Mens’ lessons in personal style

Elizabeth Scotti



Most guys don’t seem to care much about shopping. Rarely will you find a college-aged man who’s interested in brands or labels. In contrast, more than a few female college students believe image is everything, and they spend endless hours defining their wardrobe. Guys put on the first clean shirt and pair of shorts they find.

Research has shown that girls typically mature faster then boys. Is that why they pick up on the power of personal style first?  I decided to conduct a study of my own to find why young men care so little about their personal look or style.

Men seem to take longer to develop a personal style. After talking to a few male students, I realized they depend on the female figures in their lives to shop for them.

Men look fine most of the time– but not because they put together their own outfit. Some look good because their mothers have picked out what they are wearing.

Cole Sisto, a junior at SMU, says, “My mom typically shops for me, then I wear whatever she buys me.”

Sisto believes men hate to go on shopping excursions.  “It’s just easier when my mom goes for me, saves me the time and hassle.”

If all the moms who buy their sons clothes stopped shopping for them, would all these guys finally get off the couch and buy themselves some pants?

I’m not saying a guy who doesn’t shop for himself is “less of a man,” but it takes a real man to know what he likes. It shows maturity, confidence and a sense of uniqueness when someone has a personal style.

I see many of my friends trying to help their boyfriends by suggesting a different pair of shoes, or even taking their boyfriends shirts to be dry cleaned. Why can’t we just let them do it on their own?

In contrast, I know one male SMU student who definitely has his own sense of style: my boyfriend, senior Alistair Belton.

I took a lovely journey through NorthPark Center with Alistair, who knew which direction Neiman Marcus was, where to find the Salavatore Ferragamo store, and what size shirt he wore.

This experience was a breath of fresh air—a far cry from the fraternity shirts and Brooks Brothers khaki pants I see on every guy on campus.

As we went from store to store, I noticed that Alistair went for the neutral colors: greys, blacks, and dark blues. He chose clothing with fine fabrics and nice cuts that suited his body type.

His go-to brands for shoes were Gucci and Ferragamo, and he seemed to like Theory and James Pierce for shirts and pants.

Alistair says he learned to value fine clothing by going shopping with his mother.

Once he got an internship last year, Alistair says he found himself shopping more for himself. He says he realized he needed work-appropriate clothes and that looking professional for interviews helped him succeed.

To complete my research, I decided I should also ask an older guy, a young professional, about how men develop a fashion sense once they enter the work world.

A recent SMU grad, Charlie Manning says, “Working makes you more style-conscious because you have to dress well to be seen as mature and professional.

“I find myself buying stuff because it can work in both leisure and work environments whereas in college there was only one environment you needed clothes for and anything would go,” says Manning.

What are some of the conclusions from my research?

Well if mothers stopped shopping for their sons, and girls stopped making sure their boyfriends shirts were dry-cleaned, maybe guys would start dressing themselves a little bit sooner.

in Articles

Leave a Reply