Men of the world, I come to you today with an important public health message; there is an epidemic affecting men the world over, it’s something that at some point every man in the world has had to deal with, no matter if he’s a plumber or a rock star. I speak of course about fashion phobia. Over the course of this article I hope to educate you about this terrible affliction, discuss how it affects us, and more importantly how you can beat it once and for all. Get ready boys, this is [hopefully] going to change your life.
In simple terms fashion phobia is the irrational fear of wearing something fashionable and stylish because you’re worried what people might think about it (note: the fear of wearing the jumper your Nan knitted you six Christmases ago is in no way irrational).
Women are lucky, they have a much more varied choice in what they are allowed to wear, with endless possibilities, trends and combinations. Men on the other hand are less lucky and no matter how we try to dress it up, the everyday male seems doomed to the “trousers and shirt” rule – be they chinos and a shirt, jeans and a t-shirt or any other combination of the men’s fashion prototype. So because the rules of men’s fashion have been so strict, for so long, it puts the fear of God into us when faced when wearing something against the “norm”.
The norm in this context is how those in your main social circle usually dress. So for example if you work in the city at a merchant bank, all your friends probably wear tailored suits and dressing too casually might be frowned upon. Equally if you’re a 17 year old student, where the people in your social circle usually wear jeans and a t-shirt/hoodie, wearing something smarter (a blazer in tweed) might also be frowned upon.
But it’s not simply just a case of dressing up or dressing down – it’s unique to all of us and our friends – there’s always an item that nobody in the group wears, even if that item is bang on trend or a timeless piece. So fashion phobia is as much our friends fault as our own I’m afraid. As much as we love our friends, people get uncomfortable when someone in the group makes a change; it threatens their way of life or the perception of themselves. Did you know for example that American television personality Oprah Winfrey lost some of her friends when she lost a lot of weight? They preferred her fat because it made them feel better about themselves. But fear not, by beating your fashion phobia, your friends are bound to respect you more and you may even prompt them to make a change in their own wardrobe.
Below I’m going to discuss some of the things that give people a bad case of the fashion heebie jeebies. Of course these will be different for everyone, and some things that terrify some, will be everyday wear for others.
Personally I love hats, to me they have an understated essence of ‘cool’ and if you pull a hat off correctly it will transform your outfit from good to great. However, for some the wearing of hats is a daunting thing – I am talking mainly about brimmed hats, most people have no trouble wearing a beanie in the colder months (please don’t wear one in summer), but brimmed hats are so much more of a fashion statement. They scare people because they are noticeable, they make you stand out, and while secretly we’d like the idea of every one noticing us, we don’t actually want to draw attention to ourselves.
Also, if you’ve never worn a hat before, you think that it will be odd when your turn up to work in one. That being said, I refer you to my previous comment: hats are undeniably cool and can even become your trademark. Don’t believe me? Frank Sinatra wore a hat, Pete Doherty wears a hat, as does Usher. Why not you? Below, I’ve listed my three favourite types of fashionable brimmed hats:
In the run up to the spring/summer season, there seems to be a campaign on Fashionbeans to educate men about the use of colour in their wardrobe – something I couldn’t agree with more. To be honest I’m surprised we’re not all hormonal teenagers who want to paint our rooms black. I mean come on guys? Why all the monochrome? Well I’ll tell you why, it all goes back to the fact that we don’t want to stand out. Sure we want the pretty blonde at the bar to notice us but we don’t want her to notice us because we’re wearing green chinos, that would makes us look silly right? Wrong. Colour is all around us, it’s what makes the world a magical place – do you think Niagara Falls would be half as beautiful if it was in black and white? So here’s a list of why injecting colour into your wardrobe could be like a shot of adrenaline to the heart of your social life:
Ahhhhh the tie, one of the quintessentially male items of clothing. For many of us a tie isn’t just an accessory but an essential part of both work and casual wear. Ties however can be boring; I mean everyone who wears a suit wears a tie. Meet the ties oddball cousin: The Bow Tie. So why are some so afraid of the bow tie? For years it’s been the bastion of nutty professors, mad scientists and stuffy old folk, but no more! This has been due to two main factors; firstly the rise of geek chic – it’s actually cool to ironically dress like a geek now and a bow tie is a great addition to the geek chic look. The second factor is without a doubt Matt Smith’s eleventh doctor in the popular sci-fi programme Doctor Who. This has been the most stylish doctor yet, with his whole look bang on trend and with Matt personally adding his own attitude and edge to the character. Take it from the doctor himself “Bow ties are cool” – who are we to argue with a 900 year old timelord?
Essential Reading: Men’s Fashion Basics – Part 34 – The Art of Wearing a Bow Tie
The humble belt started off simply as a way to keep men’s trousers up, but as the years wound on it became a bona fide fashion accessory itself. However, for most men – whose belts are usually non-descript – the best statement we could make with it was “look my belt matches my shoes!”. Fear not my brothers there is another way you can keep your pants up and look bang on trend, I speak of course about braces.
Now men are generally reluctant to wear braces for their associations. Some associate the brace with the skin head youth culture of the 60s and late 70s, whilst others with seedy wall street traders thanks to Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the 80s smash hit wall street. But as ever, we must rid ourselves of this fear, as the brace is back and undoubtedly very chic in an undeniably British way. It’s a great way to make a statement without trying too hard and a great way to keep your pants where they should be. Of course you can wear braces with your everyday work wear, but personally I’d pair them with jeans or chinos, a polo shirt, boots and a nice flat cap to finish the look off. Your braces and hat become real statement pieces and a focal point to your outfit, separating you from 99% of other men who do not dare to wear!
Essential Reading: Men’s Fashion Basics – Part 31 – Belts & Braces
So there are three examples of what terrifies the average man when he opens his wardrobe. Of course this is different for everyone; we all have that one thing we love, but we won’t wear it because we’re afraid of what people might think, and this is a tragedy, so below I will try and provide some ways of getting over this:
So there we have it, a journey to the depths of man’s fashion psyche. I hope this article has inspired some people to make a change to their wardrobe, but I’d settle for you enjoying listening to me waffle on. Thanks guys.
“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing” – anon
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