there is no progress, no learning, and nothing changing. We get stuck in our ways without feeling the need to change. The industry needs to look at men’s fashion in the same lens they do for women. Fantasizing and creating a feeling and character through clothing is what shines through in womenswear which we contrastingly do not see in menswear. Looking at menswear through the same lens as womenswear will not only allow them to become equals but create intricate more fascinating designs for men to wear.
There is no secret that fashion has a feminine feel to it. As we just discussed previously, females have always been attracted more to fashion and have a deeper appreciation for it. The more we progress as a society the more men become comfortable with this side of themselves. This is a big reason as to why men like Harry Styles who are praised for their efforts in men’s fashion get the attention they do. But we notice the same cannot be said for women when they show their masculine sides. Women have shown their masculine sides for decades, as long as they have been fighting for equal rights. In efforts to be seen as equals with men, women dressed more masculine starting to wear clothes such as pants. It was a long time ago that women dressing more masculine was accepted but men never needed to be seen as feminine before. Men never needed a reason to dress feminine as women rose to their level not the other way around. It is through this understanding we can see why when a guy dresses feminine and paints his nails it is seen as brave. We need more of this in our industry as the faster we push beyond these boundaries, the quicker we can change men’s fashion.
It might seem scary to step out of the box and play with your fashion. When I started playing around with my looks and evolving into my style, I felt funny and overdressed. Since most of the male population put in zero effort into their looks, you will feel overdressed. The more you experiment and play with your looks the more confident you will feel in taking up space and wearing the outfits you want to wear. Do not feel like your fashion always need to be perfect or set to a certain standard. Fashion reflects our personalities and our current styles. As our personalities change so do our outfits. Do not feel like you must stick to a certain style if that is not who you are at that point in your life. Be comfortable with who you are and how you want to dress, and you will feel much better in the long run. As you begin to learn more about your personal style and how you want to dress, do not be afraid to copy looks you find stylish on social media apps such as Pinterest and Instagram. Copying other people’s looks is the best way to find out what you like and how by changing one small element of their outfit will allow it to show more of your personal style. Style is subjective but if you feel genuinely you and comfortable, that trumps whatever anyone else says about your outfit.
Though not every man wants to or is okay with stepping outside of their box, it is men like Timothée Chalamet, Lil Nas X, and Wisdom Kaye who are redefining what masculine means and show that being a man is accepting yourself and embracing more of your emotions. Fashion is a symbol of freedom, a way to express your personality to the world and its through expression of art like this we can truly live the lives we aspire to. I hope to see more of this change in our industry in the future as we become more accepting with fun fashion that expresses us instead of wearing clothes we are perceived to.