Men and Their
Clothes -- What
Women Think

Sonya Glyn NICHOLSON

Men and Their Clothes — What Women Think

Articles that pitch how women feel about the way men dress can be met with little, if any, enthusiasm. Usually, these recycled articles are scanned for key points and forgotten within minutes after reading. In fact, when I was commissioned to write this article, I felt a little flushed, maybe even embarrassed–for fear of joining the ranks of Cosmopolitan magazine writers throwing together trite articles on sex-appeal, revealing contrived tricks on how to catch a mate.

As a contrast to the brain-numbing content of these redundant articles, I realized that spending a mere ten minutes reading a passage from books such as “The Suit” by Nicholas Antongiavanni will likely have the opposite effect on the ability to recall information after reading—and, it is a good bet that after reading a passage from such a book that the reader will be able to recall the bulk of what he or she read indefinitely.

Inspired by this same spirit of authors such as Antongiavanni, we launch into a more meaningful look at how the way men dress may affect the perceptions of the fairer sex by identifying general archetypes of men’s style with ample photographs, including specific shoe recommendations by the Parisian Gentleman for each archetype, and also discussing the general impressions that may be created by these very different categories of men’s style choices. Also added is some playfulness in stereotyping the personalities of men in different categories, if just to give a wink at these slightly ridiculous articles that we see in many women’s and men’s magazines.

A book with an unpretentious cover that gives real style direction with solid explanations behind the recommendations.

THE PERSONA

As a man starts to become serious about dressing well, he then begins to gravitate toward one specific style choice or another, and we notice that at this point, he also starts to reveal his true persona in the process,

Persona is a term given to describe the versions of self that all individuals possess. Some men are able to recognize that when developing his persona, dressing well begins with emotion, follows with inspiration, and develops with expression of style through technical know-how and the courage to break the rules from time to time. And put plainly, these men do draw the attention of women, sometimes getting more attention and admiration than originally intended. It is safe to say that women admire and respect a man who knows how to put himself together in dress and appearance.

Carl Jung wrote about the concept of the persona, or outer-self, even though he recognized that the outer self and inner self do not always merge completely. Jung summarized his philosophy here:

“To develop a stronger persona… might feel inauthentic, like learning to «play a role»… but if one cannot perform a social role then one will suffer. Thus one goal for individuation is for people to «develop a more realistic, flexible persona that helps them navigate in society but does not collide with nor hide their true self». Eventually, in the best case, the persona is appropriate and tasteful, a true reflection of our inner individuality and our outward sense of self.”

For inspiration on how a man develops his persona through the way he dresses, we turn to Cesare Attolini, a “symbol of the Neapolitan’ tailoring tradition all around the world.” Attolini features a particularly stunning example of how a man can develop his own persona with the help of some fine tailoring. Here, from their Attolini’s 2013 collection:

This man communicates a clear message of position, power, personality, wealth, importance, good taste and a strong business acumen. In this case, the man has managed to communicate his persona that in many ways defines who he is, without requiring him to speak a word.

THE RESEARCH: WOMEN’S ATTITUDES TOWARDS MEN’S STYLE

At least four recent studies attempt to quantify the importance of men’s clothing and how what a man chooses to wear affects the actions of women. One recent study of 2,000 women by the detergent maker Ariel found that:

-Poor style is a turn-off: 28% of women admit they have declined a date with someone because they disliked their clothes

-Poor style is a deal-breaker: 60 percent of women said that taste in clothes is the top dating deal breaker (a suitor’s haircut placed second with 17 per cent, and style of shoes placed third with nine percent).

Another study commissioned by Men’s Health Magazine and conducted last year by Opinion Research Corporation (Princeton, NJ) questioned more than 1,000 American women ages 21 to 54 in two online polls and found that women ranked a man’s «sense of style» as one of the the Top 10 Traits Women want in a man.

Yet another study provided by Kelton Research (although we have not been able to locate the sample size included in the study) in 2011, found that:

-Money isn’t everything: A vast majority (85 percent) of women think a guy who dresses well is sexier than one who has a lot of money.

-Women will sacrifice a lot for style: Eight in ten (80 percent) women would give up something in their lives — such as going out to dinner, using their cell phone, or even having sex for an entire year — for a better-dressed partner.

A fourth study in 2010, conducted by John Townsend and Gary Levy, which received publishing rights by the Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, showed that women tend to find men who wore “high status attire” as more attractive and were more open to developing relationships with them–ranging from “conversation and coffee” to committing to marriage and serious involvement.

Also, as a side note, even the color a man wears may affect a women’s perception of him. A study from the University of Rochester and University of Munich found that men wearing red are more attractive, desirable and are seen as having a higher status in the eyes of women. The research was based on women rating photos of a model dressed in different coloured polo shirts and framed by different shades (The Science of Attraction, Stylist.com.uk).

With clear indications that women are affected by the way men dress, we attempt to define seven specific archetypes of men’s style and spur thought about the personas that are created within each archetype and pose questions about whether the man is creating the message to others through his individual style that he intends to create.

