Thursday, February 1, 2007

Wherein Style Spy Admits a Shameful Secret

Oh, I fear I am a hypocrite.

Why is it that I can look at this

(Vivienne Westwood Fall 2006)

and clap my hands with glee and cheer and shout, "Amen!" and plot to make the world safe for Grand Fashion Gestures; but when I see this

(Jean Paul Gaultier. I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare for the record that leggings are not going to catch on with men who are not vying for a yellow jersey.)

I think, "Ummmmm... not so much."

Don't get me wrong. I would really, really love it if most men spent a little more time and effort on the way they look. I just don't want them to spend more time than me. (And don't worry folks, that still gives them plenty of leeway.) I am not proud of this ugly little Fashionista hypocrisy and I struggle with it. It's frivolous in some senses, but what I really fear is that it reveals something important regarding my deeper prejudices about gender roles and definitions of masculinity.

I wish to be enlightened and fair, even if I'm only talking about pants.

If I permit -- nay, encourage -- women to tie flowers to their shoes and wear tulle tutus and footwear that looks like it arrived on Earth in an extraterrestrial craft, then men should be able to wear shimmery leggings or skirts or horned hats. And theoretically they can, of course, and I would even applaud them. But I'd be unlikely to give one of them my phone number.

So there you have it. The Style Spy has feet of clay. I'm a stodgy old fuddy-duddy -- I want men to look like men and not characters from a weird Vincent D'Onofrio movie. I hope you can forgive me. To make up for it, I'm going to show you some handsome men's clothing from the Paris collections this week.

Ooooooh, the velvet topcoat (from Gaultier, who did actually have many beautiful and wearable things in this show). I loveloveLOVE a man in a velvet topcoat. When I was in Paris last February I saw lots of fabulous French men in them. They all looked so sexy and sophisticated and elegant and... well, let's just say it's a good thing my French isn't any better than it is or girlfriend would have gotten herself into a few international incidents. Ooh-la-la.

Yves Saint Laurent -- I love this monochromatic (all one color) look. The slouchy trousers are so Gatsby. Girls love Gatsby. He's romantic.

Raf Simons -- This is such a great parka -- so much more sophisticated than the big puffy down one with the Green Bay Packers logos all over it. (I will cut you some slack if you're actually going to a Packers game. But how often does that happen?)

More YSL. Love that loose turtleneck.

Hermes -- Colored trousers are not easy to pull off without looking like you're at a frat house mixer (and no, that is not a good look for a grown-up), but these work. The color is beautifully muted and it's paired very simple, low-key basics in a neutral color that doesn't clash.

More Hermes. Okay, this is advanced fashion, but I'm here to inspire. Three mis-matched patterns -- fraught with danger. It works because all the colors are neutral and of a similar intensity, and the patterns are all of the same scale and fairly muted -- no one of them stands out from the others. It's tough to pull off, but it's beautiful.

Louis Vuitton. Fantastic lightweight jacket. Why would you ever wear a hoodie sweatshirt when you could be wearing a jacket like this?

Hermes. Again with the monochromatic, and note how the sweater fits him. He's not swimming in it, it's not three sizes too large. (Lots of extra room in your sweaters or shirts makes you look sloppy, not cool. If you are a size medium, embrace your medium-ness and put down the damn extra large anything!) Note the tied scarf at the throat. It's very subtle -- a small knot tucked into the collar in a color that blends with the shirt and sweater. You wear this, you're not Thurston Howell. No sir, you are the guy I assume spends a fair amount of time flying first class to various European cities. At a party, I sit next to you. I offer to get you another drink. I coo.

There was lots more great men's fashion this week, I'll bring you some more in a few days.


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Caroline said...

No, you don't want him spending more time than you. You ALSO don't want him swanning around in a jumper that was clearly knitted by his aunt. So much wrongness. Sign me up for the hypocrites' club!

Ernesto said...

