blank polos ‘Mad Men’ fuels style choices for male millennials
From Elvis Presley sequined jumpsuits to Michael Jackson high water pants, from polyester disco shirts open to the navel to Members Only jackets, men fashions have hit some all time lows in the last 50 years.
In the last decade, casual has trumped professional in men fashion trends. Think shorts with a sports jacket (or maybe you shouldn think about that) or skinny jeans or T shirts with edgy sayings or bling on everything.
Over the last two years, men retail clothing sales jumped 4.1 percent to $101.8 billion annually, eclipsing a 2.8 percent rise to $150.1 billion on the female side, according to research firm Euromonitor. By 2017, men fashion sales are predicted to hit about $110 billion annually while women will rise to $156 billion, the Los Angeles Times reports.
And it guys in their 20s and 30s who are transforming men fashions. They like looking good, from clothes to socks and shoes to hair, and are willing to fork over the time and the dollars to make it happen. Names dropped on these testosterone fueled fashionistas include the Henry (high earner, not rich yet) and the Yummy (young, urban male).
Among the styles favored by Henrys and Yummies are:
The modern gentleman who mixes suits with patterns and textures;
The upscale casual guy who goes for high quality, high cost basics;
The lumbersexual yes, a joke on “metrosexual” guys in plaid shirts with well groomed beards.
Avery Acton, a 20 year old student at Chattanooga State Community College, credits Hollywood for the growing interest.
“I think it the glitz and glamour not only in TV shows like Men, but also in movies like Great Gatsby that was remade a couple years ago,” he says. “It helped motivate my generation to take an interest in the way we look.”
But you don have to fork over big bucks to look nice, Acton says. He shops at big department stores, online and at thrift stores. “Second hand stores are like hidden mines full of unique items,” he says.
Still, in Chattanooga, Acton is an anomaly. Most men here, both young and old, are sticking with the tried and true, says Dillard suit specialist Melvin James.
“We just so conservative in Chattanooga that we not willing to step out of the box,” he says. “We carry suits in just four colors gray, black, blue, and an occasional tan. We only carry two button suits. Most guys here don even think three button or double breasted suits are in. They are.
“I just not seeing the trend here. In fact, when I see a well dressed young man walking through the store, I probably ask him where he is from because my first instinct is that he not from here. In fact, I do a double take.”
A double take is exactly what Ethan Love gets from folks when he visits Chattanooga.
Love, 32, a Signal Mountain native who now lives and works in San Francisco, says his taste in fashion has taken on a new look since moving to California in 2007. A medical device sales representative, Love says that, though his job dictates a professional look, it not the reason he takes an interest in the way he dresses inside and outside the office.
“I don think my profession has too much of a correlation with how I dress,” he says. “My clothes for work are much more business related. I am not afraid to get dressed up for going out, but I am typically very casual outside of work.”
A casual look for Love, though, may differ from the typical casual look of local millennials. Slim fitted designer jeans paired with a fitted T shirt and/or a stylish sport shirt, worn with leather gym shoes is his typical casual look. And, by nature of where he lives, he up on trends, he says.
“Living in San Francisco, you see a lot of different styles. I see things that I like and make it my own,” he says. “It easy when you have so many different places to buy clothes.
People my age seem to dress very differently in big cities like San Francisco. I come home (to Chattanooga) and get labeled jokingly as a by my friends.
“I feel that each person has their own style and their own way they want to look. It does, though, seem to be shaped a lot around where you live and what is labeled as appropriate.”
Dillard James says he like to see local men jump on the well dressed trend.
“I would love to see guys put on three piece suits. not just millennials, but middle age guys and grandpas,” he says. “I want everybody in a suit.”
But James, who 54, blames his generation for today casual look.
“My generation set the standard for the ways kids are dressing today. It my generation that quit wearing suits to church,” he says. “We no longer dress up, and if you not going to dress up on Sunday, Monday and the rest of the week doesn have a chance.”
James says he optimistic, though, that local men will up their game when it comes to dressing professional. “We just so relaxed here, but I got hope,” he says.