Mirror, Mirror | Women lay down the fashion law for men

Posted: July 01, 2007

Men, it's time to let go of tight pants and short shorts. Ditch the extra-baggy jeans too - Philadelphia women don't like them.

Two weeks ago, we polled about a dozen Center City guys on the types of women's fashion they liked and disliked. The Y-chromosome contingent told us they despised capri pants - especially when paired with empire-waist tops - and that they loved summer sundresses.

Turnabout is fair play. So we asked Center City women the same question: What styles do men wear that you can't stand?

Tight pants are at the top of the "Fashion Don't" list, followed closely by baggy pants. Speedos and short shorts aren't favorites, either.

"I can't stand shorts above the knees and tight bathing suits," said Tara Balch, 20, standing in front of H&M on Walnut Street.

"I hate anything too dressy. I love everything comfortable," added her friend, Christina Smith, 23, who lives in Warrington. "I'm over cargo pants, too. They are so bulky. I like to see legs."

It was harder for women to talk specifically about men's fashion because the articles of clothing themselves are so simple. Pants and a shirt, casual; suit jacket and tie, dressed up. Their complaints were not about trends.

Instead, most described how they liked men neat and clean-cut, with clothes that fit well. Generally, women don't want to be embarrassed. Get the basics down, guys, before you go flair. Women want men to take some time with their fashion, but not be overindulgent.

All women despised pleats. Most hated tapered pants. Pleats and tapered pants together? Big no!

Most women leaned toward basic colors: navys, olives, tans and blacks. Striped polo shirts in bright colors: out. But a soft orange or lavender dress shirt looks great.

"I don't like loud colors," said 60-plus Bernice Zazow of Center City. "Polo shirts are nice. I don't like loose pants. I'm conservative in my style."

And women love manly looking men. Beards and mustaches are OK, as long as they are groomed. There is no need for guys to tweeze their eyebrows or get facials and manicures.

Feet, however, are important.

"Men definitely should get pedicures in the summertime because by the time they need them, they are horrible," said Heather Pinnock, 34, who was visiting Philadelphia for a convention. Pinnock is originally from Jamaica.

"And I don't like socks on a guy," said Alison Abbedessa, a sales clerk at the Walnut Street shop Knit Wit.

Some of my personal gripes? Beer bellies hanging over jeans. Too many tattoos. And wearing sunglasses at night.

Central High School senior Clio Brown added her own thoughts.

"I don't like guys who wear shirts that are too baggy," she said. "It makes them look chubby and short, like they have no torso."

Speaking of shirts, both sexes said they hate popped collars (that would be polo shirts with collars turned up a la The Fonz).

Now, on to what women do like:

"Long-sleeved, button-down shirts with the sleeves turned up," said Valerie Emmertz, 25, who also works at Knit Wit. "That's hot!"

Leather blazers over T-shirts are fabulous. As are - and this is probably the most important part of this column - pants that fit well!

We're defining this as pants that are loose enough to require a belt, but tight enough to stay up without said belt.

"That's so funny," Ania Dmowska, 26, said as we finished going through the do's and don'ts. "I hope they take all this to heart and listen."


Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704, or e-mail her at ewellington@phillynews.com. Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/elizabethwellington.

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