Sharp Dressed Man

May 1st, 2012

I am a big fan of classic movies. You can find me on any given weeknight perusing the TCM listings to see what gems I can record for my weekend viewing pleasure. Nothing makes me happier than watching a sharp dressed William Powell in The Thin Man solving crimes while sipping a martini. What could be more gorgeous than a well-tailored Cary Grant charming his way into Katherine Hepburn’s heart in The Philadelphia Story?

One of the best things about old movies is seeing grown men dressed like, well, grown men. I love a man who knows how to dress and sadly, in this bud-drinking, lowbrow-loving country of ours, it has become a rarity to see a man wearing anything nicer than a T-shirt and jeans.

The first time I saw a male co-worker wearing a pair of giant shorts, flip-flops, and a Lakers jersey to work, I couldn’t believe it. I was working at an entertainment company at the time, and the dress code is more lax than in most office environments, but when did it become okay to dress like a 5-year-old in a place of business? When did it become okay for grown men to dress like 5-year-olds in general, for that matter?

I have a theory that the rise of men dressing like boys can be tracked to a trend that has gripped the movies since the ’90s: I call it the Man-Child Syndrome. The depiction of the Man-Child in movies like Knocked Up, The Hangover, and Old School makes for hilarious fare (watching a bloated, drunken Will Ferrell running naked down the street makes me laugh every time), but as Hollywood churns out these films year after year, I wonder if the juvenilization of men is becoming more sad than funny.

I know that movies are only fantasy and, of course, men didn’t run around in tuxes all day long during Cary Grant’s time. But movies are a reflection of our culture, and right now a lot of our men are a sartorial mess! I’m not saying that you need to dress like William Powell every day, but there is a little something called dressing appropriately.

Guys, make the ladies happy with a few simple rules of thumb:

1. No flip-flops anywhere but the beach. Women don’t want to see your hairy toes while shopping for their fresh produce.

2. Find a pair of shorts that fit. You’re not Michael Jordan and those giant basketball shorts make you look like you’re on your way to your first T-ball practice with dad. Not sexy.

3. Invest in a button down shirt or two. Practice buttoning.

4. Learn how to tie a Windsor knot.

5. Dazzle your girl with your fashion savvy.



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Our Friends Say
  1. amp says:

    Great post, Harriet – interesting subject, should be explored further. I’m afraid I’m giving away how far out on the edge of your Tootzypop “sweet in the middle” demographic I am, but this trend you identify started before the 90′s. I recall working side by side with male writer/producers wearing flip flop or sneakers with Hawaiina shits and shorts, visors an other parks and rec fashion waaaayyyy back in the 80′s – you know, when we women were wearing oversized sweaters over tights with high heels and jackets had shoulder pads the size of boulders. And, women were still required to dress that way or more formally – no shorts and tube tops for us. Still the case today, I believe. Little boys, ok. LIttle girls – now way…or, rather only in the most feminine, no way for business way.

  2. I agree – great post! But I have to say a LOT of women don’t put much more effort into things either. I think there may have been a previous post here about how when we were younger (teens-20s-30s) it was cool to wear essentially work out clothes with a t-shirt on top and be slumming it still looking ‘cute.’ But most women cannot pull of the schlubby look at the grocery store once they hit a certain age and make it look in any way okay. Same with chicks and flip flops. I am guilty too and I am trying to improve, but really — all of us need to get a bit more ‘dressed.’


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