Are we not men?

“Hey you!” he shouted to me as I was heading to the subway station. “Just say ‘no’ to skinny jeans! Remember you’re a man!” I glanced at what I was wearing: a blue, checkered blazer, a tie and a pair of black, stretch J-Brand jeans. I just shrugged and said, “Yeah, thanks for the tip.” I hear a lot of this from guys who often feel the need to remark on what I’m wearing. Many of my friends often call it “metrosexual” or “Urpean”, which is completely beyond me. Seriously, they’ll say things like, “Hey, you look very metro” or “That’s really European”. When I ask them to explain what that means, they’ll use terms like: stylish, feminine, or even soft. I don’t really mind. I like nice clothes and invest in my appearance, perhaps a bit more so than many men would care to admit.

Terms like “metrosexual” or “European” to describe how men dress indicate a wider problem of how we define sexuality. Let me clear. I’m straight with no hang-ups about my sexuality and no problems of any kind with anyone else’s orientation. I keep thinking of Seinfield: “I’m not gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” But I digress. My point is that somewhere we were conditioned to believe that being a man means not investing in his appearance or wearing stylish clothes. I’m sorry to say, but I think many men in America have pigeon-holed themselves into dressing in a manner that doesn’t look “Euroepan” or “gay”. After all we have TV shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight guy”, which, although a great program, still feeds stereotypes that are engrained in our psyche. So, the logic goes like this: Only gay men know how to dress. So if you know how to dress, you are …wait for it… gay! Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Of course there isn’t. But let’s not forget that homosexuality is an orientation not a style of dress. I think that guys from all walks of life, religious or not, gay, bi or straight can identify what looks good or not, but societal stereotypes actually limit creativity. So my fellow men, you should be classy, suave or dapper and whatever you do or wherever you go, always look the part!

“I really don’t care how something fits. I don’t really look for slim fit clothes,” a pal said as we were peeking at some shops along the way from the gym. “Why not?” I thought. “What’s the point of working out if you’re not going to flaunt it?” But that’s just it. A lot of guys are afraid of flaunting their goods or they feel they have to dress in a certain way so they don’t bring too much attention on themselves. Now, I’m not suggested that men wear whatever just to be flamboyant or start wearing makeup, but just take a bit more time and see what works or diversify their wardrobe and don’t be afraid of accessories. They are all cool. The Magnificent Bastard blog makes a really good point, if guys are looking to change their wardrobe, guys should buy more jackets. It really shirks me when one of my mates says, “I only got one jacket.” How the hell do guys let that happen?

In reality, I think guys do spend a lot of energy in how they look. They are fully aware of colors, name brands and fits. And ladies, yes, they notice what you wear, how you style your hair and makeup and whether your nails are done. I think the problem is that many guys often spend too much energy unwisely on their appearance and ignore basics. Just to quell any potential backlash from a manly rebellion, I don’t claim to know anything, but I have noticed a couple of things that we got to get right. So gentlemen shall we begin?

Basic grooming. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re planning to go to social events to meet people, you’ve got to get this right. Don’t forget that physical grooming is a two-way street; we notice how others look just as they notice us. And before you start, there is nothing European about trimming your nose and ear hairs or trimming your nails or I’m using the f-word, filing them.

Got black spots on your nose? No soap or facial cleanser will take care of that. You’ve got to open your pores with those fancy strips. I use those tape strips from Bioré that are available at most drugstores. I get mine from the Japanese supermarket Sunrise out of convenience. But boy do they work! The stalactites of dirt that the tape removes will amaze you. Honestly, I didn’t know that pores could hold so much gunk!

And while we’re talking about skin, hot showers and shaving dries your skin so remember to use a facial moisturizer and lip balms every morning before you head out and at night before you hit the sack. Flaky skin and chapped lips just look wrong.