I never really thought of men having a body type that they needed to dress, like women do. For instance, women are apple-shaped, pear-shaped, long-torso'd, short-torso'd, hourglass, flat-chested, bosomy, long-necked, short-necked, etc. I'd even go so far as to say such details like the circumference of a woman's ankles play into style choice. After all, nary a shoe do cankles compliment.
But men? I've never seen a dude with cankles. Not only that, but since the Sears and JCPenney's catalogues started coming to my family's house when I was a kid, I always thought guys fit into three simple categories -- slim, regular or husky. And save for the far extremes of "slim" and "husky," I figured dudes could wear whatever they wanted without worrying about downplaying or enhancing pesky things like hips, breastesses and overall proportion if they just bought the right size.
But good effing guh-od, was I wrong -- wronger than I've been since that one time I thought it was a good idea to hop into a strange Mercedes in St. Petersburg, Russia, at 4 a.m. thinking it was a cab. (Consequently, that was the first time I ever had to test my rolling-out-of-a-moving-vehicle skills. I nailed it.).
Horrible decisions aside, I'm sure every dude who doesn't dress like a tool is scoffing at my ignorance, but for some reason this concept of men having proportion issues never crossed my mind. That is, until last Saturday when a male friend, a Canadian, asked my friend The Law and me to help him "de-douche" himself and make him look like he "listens to indie rock," which, single ladies if your interested (wink!), he actually does.
It seemed easy enough. We'd just outfit him in some American Apparel type gear, layer a raggy-looking cardigan over a flannel or something, add some skinny cords and some Chucks and voila! Instant indie caché. We started off at Filene's Basement to git
So we moved on to get some professional advice from the pros at Saks Fifth Avenue. We told him what we originally were going for, at which point the Canadian noted, "I basically want to be the male version of her," pointing at me, which was apparently comic gold because the sales associate helping us started cackling. Not sure whether I should've been insulted (was my outfit that ridiculous?), I explained that we had tried a series of cardigans that didn't work and were looking to see some sweatervests (YES!).
Apparently not listening, the clerk fetched zero sweatervests and a cardigan, which happened to boast a price of -- ready? -- $1,200.00. Seriously. I'm not sure what the $1,200.00 price tag was all about. Sure, it was Ermenegildo Zegna and, yes, it was nice, but $1,200? Unless that sh*t was woven from the pubes of actual angels, I'm not sure any cardigan is worth that many bones. (Wow, I think I just discovered a new level of blasphemy.) This Canadian did, however, find a nice Hugo Boss military-inspired wool coat for a decent price, which both The Law and I approved of.
With that fine purchase in hand and a look formulating in our collective minds, we finally shuffled over to J.Crew, which to everyone's slight surprise offered an array of good-looking men's sweatervests from which to choose. While the J.Crew label will hardly de-douche a fellow, at least our Canadian friend wouldn't be known as "cardigan guy," as he had feared when seriously contemplating purchasing that $1,200 cardigan: "If I buy this, I'd have to wear it every day. I'd be cardigan guy..."
And strangely, standing in J.Crew surrounded by argyle sweaters, corduroy blazers and button-down shirts, it finally dawned on us. Our friend would de-douche and represent his musical leanings by becoming "Vampire Weekend Professor," a look not only suited for his listening pleasure, but also for his broad-shoulder, narrow-hipped frame.
What the hell is "Vampire Weekend Professor," you ask? It's sweatervests (DOUBLE YES!), elbow-patch jackets, textured fabrics, scarves and Topsiders! It's basically Band of Outsiders (see right), but with a bit more testosterone.
Sadly, finding Band of Outsiders looks around here didn't prove easy. Of course, that may be because we only had two hours and were in Bethesda (I know...). But still. If shopping for men in DC is anything like shopping for women here, then it's probably a safe assumption to say it might be hard achieving this look at an affordable price in these parts. (Although, apparently some store in Georgetown called "Lost Boys" sells actual Band of Outsiders gear. Who knew!?)
But perhaps shopping on a slightly tighter budget is not a total loss. Again, like women's shopping, maybe finding decent men's clothing is a matter of turning to DC-area vintage and thrift stores, which I in the past and The Law very recently have had some damn fine luck with. (In fact, on that same Saturday, The Law snapped up a vintage YSL casual coat from Listopad's permanent pop-up shop in Mercedes Bien. It looks like Members Only circa 1982 but for millionaires, yet it was still only like $40 or something. Definitely blog-worthy.)
But back to the topic at hand: As e-fate would have it, according to the DC Goodwill Fashionista, men's vintage shopping is the way to go! I love it when sh*t works out like that.
Anyway, in closing, for lack of something more wordy, here is Brad Pitt in Band of Outsiders. I told you it's a damn good look.