The Dapper Man, a column plumbing the dangerous depths of collegiate men's fashion, will appear on alternate Mondays this semester.
On Cornell’s pristine campus alone, I have seen too many valiant men die in the war against stylistic mediocrity. They surrender to the humdrum convention of a T-shirt and cargo shorts on a radiant, summer day. They capitulate to the eternal craze of blue jeans and the sad regimen of no accessory complementation.Men’s fashion has a vast middle ground in between the atrocities of men’s tube tops and the triumphs of three-piece slim suits. This middle ground encompasses all amateur attire worn by stylishly clueless men. Most men opt for the classically pedestrian look, utterly unremarkable to everyone and only covering the colors blue, brown, black, and white. It isn’t particularly strenuous to break the monotonous mold, but it does require a little push. My little push was provided by my two fashionably fabulous sisters, who unbelievably transformed me from the gym-shorts-and-oversized-shirt-wearing boy to the collared-shirt-sporting, chic-blazer-rocking individual I am today.
Before, I didn’t pay much attention to what I wore because it never seemed consequential to my life. I wore clothes for purely functional reasons, to cover and protect my body from the elements. My clothes didn’t reflect who I was, unless who I was at the time was an unexciting, lackluster man of simply flesh and blood. Since then, I have revamped my wardrobe, and consequently, revamped my confidence and sense of self.
Don’t get me wrong: My collared shirts and chic blazers aren’t meant for everyone. Fashion is and always will be idiosyncratic. I don’t care if you want to dress up like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Rep that shit. If you feel that how you dress now accurately shows how impressive you are, then hey, more power to you. Just as long as it is undeniably and irresistibly you. Because really, what you wear is honestly a portrayal of who you are. Every passerby that glimpses you won’t get to know your ideas, your accomplishments or really anything about you except for your physical features and the style (or lack thereof) that you exude.
So if you wear a run-of-the-mill ensemble, every bystander will see you as a boring person. And nobody is a boring person! Everyone can advance their vogue IQs and find more stylish pieces that are simultaneously admirable and representative of themselves.
For those men who feel that their clothes are just objects to get them through the day, I recommend searching for some articles of clothing in the mall, online or on other people that you really like. A wardrobe doesn’t need a complete makeover to gain an edge. A burst of color or some trendy accessories can bolster an outfit tremendously. Experiment with some cool items that you think you could flaunt, and enjoy yourself! Worst-case scenario, the outfit doesn’t look right, and you can take it off. That’s the beauty of fashion: There is a new opportunity every day to illustrate your flair.
Your body is the clean canvas, and fashion is the paint. Make art.