Sure, Codpieces are Over the Top

Oscar wrote:

The more backwards and uncivilized the culture, the more peacockish the men.

I don’t know if causation exists between the two, but the correlation is too strong for me to ignore.
[…]
I’m not in favor of men dressing more flamboyantly. The cultures where men do are not cultures I want to emulate.

I see his point and it is very close to what I thought for a long time. However; it’s not as simple as that. For starters, there are a lot of pre-suppositions and contexts which are bundled up in those thoughts. One of which is the near total domination of world fashion by The West. For 200 years, any country or its leaders who wanted to be civilized, or seen as civilized, has followed our patterns. That (what we mean by civilization) is a huge topic, and The West has won a huge bias for a long time. Instead of arguing all that, I think it would be more productive to give some examples.

While I was writing that post, I had two specific social groups in mind as exemplars of men’s fashion; both of whom I chose to leave out for others to bring up. Dalrock claimed one of them, men’s western wear. Here are some examples. Notice the bright colored and patterned shirts, big hats, exaggerated footwear, exotic materials, and shiny accessories (buckles, buttons, etc.)

The second was military officers; specifically in their dress blues. There is no other reason for the shiny brass buttons, big white hat, white gloves, medals, and ribbons, braids, and a saber except to “peacock”. The effect is awesome; as it is intended to be. It’s tempting to dismiss this and say, “Well, yeah, but that is uniform, and everyone is doing it together. It’s no big deal.” That misses the point. The dress blues uniform is at its most iconic, striking, and militaristic when among civilians.

Hayley Geftman-Gold, a a liberal feminist Jewish journalist from New York, obviously thinks consumers of western wear are uncivilized and should be dead, but my experience (and I would bet Oscar’s) of life in the US is that Southerners and other country folk are more polite and better mannered than a great majority of those who are not. Likewise, all of the military officers I can recall to have met are nearly impeccable in their manners and similar measures of civilization.

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14 thoughts on “Sure, Codpieces are Over the Top

  1. Should a “real” man proceed through the door first as is his due, or hold the door for others to show he doesn’t need the privilege of going first?

    Should a man go first through the door so as to be first to confront any danger, or to bring up the rear to defend from the behind?

    I submit this is fundamentally the same principle as whether to dress soberly, with no need to call attention to oneself, versus to dress flamboyantly.

  2. Not to interrupt A_NG, but to totally do that, my False Dichotomy Radar is off the charts here.

    A “real man” does whatever is a good idea. Sometimes that will be going first, sometimes last. To the topic at hand, sometimes it will mean dressing more flamboyantly, sometimes not.

    I think Cane is onto something here re:dress. Is it of utmost importance, preventing one from Really Living until it’s handled? No, I don’t think so. But it should maybe be more of a priority than it is currently.

  3. Hmmm. Perhaps.

    I guess my original thought is that how you dress is a reflection of what you value, and how you value yourself.

    Whether you go through the door first, or hold the door, and bring up the rear is again a reflection of your vision of your importance.

    Several years ago, I took my kids to Chicago on vacation, and made reservations at a very nice restaurant near out hotel. We went to dinner dressed in our finest clothes. Mind you, this was the first time I’ve been to a restaurant that didn’t have an ala carte menu. Across the dining area from us was a table of people wearing track suits. To be certain, they looked like expensive track suits, but basically, they were fancy sweat pants, and sweatshirts.

    As I reflected on that experience, I ran across the dichotomy of how wealth seems to bring with it the ability to ignore social rules because our society worships money. I don’t know of a single restaurant in my city that has a dress code, and would turn away a patron because of it.

    As an aside, I do see that in some ways, I’ve conflated dressing well with dressing flamboyantly, and recognize that they aren’t necessarily synonymous.

    I know lots of men who seem to pride themselves on not wearing a suit, on not wearing a tie. It’s as if it’s a commentary on their rugged individualism, or on how they walk their own path through life.

    Then, to me, this reminds me of how many people seem to be proud of the fact that they’re ignorant of mathematics.

    I don’t know if that helps any.

    When my eldest daughter was shopping for a prom dress, she asked me to help her and to look at a dress she liked. Well, I thought it immodest, and suggested we look at another store. At the second store, widely perceived as being more expensive than the first, we found a dress that was less expensive, and more plain, and I asked her “Are you showing off the dress, or the girl?”.

    I’m not supposing that men should start wearing lime green leisure suits, or purple fur top hats, but in the rest of the world, dressing well, and with a splash of color is a reflection of one’s self-respect.

    Perhaps our current aesthetic is a result of the brightly colored hippies in the ’60s.

  4. I haven’t gotten through “The Discarded Image” by Lewis, but it notes we don’t see through traditional eyes easily.

    In “That Hideous Strength”, a wakened Merlin is shocked and thinks the Pendragon is a scullion because he is not dressed in his colors. After the victory, the group from St. Anne’s on the Hill wear the original traditional dress.

    It is the problem with the equality – uniqueness dichotomy. In the Catholic and many other churches, there are still liturgical vestments, bright for holidays, plain or dark or those times. Soldiers as mentioned are dressed formally, but all the same.

    Consider Christmas. Most decorate their houses, trees, and wear bright clothing in celebration of the season. Or easter where we color eggs.

    That is I think how we can reapproach the subject. The Man is the head, king, prophet, and priest of the home. A king without a “sword” or a Crown or a royal robe?

    Are men’s meetings meetings of sodbusters or of nobles?

    The difference I think pride and pretense. Like when the woman annointed Jesus with Nard (200 days wages!) and Judas Iscariot complained that it should have been sold to help the poor. Then Jesus rode into Jerusalem to Hosannas.

    It is a mystery and paradox, but we would do well not to go to excess in either false humility of plainness or putting on airs by peacocking.

  5. This was a fascinating topic but I don’t understand the secondary discussion that followed. Specifically the what seems like a “so what should men wear today?” discussion.

    We wear whatever we consider is masculine. Masculine depends on the situation, time and place, and can be either very elaborate or very simple. Surely there are too many nuances to be listed on the internet, in contrast to the very straightforward cross-dressing of women of whatever it is men are currently wearing.

  6. @Cane Caldo

    The second was military officers; specifically in their dress blues. There is no other reason for the shiny brass buttons, big white hat, white gloves, medals, and ribbons, braids, and a saber except to “peacock”. The effect is awesome; as it is intended to be.

    Indeed. I’ll never forget the time my father broke out his dress sword from his navy uniform. I think I was around 9 years old. Awesome indeed.

    Tangentially related. The other day I was talking to the owner of a local gun range here in DFW. He proudly displayed his custom chrome finished (not stainless) Ed Brown* 1911 in a shoulder holster. As I was admiring it he explained that he wore it every day. One day someone asked him if he was going to a barbecue, since he was wearing such a fancy gun. He said he replied “If I were going to a barbecue I’d be wearing two“.

    *Ed Brown is a true premium gun. I won’t guess how many thousands he paid for it, beyond the word several.

  7. The Great Male Counter-Renunciation made a run in the 1970’s but faded fast, even though it had backing from the then Mighty Sears Roebuck. Note the men more colorful than the highly colorful women.

  8. Military fashion related trivia.

    Actual frontline combat uniform from the first year of the American Civil War. Both sides had these volunteer units (modeled on French Zouaves). It didn’t last long…

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