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And it only works because real men do not wear pink without a disclaimer explaining that they are only wearing pink to signal that they are real men.

I guess I'm not a real man then. I have a number of pink shirts that I wear for work (amongst a whole load of other colours) and I've never even thought about my masculinity when wearing one. Frankly, the opposite seems to be true to me. If you have to put a big sign on your pink shirt talking about "real men" then you are pretty insecure about your pink shirt and your man status.

Bell also explained a second way to signal high-status: conspicuous outrage. Wear a shirt with the word "FUCK" on it in big letters (or, if you prefer, FCUK). This signals "I am so high status that I think I can wear the word 'FUCK' in big letters on a t-shirt and get away with it." It's a pretty good signal. It signals that you don't give a...well...fcuk what anyone else thinks, and the only people who would be able, either economically or psychologically, to get away with that are the high status

Is that a joke? High-status people wear shirts that say FCUK to show how high-status they are? Utter rubbish. The people who wear FCUK shirts (and other 'outrageous' designs) have nothing to do with high or low status. They are just being provocative, and I expect many, if challenged about what they were wearing would fail to be high-status about it.

Or maybe you're SO secure, that you can afford to look insecure while being actually secure.

Or maybe you're SO insecure that you try to look like you're so secure that you can afford to look oh god I can't finish this sentence.

The first time I tried on a pink shirt, I briefly wondered how it might reflect upon my level of (in)security, as our culture had always so emphatically told me the two were connected.

Careful study of the mirror revealed only the same old familiar geek in jeans, work boots and a shirt that --while brighter than anything else I owned-- just didn't make a difference either way.

I couldn't help but conclude the whole notion was bullshit pop psychology; cousin to such useful social tools as horoscopes, fortune cookies and dream analysis.

Or maybe you're SO secure, that you can afford to look insecure while being actually secure.

Huh, wearing a pink shirt makes me look insecure? The signal given by the wearing a pink shirt is in the eye of the beholder. If you think less of me because of it, that's your issue, not mine.

What a message that sends about you! :)

I agree with him: you can't claim to signal nothing.

I don't doubt your conscious intention.

>> High-status people wear shirts that say FCUK to show how high-status they are? Utter rubbish.

Out of curiosity, how many high-status people do you know? Would you say that Bell's theory is invalid for all age ranges?

I'd reckon there's room to say that both showing-off and being provocative could be reasons for a person (who's by no means average) to wear a fcuk piece of clothing instead of something else.

I'd say that Bell's theory is completely accurate, and that fcuk is a terrible example of it. Without wanting to offend anyone, the only people I've seen wearing obvious fcuk-branded clothing are what someone else referred to as the Bridge and Tunnel set.

the Bridge and Tunnel set

Could you explain this euphemism in plain English I have no idea to what it refers?

That pink is not a masculine color seems peculiar to western culture. I used to wear a rather bright pink for a bit till people started complementing me on how "secure I was in my masculinity". Strangely enough, that made me want to stop wearing it.

I think the association of pink with femininity is relatively recent (less than a hundred years old), but I haven't found anything but other people asserting it in a quick search.

From Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink#Pink_in_gender]:

"In Western culture, the practice of assigning pink to an individual gender began in the 1920s.[5] From then until the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red it was the more masculine and decided color, while blue was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty color, or related to the Virgin Mary.[6][7][8] Since the 1940s, the societal norm apparently inverted so that pink became appropriate for girls and blue appropriate for boys, a practice that has continued into the 21st century.[9]"

So yes, you're right, this association is recent.

I read a little while ago that pink used to be for boys, and blue for girls — the idea being that pink was more fiery, with pastel blue being calmer and more feminine.

This changed sometime in the early 20th century.

The source was some parenting/manners/etiquette book from 190x.

"That pink is not a masculine color seems peculiar to western culture."

Go to Italy, then. One of the good things in life is to wear a dark Italian suit with a pastel-colored shirt (light blue is the norm, light-pink is not unusual). Only utter morons would associate a color with a sexual orientation. But then, most Americans are utter morons. In fact, most people, Americans or non-Americans are complete morons. It's an epidemic.

