29 January 2007

Men's Fashion Quandary

One day last week GLH walked into the kitchen for breakfast.

I glanced his way, then did a double-take. "Is that what you're going to wear?"

GLH looked down at his checkered shirt, patterned tie and houndstooth jacket.

"Yes," he said.

Speaking as kindly as I could under the circumstances I said, "Sweetie, I'm not sure that all works together."

"But," he said quite earnestly, "this is what men in Europe wear. All sorts of crazy shirt and tie combinations. You just don't know because you don't see it every day."

Still doubtful, I said "There seems to be a lot going on there. But if that's what you want to wear. Just make sure that the people you work with know that I had nothing to do with it."

That evening when GLH came home I asked how it went with the clothing.

"Well, they didn't think it worked either. Apparently if you go with the patterned shirt and patterned tie you need to either match colors. Or match patterns. Or something like that. Not really sure. But I think I need new ties."

In his defense, it is very difficult. Men's fashion in Europe is quite different and much more complicated than in the United States.

In the US it is straight forward and very little has changed in nearly a hundred years of men's fashion. As long as you don't take into account those unfortunate years in the 60's and 70's. But even those years make warped sense. Everyone was doing too many drugs.

Regardless, in general men's business wear involves simple lines, dark colors and very few patterns. The emphasis is on looking as masculine as possible.

It is much harder in Europe where you routinely see grown men, not just high school and college boys, wearing clothing such as neon green corduroy skinny slacks with a bright orange jacket and an extra long purple scarf. Or a multi-colored checkered shirt with a bright pink tie. Or even brightly colored plaid capris with dark socks and dark shoes! (No, I am NOT making this up!)

Side note: with these extreme differences, is it any wonder the European males frequently think American males are brawny, overbearing chest-beaters? Or that American males tend to question the sexual orientation of European males?

But as we are living in Europe, GLH is doing the admirable thing. He is trying to follow the local customs. And failing. But at least he is trying.

So now we are on the hunt for new ties that will go with checkered shirts.

But if GLH ever comes home with a pair of capris, I am putting my foot down.


swissmiss said...

Ah yes, then in the summer he can wear short sleeved work shirts with a tie. Ah, summer.

Ms Mac said...

See now, I don't mind the 3/4 length pants (They're also popular in Australia) but I can't let my husband leave the house in a patterned shirt with a tie. No, no, no! Checks, stripes, any kind of pattern is not for ties in my book.

And as for short sleeves and ties, I just had that discussion with a good friend of mine who wears that routinely in summer. It's just plain wrong, I don't care where you live!

Opinionated? Me? ;-)

Global Librarian said...

You mean it will become even more complicated during the summer?

CanadianSwiss said...

Oh, you'll have fun dressing him up this summer, for sure ;)

As for the capri, to me, it all depends who is wearing them.

he said she said...

Wait a minute! Where's his uniform? All proper American men need to have a uniform -- a couple of shirt colors, a couple of pant colors, then mix and match so any shirt will go with any pants. GLH, being a proper American man, should have already had one.

What is this contintent doing to him? Just don't let him get incontinent!

GL'SD said...

Well miss what not to wear it appears to me that you got your work cut out for you good luck

Anonymous said...

Oh no, not the dreaded male capris! PLEASE don't let GLH get into those - not even for a trip to the gym. I routinely refer to them as man shants (short pants) and no one here finds that amusing. Probably because they are all wearing them when I make that comment! As for the plaids - check out the news readers on the BBC World. The easy rule of thumb would be: "Just don't look as bright as these guys!"

Global Librarian said...

I've been referring to them as "man-pris." And trust me, GLH will never wear them.

I may eventually get used to all the bright rainbow colors, but I've got my limits.

Kirk said...

It took me about a year before I got up the courage to start wearing ties with patterned shirts...wearing white shirts all the time pretty much brands you as an American. And don't even get me started on man-pris...my friends back home still give me grief for wearing them (even though I got mine in Australia, not Europe).