Men’s fashion or mother’s fashion?

Should a mother's love or a father's respect extend to the wardrobe?

Image Credits: William Robinson

An unspoken fashion phenomenon has come to my attention. The one question we’ve all been asking: in the midst of studying vigorously in the Rad Cam, swiping constantly left on tinder and complaining about being generalised by woman as ‘trash’: where does a guy find the time to buy his clothes? Apparently, he doesn’t, relying on the boundless generosity of a mother’s love. In a less sarcastic tone, blankly, I’ve come across an astonishing number of guys whose parents still buy their clothes.

This is in no way instigating the battle of the sexes; merely appreciating motherly instincts supporting the ambitions of our brothers, our friends and our comrades, by keeping their drawers well stocked with all the socks they could desire. There is a promising investigation here: how can so many men find the apparent confidence to hit on any girl they see on Bridge Thursday, or show their underwear at a crew date, yet fall short when it comes to actually buying said underwear. Most of the guys I approached with the question of whether their parents by their clothes hit me with a scowl saying, “nah I’m twenty, I’m a big boy innit” and others asked defensively, “do I look like my mum buys my clothes?” – to which I would like to point out I am not slating our good mother’s tastes in men’s fashion at all. Yet at 20+, they’re out there, receiving package after package of new clothes they didn’t choose themselves.

There are some fairly nuanced distinctions to point out. First, I’ll concede there are the boys who receive their clothes as a present: they may regularly buy their own clothes, but their parents keep them stocked up on birthdays and Christmases. This is probably something to do with 20-year-old males being the most difficult species to buy gifts for – gifting socks has never been so trendy. Next, the boys on a tight budget; accepting, understandably as students, reimbursements for the clothes they buy themselves (though I appreciate this is a system lots of students follow, of any gender). And finally, we have the boys that, at over 20, still rely on someone else to dress and clothe them. Perhaps after years wearing the same black-tie suits at school, being expected to pick out regular clothes is a far too taxing endeavour.

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Having trailed through several popular men’s fashion stores it became clear to me there was something draining about sifting through the same basic printed t-shirts, jackets with and without hoods, and making an uninspiring choice between chinos or jeans. Perhaps the issue is that it’s plain boring to go shopping. The choice to express yourself beyond wearing a North Face jacket or a Barber one doesn’t inspire the amount of interest that the variety in women’s wear can offer. For women, the excitement of shopping comes from the possibility of finding an absolute gem, searching for the perfect outfit for the next event or even just buying some cute underwear for some yourself for some good ol’ self-love. But when night and day outfits are interchangeable for men, what’s there to look for? ANOTHER JACK WILLS SHIRT? How many can one man have?

So where does my feeble womanly opinion come into all this? As with many other girls who have but their bare animal instincts to go on when looking for a mate, the way a man dresses does, as they say, ‘bits’. Dressing up or dressing down, a man’s attire can add or subtract volumes to their attractiveness. Fashion is an expression of who you are: I can tell what kind of music or films you like, how much money you’re pretending you don’t have and probably which college you’re from (if all you wear is stash, stash, stash – NOT a trend). But this allusion of cool sophisticated costume is entirely destroyed if I realise you didn’t buy the clothes yourself. It shows a certain amount of contempt for fashion, like it’s not worth your time, and ergo my own interest in fashion is a pitiful, unworthy interest. Like I said, this is not a battle of the sexes…just my own bitterness against the fashion patriarchy. It’s almost, dare I say, childish? And lazy? I hope there are some people out there who know what I’m trying to say.

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Yet I save a nod to the men out there carefully collecting their vintage garms and wavy shirts in an effort to appear cool, and probably ripping off Morrissey or Buddy Holly in the process – of course this isn’t the only acceptable trend in men’s fashion, it’s just probable they chose these clothes themselves.

Men should take pride in their appearance and the clothes they buy. They should wear what they want to wear – that’s what we should all do. No one should tell them how to dress – not their mothers or peers, not even their girlfriends who already have to be seen with their terrible haircuts every few weeks. Maybe choosing your own clothes won’t help you pull, and maybe the reason mothers buy their kids clothes is because most men can’t dress themselves….BUT there is a lot of respect on the line, from women, for the industry, for oneself. So good luck.