Earlier today I had a number of my myths shattered about the ways men relate to one another on matters of style.
A friend of mine was invited to a biannual business meeting I attend where he was to make a presentation. Clearly he decided to dress up for the occasion.
It struck me that I have known him for nearly 15 years and in all that time I can’t recall seeing him dressed up. He isn’t especially known for that kind of thing, and in any case when we see each other it has been primarily on social occasions on weekends and days off or at conferences when the dress code is suitably relaxed.
On this occasion he was dressed to the nines. He is originally from West Africa and had obviously decided to channel a bit of his ethnic heritage. He was wearing a blue formal shirt edged around the collar and on the button flange with what I can only describe as a fabric in a traditional tribal print in blue and black.
The suit was plain black, which picked up the darker highlights of the edging of the shirt. The suit was unusual in that it did not have the traditional folded lapel. Instead it fit a bit like a shirt. The shoes were black single monk strap boots. The brother looked good!
So he made his presentation. It was witty, animated, informative, with great multimedia, etc. Really very good. And this was a tough crowd, filled with people whose job it is to engage in public speaking. But he went down well.
After the presentation as he came to sit next to me one of my male colleagues, who had met him on a previous occasion, came over to speak to him. I naively assumed that he wanted to say something congratulatory about the presentation or perhaps to get more information.
He was only interested in the suit. Another male colleague rather enthusiastically expressed similar views
The conversation that unfolded over the next few minutes between these three straight men completely shattered the myth that men don’t talk to one another about style, or pay one another compliments. It went a bit like this:
AJ: I was really admiring your suit. I have one just like it but I have had it for years and can’t find a replacement. Where did you get yours?
DW (with enthusiasm): Absolutely! I was admiring it as well. Very cool.
SD: I’ve had it for a while now. I really like it. I’ve been looking for another one myself but am finding it really difficult.
AJ: (looks mildly disappointed)
SD: But I’ve discovered a site online that can produce a suit for you. They will produce it in any style you like.
AJ: Oh really?
SD: The only downside is that it is not located in the UK so I’ve been reluctant to give it a try.
DW: I’d like to get the information on that site…
All the time that this conversation was going on I am looking across at two female colleagues listening to this exchange. One of them is completely unfazed. In fact she joins the conversation herself, adding that she really likes shirt with the African print trim. The other is looking at me with raised eyebrows as if to ask: ‘Are you responsible for this bro-mance love in?’
I can emphatically say I was not. As far as I know none of them read this blog. It just goes to show that there are some men out there who are sufficiently self confident and comfortable with their own masculinity to feel able to offer compliments to other men.
It also goes to show I was wrong. Some Men CAN Compliment Other Men, it appears.