An Ode to Men in Sweaters

Friends, this morning I’m feeling very passionate about a pressing world issue: Men in sweaters. In the Northern Hemisphere, winter is firmly upon us. Cardigans, gloves, and scarves have been unearthed from their attic boxes.

I am thrilled.

Winter is my favorite fashion season. I admit, this is helped by the relatively mild Texas winters. We don’t see a lot of blizzards around here. (I know, you just gasped in surprise, didn’t you?) What we do see is the temporary rebirth of classic men’s fashion. Suddenly, guys are busting out sweaters to wear over their polos and scarves to wrap around their necks. Men who normally wear t-shirts are donning rarely seen pea coats, for heaven’s sake! This is a heterosexual fashion-loving woman’s dream come true.

Example: A few weeks ago, Mae and I were eating at our favorite spot (hummus to-die-for, freshly baked scones, and an Anthropologie next door – need I say more?), when our favorite manager walked in. Wearing a white Oxford shirt, with a navy sweater over it, he was clearly in chilly weather mode. Now, this is a cute guy already, but in a sweater? He was a Ralph Lauren advert come to life. I blushed. I stammered. If there had been a fainting couch, I would have swooned. It was embarrassing and all (Well mostly – he is rather dashing all the time, it should be said. The boy has a beard!) caused by an extra layer of clothing. How extraordinary.

It does make me wonder, however. To quote one of my personal icons, Cher Horowitz, “I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don’t get how guys dress today.”  It’s not necessarily baggy jeans and greasy hair like in Cher’s day (thank God), but most twenty-something guys I know don’t own an iron, much less properly fitting pants. When did men stop taking pride in their style? It seems a recent phenomenon. If Mad Men is to be believed, right up to the late 60s, a well-tailored suit was considered essential to any man’s wardrobe. People even shined their shoes!

Now, a date is considered dressed up, if he shows up to my door in a polo shirt and clean jeans. I actually know guys who don’t own sweaters, because they consider them “too feminine.” Color me befuddled. How can an extra, classic layer of clothing be gendered? Maybe it’s just living in Austin. Not only are we the Live Music Capital of the World, but also the Wearing Paleontology T-shirts To Fancy Restaurants Is A-Okay By Us Headquarters of America. Our city is filled with smart, successful people who will probably wear Toms to that wedding this weekend. It drives me stark, raving mad. I long for a little shine, a little polish.

You can call me shallow, but I choose to think of it as nostalgic. Blame it on all those classic movies I watched as a child. My parents never subscribed to the Disney Channel, so I missed Justin & Brit on MMC, but I was fed a steady visual diet of Cary Grant and Gene Kelly instead. Imagine my surprise when I realized men don’t walk around in three-piece suits any longer, but may show up to lunch in white undershirts. I’ve never quite recovered from the shock. Too many of my past dating disasters have been caused by a certain blindness that occurs when I’m faced with a truly well-dressed, twenty-something man. Sure he does cocaine every once in a while, but did you see him in that sweater? It was cashmere!

To sum up: I love men in sweaters. I almost wish this would be another Year Without A Summer (without the crop failures and other awful effects, naturally), if only to make it last a little longer. Shoes may not be shined, but a scarf or coat is plenty dapper enough to set my heart aflutter. For one glorious season a year, I can walk around pretending to live in a glamorous Hitchcock film. Only, you know, with less carnivorous birds.

- Grace

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28 thoughts on “An Ode to Men in Sweaters

  1. I wish I was a man. So I could walk around in a sweater and look sexy. Instead I just look incredibly strange and like a misplaced high-school student. Nevertheless, if I see one more person with their pants below their bum, I’m going to either pull them up so high for them that they get a delightfull wedgie, or pull them down so far their wearing his ‘ankles’ instead. Though they would probably like that.

    • First off, if someone is wearing their pants below their bum, I say they get what’s coming to them! If your pants are ridiculously too big, you’ve got to expect these things. I have nightmares about the kind of wardrobe malfunctions those guys face everyday! Call me evil, but I am staunchly pro-wedgieing of baggy pants wearers.

      Also, Lexie, I’m totally with you. I wish I could do the sexy-sweater-man-thing too! There is so much more work that goes into looking sexy as a girl, especially in sweaters. A guy can put one one and, as long as it fits well, look awesome, whereas we have to worry about the fit and not looking frumptastic or too schoolgirlish. Oh, to have the ease of men’s fashion!

  2. I’m so glad to see someone agrees with me about the men in sweaters. I want to touch a man in a sweater – give him a squeeze – because he looks all soft, warm and plush. A hooded sweatshirt or long sleeved tee just doesn’t cut it.

    • Preach it, Indiana! There is nothing as adorable and cozy-seeming as a man in a sweater. If only guys realized what trading those ratty hoodies for real sweaters could do for them!

