Men aren’t de­signed to like fash­ion

Who needs nov­elty when you can wear some­thing that you know works?

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis - JOE JOSEPH

EX­CUSE ME ladies, but would you mind leav­ing us for a mo­ment? We men have some­thing im­por­tant to dis­cuss, in pri­vate. Have they gone? Ok, guys: have you bought your snood for the win­ter yet? What? No, I hadn’t a clue what one was ei­ther, but ap­par­ently every­one was wear­ing them on the Mi­lan cat­walks. They’re THE thing this win­ter. Shall we go shop­ping for one to­gether? I see. You want to think about it.

Why do de­sign­ers do this in their cat­walk shows? Why show gar­ments that they know no man will ever wear? Para­dox­i­cally, it may be pre­cisely be­cause de­sign­ers know that men never im­i­tate any­thing worn by male mod­els on cat­walks that lib­er­ates them to in­dulge their wilder fan­tasies.

De­sign­ers cal­cu­late that they can make trousers from chicken skin if they want, be­cause no man is pay­ing any at­ten­tion any­way. Women’s cat­walk fash­ion is dif­fer­ent. Cou­turi­ers un­veil a new frock on the cat­walk in Mi­lan and 48 hours later there are knock-off copies in ev­ery high-street.

Male cat­walk mod­els? Men look at the news­pa­per pic­tures of men in pink silk suits, with shorts in­stead of trousers, the jacket lapels as wide as a Con­corde’s wing­span, and they as­sume that it must be a mod­ern ver­sion of Can­did Cam­era. They just turn the page and carry on wear­ing a suit whose style hasn’t changed very much in cen­turies. But snoods? Well, snoods may be dif­fer­ent. Ac­cord­ing to one male fash­ion jour­nal­ist writ­ing in a na­tional news­pa­per, there is “swift busi­ness in snoods. As in, a knit­ted tube which is worn around the neck like a scarf that has been joined up. I have a con­fes­sion: I’m a snood ad­dict. It solves the an­nual co­nun­drum of how to tie a scarf. If you try one new thing in ac­ces­sories this sea­son, make it a snood. Se­ri­ously.”

It’s the “se­ri­ously” that’s got me rat­tled. It’s like read­ing, “if you try one thing in hair­styles, try wear­ing your hair like Marge Simp­son’s. That’s how all men will be styling their hair this sea­son. Se­ri­ously.” That would get me rat­tled be­cause men rarely change their hair­style. Women wave mag­a­zine pho­tos at their hair­dresser and say, “Make my hair to look like this!” Men just say, “Like last time, only shorter.”

Men like a fa­mil­iar rou­tine. They want to be able to re­turn to a shoe shop and buy the ex­act same shoes they bought ten years ear­lier. They don’t want to be told, “Sorry, we don’t make that style any more.”

Why change things just for nov­elty’s sake? Imag­ine if your rabbi said, “I’ve been think­ing, and I’ve de­cided that the tunes we’ve been singing for eons could do with more zip. So I’ve re-scored the en­tire Shab­bat ser­vice to tunes from South Pa­cific. I think you’ll like it!” Or if you were at shul on Yom Kip­pur and, at the end of the day, in­stead of blow­ing the sho­far they blow a trum­pet or a sax­ophonone in­stead. For a change.

But, who knows? Maybe it’s time we men cut loose a lit­tle. And with win­ter on the doorstep, snoods may be a good place for us to start. Be­cause, frankly, who needs that an­nual co­nun­drum of how to tie a scarf? No, se­ri­ously. Wait a sec­ond, I mis-typed that. That should have read.... No. Se­ri­ously.

Joe Joseph is a writer for The Times

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