I guess I'm not a real man then. I have a number of pink shirts that I wear for work (amongst a whole load of other colours) and I've never even thought about my masculinity when wearing one. Frankly, the opposite seems to be true to me. If you have to put a big sign on your pink shirt talking about "real men" then you are pretty insecure about your pink shirt and your man status.

I agree -- the "wear a pink shirt to indicate confidence in your masculinity" trick only worked briefly (was it in the late 90s?), for the first few men who started doing it. As soon as it got noticed and people started writing articles about it, it stopped working, since it was an easily-faked signal; I remember the bars suddenly being flooded with desperate-looking weak-chinned men in pastel pink shirts at some point. Nowadays, I think, that whole phase is over and pale pink is just another colour for men's shirts, though I personally try to avoid it because of all the layers of attached symbolism.

This, of course, is the whole point about fashion -- those who aren't at the top try to look like those above them, and those who are at the top try to look different from those below them.

If you're thinking "but surely a highly confident man doesn't care what he wears" then you're right, but a highly confident man still needs to go to great effort to make sure he doesn't look like he cares what he's wearing, otherwise he risks being confused with those below him.

A man who does not care what he wears spends no effort on what he's wearing. A man who wants to appear like he doesn't care what he's wearing may spend effort on what he wears.

Signals don't need to be accurate, e.g., spoofed browser agents.

Some signals are accurate. If you work out, have tattoos or a magnificent beard, that's a lot different to just putting on a shirt.




It's not saying much to say that different signals are easier or harder to fake.

None of those beards are going to convince anyone. Beard extensions would probably work though.

It's about signals, not reality:

He claims that the goal of fashion is to signal status. So far, so obvious. But low-status people would like to subvert the signal. Therefore, the goal of lower class people is to look like upper class people, and the goal of upper class people is to not look like lower class people.

Signals aren't interpreted the same way by everyone (hence "high-status" and "low-status" are very coarse terms), but anyone actively trying to control the signals they give off through clothing has some idea of how they will be interpreted by those they are seeking to impress.

A shirt that says "FCUK" can start a conversation with a stranger, preferably the sort of boundary-challenging conversation that might lead to an opportunity to challenge more boundaries.

There's a practical purpose that has very little to do with fashion.

Shirts with FCUK on them aren't supposed to be outrageous designs.

They're wearing clothes that advertise French Connection UK, a high-end clothier.

They are advertising the clothing store - however the reason people buy them is because they think they're incredibly subversive having clothing that appears to say "FUCK" in public.

I don't find "fuck" to be particularly offensive, except that the reason people are using it (in this instance) is because they wish to offend the public sensibility, so they are attempting to be offensive; which I _do_ find offensive.

French Connection, before this campaign, was a high-end clothier. Now it may charge high-end prices but they sold themselves into chav-dom.

FCUK == chav, not high-end.

One of the confusing parts of this thread is that the FCUK brand has different associations in the US from what it has in the UK or Australia.

It's pretty rare to see a FCUK t-shirt in the US (apparently they only have 19 stores nationwide) whereas they're ridiculously overplayed in the other two countries (14 stores in Sydney alone).

Of course it's not "high end" anywhere, but it's not so chavvy (or local equivalent) in the US.

I think the writer didn't get it..

Fashion is complicated, certainly all the reasons in the article play a role.

But it also serves as an advertisement for fitness, fitness in terms of energy and thought you can devote to staying in fashion.

If you're a bit hurried and busy or just lost in deep thought like programmers, you don't have the resources to be on the cutting edge of fashion, and you tend to look a bit dumpy.

If you're in real distress, you tend to look really like crap, what ever you're waring is strictly serving the function of protecting you from the elements, and nothing else.

Like the peacock's tail, fashion is advertising excess resources.

In some way it can also advertise genetic fitness, as in you have high social IQ and can read the crowd's mind.

And then there's the I'm so proud of being a hacker I walk around looking like homeless person crowd, that's advertising that you're kind of a dick.

