The Stefanovic effect: stop being so boring, men

You have to hand it to TV host Karl Stefanovic. By taking a style hit for the team, he has made very clear the disparity in the way men and women are judged.

But also – and quite unintentionally I imagine – he has highlighted something else: menswear is boring.

Most men don't trust anything that stands out from the crowd.

Actually, it's not. But the average Australian male is.

The fact that Stefanovic was able to wear the same suit on television every weekday for a year without anyone noticing shows just how little we expect stylistically from Australian men.

Sure, there's not nearly as much variation in men's style as women's by way of shape, cut and colour. On any given day for most, it's either a combination of jeans and shirt, or a suit.

It also highlights, though, that most men don't trust anything that stands out from the crowd.

We're not comfortable with taking risks with fashion, and are quick to deride those who try to buck the trend.

We're also slow to get on board when a high-end stylistic concept finally filters down from the boutique shops to major department stores and becomes part of the mainstream.

Just look at the phenomenon that was denim label Tsubi/Ksubi. From a brand worn by a small group of individuals in the inner suburbs of Sydney to eventually being found in every second male's wardrobe even after they had clearly passed their prime, Ksubi represented the pattern of fashion in the male psyche – we're only comfortable when everyone else is wearing it.

Advertisement

I'm not positioning myself as a leading figure in the sartorial avant garde, nor suggesting we throw away convention for the sake of a fancy button or two. But I do often wonder if the reason for our uniformity comes more from a sense of what is considered appropriately masculine than from any real concept of style.

The colour pink is a good example. Originally it was a preferred colour for boys because it was considered strong and bold in nature. Somewhere along the line, though (I'm looking at you, Barbie), it became associated with more feminine traits like sweetness and prettiness.

Thanks to a certain coiffed soccer player or two, pink suddenly became safe for men to wear again. So much so that, at one point, on Friday night at any CBD-based bar you'd be drowning in a sea of #FFBCD9 or similarly hued shirts and ties.

The Stefanovic experiment has illuminated the whopping double standards in the ways we perceive men and women.

The societal implications of this for women have already been discussed in great detail, and rightly so, but there's a risk that another important message may be lost.

So here it is. Men: stop being boring.

Stop sticking to staid shades of navy, beige and white (and pink); stop wearing clothes that you have seen a hundred other people wearing; stop "sticking to what you know". Take a risk.

We live our life in clothes, so why not have some fun with it? 

Comments