For a long time I've bemoaned the lack of variety in men's fashion. Whilst ladies are open to the possibilities of a thousand variations of garments, men find themselves restricted to a narrow range of shirts that either do up or do not (shirts and t-shirts as they are better known), and trousers made from different material of different lengths. And that's it.
The shirts can be made from different materials, they may be cut in slightly different ways, they may have long or short sleeves (or none, turning them into a 'vest'), but they're all shirts. Trousers are trousers, shorts are short trousers and jeans are trousers made from denim.
The different names for women's tops do actually refer to different clothes - a strapless top is not simply a variation on a blouse, and a dress is not a joined-up skirt and top.
This dearth of options has always led me to err on the typically male attitude to clothes shopping-it was a chore to be endured as quickly as possible, opting for larger sizes that can be held with belts to avoid the hassle of actually trying them on. I was lucky in that my culture of choice was that of the 'metaller', meaning baggy or oversized trousers were generally accepted and not a sign of laziness but of taste. These added to a band t-shirt meant getting up in the morning was an activity to which Americans would refer to as a 'no-brainer'.
Whilst this made dressing easy, it didn't prevent my yearning for real difference in my choices, and so my expression came about in other areas - from the age of about 14 I grew my hair long, so for a time I experimented with different types and numbers of pony tail, pig tails and also hair dying, at one time having as many as four colours in my hair at once.
It all ended at Uni when my hair became unmanageable to the point of anarchy, and I shaved it all off. I never had the chance to grow it back again because I started going bald shortly after, and started a mighty goatee instead.
For the last nine years I worked a job where I could wear what I wore outside work, so I did, but just recently my new workplace comes attached with the rule of having to scale up a few levels of classiness, to that of trousers, shoes and shirt, and has led me once again into the quandary of male fashion.
That, and the fact I had the misfortune to visit Oxford Street's Topman on Friday.
The horrors within, dozen upon dozen of preening male halfwits in hideous diamond jumpers with haircuts that would have resulted in mass suicides five years ago. In a pique of desperation the minds behind Topman have clubbed together to concoct methods of persuading young men to buy clothes more often than the cloth actually wears out. Like women do.
Their answer this 'season' is to have people think that it's a must to dress like colourblind golfers.
It's all very well to have fashion houses go for the straight male's wallet, but you'd think that in the jump from offering the purely functional they might try something other than t-shirts with different designs and jeans the same as all the other jeans, only with built-in stains?
It prompts a cry of why bother? And more to the point why do people buy into it? Because they're idiots, that's why.
Look at these. Only idiots would buy these! Idiots I say! Info here at FHM, who along with the other mags like Arena, GQ and Maxim etc. will attempt to tell you what hellish clobber is "in" alongside the celebrity boob pics.
In case further clarification for 'idiots' is needed, exhibit B:
Link to GQ's "Let's look at the catwalk" mind-melt
There was a time when men wore robes, capes, ruffled shirts and permed wigs, pantaloons, buckled shoes, jerkins and thigh-high boots, but now the norm is the trouser and shirt variation on a theme. I blame the Victorians, with their regimentation of everyday life forcing people to confirm to proscribed moral guidelines. As women fought for their freedom, their fashion changed alongside the suffragette movement and led to the sartorial bounty on offer today. But men were free to begin with and their social change has been slight - the focus of life has slipped a little in the last century and a half from work towards a life with more leisure time, and fashion movements have followed suit, or rather left the suit. Haha.
But the basis of the suit-type is still there - even the most slovenly chav wears a variation on the suit, albeit a 'sweat-suit'.
Of course it's not just me noticing this situation, indeed there is a whole website dedicated to broadening men's fashion horizons, or at least trying to get them to wear skirts. Which I think defeats the point really, as you're not bringing much new to the table but instead are just borrowing from what's already out there. But you can see where they're going, the skirt already has a precedent in the kilt so it's not too out there for most men's minds.
If you are into skirts for men, here is a treasure trove. I'm not really into the skirt thing, shorts are bad enough. Men's legs are best left unseen.
Men's fashion - it's either simple or it's a mess.