Category Archives: Men’s Fashion

I Must Have #2

Another jacket!

I have spent the last year desperately searching for a ‘reasonably priced’ trench coat. The Burberry brand is synonymous with macs and trenches, but at a cost of €1,200, such a high-end purchase is sure to sting.  A compromise comes in the form of this jacket by London based brand, Jaeger.

I am justifying this purchase with the following –

  • It is my birthday this month; my gift to me
  • I have exams in May. I will save money by not socialising
  • This is an investment piece;  simply timeless!
  • I don’t have a trench. I’ve wanted one for the last year.

Do I need more reasons?

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I Must Have #1

I aim to get clear the outstanding balance for my orthodontic treatment by March 2010. Bring it! This goal will have a catastrophic impact on my purchase of clothing for the next few months. Wardrobe budgets have been slashed.

I have not been for a casual mosey around the City Centre for months for fear of seeing something I must have. When money must be saved, I require blinkers.

If next month’s budget can take a hit, there is one item I really, really want. I want a second pair of Acne jeans.  My last pair, my grey slimmy jeans, are probably the best jeans I’ve ever owned.

I want them in blue.

Lanvin for H&M

Emer reckons I shouldn’t buy any more jackets. “You could sell jackets at this stage,” she repeatedly says. So I shall heed her words and not buy a jacket. Instead, I shall buy a coat. Let it never be said I don’t take advice.

Last month, I was all set to splurge on my lovely All Saints coat until I missed my flight from London to Dublin. The cost of a replacement flight and booking a suitcase could have bought two thirds of my coat. As a punishment for my insane stupidity – at confusing departure time from London with arrival time in Dublin – I decided not to buy the lovely coat. You can wait for it you fool, I angrily told myself.

In the mean time, I learned Lanvin collaborated with H&M on a range of clothing, which is due to arrive in store 23rd November. I browsed the range and was rather smitten with a trench-coat (as modelled below). This style is very much all the rage at the moment, but it is certain the trench-coat will be in and out of fashion for coming decades. A good investment if you ask me.


Nip, Tuck, Straighten and Pluck

I hate my thighs and ass. When I put on weight I develop an ass that would give Beyoncé a run for her money. In my teens, I was tall and slender. Into my twenties, my subconscious prepared for a nuclear Winter by stockpiling lard in my thighs, hips and ass. I would kill for the silhouette of a male model as opposed to my shape, which resembles two or three models huddled together. Three or four years ago, I achieved a body I should have been proud of. I was lean – I had a flat stomach with good definition. My arms, shoulders and pecs filled a T-shirt nicely. My legs and thighs were solid. I obtained this physique by spending roughly ten hours a week in the gym, doing cardio, weight lifting and spinning. I calorie counted on a daily basis. My obsession reached its peak when I used an excel chart to graph my fat, protein and carbohydrate intake. I allowed myself treats now and again, compensating with an extra push during a workout. In my head it was all worthwhile; in my opinion I looked great. My friends disregarded my broad shoulders and bulging biceps, paying attention to my sunken eyes and ashen palor. Only when I regained weight did honest opinions emerge.

“I am putting on weight again,” I moaned to Joanne one day.

“You look great Stephen,” she comforted. “You were too thin!”

“Too thin? I looked great!”

“No, Stephen, you looked sick. You looked ill.” There was an unexpected firmness in her voice.

I was taken aback by Joanne’s comment. I was obsessive with weight loss yet I don’t feel I had an eating disorder. I question the reason for this distorted self-image. Advertising and media are often criticised for bombarding women with unrealistic portrayals of beauty, encouraging eating disorders. The same accusations can be made at male orientated media, perhaps to a lesser extent, since it traditionally did not focus so much on the male physique. Historically, actors such as Marlon Brando and Rock Hudson carried significant influence on the interpretation of male image in the 50s and 60s. Both actors – albeit through their portrayal in movies – appealed equally to men and women alike. Today’s portrayal of male and female beauty has more in common than ever. The portrayal of male beauty centres more on physical body – muscles and weight – than actual “manliness”. This is illustrated in men’s magazines that contain information on achieving the despairingly elusive washboard stomach. Countless men’s magazines boast secrets for the “killer abs”. In reality, a six-pack is achievable only by maintaining a relatively unhealthy body fat, rigorous approach to healthy eating and good genealogy. The facts are ignored by thousands of men who purchase these magazines on a regular basis.

