#1031 Dressing habits of the NZ man – an addendum

Photo: The Sartorialist

I feel like I should explain. I posted that quote from Andrew Williams yesterday – in all honesty – because I kind of agreed with the point he was making. In my opinion, New Zealand men (as a general rule) don’t dress as well as they could. But then I read all the angry comments and realised that Andrew Williams’ opinions made him sound like a bit of a pompous twat. A superior, worst-kind-of-Englishman-looking-down-on-the-colonies, pompous twat. Which in turn makes me a pompous twat for reposting them. I take full responsibility.

But I’m not done.

I came across this rant from the King of all Ranters (Murray Crane), earlier today, and I think he puts the point across much better. It’s not about judging somebody for what they’re wearing or saying nobody should ever wear this or wear that (as I myself have done in the past), it’s about wanting people to just make a little bit more of an effort.

He writes:

“I was out for a little birthday tea this evening and was treated to a wonderful six course French Cafe dinner. The food was sublime and the service was as you would expect but I was in a state of despair over the dress standards. At the risk of sounding like a snob, f*** it I don’t really care.

Whats up with thinking it is ok to wear a home spun jersey to a restaurant? Even if you’re celebrating getting off a murder conviction its not on. I was the only male there wearing a tie and yes it was a cold evening but guys please leave the polar fleece at home and wear a coat (that you can take off when you are seated).

Sensible shoes are acceptable if you are arthritic or going for a walk but not at what is reputedly one of New Zealand’s finest dining establishments. I’m depressed, where’s the sartorial spirit that comes with having a sense of occasion? Get dressed up! You don’t have to be wearing the latest thing but at least make an effort.

Dinner does require a jacket and polish your shoes for gods sake.

Don’t dare to comment about the service or the food when you look like you’ve just finished mowing the lawns. Is it too much to ask that you pay even a tenth of the level of attention paid to your food to how you look?”

The photo I chose to accompany this blog is of a casual guy in summer dress. He’s wearing an old green tee shirt, pants and shoes. It’s not rocket science and it’s hardly dressed up but it does look better than board shorts and jandals.


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  1. says

    One of my favorite games at flash resturaunts (to bide the time between courses and when there is a lull in humorous family bickering) is to play “spot the faux pas”

  2. Anonymous says

    For the majority of men clothes are considered functional utilities, not fashion items. That’s just the way it is. Deal with it!

    Even for some like myself, who loves dressing nicely, I’m not concerned with what other guys wear. I just don’t care enough to even consider it an issue most of the time.

    I don’t work other guys jobs for them; I don’t pay their bills; I have no idea what their circumstances and situations are like. Therefore, I think it would be horribly unfair and repulsively judgmental of me, or anyone else for that matter, to prejudice myself about others based solely on what they wear. That kind of thinking is snob territory, plain and simple.

  3. says

    I agree guys could make a little more effort in what they wear – esp when they go out. But seriously if their happy with what their wearing then who cares? Lifes not a fashon show!!

  4. Lottie says

    ah, gotta love it, i agree with murray, FFS make an effort people! isaac, that is one hot outfit up there, and so simple. can it overthrow the ever prevalent said outfit of kiwi male adoration? probably, never. :(

  5. Sam says

    I agree that some people need to make more of an effort, even if it is just out of convention. For example, Going out to dinner = dress up a little. Its not a money thing, its a style/I-don’t-care-what-the-F-I’m-wearing thing. Farmers, The Warehouse, and especially charity shops all have bits and pieces of suits, shirts, and ties (OK, its a little more complicated for women). It doesn’t take a lot of money to dress nicely.
    I think its just ignorance and a culture that is just too laid back to care.

  6. Anonymous says

    What a surprise! Someone who makes suits for a living thinks people should dress up more! *roll eyes*

    Few things are more boring than fashion snobbery. What people choose or can afford to wear is used as a tool of oppression from primary school age – kids start being bullied for not having the right kind of shoes or jumper while their age is still in single digits. Surely we can get over that kind of ridiculous superficiality as adults?

    I don’t have any problem with people being interested in fashion, and I’m as delighted as the next person to see someone who looks really chic. But fashion snobbery represents a real deficit of imagination and I suspect is a cover-up for low self-esteem or some other kind of compensation. As soon as I hear someone opining about what anyone other than they personally ‘should’ wear, that person drops significantly in my estimation.

  7. Anonymous says

    One could wipe out the entire fashion industry overnight, and the only people who would *actually* be effected would be the useless people who “worked” in it.

    Why should I make an effort to look good for *other* people?

  8. Anonymous says

    I wonder why some of you follow Isaac’s blog which is after all about fashion and clothing. Murray made some valid points even if there was some sllight embelishment for effect. If you can afford to dine at the French Cafe, you should make an effort to change your shoes. It is not McDonalds.

  9. says

    It’s pretty funny how many people that read this blog are so offended by this.

    I’m pretty sure that everyone reading a fashion industry oriented blog at least pays a little attention to how they dress, and does make an effort, despite how much they claim “I don’t care” or whatever.

    Having worked in hospo for a while it does seem kind of inoffensive and appropriate to show up to a formal establishment dressed casually. You should be dressed at least semi formal, not designer, not expensive, just semi formal.

    I know that Antoines has a dress code that they do enforce as far as I know, and I’m surprised French Cafe don’t do the same (although money speaks louder than a jacket I suppose). Perhaps it is a sign of the times that they are not enforcing this and we’re all getting old or something?

    P.s Isaac, that verification thing is annoying man, surely you don’t get that much comment spam?

