Dressing a Man Who Doesn’t Believe in Fashion

My husband, when we met, firmly believed that “fashion is a tool of the aristocracy.” (He also happens to be a pretty staunch socialist.) For a long time, I thought this meant he was opposed to all men’s fashion – after all, when I met him, he didn’t have a single piece of clothing that hadn’t come from Goodwill.

But after embarking on the quest to fit him for a suit for our wedding, I realized that it’s not the concept of fashion he has a problem with – it’s that he doesn’t feel fashion designers are actually putting any thought into men like him, and therefore washes his hands of the whole industry.

Now, my husband is very lithe. But he also has sizable shoulders, and is relatively tall. He has a general Patrician facial structure – which is my way of saying fine and strong lines. He’s a pretty happy medium between foppish and rough-and-tumble.

And his chief complaint is that regular-sized dress shirts are not only boring, but fit like a tent on him. American suits, therefore, tend to be a lost cause as well – he always looks like he’s playing dress-up in his obese banker-father’s office attire.

He wants his clothes to be interesting and still fit well. He is, in essence, struggling with the basic concept of fashion: couture vs. pragmatism.

Therefore, we’d begun scouring the shops for things with a European cut. Now, “European” means a lot of things in fashion, but generally, it also means thinner and fitted. The salesmen at Men’s Warehouse will look at you blankly, but the men at Barney’s will know precisely what you’re talking about.

Our best luck has been with Miu Miu, Rag and Bone, and Thomas Pink.

Miu Miu (a splinter of Prada) offers him clean lines with slimmer jackets that are long enough in the arms, but not overly long in the back. It’s enough of a prep-school look to make me happy, but enough of a rocker look to make him content.

Rag and Bone are constantly doing amazing things. Rag and Bone was founded in Kentucky by Marcus Wainwright and David Neville when they gave up on finding jeans that fit them and decided to start making their own instead. “Rag and bone” is essentially a British term for recycling used objects. They have incredible attention to detail, right down to the buttons. They also make the only tuxedo jacket that has ever fit my husband properly. Generally, they’re a comfortable cross between Mad Man and hipster.

Thomas Pink is a general staple. They offer relatively conservative clothing, but also unique touches (like bright paisley on the inside of the collar) in their work. They have a fantastic slim-fit line for both men and women, and offer the best accessories – ties, cufflinks, and pocket squares that will pull together a more boring outfit.

As a parting word, Barney’s is our department store of choice. We’ve come out of there with his favorite pair of jeans, favorite t-shirt, and favorite dress shirt – all unique, and (more importantly) incredibly comfortable.

The first time he went into Barney’s, it was because we had separated so I could shop for dresses. The cell-phone conversation went like this:

“You’re where?” I asked, thinking I’d misheard him.

“Barney’s – I found three pairs of jeans that actually fit. And maybe a dress shirt. And a jacket. I don’t know – you need to come down here.”

“Wait – wait. You’re where?”

“Barney’s! They actually design in my size! Come down and see!”

I hung up the phone and looked at my mother.

“He’s at Barney’s,” I said, disbelieving.

She sighed happily. “Thank god,” she said. “It’s a miracle.”


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