The Playbook For The Modern Man

Grown Men Who Can’t Shop For Themselves Prove Why Our Fashion Culture Will Never Match Europe’s

A stylist explains why Australian men struggle in the clothing department.

Forget the cyclones and bushfires; Australia has a more critical problem – men who can’t dress.

Whether it’s a mate whose partner buys his clothes, your neighbour who has been wearing the same New Balance trainers his whole life or the 25-year-old who still goes ‘shopping with mum’, not only are these guys limiting their dating potential, careers and Instagram credibility but – industry experts agree – they are also holding Australia back from catching up with Europe’s fashion scene.

While London and Paris are all:



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Australia is more:


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Such is the problem, not a single Aussie metropolis made it into the global rankings for the World’s Most Fashionable City.

Considering the number of men who don’t shop for themselves (or who treat a visit to their local mall as an excuse to nap while their partner shops for them), this is hardly a surprise.

Exhibit A.

In light of this, we consulted Jeff Lack, a professional stylist with over 20 years experience in the Australian fashion industry, to understand the psychology at play. Having seen various clients who had seen ‘the light’ (and plenty more that hadn’t), Jeff reckons – at root – this is a cultural issue.

“Some men are conditioned by their upbringing to have someone else make those (clothing) decisions for them. Usually their mum.”

Meanwhile, those who have an interest in fashion and enjoy shopping for themselves; “Typically have done so since they were young, as something they were into with their mates, or as something they were into themselves.”

Unfortunately, this is the exception to the rule, with most modern gents either having an epiphany as they move out of home or stubbornly telling themselves (and anyone that comments on their grotty trainers) that they don’t care about ‘appearances’ for the rest of their life.


Exhibit B.

“Most blokes that don’t like shopping won’t shop for themselves, so they either get their partner or mum to do it, or they hire a stylist.”

But—before you lose hope—Jeff explains there are a number of ways to break the mould: “What gets a guy into fashion? Seeing how easy it is to shop if you know what you’re doing.”

“I’ve turned blokes who really hated shopping into people that were genuinely interested in what they were wearing because I showed them how good they looked.”

“From passing the ‘pub test’ with their mates to getting compliments from women,” Jeff reveals that once a guy gains confidence, his fashion sense tends to improve: “If they get attention ’cause they’re wearing a great denim shirt, that’s always going to help…”

“Look good; feel great.”

Then we have a sneakier—but even more pernicious—issue: guys who think they dress well but really don’t. While these individuals may put effort into looking good—in some cases even spending money on big name brands—they further lower Australia’s standing in the Global Style Race, by making us look like sartorial fools who, even when we try, fail.

“These guys wear brands that would look good if they were tailored.”

Fortunately, Jeff is more understanding of their plight than we are, offering the following advice: “For guys who think they dress well but really don’t, tailoring is the biggest thing. Also; quality. A guy might be wearing something that actually fits him well, but if it’s budget brands… They need to look at what’s a fair investment into their wardrobe.”

That said, Jeff was quick to add: “I don’t mind high street, but it’s important to invest in the essentials; if they last longer they always look better on (you).” Which is why you should always have one hero piece that carries the rest of the outfit (which should be a healthy mix of high street and bespoke brands).

“You can kind of tell that a bloke’s well put together, ’cause he’s fixed really high-quality pieces together (tastefully) with other things.”


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While Jeff points out Europeans have this “natural sensibility” for fashion, he says Australians are getting better. Bar one hurdle. You see, it’s not just the “men who can’t shop for themselves” cramping Australia’s style, it’s our love of thongs: “I think one of the big areas that differentiate the two (cultures) is the footwear.”

“European men tend to put good footwear on—and that is the hallmark of a great outfit.”

Funnily enough, French dating coach Adeline Breon made the same observation, telling us how Aussie and American men often put themselves at a disadvantage in the Parisien dating scene by dressing too casually.

So, Australian men, next time you’re on a date (here or overseas): put down your Havaianas and pick up your espadrilles. And next time you’re in a shopping centre, at the very least, keep your Gucci-darn eyes open.


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  • Patricia

    I visited Italy recently. Not a single pair of things the whole time. Men of all ages wore scarves with style and flair.


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