Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion traces the multi-faceted aspects of men’s fashion to explore how these changes affect men’s emotions, societal patterns, and interpersonal relationships. It utilizes the holistic approach of dress as a way of analyzing the intangible and tangible aspects of building and maintaining personal appearance. The contributors argue that men have been socialized to place greater emphasis on the appearance of their selves than they do on the person with whom they interact. They thus become preoccupied with a person’s ability to meet their standards of personal appearance, rather than focusing on how they actually function as men. Men are particularly concerned with being seen as sexually attractive, even when they are quite content to just be themselves.
The contributors identify three primary sources for this focus on appearance: (a) consumer culture, (b) peer pressure, and (c) expectations of beauty. They then examine how each of these factors contributes to men’s current fashion trends. They suggest that by analyzing men’s fashion trends, a closer examination of women’s fashion trends can also be undertaken. After all, both men and women have different perceptions of what is beautiful, which leads to different societal pressures to keep up with these definitions. A review of popular fashion magazines, as well as critical analysis of menswear products, help the authors explain why certain clothes will be popular while others will not.
The majority of the book traces the development of men’s fashion from its beginnings in the nineteenth century to present times. It concludes with a look at what men are doing today to express their individuality and to challenge the current definitions of beauty. Finally, they suggest that men’s fashion trends might continue to evolve into new directions as men of all ages realize their social and economic position in society. This book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in men’s fashion.