Monday, June 27, 2022

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Joe Meyers

The unfashionable ‘bro’ look — cargo shorts, flip-flops and baseball caps

Cargo shorts, backward baseball caps and flipflops have been the lazy man’s go-to attire for too many years.
Cargo shorts, backward baseball caps and flipflops have been the lazy man’s go-to attire for too many years.Walmart, Getty Images

It’s a sartorial battle that has been waged every summer for the past several years.

Most women would do almost anything to get their husbands and boyfriends to shed that hopelessly passe warm-weather combination of flip-flops, cargo shorts and backwards facing baseball caps. Magazines have run online symposiums in which style mavens such as New York Magazine senior writer Jessica Roy have not been able to contain their tempers. “I think feet are disgusting, and I think men’s feet are particularly disgusting and I don’t understand why you need to wear (flip-flops) if you are not at the beach.”

Marc Jacobs made an attempt in 2015 to upgrade the flip-flop with fancy leather and design elements on the straps, but when he added them to suits in his menswear collection, fashionistas, such as social media guru Ella Ceron, rebelled. “The minute you put a flip-flop on, the entire outfit just disintegrates,” she said in digital debate.

USA Today critic Georgea Kovanis devoted a column to cargo shorts just as this summer began. “They’re dumpy and dorky, silly and bulky, and way too long, usually falling so far past the knees that grown men end up looking as if they have short little elf legs.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kovanis cited a recent study by the dating app Hater that found “guys who love cargo shorts are the least likely men to get a date.”

Business Insider fashion writer Dennis Green objects to all of those big pockets. “The extra pockets add considerable weight and bulk to the shorts, dragging them down even further from your hips.”

When Fairfield designer Jennifer Butler encounters a grown man in the outdated ensemble, she sees someone trying to hold on to their youth and the “bro” culture.

“Oh my God, it’s everything wrong with America,” Butler says, laughing. “Fashion is very tribal, and this is definitely a bro thing: Older men holding onto their college years.”

Butler wonders if shapeless, loose-fitting shorts, hanging below the knees, are a man’s way of saying he’s not about to bare his body for anyone else’s benefit. “They don’t realize that they are not exactly exposing a major erogenous zone. If you switch to flat-front shorts, it’s OK — we don’t think you’re trying to be hot,” the designer adds, with another laugh.

Men tend to hold on to wildly unfashionable clothing longer than women do.

“We are raised on trends. Women in the culture are innately expected to do that, but men aren’t,” Butler says.

Stamford fashion blogger Ilse Inzunza says she doesn’t feel that strongly about cargo shorts per se. “I wouldn’t want you to wear them with flip-flops and a baseball cap, but there are ways to do it if you pick the other (items) carefully. You can still look put-together.”

Asked about her own personal male no-nos, Inzunza says, “A really deep V-neck. Enrique Iglesias might get away with it, but that Rico Suave look is over.”

Men are often more susceptible to clothing nostalgia than women, Inzunza believes, refusing to part with that worn-out T-shirt from a Bruce Springsteen concert years ago.

“Keep those shirts,” Inzunza says. “When your clothes get holes in them, let them go.”

Butler says the culture is chasing youth, but when a 40- or 50-year-old-man holds onto the bro look, it makes him look even older than he is.

“It’s the dumbing down of men,” she says. “I don’t know why any adult man would want to present himself as undeveloped.”; Twitter:@joesview

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