A Style Guide for Straight Guys
Hello, boys. Frankly, if a man wrote an article attempting to guide my own dressing habits towards a more male-friendly appearance, I would be miffed and dismiss him entirely. What right does a man have to tell a woman how to dress? You’ve been throwing hints at us since the dawn of time, and we already know what you like, anyway. There’s a reason Victoria’s Secret and stores that sell stripper heels stay in business — that’s what you like, not what we like, and we’ll agree to throw you a literal bone every once in awhile. The main thing to remember, however, is that women dress for women, as in, we wear fashion to impress and compete with each other. It doesn’t have much to do with you. You will take us in a sack-like dress, just like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink, as long as you can eventually see our boobs.
On the other hand, straight men need to dress for women. They might not always do so, or they might not know how. What’s at stake in our whole gender game is that you need to convince us to go home with you in our Molly Ringwald sack dress, so we can show you our boobs. If you aren’t convincing, someone else just might be, and therein lies the scientific process of natural selection, my friend.
Sure, there are other factors in the decision process — I mean, we aren’t completely superficial, you have to be capable of having a conversation, etc, but what you need to understand is that we have a new world order out here. There was a time when women were just dying to get married because it was the only way we could survive. These days we’ve got our jobs and our cake, too. If you want to have a partner in crime, you’ve got to have a crime worth committing, if you catch my drift.
The bad news is that you don’t really get a whole lot of clothing options in contemporary society. It’s sad, but you basically just get the pants/shirt/jacket combo in various iterations. In my MFA thesis research on dress, I learned something important about your clothes. Back in the era of kings and serfdom, power was connoted with leisure. Men and women in high society got to convey their status through ostentatious fancy clothing. However, along came the Industrial Revolution. All of a sudden, power was synonymous with work. Men wore serious, identical suits because they were all of a sudden gettin’ ‘er done, while the wives became the family vehicles to show off. And in one swoop, you got stuck with a suit as your only means of style, and we got all the fabulousness. Sure, it seems unfair, but I think you still own most of the Fortune 500 companies, so whatever.
So, in light of the dating and clothing rules I just mentioned, let’s talk about your dressing options. Here are some gentle guidelines designed to help you get the girls.
*There will always be exceptions to the rules. I just want to point out that this is a subjective and personal list designed to illustrate what girls like me will like, not all women.
There are a few celebrities that I would take in any form. Joaquin Phoenix, for example. Even in his crazy phase, with the disheveled hair and stoner scat-speech, and/or because of his harelip, I would help him make a full recovery to normalcy and hotness. Or Eric Northman from True Blood. Sure, cut your hair, fine. Sure, wear my tank top. I don’t mind.
*If you are not a celebrity, but could pass for either of these men, dress however you want — be my guest.
Here are the obvious ones:
1. No pajamas in public. I know, just like us, you have days off and you don’t feel like putting in much effort. But never, under any circumstances, are you allowed to cruise around town in your pajamas, unless you want everyone to know you are a homesick college student, or perhaps a crackhead.
This goes for sweatpants, too. As Jerry Seinfeld can back me up, you basically just gave up on the world.
2. No white guy dreadlocks. If you have to spend a lot of time making your hair into a textured, smelly mess, it’s probably not meant to be. Everyone has always known this, except for Winona Ryder, who made an unfortunate error in judgment by dating the lead singer of Soul Asylum in the ’90s.
3. Dress like an adult. Also, if I can’t see your ass, I can’t see you.
4. Speaking of pants, avoid “jeggings.” Please leave something to the imagination. Wearing girl jeans this tight tells me all I need to know and more about your chicken calves.
5. Obviously, no. We already talked about how I feel about these goth pants.
And here are the not-as-obvious ones:
1. Wear a suit.
I know it’s been the same for 200 years, but we women still like the way you look — just like that Men’s Warehouse commercial — in a suit. We don’t really want you to change. Which is why this image from redcarpet-fashionawards.com is so funny. The awards ceremonies, like weddings, are not really for you — you just have to show up and hold a purse for someone else.
2. Don’t be a douchebag. All I had to do was Google flip-flops. Fine, if you live in an ocean community, you can wear flip-flops. But somehow jocks got it in their head that if they combined baggy designer jeans and a guido-style button-up shirt with flip flops, it would be like catnip to us. Guess what? It’s not. And we don’t really want to see your feet.
3. There are limits. Even for two of the hottest men on the planet, you just can’t ever wear a college-dropout scrubby beanie or a thin, patchouli-scented hippy scarf. Ever. David Beckham and Johnny Depp should know better.
4. You can’t groom yourself more than we do. We don’t like it when your hair looks better than ours, or when you use our fancy, expensive shampoo.