I know many vain men. Gay men after all are perhaps the most narcissistic sub-category on Earth. However, increasing numbers of straight men are following suit in the amount of care paid towards their appearance. The modern portrayal of male beauty can be blamed for the advent of the metrosexual. David Beckham, undoubtedly the most famous metrosexual, was iconic for both his athletic ability and high ranking in the style stakes, during his hay day. His prowess on the football field reinforced his ability to be daring in his choice of attire. He popularised countless hair styles among teenagers around the world. Roll forward ten years and Beckham – and his modern equivalents – are role models for working-class teenagers. Cue the creation of the chav. The male chav, associated dress code and hairstyles, is a massive reinforcement to metrosexuality and an attack on the manly man of old.

As comfortable as I am discussing my own body-issues, I was surprised when one day Best-Friend and I openly discussed our personal hang ups with our appearance. Men – gay or straight – rarely do this. I recall mentioning how happy I am to have pursued orthodontic treatment. The conversation eventually turned to what we would change about our bodies, if we could.

“Once my braces come off, I’m getting laser whitening. Think Donny Osmond!”

Best-Friend admitted an insecurity, again prompting my turn.

“I am going to look into laser hair removal for my monobrow. I pluck so much I’m afraid a chunk of my face will one day come off.”

Following a discussion of cosmetic surgeries, it was revealed neither of us would consider anything more drastic than Botox. Walking through Stephen’s Green, I pointed to my crow’s feet and prominent frown lines on my forehead. I have no issue with age. I can’t wait to go grey. It just seems that for a certain amount of money I can pay to treat an insecurity. My once crooked teeth will be Hollywoodesque within two years. I can rid myself of a monobrow for €130. Should I develop a deep furrow, I can “fill” it, costing €300. For the first time in history cosmetic alteration is available to the public at large. Instead of dealing with insecurity we can simply spend to dispose of it. We do so because we can. Considering the proliferation of cosmetic treatments among the wider public, it’s no surprise increasing numbers of men invest in their appearance. At the height of the recession, Debenhams, London recently reported a doubling in the number of men availing of eyebrow – or “guybrow” – shaping. The Celtic Tiger was partly responsible for the expansion of the Grafton Barber franchise, a styling and grooming service offered in the guise of a traditional barber’s. Despite increasing sales of men’s hair straighteners in Europe, few men openly admit to owning one.  Society has progressed to allow man take pride in his appearance, only if he does so in a “manly” way. If he does it in a “pansy” way, he should keep it to himself.

Redressing my Views on Fashion

A friend recently asked if I only bought designer clothes. “My runners are from River Island,” I replied, as if this statement indicated a clear no. This question got under my skin more than I care to admit. It got me thinking, and to be honest, my observant friend is right. I have become the type of person I – in my younger, impoverished days – detested. I greatly disapproved of the individual who could not consider buying an item of clothing unless it came from Brown Thomas or some hoity toity boutique. Lately, it seems I have fashioned myself on the creature I once despised.

To me, a good dress-sense is the ability to create a unique look, drawing from trend, high street, designer wear, second-hand stores and pure, brazen self-expression. It really is pure laziness to depend on labels to drip feed inspiration in the form of designer brand’s limited vision. I recall my college days, when the bold and daring art students pretty much wore what they pleased. My friends and I admired their sense of style and individuality with great envy. These people were the personification of the mantra “fashion fades, style is eternal”.

With my friend’s words in mind and the limited offering of shops in Athlone, today I went shopping, in the aim of venturing into stores I usually tilt my nose at. One such shop is Jack & Jones, a store I fell out of love with since my college days. I browsed every T-shirt, jacket and belt on offer. I’ll refrain from making snobbish remarks for fear of overturning the purpose of this blog. What I can reveal is that I bought the below zippy jacket for a mere €30. I love the colour and fit. Needless to say, I was elated with my purchase.

Jack & Jones currently have an impressive and moderately priced selection of chequered shirts in store at the moment, one of which I posted below. These are a good purchase for/by a straight guy, but in my opninion should be avoided by gay men. On my last night out in a gay bar, there were so many chequered shirts in attendance, I thought I had stumbled on a lumberjack convention.