He makes it clear throughout the article that he knows nothing about fashion, and even admits in the first paragraph that he has no interest in clothing or fashion: "I want simple, good-looking apparel that covers my nakedness and maybe even makes me look attractive."

Here's a partial list of reasons people wear what they do, which the author misses (though some are mentioned in the comments):

- To enhance one's body (appear more attractive, muscular, thin, etc)

- To indicate a lack of concern for fashion.

- Peer pressure to conform to what others are wearing.

- Self expression of any number of things.

- Aesthetic taste.

- A sense of moral obligation (modesty, patriotism, etc).

- Entertainment.

- Marketing.

- Safety.

It's interesting that the author fixates on the motivation of status signaling above all others.

"I want simple, good-looking apparel that covers my nakedness and maybe even makes me look attractive."

That's like saying "I want to read a simple, good-looking book that entertains me and even makes me look intelligent." You can't be that simplistic without appealing to the lowest common denominator. Past a certain point, you've got to make an effort or else it doesn't really matter to you.

One a larger scale, fashion is a reflection of the current cultural mentality - its a physical representation of reactions to current events, trends and ideas. In a very real way, it is a socially-conscious art that you can wear. Fashion forecasters look analyze things around them: "Green" inspires the color, current wars inspire military elements in clothing, and more currently, the recession inspires deconstructed black pieces.

There is a stigma which casts Fashion as vapid and illogical, but a serious look at avante-garde and haute-couture designers will show the opposite. Designs are highly intellectual and innovative, encompassing all variations of form and function, and the interactions between elements. Very commonly, a single stitch or element is given as much deliberation as a core feature in a programming language or a chip in a circuit due the angles which it must be analyzed.

Most of your list either use fashion for status signaling or are alternate means of status signaling. Specifically, the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th; and the 3rd, 7th, and 9th can though not always. I think Robin tends to overemphasize signaling in various issues, but not this time.

Maybe I'm not thinking about it in the right way, but I don't see how most of those things signal status (and some don't signal anything at all). Or perhaps I was just too terse in my list. Here are examples of what people might be thinking with some of them:

- To enhance one's body (appear more attractive, muscular, thin, etc): being thin is inherently better than not, so I want to appear more thin.

- Self expression of any number of things: it's important to me that people not kill animals, so I'll be conspicuous in the ways I don't wear leather.

- Aesthetic taste: I prefer the look of the color red, so I'll wear it for my own pleasure.

- Entertainment: keeping up with fashion is stimulating to me, so I'll do it for fun.

Could you expound on why you think these things signal status in some way?

Many of these are, I think, signaling of things other than status -- e.g. membership of a group.

I also think this thread is missing the point slightly: status signaling doesn't explain every clothing decision ever made by anybody, but it does explain why fashions change the way they do.

I'm not much into reading about signaling and similar issues, but from what Robin has written, especially over the last few months, I think most signaling, eg group membership, involves status signaling among its other issues.

But it also serves as an advertisement for fitness, fitness in terms of energy and thought you can devote to staying in fashion.

Ahh, but not entirely. One of the cardinal sins of fashion (at least for heterosexual men) is looking like you're trying too hard. Spending too much time trying to look good (or, say, buying a subscription to GQ) is actually an indicator of low status since only low-status men need to expend effort on looking like they're not low-status -- this is what my favourite fashion site magnificentbastard.com calls "The Principle of Artful Dishevelment". You want to indicate that you have naturally exquisite taste (and plenty of money) but that you're not sufficiently status-conscious to spend an hour on your hair before leaving the house.

> One of the cardinal sins of fashion (at least for heterosexual men) is looking like you're trying too hard.

Yes but that's a case of sprezzatura: to stay in fashion (or create trends), you'll need to work hard. But you must make it appear completely natural and done without trying.

Don't think of it like it's judgmental. Think of it more as an indicator. If I'm reviewing a student's essay, and he's writing in a five-paragraph thesis model, then I know his effort is based largely on somebody else's idea of what makes a good essay. I don't think it's a sin to do that, but I also think that somebody writing like that hasn't found his own style.

