Thursday, January 8, 2009

Trying to understand male fashion: Beyond metrosexual and retrosexual

Men are complex, as the furrowed eyebrows here show.
Photo by Flickr user Steve Punter.

Forget everything you've heard. Men are complicated, and so is their style.
We just returned from Vegas. While packing, my boyfriend, JD, realized he didn't have any dress shoes to wear to the clubs. (Yes, he "realized" this while packing, as if the thought had never crossed his mind before that moment.) JD is taller than Shrek, so it's hard to find shoes in his size: lucky 13.

Another Shrek-esque character, Anthony, was coming with my friend Brittany, so I texted her and asked what size shoes Anthony wears, thinking maybe JD could borrow a pair of his.

She wrote back, "Size 13. What size is JD? Anthony needs to borrow some dress shoes."
Argh, grr. I am a manly retrosexual man and
I'm going to punch your face in with a big steak.

Sounds like the attack of the "retrosexuals," the beef-jerky-gnawing manly men who wear flannels and work boots, trim their beards with hunting knives and wash their armpits and face with the same bar of Ivory soap. Basically, the opposite of the highly groomed "metrosexual."

Except it's not that simple. Sure, Boyfriend does not own dress shoes. He only wears jeans and doesn't even own a tie, except for the clip-on horse-pattern tie I got for him as a joke at a church yard sale. When required to dress up, he has attempted (before my veto) to wear this in public several times.

He would live T-shirts if it didn't snow (check that: If I didn't force him to wear a jacket when it snows, because he apparently does not feel the sensations of temperature). He is scruffy on the face and shaved on the head.


Here is where it gets all crazy. He loves Disney movies. He not only knows what shea butter is, but he has been spottedusing it. And he refuses to wear socks more than one time. Literally. He buys new socks every week because he wants them "crisp" and perfectly white. He would rather go sock-less -- under his junked out tennis shoes, nonetheless -- than "double-dip" a sock. His words, not mine.

That's far from retro. Yet not quite metro.

There was obviously something else, something more in the world of guy style.

In my torrent of confusion, I solicited help from Doug Brown, an author and local guru on men, in general. My words, not his. After a thorough investigation of my boyfriend behind his back, Brown determined JD was actually a member of the highly complex breed of "schizosexual."

Brown would know. He, too, is a schizosexual. He is fond of cashmere -- even using the word "fond." Yet he loves flannel. Opera and Led Zeppelin. Sushi and barbecue. Handmade scarves and campfires. The schizosexual is simultaneously neither/nor, and a little bit of both.

Picture this: Brown describes male style as one of those charts with a big circle in the middle, for schizosexual. Then, a metrosexual circle on the left, a retrosexual circle on the right, each dipping into the large schizosexual middle circle. Every guy lands on this chart somewhere, whether as an isolated extreme or seeping across all areas from the middle.
Brown describes two other circles on this imaginary chart, as well.

On the bottom: the granolosexual. This man is a vegan, electronics-hating, neo-Rainbow Gathering back-to-earth hippie who most likely lives in the town of Ward. He is not retro, in that he would never kill an elk with his bare hands and eat it, but he's not metro, because he definitely does not groom, much less use body "polishes" or loofahs.

On the top of the chart is the pastoralsexual, who is into gardening, herbs, flowers, vegetables, tweed blazers, walking sticks and cooking. Before you think that sounds metrosexual, consider this: Pastoralsexuals only like doing metrosexual things that make messes. Digging. Basting. Grilling. But not so far as bow huntin'.

Suddenly, my boyfriend and his Great Sock Complex was thesis-level complicated. So in the true nature of woman, I decided to make it even more so. I tapped into for more definitions.
Bono is so very ubersexual. Look at him.

The ubersexual --
Passionate about causes, equality, traveling, art and culture. Spends more time "grooming his mind than his hair" and is highly confident. Example: Bono.

The technosexual --
The male who is well-groomed and obsessed with the latest technology: cell phones, PDAs, computers, iPods.

The sapiosexual --
A man who frequents seminars, art centers and book readings in search of other brainiacs, aka sophistikittens. Wears glasses and blazers. Would definitely have dress shoes for Vegas, but would prefer to wear them to the museum than the club.

The agrosexual -- The farmer type: tough and rough, but with metrosexual tendencies. As Urban Dictionary put it, "My agrosexual friend talked about his favorite designer labels as he shoveled the manure from his chicken barn."

Oh, and you can't leave out the neologosexual, a person obsessed with coining new terms, such as metrosexual and ubersexual. Ahem, ahem.

Which brings us to the pomosexual, the "un-label-able" post-modern type who refuses to define people by their sexuality in any way. On the list of fill-in-the-blank-sexuals, this is the equivalent of selecting "chooses not to respond" or "N/A." Which incidentally was the facial expression I got from my boyfriend when I asked him what category of man he thinks he falls into.

Of course, his blank stare might have also been attributed to the nearby beer can or football game on TV. That brings us back to retrosexual.

And the possibility that he likes to wear new socks every week because he straight up refuses to touch a washing

Complex creatures, men.

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