If you don’t think that the culture is descending into blithering nonsense, follow male fashion. Actually, if you’re following male fashion, you’re living evidence that the culture has become degraded.
Last year, it was pointy-toed shoes where men willfully walked around looking like Santa’s little helpers. This year, it’s “heavage.” What is heavage you ask? Heavage is man cleavage where just a little moob (man boob) and maybe a whole lot of hair is showing.
According to the Wall Street Journal fashion types, this means a return to … manliness:
Man cleavage — plunging necklines slit open to reveal chest hair, pectoral muscles, maybe more — is back.
Until recently, male décolletage was an androgynous fashion affectation limited mainly to sporadic appearances on European runways. But the look, including deep V-necks and scoop-neck tops, hit the U.S. in full force at New York’s September Fashion Week, turning up at shows by Duckie Brown, Michael Bastian and Yigal Azrouël.
If the fall runway shows were any indication, men’s necklines are taking a plunge. WSJ’s Ray Smith lets you know how far to go, and weighs in on the issue of chest hair.
This time around, the styles were more blatantly sexual and the models had more studly swagger. New York designer Mr. Bastian said his show’s vibe was inspired in part by “Latin guys” he noticed wearing their shirts unbuttoned, as well as the unabashed machismo of Latin American men in general. “We wanted to go back to a more natural body, a more ’70s body with the models, getting away from the super skinny,” says Mr. Bastian.
I have some news for Mr. Bastian: The ’70s were hideous. There were man perms. Remember the powder blue tux with ruffles? How about the wide lapels and the fat ties that fought them? This was the decade of Elvis Presley’s lamb-chop sideburns. And even now, “pornstaches” (as in mustaches gracing ’70s-era porn stars) are scorned.
The ’70s was not a macho era; it was the drug-addled after affects of the hippie movement. It was not a good time stylewise or otherwise. It’s interesting how male fashion is going the way of Jimmy Carter just as the country seems doomed to a Carteresque presidency.
So as the president bows, scrapes and equivocates, the fashion mavens have decided to go for strong, masculine, and macho. And if a man isn’t naturally macho, he can get help [again from the Wall Street Journal]:
It still took years for the fad to go more mainstream. Helping to pave the way were magazines like Men’s Journal and Men’s Health, which objectified the male torso on their covers. Marketers such as Abercrombie & Fitch attracted droves of fans with their buff, waxed male models. For those who don’t have the goods naturally, cosmetic surgery offers a quick, and increasingly popular, solution. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that pectoral implants more than tripled in 2008, to 1,335 procedures up from 440 in 2007.
Does no one see the irony of getting implants to be more manly? Isn’t the act of being so obsessive about one’s appearance inherently female, or at least rather feminine? It would seem that the act of getting the implants would negate the macho-ifying effects of said procedure.
It is interesting to me that during the Bush administration the men’s fashion designers were designing for the slight and the androgynous male, but now that the slight and metrosexual male is residing in the White House, designers are trying to butch things up — just like they did during the namby-pamby Carter era.
Well, no amount of chest hair or weird NFL United We Serve commercials where the president is catching a football with smiling children, is going to make this administration suddenly macho and manly. Nancy Pelosi is the toughest politician in Washington, and it’s safe to say she’ll keep her necklines from plunging.
Real men need to fight the cultural scourge of swing fashion trends. Real men are not trendy. They’re classic. No one wants to see lithe and androgynous men. And no one wants to see a man’s chest hair, either.
More important than the silly trends and those that hawk them is the underlying cultural acknowledgment. There is no dressing up capitulating, weak behavior. Pictures of President Obama catching a football or lining up a putt with Tiger Woods or shooting a basketball with his campaign logo on it will not make up for the fact that his actions are weak and scraping. While there is no question that President Bush burnished his image with cowboy boots and brush clearing, it would have rung hollow had he not had the gumption to back up the image. President Obama’s problem is that the image and the action don’t match.
Real men demonstrate manliness — not from superficial photo ops. So men, either you got it or you don’t. Showing heavage will display nothing but insecurity or a strange disconnect from what normal women find appealing. Leave fashion trends behind. Embrace the kind of masculinity that is self-evident: decisive, common-sense action. It’s not something one wears. It just is.