  10. says

    As far as I’m concerned, what/who you wear is unimportant. What is important, is that people apply the same aesthetic standards to their dress as they do their car/house/living room. Most people would never never let a stranger into their home if it was messy, unkempt and poorly organised. Most do however, let every person they pass on the street see how messy, unkempt and poorly organised their clothing is.

  11. J says

    One could wipe out the entire fashion industry overnight, and the only people who would *actually* be effected would be the useless people who “worked” in it.

    Why should I make an effort to look good for *other* people?

    Really? One could wipe out a conglomerate like LVMH that turns over roughly 4 Billion Euros per fiscal quarter overnight? With roughly 40% of that revenue coming from Fashion & Leather Goods? A company that’s shares a currently trading at 79.95 Euro’s and has just appointed Tony Blair former Prime Minister of England as an advisor?
    Yeah, good luck wiping that out overnight, ignorant douche.

  12. Gen says

    In my opinion not dressing appropriately for an occasion is bad manners. I wouldn’t show up to someone’s wedding in shorts and a T-shirt. I would make an effort to dress nicely (and I don’t mean expensively) for dinner at a nice restaurant.

    However, on the flipside, good manners means treating people well, regardless of their status or appearance. I would certainly be mortified if anyone I knew treated someone badly on the basis of how they were dressed.

    Further, I don’t get this obsession with how poorly NZ-ers dress or how hideous we all are. Yes we dress casually, especially in summer. But during beach holidays in Nice, Sicily, Barcelona, Egypt (to name a few) I’ve seen far more hideous and offensive outfits. Russians in leopard print bikinis and high heels at the pool, Italians in super tight white jeans, high cork wedges and super logo-ed tight tops, French sun worshippers a dark shade of mahogany with a perma-ciggie in mouth… Give me boardies and jandals any day.

  13. Anonymous says

    it’s about wanting people to just make a little bit more of an effort

    …and isn’t that all we’re saying about the Air NZ men’s uniform from Trelise Cooper?

  14. Anonymous says

    dressing appropriately for an occasion – ie a nice restaurant is a mark of respect for the people you are dining with and the establishment your dining in or whoever is hosting whatever occasion you’re going to.
    it’s a courtesy.
    if you don’t care less what you’re wearing, that’s not a bad thing, but occasion specific manners and just a bit of thought is not a lot to ask.

  15. says

    Can I just add that boardies and jandals are actually part of our culture? Sure boardies are an American import, but they have become part of our culture. And in NZ we should be fostering an individual national identity. If we have a greater national identity, there will be greater support for NZ industry, including fashion!

    Although I really, really do agree. Men in NZ do need to dress appropriately. But boardies and jandals are OK for the beach! But not to dinner.

  16. Anonymous says

    some of you seem a little confused… surely true fashion snobbery would be hating on everyone who wasn’t wearing major labels (louis, prada, comme etc.)? new zealand needs to stop using “laid back” as an excuse and start making more of an effort!

  17. says

    OK, so I’ll admit i’m not fashionable at all. I don’t keep up with fashion or even follow it. The only reason i’m on this blog is my girlfriend pointed me to it. I recognised the name, I went to school with Isaac, I was intrigued. I have no problem with people being offended by the way other people dress, it’s a matter of opinion and it’s subjective. But I’m not sure it’s fair to say kiwi guys just don’t care about what they wear. Most of the guys I hang out with, I can only speak for them, actually take a fair bit of time to make their decisions around clothing. But we have different priorities when picking a garment. It’s often around function informing form. Is there good range of movement, does it insulate well, will it dry quickly, is it comfortable and does it look good (In my opinion). If I want to go cycling a la the image at the top of this post, I don’t think I would wear what the man in this image is wearing. I cycle a lot and I consider the clothes I wear for cycling carefully. I know my choices would certainly be classified as unfashionable. I don’t like to ride with single over the shoulder strap bags, especially with smooth or slippery straps, they slip round to the front very easily which is annoying and dangerous. If you look at a bike messenger’s bag they always use a canvas or nylon woven strap, they also have the bag high up on the back, where it’s broad and flat. In the photo I notice his bag is super low on his back almost below his butt. It would be very annoying to cycle with the bag like that. I think I would also wear socks, the movement of cycling would probably cause blisters in the shoes he is wearing without socks, and surely they would get smelly? As you can see I’ve already become unfashionable, I’m no longer wearing a cool over the shoulder bag I have my backpack on and ugly socks! I guess what I’m trying to say is yeah I’m not fashionable, but I do care about what I wear. If I’m walking around Auckland on a hot summer day I think a pair of boardshorts is more comfortable than the tight pants/jeans the man in this picture is wearing. I guess I’m glad we as a nation have so much commonsense. I don’t mind if someone wants to wear tight pants or deck shoes (Andrew Williams). But it would be nice if you could give me the same liberty and not get insulted because I choose to wear my boardies/home spun jersey. It may not look like it but I’ve considered carefully and made my choice with clothing.

  18. Anonymous says

    so you should always wear a suit or a dress shirt and tie to a resturant??? really???…..

    i truly respect what murray has done and a little of isaac’s work but i’ts that kind of thinking that gets to me… you know fashion is a form of art, i live and surround myself in fashion, forgive me if i go beyond the idea of “wearing a dress shirt and tie” fashionable….fashion to me like most people is a form of expression! on most days i wear what i feel, and who are you to judge someone just becaue it goes against your views of fashion. so murray and isaac doesnt like what im wearing today…..hmmm big deal maybe rad hourani will adore it…

    ignorance…open your mind people!

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