Typical men! 8 male clichés from the world of fashion

“Football, cars, beer and sex!” Typical men, right? One of the many classic misconceptions about the male of the species – as a man you’re bound to be confronted with one or the other of them during your lifetime. Everyone knows the well-worn clichés, but of course the truth behind them depends on the man in question.

Usually clichés come about as a result of negative habits, however there are some positive clichés as well. For example, men are often reputed to have excellent parking skills and technical expertise as well as a superb sense of direction. They are also considered protectors and should offer a shoulder to cry on during hard times.

But when is a man a man? The German singer Herbert Grönemeyer pondered this question in his 1984 hit Männer in which he listed a host of male traits that were typical for the mid-1980s. Today the lyrics would probably have to be rewritten as since then men have collected a lot more attributes other than problem solver, lover, athlete and handyman. As always, the only constant in life is change, which is why men should not all be tarred with the same brush.

However, although gender roles have changed significantly in the last few years, some clichés persist. Which ones persist in the fashion world? In the following article we’ll present eight clichés about men and fashion – some of them true, some half-true and some that are downright false. Which ones ring true for you?

1. A suit makes you smarter

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” – Oscar Wilde, poet

This is obviously what a lot of men think, when they’re out and about wearing a suit. And it makes no difference whether or not this is done consciously; surprisingly, a study published in the USA confirms that men in suits do make better decisions.

Researchers at California State University in Northridge investigated the interplay between the thought processes in the human brain and the clothing people wear. The result? Yes! Clothes maketh the man! Amongst other things, what we wear does affect the way we see and perceive the world. So, it makes a difference if we’re dressed formally or informally. This effect is observed in women as well as men.

So, what’s happening exactly? The more formally you dress, the more abstract your thinking. According to the American study, when wearing a suit, you have a better overview of the big picture and don’t get bogged down in details too much.

But does this ability to think more abstractly lead to better decisions and eventually more success? Yes! This characteristic is a key attribute of successful business men. It can also be helpful when making financial decisions: if you’re wearing a suit, you’re more likely to keep a clear head when making long-term investments than you are to make decisions spontaneously on impulse.

So, throw on a suit and increase your IQ by a few points? No, not quite… That would be too good to be true! This is more about the psychological aspect and the feelings that clothing can convey to the wearer. We usually wear formal clothing in a less personal context, which means that our perspectives and mindset are more abstract and less personal. That’s why men in suits can take criticism better; criticism received while wearing a more casual outfit is more likely to make them doubt their self-worth. “Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world”, said Abraham Rutchick, one of the authors of the study, speaking to the newspaper “The Atlantic”.

Nowadays casual wear is becoming more common for both everyday and office attire and the suit is becoming rarer. This poses the question: Are the symbolic strengths and the psychological effects of the suit increasing? In the sense of, the more unusual something is, the more valuable it is? What do you think?

2. Men are fashionably challenged

“All great men are modest.” – Gotthold Lessing, German author

Women shop, men make purchases! This assumption was scrutinized by the market research institute GfK on behalf of the online styling company Outfittery GmbH.

The result? Men are hunters and shop with a purpose. Their aim is to go into the shop, buy what they need and get out again. According to the study, a third of men appreciate it when shopping trips are quick and efficient. It’s a task that has to be ticked off the to-do list! Men know that they need a dark grey jacket and they go and look for one. That’s why most men actually come home with the item of clothing they wanted.

The opposite sex takes a completely different approach. Women like to wander around the shops, browse, take time and discover new things. They want to be inspired. Shopping is a leisure activity! That’s why women often come home with spontaneous impulse purchases.

When it comes to shopping, men and women are worlds apart.

3. Men are hunters – even when shopping

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” –  Confucius, Chinese philosopher

Men in suits are eye candy – at least according to many people of both sexes. First impressions count and those made in a suit are usually positive. We form opinions in a matter of seconds. A man in a suit can quickly convince us that he is intelligent, strong and confident; a man – in the minds of most people at least – who is perfectly grounded. On top of that, a man in a suit will actually move and act differently, which impresses women and other men alike.

This has been proven in a study by Vera Heeslinger. Originally, the question was whether potential partners were rated more attractive when they wore red clothing. This could not be confirmed, but the aforementioned other interesting effect was recorded – men in formal outfits such as business suits were rated more attractive that men wearing casual or athletic outfits.

So, there you have it guys: wear a smart suit more often – it will increase your attractiveness! A well-groomed look will evoke a feeling of respect and high-regard in the people you meet.

To ensure that nothing goes wrong on your first or 100th date, we’ve collected the most important tips to bear in mind when choosing a new outfit:

1. Perfectly fitting clothing
2. Clean shoes that match your outfit. According to a survey, this demonstrates to most people whether or not you have taste.
3. Tried-and-tested basics are the way to go. When it comes to suits, black or dark colours are classic. A white or a beige shirt looks great with both a pair of smart jeans or a pair of chinos. Basics can be easily paired with other items and look elegant for any occasion.

