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Morane Barkai

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On Men's Thoughts About Fashion and What We Should Make of Them

Posted: 11/02/2010 9:17 pm

Last Sunday afternoon, trying to escape urgent and unpleasant tasks, I decided to pop for a visit at the website of my favorite fashion magazines. Just a quick stroll to check out the latest beauty tips and a quick gossip update without anybody noticing. I soon discovered that one of the top articles featuring there this weekend deals with the crucial issue of what men think about the jeans we, women, are wearing. Indeed, what do they think?

I take the trouble of pointing this one out because it turns out that this is an item that fashion magazines are never tired of, endlessly prodding the male brain, striving to find the answers to the question that has been on every woman's mind since the invention of bear skin as garment. Yes, what makes men tick? And so we go there, time and again, gently inquiring-while-trying-not-to-fuss, wondering about the magical ways in which their minds work, searching for the clues that will unravel the most revered of all secrets.

Ah, if only we knew. Wouldn't our lives be so much better? Wouldn't our aesthetics just soar to new, hitherto unattainable heights? Think about it. I mean, asking men about fashion. Frankly, I can't think of better qualified crowd. Take the average man in the street. Where could you find a person more suited to comment on matching colors, the most appropriate cuff length, the perfect accessory that highlights an outfit, or making a mismatch work? Who was ever better qualified to help you with the eternal question of patterned or opaque pantyhose? Just try it, pop the question to the man in the next office cubicle or the one standing behind you in line. Sure thing he would have the right answer: this season opt for the wool tights, it's the only thing that goes. And if it's a warm winter day, go bare-legged under your skirt, with only above-the-knee woolen socks.

Yes, I know, I'm being mean and sarcastic and I'm making terrible, horrible generalizations. As a matter of fact, I do think that there are plenty of men out there with a very good taste and a well trained eye who can teach almost anyone a thing or two about style, but I have the feeling they do not form a majority. I also know that most women are not exactly paragons of mode and manner. Myself, I've made a fair number of fashion mistakes that will make you reel. Frankly, they are so ridiculously embarrassing they most probably bought me my own place in hell (in one instance I wore green pants under a long pink coat. It's a miracle the crowd didn't lynch me on the spot. A miracle and a definite proof of the inherent goodness of mankind that after being forced to witness such offending sights can find it in its heart to forgive.) An old trucker from Kentucky would have been able to save me from this one, had I the sense to seek him and ask for his advice.

But these are extreme situations. The sad truth is that most men would probably think that Jimmy Choo is a noodle joint and would not know a poncho from a kimono. But above all, I find it sad that women still need men to validate their choices, even when women are obviously better equipped to make the right judgment. When it comes to fashion and dressing up, this is by no means the result of some natural aesthetic inclination, simply the consequence of us spending hours closely analyzing every fashion tip we dig up, precisely because we need men to validate the way we look. Worse, because we invest so much time and energy accumulating all this knowledge while men obviously don't, our efforts are completely wasted on them. You think they appreciate the fact that your olive-drab green eye-shadow matches your army-style vest? Nine times out of ten, they wouldn't even dream to look for such associations. Not to mention that men are naturally prone to color blindness. In the end, it's only other women who will notice it and appreciate the vintage brown leather bag you bought in a Parisian flea-market.

No doubt, there are a few men out there who know that once upon a time there lived a Coco who was not a nut. If you know one that qualifies, don't hesitate to check with him what his opinion of pink floral sweaters is. But ultimately, just remember that Chloë Sevigny never asked anyone to validate her fashion choices, and that's probably what makes her an icon.

 
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