November 7, 2012
A Tom Ford ad for men’s suits. Photo: Google
Internet memes, it seems, have a desire to breed and the power to multiply offline. First it was Steve, then Amber followed by Marie. Three friends sharing with me the same twelve word sentence over phone, lunch and text and all of them missing it’s dangerous subtext.
Long ago in High School a nice kid named Ken in my History class spent most of lunch break talking about a hair appointment he’d scheduled. The stylist was Jose Iber and Ken said the $100 price tag was worth it because he wanted the perfect haircut to compliment his new suit that was sure to drive Lucy Thompson crazy. He had a crush on her and planned to see her that weekend at a party. I saw him at the party and he looked great. The suit was elegant and fit perfect but Lucy kissed someone else that night.
Ken thought dressing to the 9’s would win Lucy. He thought, as the meme states “A well tailored suit is to women what lingerie is to men”. But women only want to see a man in a suit they’re already attracted to just as men have no interest in seeing an unattractive woman in lingerie.
On a night in college I was talking with a friend in her living room when her roommate appeared wearing a knee length pink coat and announced, “I’m going to Brad’s house wearing nothing but underwear beneath this coat and when he answers the door I’m throwing it to the floor.” My friend looked at me concerned – we both knew Brad wasn’t interested in her – but the determined girl was already marching towards her car and sure of her underwear’s ability to entice Brad. She returned crying 30 minutes later. When the coat hit the floor, Brad closed the door.
What makes us attractive – or unattractive – are the subtleties of our personality or the way we pronounce our R’s or the way we walk through a grocery store. Things we’re usually not even conscious of.
Recently over lunch my friend Amber said how convinced she was that any man in a well tailored suit immediately becomes attractive. “It means he takes care of himself, he cares.” She continued to describe the attention such a man gives to detail; the style of his hair, his skin, how he speaks to a woman. But she also admitted to having never seen her boyfriend in a suit and never having left him for other suited men she has access to. She couldn’t even recall dating someone who owned a suit. Ever.
“But it would be nice,” she said, “If he would wear a suit every once in a while. It would really show he was ready to grow up and take the future more seriously.”
To a girlfriend, a well tailored suit conveys professional intentions and the potential to be taken to a friends wedding without being an embarrassment at an open bar. This is the difference between suits and lingerie. Lingerie calls for intimacy while a suit signals stability. The two garments don’t even imply the same thing. The meme is more accurate to state:
“An already attractive man in a suit is to women what an already attractive woman in lingerie is to a man.”
We’re better listening to designer Rick Owns advice to buy less clothing and go to the gym instead.