There are theories about where it all started. Some blame easier access to prep schools. Others swear the hippies were, however indirectly, the root cause. A few point to the blurring of traditional gender roles.

Whatever the causes(es), modern male fashion has, for several decades, become an actual trend in need of following. And not just thin vs. wide ties. Or pinstripe suits vs. solid ones.

You’re expected to pay attention to colors and patterns – as in, which ones might make you resemble a tropical drink. In the part of town where those are considered divine. You also need to see how certain “hot” fashions look on certain clone-ish magazine characters to confirm how they’ll look on regular-guy you. And – you need to know the one or two truly critical items that will disappear off racks and shelves quicker than they can be replaced. Because those are the only ones you’ll probably wear this year. (Hint: Anything in blue, pretty much.)

Fortunately, all of the information you need – other than how not to look like a former talk-show host on an infomercial (answer: possess actual talent) — can be sourced in one place: The GQ Spring 2013 Trend Report. Some of the more vital points to ponder:

  1. 1.

    Natural-Born Bosses

    GQ describes these suits as having a razor-sharp cut, unlike “your father’s shapeless summer sacks”. Unlike this year’s natural-born model, Dad didn’t look like a Ken doll in one of Barbie’s taken-in pantsuits.

  2. 2.

    Loafin’

    No, unfortunately, not a return to those bygone days when hanging out in front of a corner store was the only social life most young men had. This style point refers to the venerable shoe, which, GQ notes, isn’t of the well-worn variety. Don these this season, and you’ll be sporting a tassel bouncing on your toes. Or a brassy chain. Wear the Prada version and you may wind up mistaken for a pimp. And do not step anywhere near the tropical-colored slipper versions, please (see tropical drinks reference, above).

  3. 3.

    Essential Seersucker

    Because everyone needs to fulfill that lifelong dream to look like paunchy Uncle Ned in his straw hat, driving a 1930s Roadster called “Betty”. Although Ned, we should note, perspired less in his seersucker than in anything else. A couple of dark versions from Burberry take away the paunchy profile. But what’s the point of wearing seersucker if no one knows you are?

  4. 4.

    Prints of Ties

    OK, these aren’t bad – but confine your definition of “print” to something appropriately geometric. There are actual flower prints out there this year that designers seem to think you’re going to wear. We think not. Go for the geometry (in blue) before it disappears.

  5. 5.

    Plaid

    “Larger scale and saturated colors”, says GQ. Translation: As in that Scottish guy from the old 3M insulation commercials. Or, in other versions featured, a return to Tommy Hilfiger Gets Sewn onto 1990s Ralph Lauren. Be subtle. Or be Scottish. But do not attempt to be plaid and nonchalant at the same time. Even Sean Connery couldn’t get away with that. In a skirt, no less.

  6. 6.

    Rethink Pink

    No. Please don’t. Or any other sherbet shade that belongs in a box of Lucky Charms.

  7. 7.

    Stripe Up the Band

    They’re advocating mostly wider stripes here, as in bands of color. Kind of like those on a tricolor flag. Supposedly they broaden a guy’s frame, which apparently suggests to GQ that the dude has been working out. Clue #1: Actually do work out if you wear these, lest the tricolors broaden out the wrong places. Clue #2: Opt for the “less is more” approach with this one.

  8. 8.

    Polo Players

    No, not the full-suited uniform meant to survive all chukkas. But wearing a polo shirt under tailored suits, as for a laid-back wedding. While you’re at it, throw on a soft Stetson hat, forget to shave for a week – and have your agent submit you to add a touch of class to the role of Pauly when the Rocky movies are re-made.

  9. 9.

    Brownie Points

    Not a khaki suit on those warm summer days. A brown one. Because everyone appreciates a throwback to 1940s Germany.

  10. 10.

    Stylish Seas

    Billed as “regatta meets the Riviera”, this nautical-inspired trend ain’t too bad so long as you do not undermine the nautical aspect. To wit: If you’re going to dress like a sailor, look like you could at least play one on TV. And we don’t mean on The Love Boat.

As for the rest of GQ’s report, you hardly need advice on what kind of watch to wear (any kind you like), whether to buy anything that has an animal on it (unless you want to wear that Penguin polyester sports shirt with your Sans-A-Belt slacks) or whether cammo is ever the way to go, other than on the weekends. And no matter how tempted you might be, don’t try GQ’s suggestion to look like one of the Kennedys. Nothing good ever comes of that.

Careful with neon, try to look like a baseball player only if you’re The Natural (see sailor attire, above) and if anyone out there even considers looking in the general direction of GQ’s obligatory line of man purses, know that you will be shunned by your fellow men. For all time.

As promised at the beginning of this rundown — the real culprit for all of this male fashion-mongering?

Disco. What else?

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