I agree 100%. Like the peacock's tail, if it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing. It has to be hard to look good while not trying too hard to look good. It's all part of advertising exactly how high your social IQ is.

Being fashionable also advertises that you are something of a worthless shit who doesn't have any better use for his time; see PG's essay "Why Nerds Are Unpopular" http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

Funny that you call fashionable people worthless shits while citing the essay that's used most to point out that lots of nerds are worthless shits.

I don't see the point in denigrating people's passions, Bill. Paul Graham likes programming and making money. Not everybody does. Other people like to write music. Others, buying attractive clothing and learning how to look good. These things aren't inherently better than one another unless you want to buy into a specific social idea, and then we aren't required to go along with you.

The one thing I do detest are people with persecution complexes. Nerds are frequently unpopular because they insist so passionately how unpopular they are. That's unpleasant and leads to people not liking them. As I've discovered, if you talk to people about designing web sites and programming innovations, they'll still like you. You've got to understand going in what other people will be interested in and what nobody gives a fuck about, and that some people will never care, but if you know that going in, you can make delightful friends even with non-nerds.

The other problem is that some nerds know nothing but one specific thing, and they look down on everything else, so nobody likes them. There are people who know nothing but fashion, too, though they're rare and they're just as unpopular as nerds.

Praising or even respecting "passion" is a stupid pop-psych thing to do. Passion is worthless except to the extent that it motivates you to provide value to society. Or do you and the ??s that voted you up somehow think that passion excuses or justifies serial killers and Adolf Hitler and other historical and real world excesses.

Your tone isn't doing you any favours but you actually make a good point.

I was tempted to argue that providing "value to society" is always good but what you really mean to say is not that passion leads to "value" (there's no guarantee of that) but that passion leads to the motivation to act and the desire to have an effect somehow. Whether that will be good or bad is unknown, often irrespective of intentions, and can only be evaluated through value-judgement.

If that's your belief, currently, I can't fault it.

Being fashionable gets you places. I used to be a shorts and t-shirt - stereotypical software engineer look. I just didn't really care enough to wear anything except whatever was comfy.

Then I was given a really nice dinner jacket for Christmas, tailored and fitted and all. I felt like a new man wearing it. Since then I've spent considerably more time (though honestly not that much) thinking about what I wear, and I'm still in the process of replacing my disgusting t-shirt-and-shorts wardrobe with something better.

News flash: it fucking works. I feel more confident, the clothes no longer hang off me like rags, they ARE more comfortable, and for the first time in my life women are hitting on me.

If you don't care how you look, don't come crying when people judge you based on how you look. After all, you don't care right?

Out of curiosity: What places have you been going now that you're looking for clothes? I'm where you were last year, and am a bit clueless as to where to purchase things. (Hopefully this isn't too much of a conversational tangent.)

The same places everyone else goes, actually. Macy's, the Gap, Nordstrom, AE, etc etc. Many of these mass manufacturers make great stuff - but the effect of their products can be greatly enhanced by getting it fitted by a tailor.

Since my route home after work passes through the transit hub under the downtown shopping core, I've taken the habit of just randomly perusing clothing stores on my way home. I do this about once a week - it keeps your eyes sharp for particularly interesting pieces of clothing that isn't just "yet another collared shirt".

There is nothing wrong with dressing and grooming well. The essay talks about people who spend substantial time and energy at fashion, at projecting an image. there are only two things really worth spending time on: 1) family and friends, and 2) your work, that is what you contribute to society. The second is helped by good grooming, neither is helped by being "fashionable" (unless your work is mostly image, like acting or other entertaining).

And the essay by PG is relevant because it points out that nerds are unpopular because they have more valuable things to do with their time than suck up. The "in crowd" spends effectively all its time sucking up to each other, and shutting out everybody worthwhile.

Pink was considered a masculine colour 100 years ago, and blue was feminine.

Reference: " In the early 1900s, The Women's Journal wrote that pink was a "more decided and stronger colour" that was best suited for boys. According to the Journal, blue, was "more delicate and dainty" and better for girls. " http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2009/200901/20090128.html

The original radio broadcast is available online.