  3. Consider the another side to this – I work at an online fashion company that do all the luxury brands. So your catwalk stuff. So you get people working here who take a lot of pride in the way they dress. They have to be wearing the latest catwalk stuff. Which leads a lot of them to be wearing your cropped trousers (pants!), boat shoes, sweaters, carrying their oh so fashionable satchels. I think I prefer my men wearing clean jeans and a clean polo shirt thanks to being surrounded by (probably straight) fashionista men at work!

    • Jaina, I can definitely see how working in the fashion industry could expose one to the darker, satchel-toting side of men’s fashion. I wish there were a happy medium! I wish the fashionista men would stop being so darn trendy and the regular variety would buy a sweater to wear over their polos. Just one will do it for me, really. ;)

      • I could deal with a sweater over a polo.

        I never want to see another man with a satchel. Seriously. I keep wanting to scream “Where have all the men gone!”

  4. It disgusts me when the boxers/briefs/panties ;) show. At least make the belt that you are wearing and probably paid $30 for be put to good use!

    I’m a big fan of neckties too. When did they go out of style?!

    • Oh, the necktie! Is there anything sexier than a guy slightly loosening his tie? Swoon! The only thing that even comes close, in my book, is a guy who has rolled up the sleeves of his Oxford shirt & sweater to the elbows. Well dressed, then tousled can be so, so hot! I tell you, if only men knew how far a tie and a sweater would get them.

  5. me likely a man in a well fitted sweater, especially if it makes said man look all cute and cuddly! I for one wish I looked better in sweaters, lately they all make me feel frumpy! Perhaps it’s the style of sweaters I own.

    • Lindy, I have had the exact same problem with sweaters! I have to be really careful about the shape of a sweater, else I go all boxy and frumptastic. I have had really good luck with certain stores, however. Both Ann Taylor & Ann Taylor Loft have very well-cut sweaters for a woman’s curves, as well as the brand Halogen, which is carried at Nordstrom. I’m ever on the hunt for non-frumpy sweaters!

    • Such a good point, Jami! We really need a better casual in-between for modern men. It can’t all be suits and basketball shorts. A well-cut pair of trousers and anything other than t-shirt would take them so far!

  6. Oh my dear Grace, you have hit upon a subject (rant, whine session) that is near and dear to my heart – men who cannot dress. Why, oh why do men take no pride in their appearance? I live in Colorado and, like Austin, it seems that men feel they might turn to stone if they EVER put on anything other than jeans and fleece. Nothing infuriates me more that when I’m out and see a woman who has clearly and successfully made an effort to look adorable escorted by her ratty-looking boyfriend! I ask again; Why, oh why? I would actually LOVE to get some of your male readers to weigh in on this. WHY THE HECK CAN’T YOU PEOPLE TRY TO LOOK NICE???? Ahem.

    • Oh, I am so, so glad not to be alone in this rant! Obviously, the men of Colorado and Austin have been sharing notes! If I saw my guy friends, outside of work, in anything other than faded jeans, i would faint from joyous shock. It amazes me how much we’ll primp and prep for a date, when so many times the guy could care less about his own clothing choice. It almost seems a waste of effort! If I’m going to spend an hour to look like Grace Kelly, the least my boyfriend could do is spend fifteen minutes going for Cary Grant. And…there I go again. ;)

      I fear I scared off our male contingent with this post, but I would love to get a guy’s truthful opinion on the lowering of standards for men’s fashion. I know there are plenty of well-dressed guys out there and it must drive them crazy, just as much as it does us!

  7. I am dealing with this with my boyfriend who has to be encouraged to dress up. If I see one more sweatshirt and baggy jeans combo I’m going to lose it! But for our anniversary, he actually did the slacks and dress shirt thing. With shoes!!! (Not that he walks around barefoot, its just that he really loves his sneakers) Anywho, I was over the moon.

    Love a man in a suit.

    • Anne, I do not envy you that predicament at all! Even when dating an absolute doll of a guy, sloppy dressing will get on my nerves really, really quickly. It’s such a touchy topic to bring up, unfortunately. How does one broach the subject that Yes, it really did annoy me when you wore that 5K t-shirt from 2002 to dinner without sounding shallow? I’m so glad that your boyfriend pulled out the stops for your anniversary! At least you can see him all spiffed up for special occasions. :)

    • Oh, Violet, I am so envious! What I wouldn’t give for more Peacoat-wearing men in my life. I will say, whenever my friends come back from trips to cold places, I am, invariably, shown the pictures they took of well-dressed scarf & sweater bedecked men on the street, because they were reminded of me. Cold weather places have all the luck! Maybe I need to consider an extended winter vacation up north sometime soon?

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  10. Sweaters and suits should really be required, i completely agree with everything! But there is a wonderful place in the world where men still dress like they should, It’s the magical land of Europe, and I can’t get enough of it! :D Excellent post! xx

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