Earlier this month, I found myself in a conversation with some of my female coworkers about what turns us off about guys.
"I don't like guys who are into clothes or know about brands as much as I do," one said.
Another added, "No, I won't stand in line with you for some stupid drop."
Do women care about what men wear? We definitely pay attention, but the truth is, most of us won't check the tags on their shirts to see what designer labels they have on. Brand names rarely impress us.
Image via Four Pins
Now, to be clear, there's a difference between guys who pay for labels because they're genuinely interested in the style and design and those who pay too much for Givenchy because they think that's what girls want (or just want to flex). And yes, both exist. Whether guys like to admit it or not, there is some desire to appease the opposite sex. (That's not a diss because the same could be said for women.)
Women are less likely to give the latter the time of day.
Here's the thing: it's perfectly fine for a guy to put money into expensive clothing, because it shows he has enough maturity to invest in his appearance. Because the truth is, humor and confidence coupled with dirty, worn-out tees will only get you so far. But it's also about knowing what to invest in. Spending $800 on leather pants because Kanye West is still wearing a pair doesn't exactly scream "mature" or that you've got priorities. "The only thing that is hot about designer clothes is that you can stunt on social media and have people feeling jealous of your life for 10 minutes," Complex Music news editor Lauren Nostro says, "but then it's over—and you just have your Saint Laurent, and when someone spills a carafe of orange juice on them in the club, you're going to cry."
It also doesn't help if a guy is so attached to labels that he spends all his savings on clothes and can't afford to take his girl to a nice dinner. Like Kanye rhymed in "Blood on the Leaves:" "Two thousand dollar bag with no cash in your purse." Dress based on your bank account. I don't want to have to walk 10 steps ahead of you because I'm embarrassed of how you're dressed, but I'd also like to know that you can pay your own bills.
Image via Women's Wear Daily
Beyond priorities, being married to designer brands also says something about the man wearing them (as they would any person). "If a man is about that label life, it means that he probably can't do stuff," Triangle Offense editor-in-chief Elena Bergeron says. "With anyone I date, I think about what would happen if I brought that guy home to meet the fam... My brother just taught someone to walk again. My cousin's husband is building a stock car for fun. My uncle worked offshore for decades. If I brought a guy in Louboutin sneakers to a family gathering, it would be a massive L for both of us. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I've never seen a man in Givenchy or Balmain unclog a toilet, change the oil in a car, or successfully defend his lady when shit gets real."
Women do find stylish guys attractive. Dressing well can get you laid. "They call it eye candy for a reason," NYC-based illustrator Sophia Chang says, who adds that she isn't anti-labels but that some brands have precedence over others. "We need to look good in the street together." But wearing designer labels doesn't necessarily equate to "dressing well" or being "stylish." "What I am impressed with is the way he styles it," Exposure senior account executive Mikaila Koenig says. "You can always tell when a guy is trying too hard... Confidence is key."
There's also value in having a "point of view," says Saks Fifth Avenue fashion editor Soo-Young Kim, even if that means wearing a $30 H&M sweater. The FADER's style editor, Deidre Dyer, agrees: "Personal style and the confidence with which you carry yourself are way more important to me. Also, I'll be damned if you take longer than me to get ready when we're going out."
Skechers sneakers won't win you points but neither will gaudy designer clothes. All we ask for is a balance—dress well without being consumed by name tags. Even better, just take a fucking shower and wear clothes that fit because, as photographer Andi Elloway says, "In the end, though, it’s about the man who’s in the clothes. Being confident and comfortable wearing a look is what seals the deal."