Monday, September 19, 2011

Tux Me? No, Tux You! The Skinny Look Has Gone Too Far

Punk magazine, 1976
Skinny jeans made a comeback several years ago.  The young men on my campus in skinny jeans gave me flashbacks to my teens years when The Ramones were ripping up "Rock 'n' Roll High School."

I can understand skinny jeans then as part of a punk aesthetic.  I am too poor to afford jeans that fit.  Besides, I do not care to conform to society's expectations of good clothing and good grooming.

Skinny jeans were different from tight jeans.  Tight jeans could be used to feature the muscles of a man's legs or butt.  Cowboys (I grew up in Oklahoma) wore tight jeans, but not skinny jeans.  Skinnies were tapered and would not accommodate boots.  And the punk lifestyle did not allow much time at the gym nor on the mechanical bull.  Guys who wore skinnies had skinny legs.

John Travolta in Urban Cowboy (1980)
That seems to be true today, but the aesthetic seems different.  People spend a great deal of money on skinny jeans, so they are not a clear signifier of poverty.  And I have seen the young men fuss with them, getting them pulled exactly right and getting all of the seams lined up just so; so they are not a clear signifier of an anti-aesthetic.

The jeans are so tight that adjustments may be difficult, though important to ensure certain delicate body parts are not damaged.

But the skinny look has conquered the rest of the men's fashion world.  Now the skinny look is in with trousers and shirts.  There are skinny blazers now.  And even skinny tuxedos.  You could see them at the Emmy Awards on Sunday night.

Adam Scott, 2011 Emmys
I do not see the aesthetic appeal of them.  Tight-fitting clothes can be attractive and sexy, depending upon the body beneath them.  But I think that requires the clothes to fit smoothly, to outline the shape of the body beneath the fabric.  Skinny tuxedos just bunch and bind.

Look at the pants on Parks & Recreation's Adam Scott.  They are so tight you could count the change in his pocket if his hand weren't in the way.  And not only are the pants legs too tight, they are too long.  They have gathered so much his legs look like bendy straws.

The worst of the night was possibly the tuxedo on Glee's Cory Monteith.  His tuxedo looked like it hurt him.  It looked like he had been extruded into it.  Did it explode when he sat down?  Or did the jacket merely break some of his ribs?

Skinny blazers and skinny tuxedos make grown men look like they are children again, dressed by their mothers for a great aunt's funeral.

Cory Monteith, 2011 Emmys
Now that I think of it, this could be part of the appeal.  There is another general aesthetic running through men's fashion.  We could call it a Peter Pan look.  The uncut, uncombed hair.  The facial hair that suggests no need to get up early in the morning and go to work.  Fashions that look more appropriate for a life spent slouching on the sofa than accomplishing... things.

Perhaps the skinny look is a way of appealing to a reluctance by the American male to grow up.

Or perhaps I am just old.

Hey, you kids!  Get off of my lawn!  And get a haircut!

1 comment:

  1. Ahahahaha! Thank you for saying this. I hate--HATE--when a man's pants are so tight that I can tell what kind of phone is in his pocket. Tight jeans don't look good when the junk in the pockets messes up the silhouette. And there is a huge difference between 5 o'clock shadow (nice) and 4 day old neckbeard (lazy). Sometimes I wish I was a peacock so the male of the species would preen a bit more.

    -- jen