Some very valid observations there by Colin too, and a fine example of market forces being shaped by the manufacturers in order for them to 'educate' us into fashion styles they want to sell us.
The clothes manufacturers first priority, and this is to be expected in a capitalist market economy, is to maximize profit, and sell as many items as possible. Ultimately, they are not concerned about public opinion unless this opinion is negative and causes sales to drop or criminal acts to be committed.
In the late 70's and early 80's we had glam rock with flamboyant and adrodgynous men's outfits which today would almost certainly attract nothing but ridicule if worn in public, yet were acceptable at the time.
So to a large extent we've tied ourselves up with convention and fear of being seen to look 'odd' in public.
If you look at any TV news article showing, for example, world leaders gathering, they are-without exception-all dressed in varying shades of dour & dark coloured suits.
Yet, if you watch films about life in the 1700's and 1800's, the men-particularly in the French aristocracy-wear outfits of considerable flamboyance & colour, along with make-up.
So how come this was acceptable at the time to both men and women? If a man wore a frilly shirt and a long dress coat he was considered to be wearing the essential styles for the time.
Sadly, in these current times, men's dress has become stifled and dour to the point of anonymity, whilst womens choice of clothes has become positively immense.
Men fear their ego's being punctured in public, and being considered 'girlie' if they wear skirted garments, at least in England anyway. Public humiliation and embarrassment drives most men to stay 'sensible' and 'conformist' in their dress sense.
Yet conformism is a relative term, and not an absolute one. I remember 2 years ago I was in the far North of Scotland in Thurso, by John 'O Groats, drinking in a proper highland pub.
There was a live band playing, with big, butch Scotsmen in kilts. They looked so fierce that if you'd dared mention they looked 'effeminate' in a pleated tartan skirt, my guess is that your head would have ended up inhabiting a different part of your body to where it normally rests!
Masculinity, you see, comes from personality, and not from the clothes you wear. You can see 'effeminate' men in normal jeans and trainers, as well as 'laddette' women in short skirts lying drunk on the streets and swearing.
I think part of the man's problem now is that women dominate the clothes economy and with the equality they now have in society there aren't any 'barriers' of convention to dictate what they wear, so there's no limit to the variety of clothes women now have.
This is a great thing for women, don't get me wrong, and there's nothing nicer than to see a huge variety of well-dressed ladies in whatever outfits they choose to wear-it all adds up to a very colourful sight in society.
Sadly, the men seem to have reached an impasse, and don't know which direction to take apart from the road to the conventional grey penguin suit shop.
This isn't strictly the fault of the ladies either-as they've become more flamboyant and expressive in society, we seem to have regressed into our caves to lick our style wounds, and instead of coming out to express ourselves in a similar manner, we've rolled over into submission and decided it's not really that important anyway, and the old grey suit will do the job anyway.
It's no suprise that a common accusation levelled at men by women is that of, in extreme cases, being an 'emotional cripple'. To a certain extent clothes shape your mood, like the power of a man wearing an army commanders uniform, or a woman in a wedding dress or an evening gown at a ball-the centre of attention. The grey suit just shouts 'conformism' and 'dullness'.
Ever remember that good old's 80's group 'Adam and the Ants' when he was dressed in that flamboyant costume in 'Prince Charming' ? I don't recall wild newspaper headlines about 'effeminate' and 'not the done thng for a man to wear' at the time.
Also, if you think about it, accusing a man of being 'effeminate' is technically speaking an insulting remark about women being the weaker of the 2 sexes.
It's basically saying that the man is so weak he's no better than a woman, which is an extremely insulting remark to make about women anyway, so any women that accuse a man of being 'girlie' by wearing silk undies are, strictly speaking, insulting themselves and every other woman.
Neither sex is better than the other-we're both different but with some similarities, such as having the ability to notice sensuality.
Ever laughed at the male stud in the nightclub wearing the silk shirt? Or the hard-nosed bikers wearing 'kinky' leather?
When somebody comes out with a fashion statement, the power of their personality will decide to what extent that remark is believed. As Neitszche said, 'men believe in the truth of all that is seen to be strongly believed in'
It explains why people followed and worshipped Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin-if your personality is strong enough, you can make people believe anything.
And at the moment, it seems men's collective personalities aren't strong enough for them to shape their own fashion direction, so they sink into the grey suit rut by way of apathy and fear of saying or doing something that might offend anyone or stand out.
If a man is conditioned to believe wearing a skirt is 'girlie' and 'queer', and a woman is conditioned to believe a man in a skirt is a 'pervert', then all that proves is not that the act is perverted, simply that certain people, at a certain time period in life, have formed a certain opinion about that act.
Freedom to the masses I say!