Zara, a Step Above Penneys

Popular high-street clothes shop, Zara, are the equivalent of Vincent de Paul to the fashion industry. Zara bring trends, tailoring and boutique-style shopping to the masses for high-street prices. I know little about Zara only for  a case study I did during my morkeshing degree. Zara’s business model involves stocking their stores with short runs of clothes to create a relatively “exclusive” line range of clothing.

Last week, I eagle-eyed a jacket in the store on Henry Street. I must have been ill since I didn’t purchase it. Since then, I have been in three Zara stores in different locations in the country. The same jacket was not there. I spotted other items that I’d never seen in others. I don’t understand how this can be. Maybe stock sells quicker in different stores. Perhaps they rotate stock.

Regardless of how Zara operate, I want that bloody jacket!

Another Fashion Obsession

So if you know me, you’ll know I can be obsessive at times. It seems my obsession has latched onto jackets. Since the Diesel one below, the herringbone one with the hood that I wasn’t entirely sure of, is sold out, I now like this one. I’d hate to be disappointed. The detail and shape is very me. I wouldn’t be complete without it.

Jan Sales

So on Christmas Eve I bought this jacket online …

And then I was in BT2 and found a jacket similar to this …

But then something terrible happened. I saw this …

So despite buying the other two, I can’t stop thinking about the above.

Dilemma!

Shoes Glorious Shoes …

I am on a shoe buzz at the moment. I have fallen in love with both of the below. The first are Cuban Boots. I really, really want these. The second are a sophisticated pair of Kurt Geigers that Best Friend is going to pick up for me next week on his trip to London. These are as good as in the bag in my opinion.

RedorDeadKurt Geigers

I’m Getting a Little Obsessive, Aren’t I?

Months and months ago, I met the most beautiful, brown leather jacket in a Massimo Dutti store on Oxford Street. I tried it on. I was enamoured. You know when something just feels right? This was meant to be; I was smitten. It was relatively pricy. Best Friend, who accompanied me on a shopping excursion, advised that the jacket was expensive, but good value in terms of style and quality. I contacted Boyfriend, who remained back home in Dublin. Boyfriend almost gave birth to a litter of kittens on hearing the cost of the jacket. I considered his opinion with the fact there was a global recession. Blatant flashes of cash might be considered distasteful, I thought. Lily Allen’s song “The Fear” also compounded these thoughts. The resultant outcome was that I returned to Dublin empty handed. The jacket remained in my thoughts for weeks after, torturing me. After weeks of mental anguish, I decided I would get the jacket as a birthday present or an end of exam treat. I was so excited.

The day before my birthday, the day of the robbery, I visited Dundrum (as excited as school girl) to buy my brown leather jacket in Massimo Dutti. The sales assistant, who really didn’t give a shit, told me it was out of stock. The manager then informed me he would personally bring one over from the UK. He told me he would call me when the jacket was in store. Two weeks passed and no one called me. I called them. Apparently, the manager was still out of the country. A month passed and still no one called me. I was getting rather impatient at this stage. By now I had made three phone calls. I called last Saturday and was informed someone would call me tomorrow, Sunday. I called on Sunday; the manager would ring me on Monday morning. He never did. I eventually spoke to the manager (after yet another phone call). Finally, I received closure. He didn’t have the jacket and couldn’t locate one. That jacket would have looked fetching with the restraining order the store manager is likely to issue me.

Today, I have Googled the shit out of the product code of the jacket to source some kind of alternate, online, leather jacket distributor. Unsurprisingly, I have had no success. I am now angry with everyone. I am annoyed at Boyfriend for putting doubt in my mind back when I originally wanted to purchase the jacket on Oxford Street. I am pissed off at all the people who bought the jacket in the Dundrum store before I secured mine. The manager of the Massimo Dutti store also vexes me. Why did he have to make unrealistic promises to “personally, locate a jacket and bring it from the UK for me”? He is such a spa for doing that. But don’t you worry, I will have my revenge. I will locate that jacket. I will leave no stone unturned. I will spend the money despite Boyfriend’s protests. I will lose weight and accessorise the hell out of the jacket to guarantee I look better than all the other owners of the same garment. Finally, I will wreak havoc on the Massimo Dutti store manager. When I do get my jacket, I will spend many an evening in Dundrum and parade up and down outside the shop and shout, “how do you like me now?” I’ll show him.