Function over Fashion: A Southern Man’s Game

In a city where fashion is a livelihood and a massive industry, it is not taken lightly by anyone. Black is not just common in winter months, but year round. Jeans and light jackets are statements, not warmth providing necessities, even in the middle of summer. On average, people would rather look the part than not. If this leather jacket means I’m a “cool kid,” then it doesn’t matter what month it is. But shouldn’t it?

When a southern man hear’s the word “fashion,” 9 out of 10 times will you hear “What?” or “Beg your pardon?” It’s not a thing men in the South think much about. What shoes go with these jeans? Which T-shirt matches this watch? I don’t mean to say that men in the South don’t have a personal style, I mean to say that it’s a very common style across the board. Jeans, old T-shirts, boots. Or to dress up? Jeans and a button down.

If you were to go into my closet in high school, you would have found all of these things. Khakis and jeans for days, polos for days, lots of T-shirts of a certain age, and a couple different pairs of brown shoes. Hand-me-downs mostly from my two older brothers. I rarely had new clothes that were mine. I never thought twice about it. Why didn’t I?

The southern man is more classical than romantic. Function over fashion every day. Is it hot? Well I’d better wear shorts and this hole-filled T-shirt. Probably flip flops, too. Move away from city centers and this becomes jeans and boots every day no matter what. Function on farms and on the land is paramount. No man wants to be caught out in “weather” unprepared. It shows a lack of planning and immaturity. So what do men do instead? They wear the same pair of pants and boots every day and have almost identical shirts to last a lifetime.

In a city like New York, function never really trumps fashion. In the wintery months you will still find women in dresses and heels and men in suits, but a simple overcoat isn’t really keeping the 20 inches of snow abroad. Fashion forward and fashion first are synonymous.

I’ve worked on various farms and, to be honest, function is the most important thing. I don’t care if it’s 98 outside with 100% humidity. If I’m in the brush or weed-eating or chainsawing, you better believe jeans are my sanctuary. My steel-toed boots are my livelihood on the farm. I’d be No Toes McGee without them.

We men of the South do think about how we look, but sometimes it just isn’t all that important. Since I’ve moved to New York I have become more aware of how I dress. I dress to impress women, potential employers and clients, friends, and strangers even. When it comes down to it, I just want to look good and feel comfortable. If that means wearing shorts on a hot summer’s day or tossing on my ski-jacket when it’s snowing, I’d rather be comfortable.

Go into my closet now and you’d find a mixed bag of fashion and function. I love looking great and feeling sharp, but sometimes that old flannel, jeans, and boots take me back home like no suit ever could.

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