4. Men are fashionably challenged

“Dressing well is a form of good manners.” – Tom Ford, American fashion designer

Extravagant decorations, great lighting concepts, elegant shop floors and an enormous selection of clothing. Sounds familiar? No! It probably doesn’t! This type of shopping experience is mainly reserved for women. But what about the men? Our gear is tucked away in a small department or in the basement of the shop in the furthest corner with just two changing rooms and a colour scheme that ranges from black through to grey and possibly peaks at dark blue. No wonder then that men are seen as fashionably challenged.

According to an industry study entitled Textilmarkt 2020, conducted by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, men as a target group are seriously neglected by fashion retailers. This means that products aimed towards men are not displayed well enough to encourage sales. However, men want fashion – they want choice, they want exclusivity and they want style. “Men are missing a varied range of cuts and accuracy of fit”, says Engagement Manager Sarah Roesener, who accompanied the study.

Of course, the above does not apply to all shops and manufacturers. There are men’s fashion providers and labels that want to provide men with a unique shopping experience and cater to their desires!

After all, men are gaining ground when it comes to fashion and body consciousness. According to a study by the off-price department store TK Maxx, around half of all men surveyed now actually “enjoy” or even “really enjoy” going shopping. Shopping really does give you a sense of happiness! It’s not only in the area of fashion that men want show themselves off, appear confident and feel better in their own skin – the world of male grooming products is also experiencing a boom, which can be observed in the recent increasing popularity of barber shops. This has become clear to many men’s fashion manufacturers and the cliché of the fashionably challenged man is fading away. Forbes magazine reported in amazement: “Retailers have to get used to the idea that buying clothes is no longer the domain of women”.

5. Men prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores rather than researching for hours online

“Men have no patience. That’s why they invented the zip.” – Senta Berger, actor

It’s true! Over half the men questioned in the consumer survey by the market research institute GfK said that they bought their clothes in brick-and-mortar shops. The range of options you find online is often enormous and it’s difficult to stay on top of things – to say nothing of finding what you’re looking for quickly! 31% of male respondents said that they find it stressful to buy clothes and put together outfits and that they do not enjoy doing these things.

On the contrary, according to the survey, around half of women find what they are looking for online. It’s hardly surprising though – women want inspiration and a lot of choice. And if you want choice, the internet is the place to go!

However, according to the results of a study carried out by the market research institute First Insight, a lot of men do compare prices online and research where the cheapest place is to buy the item they’re looking for.

6. Men love shirts

“If you ask me what I’d most like to have invented in fashion, I’d say the white shirt. For me, the white shirt is the basis of everything. Everything else comes after.” – Karl Lagerfeld, fashion icon

Men love shirts – and it’s a trend that’s increasing. 20 years ago, men’s wardrobes contained two shirts fewer than today. This has been confirmed by a study conducted by the German fashion label Walbusch. In Germany, 98% of men own shirts. And not just a few shirts – 15.5 per man on average. Even if they also own a lot of jumpers and t-shirts, a man’s first choice is a shirt. According to the study, this makes sense: 1 in 2 men feel well-dressed in a shirt and 1 in 4 men admit that wearing shirts gives them more self-confidence and poise. Furthermore, shirts are comfortable and suitable for most occasions. Quality and materials play an important role here. As the old adage goes: “Buy cheap, buy twice”! It seems that magical, masculine clothing formula goes like this: “High-quality, modern, subtle and classic!”

7. Men don’t care about underwear

“Isn’t elegance forgetting what one is wearing?” – Yves Saint Laurent, French fashion designer

What do men think about their underwear? AskMen.com has the answer. In a survey conducted by the men’s advice website, around half said that they felt sexy wearing decent underwear. So, men do care about what they wear down there!

But what styles come out on top? The thong is very unpopular with just 2% of the vote. Tighty whities and long boxers are also less popular –short, close-fitting trunks are the clear winner. They cling like a second skin. A high-quality pair feels good, looks good and is comfortable. What more could you want?

8. German men invented the “socks and sandals” look

“When I was young, I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in a sock. So I stopped wearing socks.” – Albert Einstein, physicist

Wearing socks with sandals is an absolute fashion faux pas. It seems that the pioneers of this “look” were German tourists, who were mocked for their lack of style, but carried on regardless, indifferent of the scorn. This look has since been perpetuated by older men, who don’t care about the latest trends. So, are the Germans really responsible for this globally infamous combination?

Unfortunately, not much is known about the origins of the socks and sandals combination. Excavations of ancient sites in England and Egypt discovered evidence of people wearing socks with sandals. However, there is a lot to say that the Germans did invent this fashion faux pas – after all, Germans were the fondest of travelling for many years and they wanted to feel comfortable even when away from home. So, they chose shoes that were similar to their beloved slippers. At least, that’s the theory from Lena Sämann, Head of Vogue Digital.

So, there you have them – the most prevalent fashion clichés about men. As you know, there are many more, and they don’t all focus on fashion! How much truth is in these clichés? Let’s just say that the preconceptions relating to men and women’s shopping habits are not all that far-fetched. The two sexes shop in different ways – it’s been proven and is due to various factors, but of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. It’s entirely up to you how you react to these stereotypes, whether you meet them with a knowing smile or energetically try to disprove them. The fact is that clichés about men and women have always existed and always will do, because passing judgement on others is just the way our brains work – it’s something we cannot prevent.

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