Do men get makeovers? Fashion and Freedom.

Don’t worry – I am working on a botanical art post but want to get this off my chest first:

I recently visited the headquarters of the organisation I work for because I was on an interview panel (a challenge for an introvert in any case). I had to rush off for the journey home whilst still wearing a suit. I was astonished at how differently I was treated by people in shops and on buses & trains. I’m probably as guilty as anyone of judging people by first impressions so this has been on my mind ever since. Because I wear lab coats at work and rarely have meetings with external people I generally wear any old jeans and a t-shirt and travel to and from work wearing a scruffy jacket*. Plus I don’t usually care much about my appearance due to life-long low-self-esteem thinking that makes me think ‘why bother – a nice suit won’t make any difference to the scowling ugly face on top of it’.

The journey wearing a suit was a revelation, not only did people engage with me more and smile more but this resulted in my being more confident and smiling myself, which in turn made more people friendlier toward me. I’d still rather be unemployed than sell out by wearing a suit regularly. The only people in my experience who wear suits out of choice are; senior managers, lawyers, politicians, sales people & bankers. Who would trust any of that lot?

However – the gain in my own confidence was quite interesting and perhaps I should give more thought to how I project to others and how this reflects back to me.

None of this will be any news to the ladies out there of course. They are judged on their appearance far more than men are. I do, however, confess to being a bit jealous that clothing for women is so infinitely variable in style and colour, whereas us blokes have a much more narrow definition of what it is ‘normal’ for us to wear. I saw a bloke in Manchester a few weeks ago wearing a wonderful iridescent blue African style collarless shirt which I absolutely loved but it isn’t something an old white guy like me would be expected to wear is it?

shirt

A couple of years ago my niece painted my toenails gold for a laugh. I really liked it and kept them that way for three weeks before I was persuaded to remove the colour because of ‘what people might think’.

Why can’t I have my nails painted? Who decides these narrow definitions of what is ‘normal’ and what gives them the right?

You have probably gathered that I feel like I need a change. Do men get makeovers? I’m an artistic and flamboyant person in my heart but feel like I’m being squeezed into the boring conformity expected from a middle aged bloke from the North of England. I want the freedom to express myself. In a world where a man over 50 is supposed to be ‘too old’ wear jeans and a T shirt how can I start? I always loved the sixties trend for vintage military jackets and capes but, even then, it was for youngsters.

I have a great deal of respect for those who buck social trends, having been a life-long misfit. I celebrate individualism. Yes, I know, people fear bullying or social ostracism for wearing the ‘wrong’ thing. So? Who wants to be a sheep anyway? Tragedies like the murder of Sophie Lancaster for being ‘different’ make me angry but they don’t scare me into wanting to conform – they make me even more determined to forge my own path and to encourage others to do the same.

As I type this I’m wearing jeans, a Baby Groot (I’m a huge GOTG fan) T-shirt and Minion socks. This feels as radical as I get!

 

*I hasten to add that it wasn’t originally scruffy but any clothing in my charge seems to end up that way fairly quickly…

39 Comments

  1. This post. I love it! I showed my husband the blue shirt and he likes it as well. I have heard from many males that they feel they do not have as many options with clothing. It’s unfortunate because as a woman I can wear multiple things to work and still look “professional” but men but be wearing slacks and a nice shirt at minimum. I can put on a black cotton dress and cute sandals.

