x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Men's fashion needs a reality check

The men in men's magazines live in a different world.

Men's magazines are a minefield of trouble for the male fashion neophyte. Inside are stylised photo spreads lavishly laid out as though all men sported six-packs and were the human equivalent of Doctor Evil's Mr Bigglesworth (that is, hairless); they are full of ridiculous ads (often thanks to Dolce & Gabbana); or they sport pictures of celebrities in outrageous outfits that if they were to be worn by your everyman would cause employers to abolish casual Thursday and introduce strict dress-code requirements throughout the week. Can I hear black-tie Sunday, formal Monday, dinner-jacket Tuesday, three-piece suit Wednesday, blazer and trouser Thursday?

At best these magazine photo spreads are trying to inspire and at worst they are attempting to be creative, avant-garde and advertiser friendly. Regardless, they are not practical.

As styles change, fashion designers try to create trends while magazines try to capture them.

A picture of Johnny Depp in his fedora and horn-rimmed sunglasses and bandana hanging from his pocket and chains and bracelets looks rather rakish in a magazine, but no way could your man-of-the-street pull it off - nor do I suggest he try. Depp lives in that world and it is up to all of us to figure out the world in which we live, and then to find that stylised mix that works for us.

Comfort is another way of saying personal style, and if you have your own style then you have a comfort zone and it is important for all of us to stay within our zone. As much as you may think it devil-may-care cool to sport two leather necklaces and three silver chains as well as a waistcoat while showing off a good deal of your chest – it is not! That is Depp's look (and he stole it from Keith Richards), it is not yours. You need to find what works for you.

Those magazine layouts are choreographed by professional stylists who must make the clothes they are selling look their best. The men's layouts are in no way an accurate reflection of your typical male. What's more, I find the clothes unrealistic, which is the opposite of the comfort zone a man must strive to achieve.

Today's fashionable man, for instance, wears his suits slightly more tailored than previously (think Mad Men). Unfortunately, the fashion spreads in magazines are an uncomfortable exaggeration of this slightly more tailored look. I don't want my suits to be so tight or form-fitting that I cannot walk properly. And I want to be wearing socks with my suit. This fashion world of magazines wants us strolling through town in a dandy ensemble with leather shoes and no socks. Proof that these fashion spreads are not realistic, they are fantasy.

Michael Jabri-Pickett is the news editor at The National. Contact him at mjp@thenational.ae