Got a source other than a single article in The Women's Journal, though? Womens' magazines often give against-the-grain fashion advice.

mcormier is probably refering to "The Great Masculine Renunciation". If you're interested in fashion studies, I can recommend the book "Fashion-ology: an introduction to fashion studies" by Yuniya Kawamura.

[1] http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Great-Masculine-Renunciation/... [2] http://books.google.com/books?id=LUWTJWXZ2QQC&lpg=PA40&#...

I wonder where an idea that pg wrote about in an essay (can't seem to find it now) fits in all this: early adopters in fashion, or the trend-setters are usually fringe groups that want to differentiate themselves by being provocative. Most male fashion of today is the gay-fashion of yesterday (tight shirt, pointed leather shoe, etc.). Similarly, many female fashion-ideas (lipstick, stockings, mini-skirt, etc.) originated with prostitutes.

I don't know much about fashion but the mini was developed by fashion icon Mary Quant (of LBD fame) came out in the 60s and had no particular association with prostitutes.

Stockings were worn way back to keep peoples legs warm. Lipstick was in use at least as far back as Ancient Egypt (but perhaps by prostitutes I don't know).

Fashion appears to be largely cyclic and those cycles have been accelerated recently in a bid to extract more cash from fashion victims. Haute Couture is not so cyclic (but probably the influences are) but then on the whole it's not affordable or useful to the general populous.

Sounds like it was written by somebody who's never walked into an upper-scale clothing store. Once you get too old for Hot Topic, the profanities disappear.

Absolutely. Fashion isn't just about what color you're wearing.

It's also about what cut you're wearing. Mass-market retail (walmart, kmart, jc penny, et cetera) sells clothes in a few sizes, and generally the sizes that most people wear. They're extremely generalized, and don't really fit most people well (even loose clothing can fit well - it's about how it hangs on your frame).

For example, most people can wear Levis jeans. Most people look decent in them. But they don't truly fit them.

Go for a pair of G-Star Raw jeans, you'll pay eight times as much - but they will fit you perfectly.

And if pink is considered a status symbol, they've never seen the bridge and tunnel crew ;)

I only really started being interested in fashion over the summer, when somebody mentioned J Petermen, I followed the link, and fell in love with the site's style. So I'm very much a fashion noob. But from the first few forays I've made, that's the feeling that I got. Fashionable clothing is much more intimate than the more generic clothes that still make up most of my wardrobe.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have understood paying extra money for something that serves the same general purpose. What I didn't understand then was what you said now: It's all in the detail. I can buy less expensive clothing, but it doesn't feel as good and it doesn't look as good, and I think that the extra money spent is worth it for how it feels. Hell, you can even get a feel of it when you wear an American Apparel t-shirt versus a Cafepress one, and that's not a foray into fashion at all.

That's why it's fun for me right now, going to university with a bunch of fashionistas. Last year Abercrombie was everything; this year, the fashionable people are obsessive in their knowledge of clothing. And I love it. I don't know if I'll be able to afford their level of obsessive outfitting, but even if I can't I'm hoping that just being around stuff like that will rub off on me.

And if pink is considered a status symbol, they've never seen the bridge and tunnel crew ;)

This is why Bridge and Tunnel folks (and their equivalent in every other major city) are an excellent example of what's being talked about in the article -- they are the low-status people trying consciously and desperately to indicate high-status people. However it doesn't quite work, since they appear to have only a limited grasp of what high-status people are actually like.

They know suntans are high-status, so they fake-tan themselves 'til they're orange. They know high-end brands are high status, so they wear Ralph Lauren shirts with polo logos twelve inches high, or carry loud and clearly fake Louis Vuitton handbags. And they heard somewhere that wearing a pink shirt is totally masculine nowadays, so they continue to do so even though the people they seek to emulate moved on about ten years ago.

Go for a pair of G-Star Raw jeans, you'll pay eight times as much - but they will fit you perfectly. Hook, line and sinker. Would you like to buy a watch? Sure it's going to cost you 100 times more than another watch but you can't skimp on quality. This will make you stand out as an individual. Everyone will want to know you with this watch on your wrist. Can you feel the power yet - come in for a fitting today.


