Now I’ve been Tim Gunn style critiquing my friends as they shop for years. Because everyone wants an honest opinion from me, I’m asked the tough questions. For girls, the ultimate deal breaker with a new purchase comes in the form of “does this make me look fat?” The answer never has anything to do with the actual weight of the individual asking, but is simply determined based on how the piece flatters her body type.
For guys, the deal breaker is a little bit different. Though most of the time it comes in the basic form of “does this look good,” when trying something out of his comfort zone the question I get far too often is “does this make me look gay?”
I’m hardly a 24/7 politically correct kind of guy, so I personally take no offense to this question, but admittedly after hearing it I usually get a little chill up my spine. Are straight guys really that apprehensive about taking sartorial risks because they’re afraid of how their sexuality is going to be perceived? That’s just plain sad.
Guys, not all of you are going to be natural fashionistas from the womb. I mean, that gift can only be bestowed onto so many of us! Style is similar to any other form of art, in the sense that it is a combination of developed skill and personal aesthetic. Someone’s fashion sense is the result from years of trial and error. (Yes, I wore a Hawaiian shirt and tweed cream slacks to my fifth grade graduation and the photos will haunt me 4EVER).
The point is that without trying on – and occasionally failing – different kinds of clothes, you’ll never find your personal style. Instead, you’ll end up looking like every other plain, boring dude in a baggy t-shirt and dad jeans who is so desperately trying to go along with the current bullshit status quo which limits him from standing out fashionably whatsoever for fear of being looked at as gay.
As coveted and important as masculinity is in this society, it’s also awfully fucking fragile. Which is why I’m always a little shocked when a straight guy is afraid that something as trivial as a shirt or tight pair of pants can strip him of his manliness. Listen, clothes have many powers. But destroying your manhood isn’t one of them. Often times, the best style happens when a guy is willing to close the gap between not giving a shit and being the best-dressed in the room.
Masculinity isn’t measured by any amount of contrasting femininity you might have, but by confidence in yourself and your passions. So guys, I encourage you to always experiment with fashion. I’m not suggesting you go and start rocking a rainbow tuxedo just for the hell of it (even though it’d be a major LOL). What I am hoping for though, is that you kick the fear of being perceived as anything less than a man for having confidence in your sense of style.