Lycra-loving men forge the fashion world

My Dad never ventures far from the straight and narrow when it comes to fashion. Nothing too ambitious really. Pants that fit and a shirt tucked into them with a collar and buttons down the front. Shoes and a belt. These are the boundaries and he wants it that way because he doesn’t have to think about it. The clothes are simple and sure.

For hundreds of years this has been the mantra of men’s fashion. Little things will change. Ties will always grow and shrink. Maybe the trousers flare some years more than others. But compared to the creativity in women’s wear, men’s clothing doesn’t try very hard.

Lycra has traditionally been the dividing line. Sure, we had lycra in sports wear but only because it gave us a tactical advantage. Still we wouldn’t wear the cycling shorts to class. No man wants to share that much if he doesn’t have to. But women love the lycra. If it doesn’t cling tightly to the shallows and swells of a woman’s body, and stretch and give with fluid precision it won’t even make it in the front doors of the store.

So, you can imagine my confusion when I went traipsing through the mall and saw stretchy pants and shirts in the men’s section of every major shop. I kept on thinking I was on the wrong side of the store.

How men’s fashion ever reached its present state of chaos is a mystery. Are we that confused about masculinity? As women start to make a little more money perhaps men need more pulling power. Maybe we need sexiness where once the lure of financial security did the work. Well, look where the power of sexiness takes us.

Try to picture Bruce Banner with a new stretchy shirt on, feeling the rage and turning into the Incredible Hulk. Lycra doesn’t shred like cotton does. Instead of ripping clear of his business personae, the Hulk would be trapped in the ever ballooning stretchy fabric. One big green man, mad as hell at first, then slowly repressing his anger until he’s just a jaded superhero whose clothes are too tight.

It’s a dangerous road to be on and it can only get worse. There isn’t much friction on the slippery slope of fashion. Oh, it won’t seem so bad at first. Next year you’ll be buying stretchier jeans. The year after that you’ll be pulling on stretchier shirts. Finally you’ll be throwing on a pair of tights and a tube top to go out for a drink with the boys. A line must be drawn and that line shouldn’t be elasticated.

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