Last night my flat mate returned from a first date noticeably annoyed the guy hadn’t attempted to kiss her. But much more noticeable was her obvious relief that said date hadn’t been horrendously dressed. Rather than tell me how the night had gone, I was given an entire run-down on his attire, his hairstyle, his shoes, his level of teeth-whiteness and his mass of facial hair (too much apparently). Turns out he was ‘just alright’ but had thankfully dressed himself adequately enough not to put her through hours of public humiliation. Curious I thought – since when did we start caring how good, or even bad our men’s style made us look? And when did the dates we pick switch from mere social encounters to 21st century fashion accessories? It seems men don’t just have to make themselves look good anymore – they have to make us look good too, and preferably in a ‘Mulberry handbag’ type way.
I have to admit, I go out with a man who cares as much about fashion as he does about quadratic maths equations. His fashion knowledge stretches as far as Gok Wan on a Saturday morning and only because he’d rather be watching Soccer AM. In fact, football is as close to fashion as my man gets – basically if it isn’t adorned with an Everton emblem, then it isn’t worth wearing. I’ve always considered this normal, he is a man after all. He doesn’t work in a stylish industry and he doesn’t hang around with trendsetting fashionistas so why should he be dressed from head to toe in haute couture? However, when we first went out I’d silently fume and sometimes blush when he turned up to take me out wearing a tracksuit. Yes, a tracksuit. It’s taken me two years to get him to stop matching his tracksuit bottoms with his tracksuit tops and prevent the inevitable ‘pyjama’ ensemble. To be fair it’s mildly endearing, similar to seeing anyone (usually toddlers and babies) dressed in bedtime attire but the attraction dwindles slightly when other people pass judgemental glances your way. Suddenly I’d become the girl holding hands with a tracksuit-wearing hoodlum! Awful. Thankfully, he took it upon himself to start wearing jeans and t-shirts and I was happy that I’d gained myself a better dressed boyfriend. It was like upgrading from a five-pack of value knickers to a matching La Senza bra and briefs – I haven’t quite made it to Elle Macpherson intimates yet, he still periodically dons the Everton pants.
My initial reaction to my flat mate’s ‘man-analysis’ was that it all sounded a bit ridiculous but it does highlight big changes in how we represent male style. Just as I’ve been sitting in the hairdressers flicking through glossy magazines, I notice the pages are full of fashionable men. TV shows such as The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea are becoming increasingly popular; shows which portray exceedingly image-driven men, so it’s no wonder they’re having an impact. Gone are the days when only David Beckham was hitting the headlines with his sarongs and nail varnish, in its place is a new wave of metro-sexuality and big changes are upon us. So much so, it’s changing the way we date. It seems a charming personality and perfect chivalry don’t quite cut it anymore – but a Joey-Essex quiff just might.