I like to read, and I like the fact that you don’t care that I like to read because you’re reading this right now. Bret Easton Ellis says of one of his novel’s protagonists, Patrick Bateman: because he wants to fit in. Bateman, the narrator, spends 50 percent of the book deconstructing other characters’ getups, from cut to designer to color-ways and patterns, in obsessive detail — detail that makes you want to Cliff-Notes the rest of an otherwise good book. “He wants to fit in.” This reasoning doesn’t just capture the essence of the entire book, but also why most men dress the way they do, which is, ironically, like boys, because boys wear what their mom lays out for them. Men, however, choose their own shit based on important things, like the ability to make choices independent of what your trusty friend thinks. Men, unlike boys, have agency, they have sartorial swag and they have back hair.

The New York Times, a newspaper that still matters, announced this week it will launch a “monthly, dedicated men’s style section.” Its currently thriving Style section, which is female fashion dominated and runs every Sunday and Thursday, will make room for The Men by occupying only the Friday spot going forward. So what’s at stake besides maybe pissing off the three living NYT print subscribers over this change? And why is this just now happening, in 2015, when the Prince of Wales has been dripping with swag since the twenties; in other words, men have given a shit or two about threads for some time, so why does it seem today that so many men care so little?

Let’s first address the elephant in the room (that is, to anyone who has ever read a business article with no accompanying pictures): NYT is doing this to maximize advertising revenues. More copy space for Brioni suit and John Lobb shoe ads means more $$$ for NYT. Money moves. Word? Word.

Let’s also consider the history of menswear for a minute. Between the two World Wars, i.e. 1920s and 1930s, men dressed better than any other time in American history because, despite economic chaos, all sectors of menswear worked hand-in-hand to deliver style and taste. Even the Average Jack looked good during these years because there was an abundance of credible role models (see: Prince of Wales, Fred Astaire), bespoke optionality (see: Savile Row in central London) and accepted standards of taste (see: Esquire and Apparel Arts menswear publications).

I know what you’re thinking: We have all three of those today, in spades. And you’d be right, except today the role models are less defined and apparent, bespoke clothing is something seen as only for the ultra-rich (not true) and Esquire/GQ are packed with more ads and fewer actionable insights and reflections. Everything has been watered down, leaving the menswear consumer to rest on bad blends of norm-core ickiness and outfits so bad, they’re almost creative.

To steal, without shame, from legendary menswear designer Alan Flusser, “Back in the thirties, stylishness was an extension of himself, not a designer in a store, like today”.

So, if you own a black-as-night Canada Goose down jacket and you don’t live in subzero towns that are mostly white in color, hmm. If you own one and can’t explain what “down” is, you know, the stuff that keeps you warm inside that monolith of a parka, then I likely hold an unfair opinion of you. Sometimes — nah — always I think about how green that company’s balance sheet would appear if that circular left-arm patch wasn’t there, or if it was shaped like a penis, or if it was instead just a gaping hole in the product itself.

Look, I still fuck with mall staples, on occasion, like J.Crew. But I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I told you I was ever remotely impressed by an employee’s take on anything menswear-related, notwithstanding gender and/or age. Why? Because retail by and large fucking sucks. It sucks big and it sucks small. High and low. By extension, what are most retail owners actually paying their employees to do outside of shelve clothes atop unsold clothes and mask their sartorial ignorance with slow, breath-before-every-word, indoor-voice vocal register? Nada.

You can thank the invention of shareholder dick-sucking and the relegation of quality for the fact that you need to spend at least $200 for a fair pair of boots. There is, however, one thing that gives menswear hope and it parallels the recent rising popularity of craft beer — some clothing makers still hold conviction in craftsmanship like the old farts almost 100 years ago. Believe it or not, good clothiers still take pride in their product. You just have to know where to look and be prepared to spend a bit more cheese to find something that’s dope and will last. Like everything in life, according to some old Boomer lecturing me whenever, a sound investment will lead to solid returns.

So, in the main, are we dudes all fucked? I do realize the world has more pressing problems than eschewing $175 Timberlands and tapered sweatpants from the current menswear smog, like, for instance, deciding whether Woody Allen’s movies are still Oscar-worthy and whether or not Frankie Muniz’s hairline is receding. Running the risk of being pegged a millennial blind-optimist, I think we sit at an interesting crossroads: one stretched between the preeminence of the 1930s (see: Brooks Brothers douchebaggery) and the 1960s Peacock Revolution (see: high-end streetwear labels like Hood By Air and Rick Owens).

We are getting there. Sort of. But until we stop cowering to the immense force that is popular (albeit, bullshit) opinion, we’ll stagnate in the tall-grass marshland of tacky tackiness and lazy indifference. No one cares that you “don’t” care. And guess what? Usually it looks pretty gross. Deal with it. And if you really, really still want to fit in, after your inevitable sartorial transformation, grab lunch at Revive. It works.

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