Here Are the Fashion Problems Men Really Have (But Don't Always Want to Admit)
If they're not religiously reading glossy magazines or consulting personal shoppers at department stores, where are men getting advice for getting dressed?
From the privacy of their own homes. More specifically, on online forums like Reddit where they can air their concerns and seek advice from peers. Reddit is heavily male, after all, so it's no shock that for years men have been turning to subreddits to talk style.
"I think the biggest thing is that people are usually overwhelmed and don't know how to get started," Adam Schlesinger, moderator of the r/malefashionadvice subreddit, told Mic. With its sense of community and wealth of information on topics such as grooming, clothing and even all things beards, Reddit has proven a good place to start. Yes, the answers can skew heavily to certain aesthetics (one subreddit is dedicated to poking fun at r/malefashionadvice's commitment to a GQ-like look). But they also can reflect real concerns of real men.
So what are the current topics concerning guys? Mic combed through a few subreddits and put out our own Reddit call to find out.
"How do I dress like a grown-up?"
"[Men] decide they want to 'dress better' because they're sick of wearing graphic t-shirts and cargo shorts and are kind of lost," said Schlesinger, but that "usually translates into them looking too 'dressed up.'"
It's a common problem among the subreddits, with one user posting last year, "At the moment I feel like I'm in a transitionary period of my life between teenager and adult (22 years old, finishing uni). ... How do I dress a bit more maturely whilst keeping a slight edge to my look and not going full dad with cardigans and pullovers and stuff? Are polos, more button-up shirts, brogues etc. the way forward? Do I have to ditch my hoodies?"
"How do I buy quality clothes without spending a sh*t ton of money?"
The democratization of fashion has been on everyone's minds lately, with names like Urban Outfitters and H&M dominating the wardrobes of many guys. When the low price, quality and fit of the clothes can be compromised.
Responding to Mic, r/gaybros member klartraume highlights the problems inherent to fast fashion culture. "Consumers ... have a bigger emphasis on disposable clothing that frays and falls apart after a year or two. So anything that's better quality is much more expensive because the market for it is smaller."
While some users say they circumvent the quality issues by taking advantage of convenient (and often pricey) personal shoppers, many can't afford the luxury.
As user functionofsass put so astutely: "Being fashionable is too expensive to really bother with. I mean, is it an art reserved for the well-to-do?"
"How do I dress fashionably ... without seeming 'gay'?"
Even in 2015, masculinity is fragile. This is exacerbated by the lingering stereotype that guys who are interested in fashion, grooming and aesthetics might be gay or frivolous. That stigma is waning as more men become enthusiastic shoppers. But there are still plenty of fashion questions guys may be nervous about asking aloud, and men who'd like more freedom to play with fashion as women can.
"There's the stigma that caring about what you're wearing is feminine," notes user green_speak, "which makes the average man extremely cautious about trying anything past the approved white, blue, gray and black."
That fear goes back to outdated standards of traditional masculinity that are all about restraint — men don't cry, men can't show emotion, oh, and men can't be interested in grooming or wear flamboyant colors and patterns.
A singthedoomsong put it, "I don't want to dress in boring clothes every day, but I'm afraid of being too loud or clashing."
"How can I make sure something really fits?"
Surprisingly, the majority of responses we got focused on how impossible it is to simply find clothes that fit. Tall men find themselves uniquely situated between a rock and a hard place, according to user whoremongering, who cites his only shirt options as "a good torso fit with sleeves that are childishly short, or sufficient sleeve length with a torso that billows." He adds: "For the record, the 'big and tall' section is called big and tall for a reason; there is no 'big or tall' section."
User victrolla told Mic that he "has an extremely difficult time finding the right waist/inseam combination. I often end up making a sacrifice of either a little looser in the waist or a little longer in the leg."
Victrolla also mentions size misrepresentation online. "I'll order a t-shirt online and it will show up as a large and fit like a medium. Or it will fit as expected and shrink a full size after the first wash."
"Where can I see stylish guys who look more like me?"
With men's fashion looks so limited to the GQ and Esquire aesthetic, it can be hard to find other examples. (Certain styles, like going sockless, for example, run rampant across all the magazines.) Adding to the homogeneity is a fashion industry notorious for heralding a traditionally white, Western look, which can leave men, like women, feeling excluded.
"The biggest problem for me is the way fashion media portrays what fashionable men are supposed to look like ... most, if not all fashion campaigns have a muscular Caucasian male as the model wearing x brand," observed user wearenotmodels to Mic. "As a Sri Lankan guy, I find it frustrating that high-end brands such as [Louis Vuitton], Gucci, Zegna, etc. are apparently reserved for 30-something Caucasian males, as if men of colour have no interest in premium quality clothing."
Every man should feel comfortable in his own skin — and wardrobe. Luckily, if fashion ads and magazines aren't getting the job done, dudes always have Reddit.