The Bi-Polar World Men Order

While recently analysing the trends between what went on the menswear runways during the fashion weeks in Milan and Paris, and as Summer comes to an end and bodies start covering up, here at The Style Examiner we could not help but wonder if the Summer of 2012 has confirmed a very positive, albeit polarised, affirmation of the male body.

A few years ago, it was indubitable that the skinny look was unavoidably ubiquitous. Designers like Hedi Slimane banked on this look because, according to a certain view of fashion, clothes hang better on young, thin people and it’s always profitable to invest in the youth myth. However, as the end of the first decade of the new millennium approached, athletic bodies have become increasingly more accepted in the male fashion industry, to the extent that the sartorial world has become somehow bi-polar in its acceptance of more than one dominant ideal type.

Below is The Style Examiner’s list of this polarisation of masculinity for your consideration and enjoyment.

Characteristics Type A Type B
Ideal body type Muscled Skinny
Approximate age decade 30s 20s
Professional range Middle management and going upwards, usually in the corporate or entertainment industries Internships, lower or middle management, usually in the creative industries
Magazines Men’s Health, GQ, Esquire, Wallpaper, Monocle Nylon Guys, A Magazine, Another Man, and most magazines with experimental typefaces and fashion
Eating disorder Bigorexia (muscle dysmorphia) Anorexia
London neighbourhoods Soho, Vauxhall, Kennington Shoreditch, Hackney, Dalston
New York neighbourhoods Chelsea, mid town Williamsburg, Lower East Side, Hell’s Kitchen
Europe holiday hangouts Ibiza, Mykonos, Barcelona, most places with beaches Berlin, Tbilisi, Copenhagen, music festivals, most places far from the seaside
Americas holiday hangouts Hamptons, Punta del Este, Florida beaches, Brazil, Argentina Mostly road trips
Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro São Paulo
City hangouts Cafes, restaurants, hotel bars Own and friends’ apartments, art galleries, city parks
Blackberry preferences Work email on the go The messenger capability
Sunglasses Vintage aviators or most recent lines as long as they are black or tortoise Redesigned contemporary aviators or most recent lines as long as the frames are colourful
Fashion week Milan Paris
Male model David Gandy Ash Stymest
Sartorial decade for inspiration 2010s 1990s
Food type Protein, as in meat and protein shakes Fibre, as in edamame and salads
Facial hair Clean shaven or full beard Clean shaven or moustache
Body hair Acceptable to have body hair, maybe clipped Undesirable to have body hair
Trousers Plain, unpleated front, classic cut Slim, skinny, or carrot cuts, and turn-ups
Casual shoes Loafers, white trainers, most stuff in black or brown Desert boots, deck shoes, colourful trainers, gladiator sandals, plimsolls
Jeans colours Dark blue Any bright colour, stone washed, black
Shirts White with two or three buttons undone Plaid and buttoned all the way up
Summer top style Tank top/vest Hawaiian shirt or v-neck t-shirt
Skin tone Tanned Pale
Summer shorts Cargo or tailored shorts Cut-off jeans with turn ups
Head wear Nothing usually, or maybe a trilby, flat cap or sports hat Definitely a trilby (when not messing up the hair)
‘Twilight’ male actor Taylor Lautner Robert Pattinson
TV male role model Jon Hamm (aka Don Drapper in ‘Mad Men’) Chace Crawford (aka Nate Archibald in ‘Gossip Girl’)
Film male role model Hugh Jackman, George Clooney Zac Efron
Prescription glasses Tom Ford eyewear or contact lenses Anything geeky, black and thick-rimmed
Fashion labels Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Armani, D&G, Dsquared2, Tom Ford, Aussiebum, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Gap Dior Homme, most Belgian designers, American Apparel, Uniqlo, Lyle & Scott, Penguin, Farah, Topman, friends’ designs

And the list could go on and on…

Relativist post-structuralism has taught us that type A is not better or worse than type B just because it comes first. So these columns are devoid of any hierarchy and are best read with a touch of irony.

If you feel that, as a male reader of these columns, the way you see yourself does not fit in either of them or you can actually zigzag between these basic descriptors, consider yourself lucky. If we have learnt anything from gender theory as described by the likes of Judith Butler, it’s that it’s in the rich grey in-between areas that identity has always gained affirmation.

Enjoy being the man that you are!