The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

20 All-too-Common Male "Looks" That Need to Disappear in 2014, Part I

After a small delay, here is the first of a two-part series on various and sundry looks (and behaviors) that average guys, who want to kick up their everyday style several notches, would do well to leave behind and even eradicate in 2014.  It ain't pretty, and I don't mince words, but we need to do something about ourselves now, men.  So, it's Classic Style Bootcamp.  Ready?  Here we go. . . 

1) Any Kind of Saggy Pants 
Sagging jeans, khakis, and the like make you look sloppy in the extreme, as if you don’t give a darn about yourself, or those around you.  And maybe that’s true.  But don’t be surprised if and when you encounter difficulty moving seamlessly into new and different social or occupational situations because you resemble a half-full bag of leaves and lawn clippings in the midst of a Magic: The Gathering tournament at the local gaming shop.  Careful attention to details and neatness when it comes to personal appearance, on the other hand, has a direct influence on how others perceive you and your abilities.  Don’t believe me?  Experiment with a neatened up version of yourself for one week and then your usual rumpled bed look the second week.  Pay close attention to how most people react to you.  Unless you go through life with your eyes closed, you can’t help but notice what I’m talking about.    In the meantime, get pants that fit and wear ‘em with a belt at your waist where they belong.

2) Flimsy Basketball Shorts 
Unless you are actually on the basketball court, or in your backyard where no one else has to see you, ditch those flimsy to-the-knee things.  They do not look cool on the street, Cameron, and you seem positively "slow normal" when basketball shorts are part of your outfit in the middle of winter most places.  Besides, no one else should have to see your underwear, or bare ass and jockstrap for that matter, showing through the ultra thin material from which most shorts of this kind are made in 2014.

3) Sweats or Warm-up Pants Anywhere but the Gym 
Or the privacy of your TV room at home.  As Jerry Seinfeld said to his terminally unemployed doofus friend George Costaza many years ago now on the Seinfeld TV show, "Do you have any idea what you are saying to the world when you go out of the house dressed like that?  I give up!”  You don’t look like someone who is in full command of his life when sweat and/or warm-pants are a regular part of your public attire.  More like a bottom feeder.

4) Hooded Sweatshirts 
These run a close second to sweatpants and warm-up pants mentioned above in the daily Clueless Sweepstakes.  In addition, look at the kinds of guys who routinely appear in public with a hooded sweatshirt.  You might be the most upstanding, nicest guy around, but do you really want to look like a petty thug out to rob and/or deliver a beating to someone?  If you’ve never considered that before, it’s time you do because people who wear these things, especially with the hoods up, don’t seem like the greatest people around and project the most negative of stereotypes whether they intend to or not.

5) Visible Underwear 
Is it really necessary to wear your pants in such a way that the rest of the world can see your boxers or briefs?  While Virgin Airways bigwig and renowned global adventurer Richard Branson might make a point of eschewing traditional male attire like neckties and sports jackets, things that mark one as an educated professional – Is that really such a bad thing? -- I’ll bet you can’t see his underwear during board meetings or elsewhere when Sir Richard is moving among the general public or meeting his immediate corporate subordinates.  Long story short, it’s UNDERWEAR boys!  It’s not meant to be shared with people on the sidewalk, public transport, in the classroom, at work, or in restaurants.  Keep it out of sight.

6) Graphic T-Shirts 
It’s not 1975 anymore, and, the living-a-post-college-life-infused-with-irony hipster phenomenon notwithstanding, t-shirts with slogans and graphics make you look slightly uncool at best.  Especially when you are well over 25.  If you really want to project a more pulled together and adult image with your everyday attire, good buddy, it’s time to purge your dresser drawers and closet of items like those retro Keep on Truckin’ t-shirts.  What about those very rare occasions when and where plain t-shirts might actually be appropriate in public?  Stick with navy, black, and mid-gray pocket tees that don’t say anything clever or feature things like unicorns, dragons, and 20-sided dice.

7) Clothing with Skull & Crossbones, Daggers, Pot Plants, or Barbed Wire
What can we possibly say here?  Do you really want to look like Jessie Pinkman, Badger, and Skinny Pete on Breaking Bad?  These guys are criminals, albeit fictitious, with drug habits and a host of other problems.  Resembling people at the absolute rock bottom of society, in appearance or behavior, is no way to go through life.  And it’s certainly not the way to make a favorable impression with anyone else except other criminals and drug addicts.  I make no apologies for actually having the balls to say this in writing either.

8) Backwards Baseball Caps 
I first noticed this look in a big way when I moved from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to attend the mighty UW-Madison back in 1994.  Sadly, it has not gone away in the intervening two decades.  Keep in mind, however, that even baseball catchers don’t wear their hats backwards anymore, opting for specialized high impact helmets now.  And the hip-hop look?  It’s as pass√© as the music, guys.  Time to leave it behind.  If wearing a ball cap is that much a part of your personality, at least have the good grace to buck this tired trend and turn the freakin’ thing around with the brim over your eyes like it was meant to be worn.  You just look stupid otherwise.

9) Over-sized Athletic Shoes 
Huge white sneakers only succeed in making a guy look like a) Jerry Seinfeld in the 1990s, b) Mickey Mouse, or c) a Micronaut action figure from the late 70s.  I don’t care how much you might have paid for ‘em.  And you know what?  With all of the cool, genuinely classic leather dress and casual shoes out there which might cost the same or not that much more than the over-sized basketball shoes, there’s really no excuse not to have a decent pair or two of shoes in your closet besides the Air Jordans, Crocs, and Tevas.  And by the way.  If you’re idea of dress-up shoes is a pair of red Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops, I’m not really sure I can help you.  Or if we can be friends anymore.

10) Unlaced Work Boots 
If you do a lot of back-country hiking, regularly work in construction, fix cars in a garage, or shovel manure in a barnyard, I can see where some heavy work boots have some relevance and application.  Otherwise, lace ‘em up and tie the darn things, or, better yet, get some decent looking leather dress shoes and relegate the boots to weekends when you take the dogs for a hike outside of Sedona or Flagstaff.  Contrary to what your 9th Grade girlfriend might have thought and said, you most certainly do not look cool over the age of 18, shambling aimlessly along the sidewalk in footwear like this.  Unless you’re aspiring to be an extra on Yo’ MTV Raps circa 1993.

There you go, men.  Let me hear you say it, "Thank you, Sir!  May I have another?"  Now drop and give me 20.  Tune in later this week for the second half of 20 All-too-Common Male “Looks” (and Behaviors) That Need to Disappear in 2014.  Some might not like to read this stuff, but it needs to be written and acknowledged all the same.  And we can't really sink any lower than we have already.  Can we?  In extreme cases, even nudity might be an improvement over the kinds of things I outline above.  Well, maybe not on second thought.  Surely, many of you understand what I mean though?

-- Heinz-Ulrich 

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