This exercise is meant to examine emotions that are created through how men dress. After all, dressing well begins with emotion, and everything else in regard to style is built around this emotion. As we discuss perceptions and emotions, the examples here are meant to spawn thought and reflections on what may be communicated through how men present themselves.

SEVEN ARCHETYPES OF MEN THAT WOMEN NOTICE

As frivolous as it may sound, there is no shame in a man wanting to please his partner or his potential partner by dressing well. Aside from the neanderthal objective of a male seeking to achieve Casanova status, the intent of a man wanting to please a woman by the way that he dresses is extremely charming and endearing…and is perhaps one of the reasons that it works so well when elegant dressing is done with real emotion alongside a working knowledge of some basic rules (and a knack for doing a good job at breaking those rules).

It can be said that there are at least seven distinctive styles in men’s clothing that give others a clear idea of the persona of the man. And when any of these seven styles are done correctly, it is difficult to deny the power of a magnificent fabric, the shock of a brilliant cut, the allure of clever texture and color combinations, as well as the smiles that are created by meaningful accessories, and the emotion that is incited by a shoe that depicts true art.

The following describes the seven archetypes of men’s style and examines intentional and unintentional messages that may be conveyed in each style area.

As an added touch, the Parisian Gentleman himself has selected a specific shoe that he believes best portrays each of the seven archetypes.

PRAGMATIC

Timothy Everest

The stylish pragmatic appears rebellious in spirit, but style-driven with a typically limited tie collection. Even so, his strength in choosing the correct sport coat and accessories often make up for a lack of formality, simply because he pays close attention to his casual-wear style choices. Still, unless he is careful, without wearing a tie regularly and eschewing more formal style choices, this man may find himself more challenged in his style decisions since he is operating within a more “casual realm”, which puts him in the category of the majority of the population—requiring a little more staunch and creativity to distinguish himself from others.

Yet if done properly, the pragmatic can leave a lasting impression of being mod, voguish, and positively progressive. Artists, entrepreneurs, and creative directors who are not concerned with keeping with tradition, often opt for the pragmatic style.

Timothy Everest, sometimes referred to as the god of the bespoke casual movement, gives us an ultra fine taste of the pragmatic style done right in the following two images.

The Intentional Message of the Pragmatic: This style communicates a clear sense of fun, adventure and tenacity. It feels creative and active…almost as if there will not be a boring moment with this type of man. He moves, he shakes, he is interesting to talk with and is open and ready to take on the world on his own terms.

The Unintentional Message of the Pragmatic: Falling a little short on glamour and romanticism, a woman may pause and wonder if life with a pragmatic could mean life without black tie events, steal-aways to Paris or Tahiti, and the occasional wonder of being treated like a princess.

Possible remedy: Choose one other archetype style, and dress in that style occasionally, which will add serious dimension to the pragmatic man.

Hugo’s Pick for the Pragmatic Man’s Shoes: Alden Leffot Naval Boots

MINIMALIST

“Less is More” is the theme of the minimalist. He believes in owning the best of the best and does not compromise his standards. There is nothing plain about his appearance because he is crisp and polished and gives the impression that he can look fear in the face until it turns away.

The minimalist will not back down in pursuing the best in all walks of life and is a force to be reckoned with in his personal and professional life. There is only a select few frills in his wardrobe like jewelry and accessories, but there is an insatiable hunger for high grade fabrics and weaves, exceptional cuts, as well as an ongoing love affair between himself and the armful of the exquisitely made shoes that he owns.

The Intentional Message of the Minimalist: To a woman, this look is classic perfection in pure form and substance. It feels correct and beautiful and oozes balance and calm. The minimalist style says yes to class, yes to intelligence, and yes to understanding the misunderstood power of correctness.

The Unintentional Message of the Minimalist: This look is safe and sometimes not everyone wants to play it safe. Sometimes we want to at least bend the rules a little and if a minimalist is too careful, then we wonder if he is able to push the boundaries in life beyond the predictable.

Possible remedy: Break some sartorial rules from time to time and use a strong accessory to add intrigue to your style. If possible, opting for “bespoke only” suits is a sure way to carry off the clean lines that accompany this look.

Hugo’s Pick for the Minimalist’s Shoes: John Lobb Oxfords

DASHING

The Dashing man displays ruthless flair and upon meeting him, it feels like he just arrived from New York City, Milan, Barcelona, or Paris. He looks better in a silk scarf than most women and the drape of his clothing almost sings. He is vintage and modern at the same time and, at the drop of a hat, will be able to have an enthralling conversation about old movies, classic literature, theatre and opera.

Intentional Message of the Dashing man: This look feels educated and worldly. This man will go places in life while he achieves self-actualization. He has an electric presence and is an ideal travel companion and conversationist.

Unintentional Message of the Dashing Man: This look is not always approachable and can feel intimidating in the sense that a woman may wonder if she is being judged and measured in his presence. Unless a woman is highly confident, she may be put in a position where she feels like she needs to measure up in some way.

Possible remedy: Add a smile to your wardrobe in order to put others at ease.