The problem with fit is only that mass market clothing is cut for fat asses, as the mass market is now obese. But it's not like you have to go for some high-end brand to get properly sized clothing not cut for fat asses. I mean, LL Bean sells reasonable quality "trim fit" stuff cheaply.

Every man absolutely needs to know a tailor. Mass market clothing is affordable but generally ill-fitting. Mid-range clothes have good material, but likewise poor fit.

High-end clothing is, well, expensive.

I know a tailor who charges very reasonable prices for his work, and I've gotten many a pair of mid-range jeans or jackets fitted. It is often that I walk in on a sale, walk out with an item that I really like but doesn't fit quite right, and spend an extra $30-50 getting it altered. Makes your dollars go a lot farther.

Absolutely. A tailor can make a pair of $50 pants look like $200 pants.

Are you people freakishly proportioned? Affordable well cut brands abound. I think you're really just justifying your foppish clothing budgets.

The pair of jeans I'm wearing right now cost me $70. $45 on sale and $25 for the alteration. It fits perfectly as a result, and certainly a lot better than its store bought state - which was acceptable but not good.

I don't think this qualifies as "foppish" clothing budget. I don't think I've ever even bought a shirt over $100 - like I said, I'm not fashionista. I'd rather pay to get mid-end clothing right as opposed to go for the luxuriantly expensive stuff.

Also, "well cut" is a very large gradient. Yes, you can buy a vest from a store that fits decently without any alterations whatsoever - but that's also a long way from fitting you like a glove. The point I was communicating is: if you know and have a regular tailor, you can get the absolute perfect fit from factory wares without much extra expense.

The extra bit of fit has a lot of profound effects that are well worth the minimal amount of money you're spending on it. The clothes become yours. They're not a "size 10" or whatever, they're fit for you. All the minor bits that aren't quite right are made right, and even untrained eyes can tell the difference. Given how little it costs I really don't see a reason not to do it.

So .. did anyone else read this post and immediately think,

"Aha - so peacocks must find humans wearing Fubu to be astoundingly beautiful! " :)

The newest line of clothes at the local French Connection has a shirt with the word "SCREW" in huge letters on the front, and there's also a shirt that says "FCUK off and die" with a sketch of a decaying corpse on the front.

Isn't French Connection the company that created the whole FCUK trend five years ago? If so, they lost my respect way back then.

One of my favorite things that it sortof related to this is HUGE sunglasses.

My friends wear them all the time and it's a bit sad. If you're really pretty, why would you hide your face behind huge sunglasses like that?

Then it dawned on me. Celebrities wear them to conceal their face when they go out in public. They don't WANT to be noticed, so they wear huge masks over their face.

People saw these "upper status" girls doing it, and they copied it in an attempt to appear the same.

Thus: huge sunglasses as a status symbol.

Exactly. And how did sunglasses get to be a status symbol in the first place? Because in the "early days" of Hollywood, celebrities had to wear them due to the brilliant lighting required on sets. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunglasses#Modern_developments [citation needed - I know]

Wow, I had never seen that before! The lights totally makes sense, though.

You do realize those large lenses are all part of the 80's retro look that is so big right now?

I don't think it's as much to do with celebrity behaviour as it is the fact that past fashion tends to re-emerge after 20 years or so.

...signalling that its owner is so rich he can afford to copy the lower class and still get invited to parties.

I don't think this explains why upper middle class suburban kids wear "ghetto" clothes. I think it has more to do with a kind of insecurity about being wealthy, and in particular a fear of being "spoiled."

It kind of reminds me of how a lot of kids I knew in college (myself included) got a kick out of living a bit more rugged than usual--for a while I bragged about not having a pillow, for instance, partly because there seemed to be a competition going on among my friends for who could be most frugal.

(Of course, saving is a good idea and plenty of people have trouble affording college, so it would be silly to begrudge them for that. But there's definitely a kind of signalling going on, too, and I don't think it's as related to peacocks as this post's author claims.)

