I just . . . I just don’t get it. It’s ugly
A lot of what I’m about to say owes its iteration to the existence of Leandra Medine’s blog, Man Repeller. Although it’s not that these thoughts didn’t exist in my brains pre-MR, it’s just that I was never quite sure how to express them, or why they came about in the first place. Now I know: oftentimes fashion, by its very definition, repels men.
They fear that which they do not understand, obviously, but more than that they find our interest in and obsession with the consumption and acquisition and knowledge of fashion repellent in some way. “What exactly could you even like about that?” they’ll ask, pointing at a pair of fugly shoes or a batik-printed overcoat. “I just . . . I just don’t get it. It’s ugly.”
Maybe it’s some kind of gender-based filter (for the record, I don’t believe in gender differences – I believe in nurture over nature, culture over gender, and for all those who disagree I would recommend Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, but there are certain items – jewellery, clothing, shoes, even wall art – that horrify men, while tantalising and titillating the ladies among us. My top five?
1. Fugly shoes
Of course, we’re not talking about all fugly shoes (you can leave your Crocs at the door) but there are several avant-garde designers (and a few not-so-avant-garde) who design what menfolk would consider damn ugly shoes. And whaddya know? I love them. Step up, Acne: not super avant-garde (in that definition I’d put Dries van Noten) but Scandi, which means minimalism and a healthy disdain for the “sexy” factor. These S/S 2012 babies were crying out for me to buy them, but can you imagine the agony of having that conversation with a straight man? Incredible? Yes. Man-repelling? Without a doubt.
2. Bags that look like other things
You know, like the ham bag by the Rodnik Band! I have a serious soft spot for novelty items. Novelty earrings (especially at Christmas), novelty clothing (see also: Valentine’s Day rating), novelty shoes (um, see above) – and there is nothing quite so delightful as a bag that looks like, say, a speech bubble, or a watermelon slice, or a book. Olympia Le Tan’s embroidered The Golden Summer clutch (a mere €1,295 at Net-a-Porter) is so cutesy and kitsch and ridiculous it’s off the freaking charts. And of course, men would hate it.
3. Jewellery that looks like dead things
Here’s a controversial one, because there is a teeny-tiny chance that this may not be exclusively a man thing. But what I can tell you is: of all of the people who have had extreme reactions to my anatomically correct bat-skull necklace, 75% of them have been men. If that’s not a scientific survey worthy of inclusion in medical journals, I do not know what is. This bat-skull necklace is a conversation-starter, mind you, which is worth a lot in these Tinder / Grindr / Blender days. Confusing times.
Did you know that dungarees are making a comeback? That is a frightening sentence rolled out at least once a year. Now, a disclaimer: I am not a dungarees fan. This is because I am a bit chubby and I worry a lot about camel toe and my FUPA and the possibility that I might be mistaken for a pregnant farm worker. However, I have seen dungarees that looked really, really good on people (mostly Alexa Chung, but once my friend Ciara). So I’m kind of pro the idea of dungarees, but anti the reality on or near me. Men? Totally, 100 per cent against. Seriously: ask them. And then show them this amazing leather pair and watch them shrink (ahem) ever so slightly more.
5. Novelty animal-motif accessories
It’s always a tragedy when you realise that your most beloved accessory that you think makes you look like an S Club Jr in the video for Puppy Love makes him recoil in abject horror. I recently bought a hat with cat ears that I thought made me look like an adorable young woman with a love of the outdoors (and small animals), but my other half laughed for 20 minutes and then told me I looked like a Super Mario character (not in a cute way).
While we may enjoy an animal-motif scarf, an iPhone cover with a zebra on it or a hat with cat ears, it is a truth universally acknowledged that he will not. (On the upside, this one is only €15, should you feel the need to invest.)
Now, tell us YOUR feels on the matter below.