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Metrosexuality: Why it Works

Updated on November 22, 2007
Photo credit: Google images
Photo credit: Google images

"La, but someone has to strike a pose and bear the weight of well-tailored clothes, and that is why the Lord created man..."

"Fops," "Dandies," "Pretty-Boys," and "Metros..." although the actual term may have been coined in 1994, dressing to impress as a man is a concept as old as civilization itself. A distinctly human update on nature's alluring plumage and finery (peacocks, moose with antlers, etc.), attention to one's appearance is not as girly a trait as one might suppose.

Throughout history, men as well as women have been judged by the cut of their clothing, the style of their hair, and their number of accessories. As a symbol of one's social prominence, wealth, and/or education, looking good has always contributed to one's success in business, relationships, and yes, even personal happiness.

An Absolutely Fabulous History

"Adam was a gentleman of Eden, and though his body was admired, you will grant the adding of a fig-leaf was inspired!"

Ladies, the next time one of your male counterparts complains about wearing a tie, or changing out of his favorite T-Shirt, I invite you to remind him of those heady days of yester-year, when men of the 16th century were required to wear lacy cravats, satin britches (pants), tights, buckled shoes, and pounds of makeup. Oh, and I mustn't forget to mention the fake beauty marks, which were pieces of fabric cut to resemble moles (which are always exquisite) and worn all over the face. If the fake moles weren't quite to the man's liking, beauty marks in the shape of stars, musical notes, and yes, hearts, were also considered extremely fashionable.

Despite the protests of such well-known philosophers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who complained that the dandies of his day were little more than "foppish manikins who are a disgrace to their own sex and to the sex which they imitate," there is little doubt that for the times ribbons equaled power, and lace represented good breeding.

Likewise, in the year 1866, one of the most popular books was Martine's Handbook of Etiquette, which detailed the bare necessities of attire for Victorian gentleman. Here are a few excerpts that show just how important one's attire could be:

"A well dressed man does not require so much an extensive as a varied wardrobe. He wants a different costume for every season and every occasion; but if what he selects is simple rather than striking, he may appear in the same clothes as often as he likes, as long as they are fresh and appropriate to the season and the object."

Although ribbons and other frippery quickly fell out of favor with men who viewed them as a lot of unnecessary and inefficient pomp and circumstance, the "right" clothing continues to remain one of the easiest ways to distinguish between socio-economic levels. High quality goods have always had a higher price-tag, and good fabric is no exception to this iron law of commercialism.

Today, brands like Armani and Kenneth Cole seem geared towards men of ambition, confidence, and those who are not afraid of a little entrepreneurial risk and daring.

However, it is important to note that today's definition of metrosexuality is far more complex and confusing than in the past. It is also, in the most common sense of the word, much less disparaging then its antecedents.

Marks of the Metrosexual:

"A man's duty is to uphold the banner of beauty. And you, as prince of our fair land must lead the way!"


Two different pairs of flattering jeans

One dark suit

One leather or suede short coat (not a bomber jacket)

Two pairs of dark, straight leg, non-pleated trousers

Three well-cut, solid-color, button-down shirts (one white)


Puts others at ease

Takes responsibility for his actions

Is aware of his sexuality

Enjoys looking his best

Flirts subtly

Accepts flattery

Never loses control

Tells the truth

Is able to laugh at himself


The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk


La Dolce Vita - Federico Fellini

Fargo - The Coen brothers

The Elephant Man - David Lynch

Cinema Paradiso - Giuseppe Tornatore

The Last Emperor - Bernardo Bertolucci

A Clockwork Orange - Stanley Kubrick

Cabaret - Bob Fosse

Sunset Boulevard - Billy Wilder


Ewan MacGregor

David Beckham

Pierce Brosnan

George Clooney

Why it Works

Despite some popular beliefs, looking "nice" is not an absolute indicator that one is a pansy or egregiously feminine. Rather, there are some proven reasons why men who know how to dress get the job, the girl, etc.

The Job: Wearing a suit or other professional clothing, in conjunction with a well-groomed physical appearance, communicates to employers and colleagues that you are serious about the job, and a man who really understands that paying close attention to details is important. Moreover, by looking like you are in control of yourself (no chaotic bed-head or wrinkled shirts), you are likely to feel more confident and produce work of a higher-quality. However, that is not to say that one must sacrifice comfort in the workplace, merely compromise. After all, if you're feeling like an overheated horse, you're likely to be miserable, and this will be reflected in your work.

The Girl: I can speak from experience here: I like men who know how to "clean up." When I'm with a guy who has taken that extra five minutes to look really put-together, I feel like he actually is trying to impress me, rather than the other way around. However, rest assured that I do not expect it of him all the time, which would not only be incredibly unreasonable, but also incredibly delusional. If there are days when I want to festoon my body in nothing other than my sweats, who am I to deny him the same simple pleasure? Remember, everything in moderation, even metrosexuality.

You: Sure, we all like to be comfortable, and we hate pretending to be something other than our true selves. On the other hand, who can honestly say we don't relish those appreciative glances from strangers on the street, or that we hate receiving compliments from others who notice that we have taken the effort to look our best? When you take pride in your appearance, you're telling everyone that you are confident, capable, and ready to face the world. Dressing in sweats all the time (although wonderfully easy) tells the world that you are ready to go back to bed.

Finally, when considering the merits of metrosexuality, never compromise your own style or values, and for pity sakes, don't max out your credit card. It's all really quite simple: Don't be afraid to gaze at yourself in the mirror for more than a few seconds. It's not vanity, it's survival of the fittest in a world where people look first, judge immediately after that, and rarely ask questions later...


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    • mqjeffrey profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      I have. I very much enjoy that song. Still, you have to admit that some aspects of metrosexuality are smart business moves

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      You should listen to Brad Paisley's "I'm Still a Guy"...for the opposite view.


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