Saturday, December 01, 2007

Men's fashion writing is quite simply excrutiatingly humiliating. While women's fashion writing isn't exactly the height of intelligence it doesn't quite manage to be as derogatory, doesn't force as many unoriginal novelty pieces into a space that can't hold them effectively. If I begin with examples than perhaps my position will be clarified easily. 8 Men's Fashion Mistakes to Avoid is the most obvious of these. Mistakes include socks and sandals, novelty ties and underwear and 'blaring' designer labels. The author Daniel Billett, who I would guess is a career writer rather than a person interested in clothing, then goes on to start insulting practical measures that a man might adopt. Apparently carrying a backpack to the office is a fashion mistake and wearing loose clothes is wrong. Now I would say that any man who actually thinks about the clothes that he wears avoids at least 6 of the "mistakes" that Daniel Billett took the time to think up, possibly while watching television, eating his dinner and typing with one hand. It seems fundamentally insulting that this could be published as advice anywhere. If "he understands what wearing clothes for real life situations is all about" than why is he focusing partly on the foolish and partly on perfectly acceptable but clearly personal dislikes? His work is embarassing because it's so simplistic, despite being a man he treats other men like incompetents by putting this kind of thing together and god alone knows who else thought this was an ingenious article.

Men's Flair is a little better. It treats men as if they are people who are interested in the clothes they put on rather than incompetents who need to be told not to wear Homer Simpson ties. I think it can be taken as read that if you're wearing a novelty tie you know it looks silly and feel good and confident about that. Men's Flair does occasionally churn out nonsense, here is a piece on male fashion icons. The chosen two are JFK and George Clooney, both are well dressed and will always be perceived in that way but the site fails to indicate why these men are style icons rather than two interesting celebrities. Men's Flair needs to go into more detail, the writers need to sit down and think about the exact reasons why they would choose brown boots over black boots, George Clooney over Denzel Washington and really highlight what it is about certain subjects that make them special. This is almost the opposite of Daniel Billett's problem, he treated his audience like they understood nothing, the writers at Men's Flair seem to think their audience understand their motivations without explaining them. The writing is certainly of better quality, this isn't a gimmick, the people who write here are motivated to write about clothes even if it's not fleshed out properly. I wouldn't pick this site out as a good example of online fashion writing but it's not appalling and doesn't assume that men know nothing about items they encounter everyday.

Of all the sites I've looked at in the last few days I would probably pick Stylezilla by Chris, which unfortunately is updated rarely. It's American, most menswear sites appear to be and it's purely about clothes. The run down and commentary is pretty good, it's clearly aimed at men who work in smartly dressed environments but what it does it does well. The entire site isn't an advert, it isn't trying for masculine irony, generally you could read it and feel like you were engaging with someone who has an honest enthusiasm for fashion.

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