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Men Pretty Much Think Women's Idea of "Fashion" Is a Big Pile of Fugly

Ugly Fashion.jpg

In honor of NY Fashion Week and the general Back-to-School / Fall Clothing Chaos, today's AM New York column is about Men's Opinions on Women's Fashion.

Having just slogged through the ginormous Fall Fashion issues of 2,300 magazines (okay, it's more like 23, but still), I noticed that the trends, uh, trended towards ... how shall I put this?

Really, Really Not Fucking Sexy. But Warm!

As I flipped through photo shoots with various models swathed in tights and hats and mountainous piles of shapeless material, I kept thinking, "What the hell are men going to think of this s--t?

It's not hard to figure out, because guys have only three possible reactions to women's clothing:

A) "Huh?"
B) "Ew."
C) "Did I bring a condom?"

Unfortunately for the Y-chromosomes, most of this fall's fashions land in A or B. In order to get C, they either have to move to Los Angeles or visit the Penthouse Club, which I'm sure they'd be happy to do. In the meantime, I'm going out to buy some seriously opaque tights.

Column starts below, continues after the jump.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2006

Last week, in preparation for the upcoming change in seasons, I lugged twenty pounds of women’s magazines home with me for a Fall Fashion read-in.

Swollen and unwieldy with the traditional glut of September ad pages, the massive Elle, enormous Glamour, and truly elephantine Vogue all trumpeted their opinions on what I “must wear” this autumn:

Layers. Volume. Skinny jeans. Tough Chic. Leggings. Capes. Plaids.

In short, nothing even remotely attractive to men.

Now, maybe that doesn’t really matter – after all, as the saying goes, “women dress for other women.”

Personally, I don’t buy it. Most women dress either to look good or be comfortable (those being mutually exclusive more often than I’d like), but when it’s the former, we certainly want men to notice!

Given that we’re in the glamorous midst of New York Fashion Week, it seemed the right time to ask a few hundred Manhattan men (via an email survey I sent out) critical questions on their favorite subject – ladies’ apparel, of course.

The conclusions? Guys may not know much about designers, but they certainly have strong opinions on what they find “hot,” what they can’t understand, and what they’d prefer you never to wear again. Ever.

In the last category, capris, pointy-toed shoes, and Uggs were the top offenders.

“Capris must be banned from the planet,” West Side resident Robert, 43, declared, “even Jackie O looked like s—t in them.” Advertising exec Mark Duffy hates the trend so much he devoted an entire blog to eviscerating them (www.ihatecapripants.blogspot.com).

Uggs are equally reviled. “I don’t give a s--t how comfortable chicks say they are,” says artist Jon Nissenbaum, 31, “I f--king hate the Ugg boots.”

“You're not an Eskimo, you're not running the Iditarod, you look like an idiot,” wrote radio personality Adam Bernard, 27. (Luckily for him, Uggs have been out for the past two years anyway.)

Skinny jeans got equal rants and raves, as did flip-flops and cowboy boots – some men lusted after them, others couldn’t hide their disgust. Leggings with skirts didn’t fare as well, with 100% of men decrying them as hideous.

“Please stop wearing spandex with dresses,” pleaded one 24-year-old hip hop dancer from Harlem, “Freshman year at NYU is over!”

Other controversial items? Huge handbags, clogs, knee-length shorts, and enormous “old people drug store sunglasses,” which, according to Bernard, “make you look like an insect, and not even the cool kind that eat their mates.”

Other men have a more ambivalent take on the trend towards mammoth sunshades. “I actually kinda like them,” wrote aspiring architect Sean Fisher, 25, “but really, they just hide a girl’s face, which is deceitful if the girl is ugly.”

The current 80s revival wasn’t a crowd favorite, either. “I didn't enjoy much about `80s clothes in the ’80s,” says award-winning theatre artist Bradford Louryk, 27. He doesn’t like them any better now. “I play a game on the subway platform in Greenpoint called ‘Hipster or Eastern Block,’ because – frankly – the difference is harder to see than you might imagine.”

What men loved, universally (this will no doubt shock you): short skirts, tight jeans, and just enough cleavage to entice without looking like he’s paying by the hour.

Still, enough guys mentioned their love of casual attire frequently enough to make me wonder if plunking down my credit cards for the latest in circulation-halting denim and five-inch bloodbaths – sorry – heels – isn’t completely pointless. “In general, I think women should wear more socks and wear sensible lace-up shoes,” says Staten Island resident Scott Hutchins, 30.

Other men agreed. “Girls are at their most attractive in sweatpants, XL sweatshirt, hair down, no makeup,” wrote Adam Zimmerman, 24. “It’s the most natural, easygoing, cozy, lets-get-together-and-snuggle look out there.”

“Women can wear burlap if they can rock that burlap,” wrote SoHo poet Jim Behrle, 33.

Most guys will never understand ladies’ obsession with fashion. “Somehow women have a great talent to make up rules just to make each other miserable, while pretending that abiding by those rules makes women more attractive,” explained a particularly astute thirtysomething New York geneticist. Amen to that!

Of course, there’s one fashion decree we can all be sure of, succinctly summarized by the erstwhile Washington scandalette Jessica Cutler (who would know): “What men hate: Underpants.”

Anna Wintour is taking notes.

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