There has been a lot said about women’s fashion in Poland, about their style (or a lack of it), attachment to surprising accessories, and constant pursuit of sexy look even in business circumstances. I would not want Polish men to feel left out on that matter so let me share some of my observations on their way of dressing with you.
Younger generation of Polish men ( I intentionally avoid the word „guys”, although deep inside me I know it is more accurate) has done their homework in fashion and started to dress more appropriately for their jobs. They wear smart clothes now and follow the corporate dress code quite accurately, and they seem to almost get it right. But unfortunately almost makes a massive difference and I shall focus on it today.
One of my favourite American stylists, Tim Gunn, keeps saying „ The most neglected part of people’s clothes is the size”. Nothing could apply better to Polish men (and women as well). Younger generation keeps fit and likes to underline it with their clothes by wearing more tightly fitted cuts, and there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing except for VPL: Visible Panty Line. As much as I got used to seeing women’s underwear (in all its shapes and styles), I still feel a bit uncomfortable knowing what is under men’s trousers. I am not a fan of baggy, hanging clothes but trousers should just fit enough to sit and walk comfortably, and give you enough space to freely access the pockets without stuffing them. Leaving aside my aesthetic impressions, I also do not think it is particularly healthy. Infertility is one of the most common health problems nowadays, and more and more often the problem lays in men. I am not saying wearing clothes one size bigger would solve such a complicated medical matter, but why not giving it a try out of respect to this part of men’s body.
Sadly, VPL is not the only problem. Another issue I observe all too often is again connected with a wrong size. The trousers men wear are just simply too short. I can somehow live with the trousers being too long( at least they do not look ridiculous when a man sits down), but nothing disappoints me more than an adult man in his younger brother’s trousers. Surprisingly, the first and the second problem mentioned hardly ever go together, and I sincerely have no idea how it is even possible. All in all, I pass by gentlemen in their thirties and watch their slender (yes, I admit they could be attractive if I had a fetish) ankles. Too short trousers would make sense if they were intended to be so and were matched with a stylish pair of socks, but in 99% of cases they are not. I think men did not figure out yet that it is better to buy trousers that are too long and shorten them than to pretend no one could see they were just too short. As Tim Gunn says „ Men’s wear is all about tailoring”.
When the trousers are too short, the viewer’s sight automatically goes even lower. And unfortunately, things are not looking any better here. Polish men have not done this homework yet. I have always thought men tend to buy more expensive clothes because they shop less throughout the year, but apparently it does not apply to their work shoes (or maybe they just tend to choose the ones that basically look cheap).I have once heard that if you want to see the person’s character have a look at their shoes. What do cheap shoes tell about the person? That they have spent all the budget on a fancy suit and there was no money left for the shoes? I also think that everyone should have at least one pair of good quality shoes they can wear for important meetings and special occasions. In general, I share the idea of investing in shoes first as in my opinion they are the most important part of our wardrobe: we stay in them whole day and expose them to all kinds of weather conditions, so it is crucial to get the right pair.
You might have an impression that I am quite conservative when it comes to men’s wear but in fact I have nothing against accessories with a bit of a twist. It just has to be the right twist. A friend of mine once drew my attention to the detail that he finds annoying in Polish men’s style (it is not just me as it occurs). When Polish men finally decide to invest in a proper pair of shoes, they go for the ugliest pair in a whole shop: blue shoes with red stitches and laces. And they think it is cool! They think it is fashionable and trendy! They think it is OK to wear them with a suit! Well, my dear gentlemen, it is NOT. It looks tacky, classless, and basically does not match the business attire. But I suppose de gustibus non disputandum est.
Not all Polish men dress badly, of course. I was riding in the elevator at one of Warsaw’s office buildings some time ago. At one of the floors the elevator stopped and I saw a young man. He was wearing a very stylish suit (in the right size!) with perfectly matched pocket and shoes. He looked like a real gentleman. But the charm was quickly gone when he almost stepped on my foot, and then turned around and stood with his back almost touching my nose. The elevator was half empty so he had plenty of room to move ( I did not as I was standing pushed against the back wall), but apparently he did not feel like. When I was a performing musician I used to say „If you can’t play well, at least look well”, and my mother would respond „ If you look like that, you should also play like that”, so if you eventually manage to look like a gentleman, please also make sure you act like one.
At one of my visits to London, I shared a certain observation on men from the City with my British friend: „ You know when Polish young men wear suits there is always something fake about it. The men here wear them more naturally”, I said. And for quite a few years I did not know what exactly made such a difference. Today I feel I am getting closer to the answer.