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Thoughts on the male physique, vol. 1

I’m not working today, so I’m spending today in my pajamas…by which I clearly mean gym shorts and a ratty T-shirt. But I was thinking about something today which I find fascinating: Beauty. Handsomeness. Attractiveness.

What makes these qualities and who determines them? I’ve come to believe that media controls popular thinking and popular thinking determines majority opinion. That being said, I present you with some of the things I fight with on a daily basis:
Here is an Abercrombie and Fitch model. Can you tell me what he is advertising?

What clothing is the A&F model selling?

What clothing is the A&F model selling?

I can’t find what he is selling either. Last I checked, Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t sell hoses. You can find the original image here.

This image is less irritating to me, because I can actually tell what he is selling.

Selling two items from the waist down. Classy.

You can tell he is selling pink swim trunks, maybe those jeans and that shirt he isn’t wearing. Given that Hollister is a surf/beach clothier, I am willing to believe that what is being sold in this shot is the swimwear and men don’t generally wear tops when swimming, so fine. But, this shot is still telling men that to be “beach appropriate” or even “beach ready” as this photo suggests (with the trunk under the pants), you have to look like this. Otherwise you will be visiting Omar the Tent Maker for a tragic looking one-piece.

Women don’t have it much better. In fact, they have it worse. Men just have to be bombarded with images of 6 packs, rippling muscles, that V leading to your ding-dong…women, on the other hand, are often marginalized through media, especially print media. They are told their boobs aren’t big enough (or in same cases that their boobs are too big), waistlines need to be the size of your pinky, men don’t like big chicks, etc, etc, etc. Take a look at what I mean…

Necklaces are shirts now?

See what I mean? Now, all of these images were conjured up by searching for “male models” or “female models”. If a model is something that is the prototype for mass production, it would stand to reason that these people are the prototypes for what people should look like since people need clothes and clothes are made for these models. Of course we know that isn’t exactly the case as retailers carry several varying sizes…sometimes. Now let’s see what happens when I search for “plus size male model” and “plus size female model”…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I find it quite interesting that these models are put in situations exactly like their thin counterparts, yet I had to do a completely different search for them. Women’s fashion goes so far as to define a separate category for them (Plus Size), while men get the same fashions just in Big & Tall.

My point is that you shouldn’t care what society or the media (particularly the media) says about the way you look. There are beautiful, handsome, attractive people in every size and for every taste. If you don’t look like one of the first three pictures I posted, I think that’s great. I think the last four pictures are more realistic and are actually better representations of what clothing is supposed to do: enhance your features and make you look good. This is not to say, of course, that the first three models aren’t necessarily attractive. They are. Sex sells. Which is a whole other issue for a different day.

Aside

I work in arts administration doing social media communications for a professional symphony. So, needless to say, I have to dress up for work. I don’t mind dressing up because it gives me a chance to show some pizzazz. Given that only two other men work in the office and they are both fabulous people, I’m allowed to wear the most original clothes I can find without feeling like there is judgment or competition.

Today’s ensemble also shows you my love affair with the bow tie. Bow ties do many things for the male physique, particularly if your physical is more oval than twig. Bow ties don’t draw the eye down to the stomach, love handles, or other area you may not want to accentuate. It keeps the eyes up toward the neck and clavicle. This is a double edged sword because if you’re self conscious about your neck or chin/jaw area, then a bow tie may cause more harm than good…but only if it’s tied. An un-tied bow tie draped under the collar (with your sleeves rolled up) if a fun look that creates a wider neck area, taking focus off your chin (and you can unbutton that top button!).

