One my favorite quotes was said by Tom Ford. “Dressing well is a form of good manners.” When you think of a man who dresses well, what do you imagine? A man in the roaring twenties? A French man? An Italian man? You could conjure up a myriad of ideas of what the well-dressed man looks like, but very few people would think of an American man in 2016. Why is it that an American well-dressed man has become a minority?
During the roaring 20’s, a man wearing the suit was the norm. If a man was reading the newspaper in his living room at home, having a coffee outside of a café in town, he was wearing a suit. No man owned a pair of J’s. There were no t-shirts with sparkly angel wings on the back of them (thanks, Nickleback). Of course style evolved. After WWI, single-breasted jackets became the norm. Pants without pleats and no cuffs came into play but gentlemen still dressed to the nine’s when they left the house.
Of course, trends came and went. Men in the 50’s wore a hat with their suit and paired it with a cigarette and a Martini. In the 60’s and 70’s, we saw a little more pattern, outfits with some noise. The 80’s saw the return of the power suit, like the boss from Christmas Vacation.
And then came the 90’s. The years where menswear went to die. We all remember the god awful fashion trends that came to light during this time. Jnco jeans. Massive windbreakers. Oversized hoodies. FUBU was a real thing. The term “business casual” was born thus killing every man’s desire to look good. When a man was asked to dress up, he threw on his pleated Dockers and a collared shirt that fit like a poncho.
Menswear has been climbing out of that hole ever since. We all know it’s true. There are so few places of work in which a suit is required. All of us fellow menswear Instagrammers know this pain all too well. We all work in an office filled with pleated khaki’s and baggy dress shirts that their great Aunt Bethany got them for Christmas.
Despite the typical HR “business casual” protocol, there are a few, a minority, that choose to dress well. This minority chooses to stand out and (probably) be the only guy at the office that wears a blazer or suit jacket, let alone a tie. I am proud to say that I am part of this minority. A minority surrounded by peers that do not know what a tie bar is or think a lapel pin is a sad rip-off of a boutonnière from prom.
I dress well because I care about how I look. I dress well because it makes me feel confident, because it makes me feel good about myself. I dress well for the joy of artistic expression. I dress well because, like Mr. Ford said, “Dressing is a form of good manners.” And I have good manners.
So, next time you run into Bill at the water cooler, with his oversized Dockers and his garbage bag oxford, remember, even though you are a minority, I feel you. I am at the same water cooler, with the same Bill, with the same Khaki’s, shaking my head too. We are a minority. But at least we look damn good doing it.
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