Clothes (Don’t) Make The Man

I remember when men’s fashion consisted of the colour of your shirt, the width of your lapel and the size of your tie.  We’ve come a long way since those heady days when nobody gave a damn what men looked like.  These days, men are breaking out of their no-style straitjackets and showing the world just how ridiculous they can look — given half a chance.  Here are some examples of male fashion statements in the 21st century.

Bush Baby Beards — Unlike their Old Testament cousins. these neatly trimmed wannabes are the fashion statement of a man who desperately wants to be trendy but has minivan payments, a massive mortgage and a job he can’t afford to lose.

Popped collars — Usually found on Lacoste Shirts (those three-button alligator abominations.) They’re the international symbol for “My father’s a lawyer, and now I’m a lawyer, too.”

Half Zippered Polar Fleece — Nothing says Suburban Dad like half zippered polar fleece.

Faux Hawk Hair — For the man who doesn’t have the stones to go full Mohawk.

Tattoos (neck, face or armband) — You think you look like a badass. Guess again!  You look like your IQ and your fashion sense are permanently stuck in the 80s.

Backwards (or sideways) Baseball Hats — The universal style of the heterosexual man who hasn’t quite figured out why women tend to avoid him.

Flip Flops — Except for the beach, the gym and Walmart, grown men wear shoes.  They just do.

Skinny Jeans — No room for your keys, your phone or your genitalia.  No wonder so few hipsters have kids.

Plaid Shirts — OMG!  They’re still around.  Hey, buddy!  You’re not cool..  You’re a waiter from Queens.

Corn Rows — Normally found on a young man who’s just returned from a Mexican vacation.  His girlfriend thought it would look cute, and he thought he’d get laid.  (They were both wrong.)

Ear Gauge — These tell the world you’ve worked at Starbucks for so long you’re finally on the day shift.

The Man Bun — Just sad.  Really, really sad.

Beanie Caps — Whoever keeps resurrecting this damn things oughtta be ashamed.

Zany Socks — Unless you’re a tenured Art History professor, terminally English or a certified pompous ass zany socks do not make you any more interesting than you already aren’t.

And finally:

The Gangsta Hoodie — If you’re over thirty and still wearing the gangsta hoodie, you need to take a look at your life.  Seriously, something‘s not working.

I Love Fashion!

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I love fashion a lot more than most heterosexual men my age.  It’s one of those things that happened early on in life (as a teenager, I was seduced by Coco Chanel’s “little black dress”) and it has continued ever since.  You see, to me, fashion is more than adornment.  It’s the vision and ability to turn a two dimensional material into a three-dimensional piece of art, using only colour and texture — while simultaneously being handcuffed to the standard contours of the human body.  Plus, it’s all about sex!

Anyway, yesterday was the end of Haute Couture Week in Paris.  This is when designers from all over the world gather in the City of Light to eat, drink, pontificate and play silly buggers with the female form.  (There is a Homme Week, but nobody cares.  After all, after Armani, what can you do with a suit?)  The thing is Haute Couture isn’t about clothes.  It’s walking avant-garde: the fringe of fashion that sets the tone for the middle.  It’s the stuff that women don’t actually wear, because it’s outrageously expensive, 90% of it is hideous and you can’t sit down.  Yet the catwalks are full, the streets are alive with fashionistas, the media is having multiple orgasms, and everybody from Marks and Spencer to Emmanuel Macron is taking notice.  This is because (despite what virtuous sophomore millennials will tell you) fashion is a serious component of human society – and always will be.  (Even the hillbilly Neanderthals wore baubles and beads.)

The truth is fashion is our most basic form of communication.  Check it out!  When you walk into a room and someone is standing there, you have no idea who or what they are – zoologist to axe murderer.  You can’t hear, smell, touch or taste them, so you rely on your eyes for social cues, and a suit and tie send a different message from dirty jeans and a torn t-shirt. (FYI We can yip all day about being non-judgemental, but the fact is we all do first impressions — it’s instinctual — and it’s one of the reasons our species dominates this planet.)

Fashion is the shorthand we use to tell the world where we fit.  Whether we shop at Dollarama or Dolce & Gabbana, we choose our clothes to reflect our personality, our status, our mood and, in some cases, our occupation, our sexuality and even our level of self-esteem.  Fashion is our opinion of ourselves and our world without ever saying a word.  That’s why puritanical societies that fear opinion restrict fashion.

