How many times have you heard something along the lines of, “I’m secure enough in my masculinity to not care what I look like,” “He spends so much time getting ready in the morning he must be batting for the other team,” or “I’m way too busy to worry about ______ (insert style rule here). Besides, it’s such a trivial detail that I don’t want to be around people who would judge me for not doing it correctly.”?
I can guarantee that every guy who’s older than 12 and young enough that he hasn’t fought in a major world war is familiar with the prevailing attitude about a man’s concern with his appearance. It’s why it has become so easy to look around and see a man who most likely either looks like a Best Buy employee or someone who forgot to change after Super Bowl Sunday.
The humor in all of this is that even these men are concerned with their image. If they weren’t, their closet would be full of Snuggies. A sleeved blanket is as comfortable as it gets and it can provide the requisite warmth and protection most men need from their clothing.
So if you ever see a man wearing anything other than his favorite blanket or items that he either inherited or found for free, he has some understanding that his clothing has an impact on how the world sees and treats him.
We can counter the Snuggie-wearing extreme with its antithesis – the dandy. These are the men who can’t walk past a car without checking themselves out in the window. They are the guys who won’t pass around a football because they don’t want to walk in the grass with the shoes they’re wearing. They’re the men who sacrifice character, work, intelligence, and every other virtue at the altar of appearance.
Most of us rightly avoid becoming either one of these extremes. However, our generation has a much more vocal antipathy for the metrosexual than we do for the slob. We’ve had it shoved in our heads for the last 50 years that caring too much is worse than not caring at all.
However, there’s nothing masculine about defaulting to one extreme for fear of falling too far towards the other. A major aspect of being a man is having the self-mastery to avoid inappropriate extremes in any aspect of our lives.
So how does a man dress well without becoming the overly obsessed metrosexual who hinders his ability to live a reasonable life? By learning when, where, and how to make an effort and when, where, and how to avoid making an effort.
The best approach to dressing well is to invest time and energy when finding clothing and while prepping during the morning routine. After that, nonchalance is accomplished when a man forgets everything about his appearance for the rest of the day. He doesn’t need to constantly primp, adjust, discuss, or fret about the way he looks.
The real difference between nonchalance and apathy is the preparation that goes on behind the scenes. A man who’s purchased the correct kind of vehicle, kept up its maintenance, made an effort to learn proper driving technique, and paid attention to the forecast can drive in the heaviest blizzard almost as if it were a calm summer day. His preparation grants him peace. The same man would put himself and others in danger if he tried to have the same at-ease attitude while driving in a poor vehicle, in even poorer condition, with no understanding of how to drive in the snow, and no idea that a flurry is about to blow in.
Here at Primer we take the time to write detailed articles about things like how to properly mix a drink, how to make your apartment feel more inviting, and even seemingly trivial details like how long your shirt sleeves should be. We do this, not because we want to awe our readership with our expertise and have them ultimately be paralyzed by all of the rules about how to live well, but because we want to give our readers a full tool belt.
We’ve all heard the phrase “When all you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.” Well the same applies to a man’s wardrobe. When all he has is jeans and a T-shirt well… check this out.
Dressing appropriately opens doors. Being well-dressed opens up even more. The trick is to put in the effort at the appropriate time.
When a man is at the gym he should talk about his routine for staying in shape, when a man is at work, he should talk about his job, when a man is with his tailor he should discuss and learn everything he can about the best ways to improve his wardrobe. But when a man is outside of his bubble, when he’s in public and presenting himself to the rest of the world, all thought, talk, and evidence of his labors behind the scenes should be forgotten. Those who aren’t directly involved in a man’s improvement should never have an inkling of the blood, sweat, and tears invested in who he is and what he does.