By Blair Sabol
I never expected anything from House Speaker Paul Ryan but when he recently appeared in a scruffy beard resembling an ISIS terrorist, I knew our country had reached a serious new LOW. Actually the entire men’s visual scene has been crashing and burning for a long time. And I can’t figure out why. Economics? Sexual confusion? Laziness?
|I’m not even talking about 78-year-old Bill Cosby’s recent “perp walk” appearance in front of a Philadelphia Courthouse — hobbling along dressed in a terrible sweater (his “signature” Cliff Huxtable attire) and a misshapen face. Or even Bill Clinton’s recent debut on the Hillary campaign, dressed in nondescript leisure attire that appeared too big for him, looking considerably older (not “hotter”), shakier, and more dazed and confused than ever before.|
|Lately we have seen a lot of corporate executives wearing hoodies under their sports jackets ... and “man buns.” This is a far lower bar than Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg ever set. “Schlubby” is the new Chic. Yves St. Laurent has a shrunken sweatshirt for $990. Givenchy is offering “The Perfect Black” little hoodie for $1220. ISIS is now here as a major fashion influence. I always knew they were the originators for the rage of hoodies, sneakers, baggy ass black jeans, and backpacks.|
|Some stylists are saying that “hoodie mania” is about the new level of laid-back luxe. And wearing hoodies with suits is the ultimate example of dressing “high/low.” But how low can you go? I think the “Athleisure Wear” has ruined all style. It's bad enough that women are running around in bars and supermarkets dressed in yoga pants and sports bras with multiple muffin top explosions ... We now have guys looking like delivery boys and calling it “edgy” and “cool."
Kanye West thinks his look is something all men can emulate; knee torn jeans (what is the torn jean message exactly, especially when you are a gazillionaire) and his deluxe “cargo” oversized hoodie, and his high topped zip sneakers. Really? All men can pull this off?
|Justin Theroux wore his hoodie around his waist under a thick motorcycle jacket (isn’t that warm enough on its own?) and his fake “distressed” moto boots. Nobody who wears motorcycle jackets and gear today ever really rides Harleys. Young Marlon Brando was the last to pull off that look, and he ended his days dressed in flip-flops and a muu-muu.|
|As for real movie stars — what has happened to Johnny Depp? He used to be the true height of cool — especially when he copied Keith Richards eye makeup. Now he is bloated (“schlubbery” really rules here) with way too much eyeliner, pancake concealer, bad jewelry, dated shoes, and greasy badly cut hair. Clearly he doesn’t care. So why should we?
Brad Pitt hasn’t looked great since he played “Jack Black” (twenty years ago!) Now he constantly appears stoned and disheveled with terrible facial hair and baggy clothes. Talk about “care-less.” But maybe following Angelina and all those kids around, carrying suitcases, and holding baby bags has worn him down.
|I even saw George Clooney on a NYC street recently in a hoodie and a dirty backpack, looking diminished and sloppy. Maybe his marriage to a major fashionista has turned him into a Disheveled Rebel.|
|Even when high fashion is called upon the men are bombing. Look at Daniel Craig as James Bond in those tight “shrunken” suits. Then again, he is a short guy and it works on him better than most. But think how great Sean Connery was in his elegant formal attire (unless he was swimming) and a martini glass — at all times!|
|Brilliant actor Eddie Redmayne appeared on the cover of British GQ in his version of the same popular Pee Wee Herman suit. Inside he was photographed in “brooding British tweeds ad nauseum.” As insightful fashion bloggers Tom and Lorenzo reported about him, “that too tight look suits him, but he is gonna be lost when it finally goes out of style” (how fast can that happen?). As these reporters surmise, he might get a pass because “he is currently visually pole dancing for an Oscar.”
But will somebody please explain to me the popularity of the scruffy beard? Doesn’t that just look like a guy is “homeless” and NOT “happening”? Nobody can really get away with it — not even Bradley Cooper who “scruffs it out” constantly AND wears those skinny Tom Ford suits on red carpets. That is the ultimate visual “Double Down” and none of it works. People have told me the scruffy look is supposed to be “just had sex in a limo” appeal. I say it looks like you just had sex UNDER a limo. But what do I know?
|Lately I have read so many reviews on “the Big Short” film heralding top male actors playing “Wild dudes with strange clothes.” How current!!! Actually, Brad Pitt looks like his slovenly self with a grayer beard. Steve Carell gained 20 pounds to look triple chinned. Christian Bale’s bowl hair hut did him in and even “sexiest man alive” Ryan Gosling did a Man-Tan and slick hairpiece. And these guys were playing sharp Wall Street “outsiders.” No more Michael Douglas in Armani suits looking like gorgeous Gordon Gekko. These guys were the epitome of the current “down ‘n dirty” elites.|
|How did Men’s Fashion get so out of hand? Is it too much effort for men today? Is it just easier to dump into “frat boy sloppy”? Is it a gay thing? A hetero thing? Or a NO thing? This is way past showing up at the Four Seasons Restaurant for Thanksgiving dressed in sweatpants, big shirts, a baseball cap and flip flops (as I observed two years ago). It is all “Bad Airport Couture” — which is reason enough NOT to travel. Now that pajamas are acceptable couture, airplane cabins will resemble bad psych wards.
Last spring I caught the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” and their new popular “rock star” conductor Yannick Nezet Séguin hopped onto the podium in a skin tight black T-shirt and black tight jeans with black sneakers (I thought I detected a thong outline under his pants). “Lenny” would have loved it.
Séguin made it work! But four months later he pushed it too far for me when he conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra for Pope Francis’ visit to Philly dressed in a nice formal suit, but ... facial scruff! Hopefully he won’t reveal a “tramp stamp” or nose piercing anytime soon. This is not “Mozart in the Jungle” ... YET.
|Perhaps Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner has the last word on all this. The Star reported that he now wants to go back to being a man! Why? She doesn’t want to date men and is still more attracted to women. Reportedly she even told her kids that being a woman didn’t give her (him?) the life she thought she’d have. “I hate being a woman — I feel ugly. But as Bruce I used to be so handsome and happy.” OKAY! I say lose the boobs, dump the cheek implants, stay away from hoodies and torn jeans, and show the guys how its done. Once and for all. I think?!|