There was nothing spectacular about this year’s Haute Couture: a lot of beads and sleeves and Karl Lagerfeld didn’t wave to the crowd (the guy’s 85.)  However, like every year, it set the stage for February, a month of pret a porter (ready to wear) in New York, London, Milan (Berlin and Tokyo are in there somewhere) and finally back to Paris.  This is where the big girls come to play– and I can hardly wait.

The Wonderful World Of Socks

sockamore1.jpgLast week, I got a free pair of Sockamore Socks from Sweden.  (You can find their website here — Sockamore Socks.)  The how and why of them are a long story that involves my Tasmanian e-friend, Claudette — who, BTW, has a platypus in her garden. (You can find her blog here) a couple of kickass Swedish entrepreneurs, and my own big mouth.  Of course, we all know there is no such thing as free socks so I agreed to write a free review.

Full Disclosure — Although I love Nordic Noir television (Wallander, Bergman, The Bridge) and the Sedin brothers, I do not drive a Volvo and I have never been to Sweden.  Up until a month ago, I had no idea Sockamore Socks even existed, and Christoffer is not my brother-in-law.  And, finally, yes, every man has his price — but mine is a lot more than 7.5 Euros worth of socks.  Therefore, this is a completely unbiased evaluation.

The In-shoe experience — The socks did exactly what they were told.  The heels stayed with the heels, and the toes stayed with the toes.  Even after one complete (3.8 km.) walk around the park, there was no bunching at the instep nor nasty elastic lines around the ankles.

The Out-of-shoe experience — Again, the socks did as they were told, and didn’t try to escape every time I took my shoes off.

The Cozy Test — I chose two typically cold, rainy January evenings for the cozy test.  On the first evening, I paired the socks with Earl Grey tea, ginger cookies and a reread of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man.  The socks performed very well and were cozy enough to keep me from running for a blanket after 50 pages — but not so cozy that I fell asleep.  On the second evening, I paired the socks with Pepsi, Doritos and a binge watch of Berlin Babylon on Netflix.  Again, the socks conducted themselves admirably, remaining uniformly cozy through the entire 5- hour video viewing experience.

The Static Electricity Test — Unfortunately, the socks utterly failed this test.  I repeatedly rubbed the socks on the carpet, trying to build up enough static electricity to zap my wife on the back of the neck while she was washing dishes — with no result.

The Notice Me/Notice Me Test — This is a very important test because what the hell’s the sense of having the coolest socks in the world if nobody notices?  I chose the grocery store, the mall and a restaurant for this test — and there were mixed results.  While grocery shopping on a busy Saturday morning, no one noticed my socks.  Likewise, walking around the mall for a couple of  shopping hours didn’t result in a single “OMG! Where did you get those socks?”  However, the socks were noticed almost immediately in the restaurant — where, luckily, the server wasn’t injured when she stumbled over my outstretched feet.

The Creative Use Test — Although the socks didn’t work at all in the Oven Mitt test, they entertained a two-year-old quite adequately in the Sock Puppet test.  Plus, in the Folded-Into-A-Ball test, they performed well at kitchen table hockey, get-down-from-there-you-stupid-cat (no animals were harmed during this test) and indoor hacky sack.

The Results — Overall, Sockamore socks do exactly what socks are supposed to do; however, they have two unique features rarely seen in the sock world.  One, they’re fun.  Normally, socks are like accountants: totally necessary and terminally dull.  Sockamore socks are not dull, and as you can see from the photos, I’m into fun socks and know the difference.  Two, and much more importantly, Sockamore socks are the perfect gift — not too expensive and not too cheap — with just the right amount of amount of I-was-thinking-about-you to make it stick.  Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even matching socks for a wedding present!  Think about it: for less than 100 Euros, you can wipe out half your Christmas list!  The best thing to do is just go to their website, Sockamore Socks, and get creative.  Tuck a pair in a fruit basket, or a Thank You card, or give the jerk at work a retirement gift and what better way to say “Get Well Soon” than with a pair of socks?  Let your imagination be your palette and see where it takes you.  Who knows?  You could end up even treating yourself to a little Swedish mysig.

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And now I’ve added Sockamore socks to my collection

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photos by Lady C (Carolyn Bourcier)