All that we hate in culture, whether it be a television show, night life, or fashion, seems to fall under two easy labels: "bro" and "hipster." The hipster is obnoxious because he is so committed to being esoteric that he becomes a parody of himself. The bro has the opposite problem: His tastes are comprised of the low hanging fruit of pop culture. He feels more like the personification of a beer company focus group than a flesh and blood human being.
A friend of mine likes to point out that we hate bros and hipsters for the same reason: They take things that we love, cultural items that, on their face, are somewhere between "not bad" and "fucking awesome" and ruin them with their slavish devotion. We should all have the maturity to acknowledge that the hipsters are on to something when it comes to craft beer, recycling, and vinyl. So too should we be man enough to stand up and say that a day spent shotgunning beers, eating nachos, and playing cornhole actually sounds pretty fun.
As a peace offering to my bro brethren, today, I would like to talk about bro fashions that aren't actually that bad. Sure, in the hands of an SAE pledge, these style statements are generally deployed with the nuance of a fraternity hazing ritual, but often, the principles are sound.
Bros of America: Today I offer you an olive branch in hopes that maybe we can get along after all. Sure, I'll still be irritated when your visor clad head blocks my view of the game, and I see you staring at my girl, but maybe—just maybe—we can find some common ground. Here are 10 Bro Style Staples That Aren't Terrible.
If you went to a cold weather college, you've probably seen enough shitty vest-hoodie combinations to last you a lifetime. And Southern bros insist on wearing those shitty fleece vests. Do they hand them out along with mint juleps at Sons of the Confederacy meetings?
Despite the many awful vests floating around college campuses and golf courses across this great country, it is possible for a vest to help make a good outfit great. Not only will the right vest keep you warm, but a good vest can add a rugged touch to your ensemble, countering that loud sweater, or finishing off that urban rustic look Brooklynites have come to treasure.
It's time we made like Mr. Burns and reclaimed the vest for fashionable males. Non-bros need to band together and let the world see our vest-ed interest.
Bow ties have long been used by fraternity bros to lend the appearance of respectability to their untoward shenanigans. It's sort of a "Dress like Carlton; Act like Will" attitude.
Bros are known for wearing a loud, sloppily tied bow tie with oversized dress shirts and ill-fitting blazers. They seem to believe that a simple accessory will distract the world from their lifestyle of debauchery. A bow tie can work well for you if it isn't meant to dominate your ensemble but to complement it.
If it's good enough for the entirety of the NBA, it should be good enough for you, regardless of how many bros have besmirched the bow tie's good name over the years. Cultivate that British tea party chic once in a while. You deserve it. Take a cue from Chris Bosh and take pride in knowing how to tie a proper bow tie.
Last generation's hipster has a striking similarity to this generation's bro. Last year's indie rockers become this year's stadium band. Last year's indie starlet becomes this year's blockbuster superheroine. The counterculture becomes the culture so that a new counterculture can be born. At least, that's how it usually works. In a rare reversal of the natural order, pastel shorts, long sported by bros, have become fashionable among more fashionable folk. And also, dudes at summer music festivals—or who like to dress like they're at a summer music festival:
Rarely does a style move from culture to counterculture, but with pastel shorts, it happened. It's truly a fashion miracle. It probably hurts your heart to have anything in common with the bros pictured below, but those are the facts on the ground below the waist.
It's time for us to make a clear distinction. It isn't inherently a bad thing to rep your favorite sports team or pay homage to your alma mater. The problem is the ratty sweatshirt that should have been left behind with red Solo cups. While jerseys have had a long place in the halls of streetwear staples, most bros end up looking like Happy Gilmore than anywhere in the vicinity of "decent."
When trying to convert sports loving bros to dressing decently, make sure you focus on the trees and not the forest. The problem isn't that you are showing love for your team of choice or alma mater—it's everything else. When you already have a good foundation of style, demonstrating your fanhood without pulling a style foul becomes a fun challenge. Rocking a jersey with selvedge denim, a dope vintage tee under a denim jacket, Nike iD kicks, a slick college sweater, or a throwback-inspired satin team jacket are all fair game. Even the harshest precinct of the fashion police won't fault you for that.
Not Having Facial Hair
We're still living in a beard moment. Facial hair remains the hottest accessory in the cooler neighborhoods across the country. 1920s carnival barker and Civil War general remain two of the hottest looks from Portland to Brooklyn.
If you are blessed enough to be able to grow a full beard or mustache, by all means join the ranks of the hairy and hip. But, if you don't have it like that, be honest with yourself. Bros know their limitations. The only time you see facial hair on a bro is when it is glorious. Stop spending your time with a patchy beard or shabby mustache. It isn't worth the pain and heartache of putting in all of that effort to come away with less than stellar results after a three-day growth. It isn't worth the cost of beard oils and mustache waxes if you don't have the hair for it.
It is okay to be clean-shaven. The bros know this. And it's okay if you come to know it too.
We save the most prominent offender for last. Polo shirts are the staple of bro fashion. These are the collars we talk about when we talk about popped collars. These are the shirts that have been a douchebag calling card for decades. There are countless examples of polo shirt offenses. Case in point? This guy:
It's important for us to remember that not all polo shirts are created equal. There are fashionable polos out there that actually look good. What's a good guideline? Trim fit, no logos. Don't banish polo shirts from your closet just because you've seen one too many lapel horsemen being soiled with vomit and beer bong residue. When you meet the right polo for you, you shouldn't leave it on the rack just because you've been wronged so many times before. #notallpolos