The suburban kids in 'ghetto' clothes phenomenon is also a way for those kids to flee the 'safe' boredom of the suburbs, and it can even piss off their parents as a bonus!

It lets them vicariously experience the emotional highs and lows of life in the ghetto (at least as that life is painted by hip-hop lyrics).

"One solution is for the upper class to wear clothing so expensive the lower class could not possibly afford it."

Another would be to make it illegal to wear clothes of a higher class than your own:


The clothing industry believes someone my age wants either clothing laced with profanity, clothing that objectifies women, clothing that glorifies alcohol or drug use, or clothing that makes them look like a gangster.

What the hell is he talking about? Does he live inside of a locked Ed Hardy store, never allowed to see the light of day? Can't this guy just go to the Gap and stop whining about non-existent conspiracies?

I'd like to know exactly how old the author is, actually.

Since the topic is fashion, it's a good opportunity to mention this delightful site:


On a vaguely similar note: http://www.hel-looks.com/ (unusually dressed people seen in Helsinki)

What you all (including the OP) are missing is that "Real Men Wear Pink" is a pun. Pink is not a color, it's a brand name -- for a very high-end men's fashion line:


Here's a similar phenomenon from the authors of Freakomonics: "...names move through the population from a higher socioeconomic level to a lower level. Levitt and Dubner found “a clear pattern at play: once a name catches on among high-income, highly-educated parents, it starts working its way down the socioeconomic ladder.” When the name is adopted “en masse,” then “high-end parents begin to abandon it,” and presumably, the whole cycle repeats itself with a new batch of names."


They're testing this idea by issuing predictions for popular names in years to come.

This argument is purely hypothetical - purely a thought experiment. Observation on the other hand is that provocative fashion statements being made by younger population more than the older, by blacks more than whites and finally (this is not a personal observation) by people with Histrionic Personality Disorder (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/what-is-abnormal-psychology.h...).

So if there are so many effective separators of provocative vs. regular fashion people - how important can status be?

Fashion is something to be aware of, but there's nothing at all wrong with being unfashionable. You can dress for any purpose without adhering to fashion. An attractive girl might carefully select an outfit that is extremely flattering to her particular colors and body type, yet not be "in fashion" at all. And it'll work. If she isn't famous or popular she won't set any trends, but she'll look fantastic. People won't look at her and think "clueless" they'll think "nice outfit."

Fashion is for when you don't know how to dress to achieve what you want.

People won't look at her and think "clueless" they'll think "nice outfit."

Men won't look at her and think "clueless" they'll think "I'd like to 'have' her". Gay men may think "nice outfit". Women will accuse her of being "clueless" whilst secretly thinking about whether they could ever look that good (even if they look better).

Sweeping generalisations? Shallow stereotyping? Never! ;0)>

It's quite simple: fashion is a positional good. As soon as other people are wearing what you're wearing, what you're wearing is no longer fashionable; so you need to start wearing something else.

I've worn pink shirts. Not a problem, but I don't think I look good in the color. So I'm not gonna wear pink just to signal I'm a real man if it's not a good color for me, color-wise.

The essay is provocative. We are definitely (consciously or unconsciously) signaling something by the way dress. And what about the cars? I think this is even worst!

Interesting thoughts.

Unfortunately that link to the funny t-shirts stole like 10 minutes from me because I had to read every single one.

I gave up after reading 12 and realizing that none of them were even remotely amusing.

Apparently the upper class is confident enough to wear stupid, unfunny t-shirts and get away with it.

I am so stupid, I never realized that I am wearing pink because I am "real man". I just thought it looked good on me

The problem being that this is exactly what a person consciously wearing pink to look like a real man (because they read an article in a back issue of Cosmopolitan) would also say.

The upper class is not wearing FCUK, they're wearing Hermes. It's the middle class that's wearing FCUK.

Work out, wear slim cowboy shirts and lots of denim. Classic.

Pink dress shirts have been "in" for 30 years. 100 years for all I know. It's not exactly a fashion statement.

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