Where are the Clothes for Men?

As a male in my 20s, finding my style of dressing can get frustrating at times; it makes it hard for me to set myself aside and be a little more expressive without using my words. I live in the Des Moines metropolitan area, I don’t want to blame it on that, but it’s a huge factor that I don’t want to overlook.  

I don’t go shopping very often. When I do, it’s usually for a special event like a wedding or a date that I want to look my best for. So, I hit up the stores and malls around town with an idea of what I’m looking for–hopping from one location to the next, style to style, texture to texture–but I end up leaving with nothing.  

It took me a while to notice the problem. Men’s sections are very limited–to the point it shouldn’t even be called a “section”–because, according to Oxford Languages, a section is “a distinct group within a larger body of people or thing.”  

I’m not sure if my definition of a section is the same as Oxford’s, but to me a section means a wide variety of something and not a corner. For example, the H&M inside the Jordan Creek mall has two levels. The top half of the store is split between men’s and kids’, while the bottom half is just women’s and junior’s.  

The shocking thing about this is that it goes beyond fabric and extends to paper, right onto the front pages of magazines. Women’s fashion receives more coverage than men according to The Guardian’s article “Why is so Little Space Given to Menswear? Too Few Men Care.” Hadley Freemen writes, “Because womenswear can be fabulous, gorgeous, weird, ridiculous, breathtaking, game-changing, enviable, exciting, desirable, wonderful. Menswear, on the other hand, can only be two things: weird or boring. And there’s only so much mileage you get from those two qualities.” 

Weird? Why can’t men be weird as well. Fabulous? As a man in America right now, I most definitely take pride in how I dress, and I would love for people to notice it. 

Eric wearing long sleeves in Arizona

So why is the limited space for menswear still an unanswered question in 2023? Why is it that almost every store that we enter is centered around women and children when gender equality is being pushed? Are they running out of ideas and need fresh new ones? How about giving women the deep pockets they’ve always asked for and focusing on keeping men fresh and stylish.  

Michael Jackson wouldn’t be MJ without fashion; Elvis Presley wouldn’t be Elvis without the simple checked blazers, printed short sleeve collar shirts, slacks and the most stylish pair of loafers on his feet. And, we can’t forget Purple Rain Prince–Prince wore women’s clothing and he pulled it off. He developed a sense of style all his own, so why can the rest of us guys do that? 

Eric immersed in an image display
Eric immersed in an image display 

Menswear deserves more space. We should be able to shop at regular men’s stores and not rely on womenswear to find the creativity we need. 

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