Dear Amy,
Thank you for the primer on current men's fashions! It inspires me to be a little more daring and also to consider colors and patterns for more than two seconds each morning. Question - can I get any of the Hermes stuff at Target?


Anonymous said...

Kevin wears the Griege suit featured here and loves it,with a dark thick t-neck. Also the long tweed overcoats or Prince Charles plaids mixed with jeans on Casual Fridays & on week-ends His velvet jacket came with him with a collection of vintage smoking jackets. I was shocked a man of fashion! He also collects silk blend ,vintage suits & velvet lapel smoking jackets. LOL people here in hicks-ville just shake their heads! I added Wellingtons or for American ladies, rubber boots , leather riding boots ,as I love a man in high boots (sigh & swoon as my heart races ) And you should see how he twists his towel around his neck after a shower , yes he has natural hipness.he always wears a scarf & has worn quite a number of long double wrap scarfs. Things he would stay far away from are short sleeves ,in any form also knitted vests and shorts. Or even spants . It is nice to be married manly man who likes fashion . It helps I am sure that he has the body for it being 6'1"and slim. But it kills me he can buy right off the rack unlike me. Jealous YES maybe I am a little bit. KSH

StyleSpy said...

K -- a good man is hard to find, a good man with a great wardrobe is nigh on impossible! Congratulations, and let me know when you get him cloned, please!

pointer1952 said...

I saw someone on the street of NYC with burgundy leggings that must be Gaultier...does anyone know where to purchase these?..I'd appreciate the help


Anonymous said...

i think its awesome, some men can pull it off, specially those who embrace androgyny.
But to condemn the idea and say yuck, puhlease, Fashion and Style are what they are for its daring elements.
love it or hate it, its unfair to say it shouldnt belong on men
WAKE UP LADIES, men sported these "leggings" of yours far earlier than you guys have. They were called hose back in the centuries, and only MEN wore em.
to DEEM these un-manly is wrong, its like deeming a dress Un-womanly as that was what women wore in the middle ages, when men sported the Hose....

TSK tsk for the closed minded "fashionistas"... what a joke

pointer1952 said...

I'm in my 50s, a guy...I started taking dance classes for the first time, 2 years ago...and I wear TIGHTS to class because my legs look great(ain't bragging..they just look & feel good in a workout)..I know I would NEVER put them on if I looked in the mirror & said NO!NO!..I have a vision and also for the other people that have to look at me..well I've taken the tights to a whole new level, wearing them with a beautiful Custo t-shirt and watching sunset on the beach for example in the summer, they are just the most comfortable things for me..I must have every color(I get those at American Apparel and buy woman's big sizes cause they would NEVER be found in the men's section)..but let's face it whatever you pick as have to have some kind of body, you HAVE to live in the right city and also be able "to pull it off" ...BTW I tried forever to find those velvet Gaultier leggings a couple years ago and gave up...they looked very cool on a guy that was crossing the street downtown...but I would definitely NOT wear them in a city I didn't FEEL totally comfortable ,like here in NYC...I wear almost anything here!

RSM said...

Leggings for men is not a new trend - one that's been around for years. It's time to get over the body image constraints and go for the comfort. Just wear them. Leggings are perfect casual wear for women AND men. Having worn leggings for years, I'm aware of people's comments both negative and very positive. After all, it's not the leggings on the man but the man in the leggings. Everyone looks good in leggings and some people look great!
If more people, women and men, wear leggings then it will just be another apparel choice. At one time denim jeans were worn only by miners digging for gold. Now they are everywhere and no one asks if you've struck gold.
So never say never - when you do decide to wear leggings, choose a well made pair - not with cotton fibers that bag out over time but a high tech fiber that retains its shape. Go for the comfort and support. Leggings that go to the ankle look better than capri style that chop the leg. Plus the full length leggings support you from your ankle to your waist and give you an energetic lift. Check out UnJeansDotCom UnJeans Leggings - clothes of the future and the future just started.