Having written about fall fashion trends for women and how absolutely essential perfume is in any wardrobe, I thought it was high time that I play fair and honor the other half of the population, especially since now, more than ever, fashion and style are taking the male arena by storm. “Metrosexuality” has become the new buzzword, and shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy raise the well-groomed man to new heights. Thus, is it any surprise that more and more men are harangued by fear and insecurity, as they start giving that mirror a second, maybe even a third, look? And well they should. We women really do appreciate men who pay attention to their appearance, to the point that we can easily be repelled by guys who look just about as well-kept as a stray dog.
Having said that, allow me to allay your fears with two well-rounded letters: GQ, which is like Vogue, except for men. Think of GQ as the sultan of savoir-faire: here men’s fashion and style get an almost lethal injection of sophistication, elegance and luxury — all at a brand-name price that will unquestionably put a dent in your savings account. Let’s just say you won’t even have an account after you’re done buying cufflinks worth more than your dream car and vacation added together! However, given that GQ seems to cater to men in a specific age group and class, this doesn’t mean that the average college student can’t dig up some pearls of wisdom from its pages of bawdy jokes, clever puns and sprightly French sayings like pommes de terre du jour — whatever that means.
The first time GQ fell into my hands, I was surprised with what celerity I digested it from front to back. In an instant, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down, no more than I could a John Grisham novel. As a female, reading GQ for the first time is truly an eye-opener. You are given the rare chance to analyze your own species from a man’s perspective, and thus gain an inkling of an understanding why the opposite sex at times sees us as the foolish, paranoid and superbly complex beings that we can be.
I highly recommend GQ to any woman with time to kill — after all, why not cross into “enemy” territory — but for men, I would say: a little less football, a lot more GQ. If you see GQ as just a snobby magazine chock-full of fancy instruction and luxury commodities inaccessible and useless to Average Joes, then you are regrettably throwing away the three most important things that the magazine offers to its readers for free: confidence, taste and a winning sense of humor.
Some would argue that at least one of these items, taste, comes at a hefty price, but I’m talking about good taste, not high taste. The two are not equivalent, for a man can certainly have excellent taste without all the bling, and sometimes, ironically, it’s that man with the Hermes on his wrist who walks like the dork next door and, once he opens his mouth, reveals that he doesn’t have an ounce of intellectual cultivation. You can have the buoyancy and poise, if not quite the swagger, of the happy, the clever and the rich without necessarily being knee-deep in money, smarts or euphoria.
The key to unlocking this inner confidence, at least in terms of fashion, is to never forget that in a world where both men and women go to ridiculous lengths to look “stylish,” the cardinal rule is to feel comfortable in whatever you’re wearing. Let us be brutally honest. You can’t really strut it if you’ve got your tail between your legs. The words running through your mind should be, “I’m too sexy for this shirt,” and not “This shirt is too sexy for me!” And if the latter is the case, do yourself a big favor and DON’T wear it. Why put yourself (and the people around you) through such unsightly torture?
It all boils down to this: It’s not what a man wears that defines him, it’s how he wears it. For example, strip GQ’s “man-of-the-year” (and boy, would we love to!) of his designer suit and redress him in the most basic Gap T-shirt and jeans, and I bet women would still know when he enters the room. The fact that he’s probably drop-my-pants gorgeous helps, sure, but what really catches my attention is that seductive glimmer in his eye, the way he stands and carries himself, and how he navigates and engages me in conversation. You’ve heard this before, and you’ll hear it again: What you lack in looks, you can make up for elsewhere. The point is, in the long run, what’s inside is much more precious and enduring than the exterior. People don’t just say that to make themselves and others feel better. It’s true. Surface shine and shimmer cannot adequately compensate for a lackluster interior.
Reassurance, however, must go hand in hand with a quick word of caution. Remember, simply subscribing to a magazine won’t guarantee you good style, not any more than reading Shakespeare can make you a better poet. But GQ can give you powerful ideas and diverse avenues for exploration that can eventually lead to creativity, inspiration and the ultimate trophy — achieving a harmonized style that is distinctively and memorably “you.”
GQ paid Ting Ting by the letter for every time that she mentioned the magazine, but because its name is not very long, she is still a few thousand bucks shy of those killer Gucci stilettos. Hence, she is now graciously accepting donations.