fashion

'The creepy fashion trend we must encourage all men to quit. Immediately.'

I could see his nipples.

That was all I could think about. The fact that I could see his nipples where his shirt was gaping between the buttons. His shirt that was too tight, proven by the fact that I wasn’t just able to see his nipples through that gaping hole but also through the shirt itself. Small hillocks that peeped out through his shirt as if to say, “Hello! I’m in here!”

It’s not that he was an unpleasant/ugly/unattractive guy. He was in fact lovely, a great conversationalist, friendly, amiable and I’m sure his nipples were friendly fellows as well. But I didn’t want to see them. They were being forced on me by this too-tight shirt. They were coercing me to simultaneously look and look away in a way that made me feel uncomfortable.

#OwnTheNight @mossbros

A photo posted by Matthew Zorpas (@matthewzorpas) on

This was not a solitary occasion. Why is it that when I walk down the corridors of my workplace I am assaulted by the vision of too-tight shirts on every corner? Nipples and pectoral outlines as far as the eye can see. Pectoral outlines are great but sometimes you want to just walk down a corridor and be faced with a sea of amorphous blobs.

There’s been a distinct migration in the last few years from looser dress shirts to tighter dress shirts. It’s part of this whole male fashion revolution that’s been occurring. Suddenly, every working man under the age of 40 is extremely conscious of what they are putting on their body. They want their pants slim-cut, their shoes patent and pointy, their hair with visible comb striae and their shirts tight.

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It is now the norm for the young working man to be aware of how to match his belt to his shoes and what the hell a wingtip is.

Look, I’ve got nothing against the new male uniform. In fact, I’m all for it. If a guy wants to waltz past me in some finely tailored trousers then more power to him (so long as his shirt has a slight margin for error). But it does make me question my own fashion forwardness at times. Two years ago (yes, two years ago yet I remember it like it was yesterday), I overheard one of my male colleagues speaking to another guy about the shirt he was wearing.

“Oh yeah, my brother picked it up for me in the States from Banana Republic,” he said. The other guy nodded appreciatively and admired the shirt. Meanwhile, I looked down at my $19 Target shirt and wondered where I’d gone  wrong.

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Perhaps I’m a poor example of the female standard of fashion. I am, to put it succinctly, Not Fashionable.

I like fashion, I admire other women who know how to wield it with prowess, I even peruse the occasional fashion blog but when it comes to dressing myself, I suffer greatly from being Not Fashionable. I resort to a standard uniform nearly every day for my work wear and it’s not because I think this uniform is especially flattering. It’s because it’s basic, it’s nondescript. I can walk past you and you probably wouldn’t be able to pick me from a line-up.

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I’ve been well aware of this for years but this recent surge of male stylisation has brought it to the forefront of my mind. Suddenly, I’m being steamrolled by a whole generation of gregarious young gentlemen, all vying for the title of Best Looking in Blue Plaid Shirt and Wearer of Most Impractical but Nice Dress Shoes. Most of the time, the shirt I’m wearing is nowhere near as tight as those worn by my male colleagues and it’s not the best feeling. Shouldn’t my breasts protrude out more than the pectoral outlines of my male colleagues? (Post continues after gallery.)

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My brother is a hilarious example of the young male generation. He is perhaps less fashionable than me and has been wearing cargo shorts on and off for the last 23 years of his life. But ever since he started his corporate job a couple of years ago, he’s taken it upon himself to be More Fashionable. Begrudgingly.

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“I don’t want to… but I have to,” he says. Because he can’t go to work looking like he robbed the old folks’ home anymore. Not when every other male in the office is looking fly AF.

He’s taken a sort of middle ground. His shirts are marginally too tight and his shoes a whisper pointy but he wears these new clothes with a subversive disregard like he’d much rather be in his elasticised shorts. For a while, he considered letting this fashion forward movement leech into his home life. He went so far as trying on and subsequently buying a pair of slim-fitting grey jeans but after trying them on at home he decreed them Too Tight. They now sit in a discarded heap in his drawer.

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I think back to what my dad used to wear to his corporate job. Essentially, it is the same as what men wear to work today. Dark pants (although we now see the occasional “chino” in the wild, depending on the workplace formality), dress shirt (but one sees many more little blue squares compared to ten years ago) and dress shoes. But everything is a little sharper now, a little more streamlined.

I remember my dad’s billowy white dress shirts and loose black dress pants that seemed to be cut from the same pattern as a pair of track-pants. I still recall the round-toed dress shoes of yore with great fondness.

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In fact, when I see a middle-aged corporate worker strolling down the street in this kind of work clothes today my heart swells with a bittersweet yearning for simpler times.

But times are changing. Both men and women care about what they look like to an equal degree. Perhaps more accurately, it is now completely socially acceptable for men to care about how they look as much as women do.

A conversation between two men about a great dress shirt is now as commonplace as a conversation between two people about The Bachelorette (okay, that’s going a bit far). For the heterosexual female, it is perhaps a Godsend to suddenly be seeing men in so many well-tailored clothes. There’s nothing quite as attractive as a guy striding down a busy street with his hands in the pockets of his slim-cut pants making them cup his butt in the best way possible.

I’m all for the new male fashion revolution. There should be gender equality in everything we do including our ability to appreciate a fine pair of shoes. Men shouldn’t feel scared to express interest in fashion or how they look. Clothes and fashion can be one of the most fun things in the world.

The only thing I ask is this… Be aware of your nipples. There’s a time and a place for nipples. And when I’m having a conversation with you, sometimes I just want one pair of eyes to focus on.

Image: iStock

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