Hugo’s pick for the Dashing Man’s shoes: Tony Gaziano & Dean Girling

CIRCA 1800s

This man exudes warmth and a deep intellect. He can be taken for a professor, a history-buff, or a respected statesman with an old-money essence. He seems loyal and wise and is the most likely person to be chosen to lead a cause or to speak on behalf of a group of people. Inspiration for this look is derived from the Federal, Jacksonian, Dickens, Manifest Destiny, Victorian, Antebellum, American Civil War, Gilded Age, Gay 90s and Old West eras.

Intentional message of the Circa 1800s man: This look is analogous to comfort food and creates a peaceful presence. This type of man is highly approachable and seems strong and composed. He creates of aura of trustworthiness and intelligence and he seems to be well equipped to provide beautiful evenings filled with great wine and real conversation.

Unintentional message of the Circa 1800s man: Sometimes it may feel like this man may live inside his own head too much and a woman may wonder if he is as interested in her as much as he is interested in old cars and BBC documentaries.

Possible remedy: In this archetype, fitness is key. A healthy frame counters the impression of being self-indulgent and a bit glutenous in the realm of cigar smoking, whiskey drinking, and culinary adventures.

Hugo’s pick for the Circa 1800s Man’s Shoes: Laszlo Vass

COUNTRYSIDE ELEGANT

He could be a banjo player, or a rugby star…or even the distant cousin that makes a woman wish that she wasn’t related to him, because he is so adorable. This man is warm and funny, adventurous and happy-go-lucky. Everyone seems to like him upon first look, since there is very little not to like.

Intentional message of the Countryside Elegant man: This style feels almost bohemian, and you expect that this man plays guitar or is at least is a music aficionado. Picnics and cycling trips through the countryside come to mind when you see him. Romanticism rules with this look and there is a strong swoon-factor that is created when this elegant style is done right.

Unintentional message of the Countryside Elegant man: A curiosity is created as to whether this man is successful or struggling in life. Can his charming self pay the rent and make a good living, or is he a Robin Hood wanderer that drifts from place to place (happy to join a group of traveling gypsies or backpack through Europe again when the next season rolls around)?

Possible remedy: invest in a pair of high-end shoes that clearly shows that you are able to pursue the best in life.

Hugo’s pick for the Countryside Elegant’s Shoes: Anything J.M. Weston

FUTURISTIC

The Futuristic Man is a cutting-edge force with a forward-thinking perspective. He portrays a space-age military look. He is bold and forthright, and is most likely a computer wiz with a charming geekish streak that comes through in his penchant for science fiction films and “hacking” forums. He believes in his potential to conquer the world and makes others believe in him as well. He is a combination of retro and the year 3000…perhaps the most unique of all the archetypes.

The Intentional Message of the Futuristic: Packed with the power of technology and knowledge, this man is a force to reckoned with. His sharp mind combined with his exquisite style with a hint of geek suave, may mesmerize the women around him.

The Unintentional Message of the Futuristic: Women wonder if the Futuristic is stuck in a forward-thinking warp and if he is capable of being down-to-earth and relaxed without worrying about things like whether he will get dirt on his shoes if he takes a walk in the park.

Possible remedy: add a vintage watch or antique lapel pin or accessory that provides an unexpected tone of warmth to the overall look.

Hugo’s pick for the Futuristic’s man’s shoes: Ricardo Bestetti

PANACHE (AKA «DANDY»)

“No Boundaries” is this man’s mantra. Magical and fantastical, this man is a storybook fellow that sparkles sublimely. Women look to this man for style advice and adore going out in public with him, as he feels like her best accessory of all. He is fun and only slightly quirky, which adds to his charm. The Panache man can not only pull together a complex and alluring wardrobe, but also can compose magical life projects that sparkle as much as he does, and rarely fails to impress.

Intentional message of the Panache: Filled with imagination and innate talent, this man thinks outside of the circle, the box, the rectangle. He is aesthetic in nature, and celebrates beauty almost daily.

Unintentional message of the Panache: The risk of coming off as “fussy” is a clear possibility for the Panache man. A woman may wonder if this man is so obsessed with his clothes, if he would eventual become a unidimensional bore who is hyper focused on clothing to the point that he may neglect other areas in life.

Possible remedy: Know the exact rules of mixing patterns and textures and make sure clothing has the appearance of being custom-cut–but most importantly, dress for the day and then forget about being perfect, since there is a undeniable charm that occurs when encountering a man of ease.

Hugo’s Pick for the Panache Man’s Shoes: Corthay Belphegor

*****

Hopefully, we have established that there is little doubt that the way men dress affects women’s attitudes toward men. And, if a man relays his emotions through his wardrobe along with having a clear knowledge of the rules with knack for breaking these same rules in a way that matches his persona, then a man is on his way to merging his inner self with his outer self. Emotion is a lofty subject to approach in the world of the wardrobe. But, once we realize that elegance is not a technical term, but instead a term that encompasses feeling and authentic expression, then we move into a realm of a higher ability to reveal our true selves through the way we dress.

Sonya Glyn NICHOLSON.