Getting it on: Guys and the clothes they choose to wear
They say clothes make the man. Now I get the clichéd term, or at least the point behind it, but clothes and a guy’s actual relationship to them are becoming increasingly hard to discern. Think about it. The stuff we choose to put on should send a message about ourselves. A uniform means your boss said “wear this” and because you like receiving a paycheck (and eating) you agree to go along with it. The message being sent belongs to the company you work for instead of you – you trade this for cash. But come quitting time when you stand in front of your closet and have to make a choice it should be your turn. Who are you really? What clothes tell your story?
It’s at this precise spot in your psyche that clothing manufacturers swarm. They need to be the tiny voice inside your head saying “pick this” over that. It’s why they advertise with all their might. They don’t really care about you or the things that matter to you – it’s not their job. Their job is to get your pimple covered backside into their drawers and they will say or do anything to make it happen – even if it means sewing the seeds of doubt and confusion.
Old Navy has a new Facebook page/website that purports to “help” the befuddled male who doesn’t really know what he should wear when. In fact, they’re almost counting on the fact that today’s man is more than likely unsure of the choices he’s made thus far. So, playing once again to our ever increasing list of pathetically inane insecurities, Old Navy helpfully offers to clue in the thick and the dense as to the right kind of duds dudes require.
They offer up the “Date with the Girl Next Door” look, (linen pants, Oxford shirt and leather flip flops), Big Bar-B-Q Weekend (striped polo with reversible shorts), and Casual but Cool Friday (skinny jeans, military casual shirt, leather flip flops and aviator sunglasses), all color matched and laid out flat for easy purchase. Eager shoppers are encouraged to skim through and find their event of choice: Happy Hour, Pool Party, Driving Range, Company Picnic and on and on. All in all, a fairly harmless handbook for the stylistically challenged, but Old Navy does not stop there.
Let’s say you figure you already have a pretty good look going on. Let’s say you aren’t actually suffering from any deep-seated wardrobe issues or apprehensions. Old Navy thought of that too, and they have a couple of videos designed to work wonders on the cluelessly confident.
The first takes on the smug hipster. Shot with all the breathless importance and tortured intensity high fashion spots are known for, Old Navy’s mock brand “Supar Tool” runs the table when it comes to laying bare the pretensions of the male fashionista. Even Derek Zoolander’s “Blue Steel” was more subtle than “Supar Tool.” The spot is pretty funny and ends with a command to not dress like those in the spot but to instead visit an Old Navy site and “dress like a guy.”
The second vid is slightly more insidious. This one attacks the urban professional right where he lives. You know the sort of formal-casual that has come to define most modern males these days? Khaki pants, comfy shoes and tucked in polo shirts with belts laden with the modern tools of communication? It’s Denver Hayes in the cross-hairs as they make a fake brand called “Corporado.” They lay on the cowboy motif really thick, effectively destroying business casual for anyone still attached to it. Once again, the payoff sends the now confused viewer to Old Navy so they can be successfully re-educated in the sort of casual cool they so clearly need. Good for Old Navy, bad for guys.
Remember when clothes were fun? The joy you felt as a kid putting on your favourite shirt or pants? I had a hyaa-karate shirt and faded jean jacket that I absolutely lived in for weeks at a time. It didn’t matter that nothing matched or that it might not have fit perfectly. It was a genuine expression of me at that time. When I stepped out the door I was blissfully happy about each and every thing I had on. It was only when that little bastard down the street (who had nothing better to do than make others miserable) decided to mouth off about my karate shirt that made me question why I liked it in the first place. Confidence became doubt and favourite shirts got traded in for copies of what everyone else was wearing. That was a crime – and to a certain extent, Old Navy is playing bully-boy all over again.
Look, it doesn’t matter if you want to dress like Old Navy says you should or not. Personally, I think Ed Hardy shirts are stupid and that skinny jeans belong on girls but as long as what you’re wearing makes you smile when you look in the mirror you’re on the right track. Your personality is all you’ve got so use your clothes to reflect it as best you can. The nice thing is that if your personality sucks you can feel free to contact Old Navy or any other large clothing conglomerate and have them suggest a better one. It won’t change anything about you but it’ll take folks longer to figure out what a knob you actually are.