    Dressing for confidence is definitely something that has helped me. On days when I’m not feeling very well (either physically or emotionally) but I still have to go to work, if i take the time to get dressed and look good I feel much better throughout the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You should wear what you want 🙂 Its taken me 25 years to have the courage to wear what I want. I always tried to wear what was in fashion but it never suited me. Now I wear vintage clothes all the time with my super shaven hair cut!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I came of age in the sixties when fashion went through a rather drastic change. I was hooked and never really recovered. I understand it’s very different for men. I hope you’ll feel free to express yourself clothing-wise at every opportunity. As long as you don’t endanger your career! Also, I’ve never been really comfortable around guys in suits. You’d have gotten a very different reaction from me. But then, I’m from another era. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Feel the same about guys in suits myself 🙂
    As well as design & fashion, much of my favourite music is from the sixties- big fan of the San Francisco bands especially Jefferson Airplane.
    Nice to meet you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. They were definitely one of the great bands from that time! I worked in a record store in the late sixties, it was a wonderful time time to be involved in music. (Not that there’s a bad time.) What I loved most about those days was having blues go mainstream. You didn’t have to tune in a special station to listen, it was everywhere.
    Glad to be here. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooh – I’m envious! I recall reading that the new rock music rescued a lot of the old blues guys from obscurity in the sixties and brought them back into the public eye after being out of fashion for decades. Sadly many of them still didn’t see much financial help from their new fame I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t really pay much attention to the financial end, but I do remember we stocked a lot of the older blues names. (Please don’t test my memory, why are names so hard?) I also know they didn’t sell as well as the newer stuff. There were a lot of the new performers that were paying homage to the older ones, but I think you’re right that they didn’t get much, if any, financial gain from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As a man I acknowledge I might behave differently toward women I find attractive (physically or otherwise), as much as I try to treat everyone equally. As a biologist I understand that this is pretty much hardwired in – so I don’t beat myself up over it too much:)
    However – I really don’t get the hair colour thing. I’m being diplomatic here to some extent, as my wife is blonde, but hair colour really makes no difference to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a very interesting post! I grew up with a father who has amazing qualifications (he’s a lawyer) but never wanted to dress well, like his colleagues did. Now he’s almost 60 and barely making it financially. Clothes definitely change the way we are perceived, both in the positive and negative.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I totally get that it’s biological and natural and that won’t change and I even see it stills serves an important social function. It just puzzles me that blond hair seems to have such an effect.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. No argument from me. I’m sure many people who are expected to wear suits or uniforms for their profession are great. The problem for me is that (whether they want to or not) they end up dressing, and therefore looking, just like the minority who bring those professions into disrepute.
    For many people, someone in a suit encourages an impression of trustworthiness. But for some of us (see also Pat’s reply above) it provokes exactly the opposite response!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Love this post!
    Personally I think that anyone can wear t-shirt and jeans. They are for all genders, sizes and ages 🙂
    That is so interesting to read that you wish that you have as much selection in clothing as women! I love clothes and looking fancy, but once in a while I wish I could be a guy and just throw on anything and be out the door 🙂 I completely know what you mean, though, in that there are certain expectations that people have about what clothes we should wear based on our gender or age. Maybe women have a bit more flexibility with that. We can wear a dress shirt and pants of neutral colours and get away with it. But if a man is seen wearing a pencil skirt, or even something mild, like a t-shirt with bold colours, it will draw attention. That’s really too bad!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you Sophie – quick update – I’ve been looking in African clothes shops online but have not taken the plunge yet. My wife would think I’m having another mid-life crisis and I’ve already had at least two…

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I was talking to one of my female friends at work yesterday about my own wish to get my nails painted. She is quite an old-fashioned person with a very masculine husband and just couldn’t get it at all & thought it was weird!

    Like

  15. Dress however makes you feel good about yourself. I have always dressed for myself….hats and capes and shawls and long skirts no matter the “current’ style. I think men should do the same. If a suit makes a difference in your life, then wear one. If a blue shirt makes you feel better, wear that, too. I encourage you to find your own style.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I struggled for the longest time with wanting to express myself more. Now I paint my nails, and wear what I want to wear (Occasionally it still gets to me what other have to say). May I suggest as a spruce up for fashion (of all ages) a nice cardigan can go a long ways!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Lovely post very true.my husband for example is relieved he have to wear a suit everyday as he doesn’t to think what to wear.its like a uniform and to reduce the stress to the minimum his shirts for work are all light blue or white.week end clothes I buy them for him,simple classic and comfy exactly as a man should be😉😀

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s