The momentarily-all-important trends. The awful colors. The disdain for anyone who looks poor, or at least like they are dressed for work. The indignation toward people who "don't care what we think of them". The obsession with class. These are all things that turn me off to the world of men's fashion.
I'm going to lapse into a bit of cultural criticism here, so please indulge me.
I've no problem at all with people wanting to wear whatever they'd like, and whatever they think looks best on them. Indeed, I very much applaud a personal sense of style, or someone who can just dress well. I come out of the whole punk scene, so I really do respect people who can convincingly wear something outlandish and make it their own. I'm almost 30 and still have a facial piercing. So no judgements here.
That having been said, my main issue with the growing body of blogging about men's fashion is this obsession with what "being a man" is all about. There's this constant, just-below-the-surface message in men's sartorial writing, and it is this: "If you dress this way, you will finally be an adult". It's as if a generation of men entering their 30s have no idea if they have really made it. Instead of judging one's adulthood (whatever that means) on things such as choices, they instead have looked at Mad Men and said "Here are some men who dress sharply and they seemed to be on top of things and be cool adults. I need to do just that." Back then, wealthy white men were indeed on top of things. We've come a long way since the early 60s, and that's not a bad thing. At all. There's a fetish here for control and the trappings of control. And it belies a massive insecurity and a childish obsession with "dressing like a grown-up". This nostalgia for a time when "men knew how to be men" reminds me, in spirit, of something Evelyn Waugh once wrote about the time during the second World War in which he wrote Brideshead Revisited:
"It was a bleak period of present privation and threatening disaster... and in consequence the book is infused with a kind of gluttony, for food and wine, for the splendours of the recent past, and for rhetorical and ornamental language which now, with a full stomach, I find distasteful."
If you'd like to dress "better", than by all means - go and do it. I myself am planning on sprucing up the old wardrobe (once I lose about 30 pounds) with some sharper-looking button-down shirts and pants. But don't do it just so that you can wear a costume of established masculinity. This assumes that there is some baseline uber-form of maleness. If that is true, does it follow that some women are more true to femaleness than others? Is there some ideal femininity to which all women must adhere? See where I'm going with this?
You can try to dress, shave, and carry yourself like your father/grandfather/greatgrandfather/your idealized vision of real manhood all you like, but really you're just playing around with the aesthetics. Aesthetics are important, but they will not make you anything. Time and time again I come back to my old standby adage - everyone wants to be something, but no one wants to do anything. Take care of others. Take care of your responsibilities. Do something. People will take notice. And we might compliment you on your salmon and turquoise blazer when we do it.
Oh, this was inspired by looking at the GQ website for 30 minutes today. I mean this as respectfully as possible, but they can fuck the fuck off.
Also - I know that the world of women's fashion is like 1000 times worse.