Everybody tells me that gay guys are into fashion. But honestly, when I go around West Hollywood, I’m just not seeing it. Looks like it’s all about t-shirts and jeans or shorts during the daytime, and t-shirts and jeans at night, with a sweatshirt or hoodie tossed on for warmth. Is this another one of those stereotypes you keep writing about? I know fashion (used to work in the industry in New York City) and this isn’t fashion.
Dear Gucci Girl:
Fashion is a business that’s dominated by gays, much as hair styling and interior design are. To make my point, take this test: Which of the following world-renowned fashion designers isn’t gay? Yves St. Laurent, John Galliano, Domenico Dolce, Steffano Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Valentino. You’re right! None of them is straight, although it took Valentino a while to come out of his undoubtedly well-stocked closet, and Calvin did throw us for a loop with that now long-dissolved marriage with Kelly.
But while fashion is a business where gay men are, er, dominate, most of us walking down Santa Monica Boulevard past the Big Gay Starbucks wouldn’t be mistaken for runway models. It’s not that t-shirts and shorts and jeans and hoodies cannot be fashionable. I have an Italian friend who is an editor at Uomo Collezioni, one of the world’s leading men’s fashion magazines, who looks incredibly stylish in the jeans and white t-shirts he wears when Milanese weather permits. Alessandro stands out among gay guys whose fashion insecurity makes them don the full Gooch — Gucci shirt, suit, shoes and tie — in the belief that all it takes is the right label to look good.
Fashion, or style, really is more a matter of the choices we make when buying even simple clothing items and then how we put them together. For example, most fashionistas would agree that minimalism is an essential element of today’s style. I’m not speaking of the impulse to remove one’s shirt as soon as the weather hits 65 degrees, a common sight in Boystown. I’m talking about not buying clothes with objects and elements one will never need or use. A good example is baggy cargo shorts, still the rage among WeHo gay men, but long gone in New York City, where the gays some years ago embraced a sleeker design with only two front pockets. Then there are those design- and slogan-infested t-shirts, which turn a clean and sleek garment gaudy. There are shirts with epaulets, useful only if you’re attending a military academy. There are jeans stitched on the outside with all sorts of strange patterns. And there are those horizontal-striped shorts that guys too often wear with patterned shirts — as eye-catching as a flashing neon sign, but not at all sexy.
As a former New Yorker myself, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut when commenting on the relative lack of style among gay men in WeHo. I know I’m going to be castigated as an arrogant New Yorker who can’t see what is a SoCal trend. But I also know that this trend existed in New York City some 10 years ago and is long gone from there. So I quietly shop for pocketless t-shirts without slogans at American Apparel and dig deep in the piles for simple pairs of Levi’s jeans, waiting for the day when all those sloganned t-shirts and cargo shorts and flashy jeans are completely worn out. Maybe then WeHo’s gay guys will come to believe that simple is sexy.
Questions you can’t bring yourself to ask your gay friends and neighbors? Send them to Henry@WEHOville.com.