Men aren’t designed to like fashion

Who needs novelty when you can wear something that you know works?


By Joe Joseph, October 29, 2009
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Excuse me ladies, but would you mind leaving us for a moment? We men have something important to discuss, in private. Have they gone? Ok, guys: have you bought your snood for the winter yet? What? No, I hadn’t a clue what one was either, but apparently everyone was wearing them on the Milan catwalks. They’re THE thing this winter. Shall we go shopping for one together? I see. You want to think about it.

Why do designers do this in their catwalk shows? Why show garments that they know no man will ever wear? Paradoxically, it may be precisely because designers know that men never imitate anything worn by male models on catwalks that liberates them to indulge their wilder fantasies.

Designers calculate that they can make trousers from chicken skin if they want, because no man is paying any attention anyway. Women’s catwalk fashion is different. Couturiers unveil a new frock on the catwalk in Milan and 48 hours later there are knock-off copies in every high-street.

Male catwalk models? Men look at the newspaper pictures of men in pink silk suits, with shorts instead of trousers, the jacket lapels as wide as a Concorde’s wingspan, and they assume that it must be a modern version of Candid Camera. They just turn the page and carry on wearing a suit whose style hasn’t changed very much in centuries.

They could make trousers from chicken skin - no man is paying attention anyway

But snoods? Well, snoods may be different. According to one male fashion journalist writing in a national newspaper, there is “swift business in snoods. As in, a knitted tube which is worn around the neck like a scarf that has been joined up. I have a confession: I’m a snood addict. It solves the annual conundrum of how to tie a scarf. If you try one new thing in accessories this season, make it a snood. Seriously.”

It’s the “seriously” that’s got me rattled. It’s like reading, “if you try one thing in hairstyles, try wearing your hair like Marge Simpson’s. That’s how all men will be styling their hair this season. Seriously.” That would get me rattled because men rarely change their hairstyle. Women wave magazine photos at their hairdresser and say, “Make my hair to look like this!” Men just say, “Like last time, only shorter.”

Men like a familiar routine. They want to be able to return to a shoe shop and buy the exact same shoes they bought ten years earlier. They don’t want to be told, “Sorry, we don’t make that style any more.”

Why change things just for novelty’s sake? Imagine if your rabbi said, “I’ve been thinking, and I’ve decided that the tunes we’ve been singing for eons could do with more zip. So I’ve re-scored the entire Shabbat service to tunes from South Pacific. I think you’ll like it!” Or if you were at shul on Yom Kippur and, at the end of the day, instead of blowing the shofar they blow a trumpet or a saxophonone instead. For a change.

But, who knows? Maybe it’s time we men cut loose a little. And with winter on the doorstep, snoods may be a good place for us to start. Because, frankly, who needs that annual conundrum of how to tie a scarf? No, seriously. Wait a second, I mis-typed that. That should have read.... No. Seriously.

Joe Joseph is a writer for The Times

    Last updated: 5:10pm, December 10 2009

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