Away with the washcloths!

The idea that dealing with clothing is an unmanly activity is still haunting some people's minds. Terribly old thinking! Because the man of today has “emancipated” himself from such old-fashioned clichés.

By Jeroen van Rooijen

You read a lot in this strange time of lockdown - because you have time for it. And accordingly a lot is written. Even things that would have been better left unpublished. A tearful text by the Swiss author Peter Stamm, for example, recently appeared in a magazine in the Sunday press, writing about the suffering he feels as a man with the clothes. The supposedly funny text ends with his girlfriend leaving him - just at the moment when he thinks he has reached a certain fashion maturity. Because she thinks he lets himself be manipulated too much by the zeitgeist.

The text was a nuisance. With this narrative, Stamm cements outdated images of the notoriously clumsy guy who has neither an eye for proportion nor a modicum of backbone when it comes to self-optimization. These types probably existed in the 1970s and 1980s, when broad sections of the population still agreed that being fashionable was "unmanly" because it involved excessive effort and high costs.

But since the global budget fashion chains have also had branches in Switzerland (since the early 1990s), there is no longer a reasonable argument against dressing decently as a man. Anyone who argues otherwise has mentally stopped. Because men too have “emancipated” themselves in the last forty years. Younger types are more receptive to new silhouettes, fabrics and details. They are interested in looking good, they want to look slim and modern.

The message hasn't gotten to everyone yet. Of course, the washcloths described by Stamm still exist. They hate having to choose something new on their own - many lack the practice, interest and knowledge to do so. They let their wife do the shopping, and she only buys something when the circumstances make it necessary, i.e. the old clothes are torn or the weather calls for a new wardrobe.

Being a man today requires something more than just a beard and a waistband. A little awareness of the optics and the packaging is part of it today. A modern man shops himself. He knows what suits him. He is not afraid of soft fabrics and colors, he also confidently combines two or three patterns. He wears the suit as confidently as smart casual, he owns scarves, handkerchiefs, foulards, waistcoats, decent socks or cool sneakers - it doesn't have to be a dress, skirt or kaftan. Despite everything, we remain men.

You can also delegate these topics if you don't have the time for appropriate further training. Many specialist shops still have trained advisers who know the ropes. Or there are service providers who conveniently send the fashion consultant to your home or office. Who – if desired – largely takes over the styling decisions. The offer is there, you just have to take advantage of the opportunities.

hp If you don't read too much, go jogging regularly – and not just for the silhouette. We now know that the Corona wave will not only kill the elderly, but also the fat, the short of breath and those who are lazy about exercise.

PPS. No, the new corona virus is not an invention of the insatiable fashion industry.

Jeroen van Rooijen is a freelance style critic and co-founder of the Alferano concept store in 2014.