Today’s outfit is black slacks (size 42 x 32), a white shirt with a gray A-shirt underneath, a pink and purple striped bow tie, purple felt jacket, and black dress shoes with a pointed toe (not pictured):

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The fact that this shirt is made of a thinner material everywhere except where the buttons are draws the eye down the center of the body and not out toward the sides of the body (which are under the jacket anyway). Here’s the look without the jacket:

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So aside from looking terribly angry for no apparent reason, you can see that even without the blazer, The opaque button track still draws the eye down directly to the belt buckle, giving a polished look. Who says polished means razor thin and square? Polished looks and polished people come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s an up-close view of the jacket and tie:

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Main Points:

1. Layers are not bad, but consider them in moderation. Take your whole day in to account. I’m wearing three layers which could make me look heavier, except that two of my layers are very thin (the A-shirt and button down), so they don’t create excess bulk. When I take off my jacket when I get to work (my office will be inevitably hot), I’ll still look well put together and kempt.¬†If I had done what I used to do and wear a skin tight cotton crew neck undershirt and a broadcloth button down, I would instantly add about 5 pounds to my frame! Then add the jacket and it just looks like a hot mess.

2.¬†Horizontal accesories can detract from any problem areas you have. I’m not saying go out and buy stock in a bow tie company. Rather, I’m suggesting that any accessories you have than can go Horizontal (or are circular even, like buttons) should be a priority pick. Sometimes you can’t avoid what you have to wear or what you have in the closet. Long ties bring attention down, just like my opaque button track. The difference is the button track is one width the entire way. Long ties tend to flare at the bottom, creating a wider look. If you are going to wear a long tie, consider tucking it in to a vest.

3. Don’t be afraid of color. Large and in charge people have been told for far too long that black is slimming. It may be…but it’s so depressing. Dark blue, eggplant, deep magenta, forest green are all dark colors that have “slimming” capabilities, so why not wear those colors? Futhermore, bright colors up top (ties, scarves, collars, hats, etc…) take the focus off of problem areas. Remember that that goal is not to look skinny, but to fit in to your clothes and look great doing it. Colors don’t slim; wearing the right size does.

A Classic Look for Tuesday

I am in LOVE with looking classic. What is a “classic” look? It’s whatever you define, but I like to think of a classic look as one that is simple, not attention drawing, and above all comfortable!

Today’s classic look is a dark blue button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up half way, khaki shorts, and grey chucks with no socks. Take a look at the complete outfit:

I used to be a big fan of undershirts, so I used to wear an undershirt with all of my outfits. This outfit though, I chose to go without an undershirt. This creates a “V” with the shirt that allows more clavicle to be exposed. For me, an expose clavicle is not only sexy but allows my neck to look elongated and makes me seem taller.

The point of this outfit (and really all outfits) is NOT TO MAKE ME LOOK THIN. Not only do I think it’s completely contrived to try and look thin if you’re not thin (because, really, what is our concept of thin vs. our concept of health?) but it’s unnecessary. I don’t want to look thin. I want to look well put together. And this outfit, with its simplicity, allows me to look well put together. Of course there are features I don’t want to draw attention to (I’m still super self conscious about my chest), but I don’t do what a lot of other people do–I don’t direct attention down, rather I direct it up.

Main points:

1. If there is an area of your body you don’t want to accentuate, try accentuating above it if you’re tall. Tall people benefit by forcing people to look up at us, so by accentuating you upper features (clavicle, neck, chin), those features you don’t like as much won’t be prominent. For example, if you dislike your chest (or in my case, moobs [that’s right, no shame!]), exposing the flatter part of my chest and everything above it helps actually deflect attention to those moobs!
2. Roll up those sleeves in to a nice cuff! Pushing your sleeves up makes you look like you’re hiding something and draws attention to you upper arms–which is great if you’re proud of them. But, if your arms aren’t “perfect” (and even if they are), rolling the sleeve in to a cuff makes a clean look and focuses the attention on your forearms, which is great since they are mobile and probably look as fabulous as you do!
3. Don’t worry about looking thin. Looking thin when you’re not is pointless. Look stocky. Look husky. Hell, look fat. But above all, look well put together and like you care about your appearance. Your peers (and those who judge you) will care much more about that than whether or not they can see a roll or a moob.