If you’re going to wear your hair long, it has to be a little unkept and ratty, a la the Grunge days.
5. Try going to an actual hair place and getting them to give you a real haircut. That means somewhere besides Supercuts and you will probably have to pay more than $10. Just do what we do, pick a celebrity, and copy them.
6. You have to at least attempt to look like you have a job. That might make it seem like we are gold-diggers, but we just don’t want to have to pick you up from your warehouse you share with six roommates and have to get the tip for you every single time.
7. Brand-whoring doesn’t work, and please stay away from anything Kanye wears, ever. What does it even mean to have a Fendi logo on your head? Did Silvia Fendi come over and shave it in? I sort of understand the hip hop act of appropriating the culture of wealth as antagonism, but it still just makes it look like you are giving a label power over you. And it also makes you look like a billboard, like you’re essentially wearing a Budwesier t-shirt. If you want to convey you have money, you should wear things that are obviously well-made. Those who are in the know, will know.
8. If you don’t have money, you can still fake it with a little swagger, a thrifted suit, and some crazy socks. Like these guys who call themselves “Smarties” in South Africa.
9. Keep your clothes on, even if you go to the gym. Ok, so you’re not into suits. Fine. You don’t have to show us your muscles to denote masculinity instead of money. Muscles to me say one thing: you spend all your free time at the gym, which is both boring and intimidating.
10. You don’t have to be a muscle man to win our hearts. We are OK with you being super skinny or a little rotund, because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
11. Have confidence. Just look at Prince. He’s a tiny man who wears ruffles, but I wouldn’t trust myself alone with him. He is the definition of confidence, to a panty-dropping T.
Or, take Lemmy from Motorhead. Not the most attractive man, especially with the moles, but you can just look at him and tell he knows exactly what he likes and who he is.
12. Speaking of Lemmy, be a bad boy. I mean, if you have those tendencies. If not, don’t fake it. Until we get older, bad boys have their time and place as a great distraction from our boring lives.
Sooner or later, we grow out of bad boys. Probably because they don’t age well. And if they’re not rock stars, they have a high chance of becoming the homeless alcoholics that live near your dumpster.
13. Did we talk about how hot tattoos are? OK, I know it’s such a cliche, and I am outing myself big time right now for being so superficial, but tattoos totally work. As in, on my wild, wild heart. But the reason is not that they signify tough guys, cause yeah, I know that they do, but because to me, they say that you don’t take yourself so seriously. Why does your body have to be a temple? Can’t it just be some thing you write dumb things on? It’s especially refreshing when you’re not afraid to get stupid tattoos, like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and his elephants.
14. Let’s talk about shoes. If you are one of those guys with a sneaker collection, you’re just showing the world that you are an over-paid infantile computer programmer who plays video games with internet strangers every day of the week instead of spending your money on a few pairs of classy shoes that you could wear to a nice restaurant. You think your day-glo sneakers express how “funky fresh” you are, but they don’t.
Maybe you could take a cue from this guy and his sophisticated way of pairing Red Wing worker boots with a clean Rude Boy aesthetic?
15. I’ll respect your authority occasionally. These boots touch on another slightly underplayed style trait that girls like to secretly dig: Authority is hot. While his pants might be just a tad too jegging-ish, tucked into these boots they both remind me of a punk and a cop and I am pretty into it. Let me state for the record that yes, of course, cops are lame, but, just like your “madonna/whore” complex, girls are equally into boot-wearing authority figures and soft-spoken boat shoes kind of boys.
16. Enough with the beards. Seriously. Did you hear me, San Francisco? Enough. Look, I know that shaving is probably really annoying, but please think about shaving. If everyone grows a beard, does that mean everyone has to dress like they’re a carpet-bagging snake oil salesman like this guy, too?
And another thing about beards: Let the bears have their culture back. I’m sure they are annoyed and confused.
17. Wear clothes that fit you. Look at this guy — take the tie away and he’s just some regular guy, but he looks great because he is actually wearing the right size. If you are confused, ask a salesperson to help you. That’s what they are there for. Or take a gay or a girl along. That’s what they are there for.
18. When in doubt, go nautical. Never underestimate the appeal of a sailor outfit or a grandpa cardigan.
19. Dress like a normal person. Look at this guy. He’s just a dude, wearing dude clothes.
So I should probably tell you that my boyfriend is European, so I have it easier than most, and maybe he has raised my expectations. He knows how to wear a pair of pants that fit, but that doesn’t mean he is a walk in the park. Every time he agrees to go shopping, we spend an hour on his clothes and then he’s too tired when I want to shop for myself. That being said, it’s opened my eyes to your potential, boys. So, remember what we talked about — there are things that girls like and things that we don’t, but above all else just remember…
20. Be yourself. But try a little.