Few people would use the word wussy, sissy, or feminine to describe a king. Generally speaking, kings have served as the ultimate image of manly men. His word was law. His queen was beautiful. His hand supported the weak and he crushed injustice with a steely hammer.
But these medieval men were much more than cavorting tyrants; they were icons of power itself. Kings represented God’s presence on earth. As such, their clothiers had to work to depict this power visually to the people. Far less than emasculating, the beauty of royal dress showed power, respectability, and seriousness. No one would have dared to cross the man in gold robes.
So where has all this symbolism gone? Why have Christian men forgotten their duty as kings? We conquer nature and make it work for us. We oppose the enemies of God, and nobly defeat them in truth and love. We defend our kingdoms, our families, our queens (soon enough). But we look like grade school dorks. If we are kings, then why do we still dress in sweats and camouflage? No king could show up to court in his pajamas and demand respect; he must earn it in all he does. This includes dress, fellas.
Okay, so the way of royal robes has long gone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still elicit the same level of respectability. It just has to be a lot more subtle than silk these days.
Instead of slipping into that pair of torn up, oil stained pair of Lee’s you’ve had since Fifth grade, try finding yourself a nicer pair. Speaking of which, baggy pants and carpenter jeans are the medieval equivalent of servant / farmer clothing. Think again. How about some Levi’s 514 or 511’s, depending on your personal taste. The cleaner lines of these pants make your overall appearance neater… and better. If you’re ready to make the switch to trousers, remember a few rules: keep the lines clean, avoid black or overly ironed creases as these are token of a more formal look, and keep to fibers like cotton in summer and wool in winter. Materials should not start with the prefix “poly,” ever. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised how comfortable slant pockets are to access after all those years of awkward angles. No one will know you’re strolling around in total comfort!
Instead of donning a deodorant greased band tee, try a solid color button down. Lighter colors go with any pair of jeans and look clean and sophisticated. Try to stay away from black unless you’re Johnny Cash or lead a biker gang. If you think that buttons on shirts are the male equivalent of a ball-room dress, then you are sadly mistaken. No one will think you’re being over-zealous or queer; you’ll look more mature. If you still are having trouble with that level of finery, you can switch out the button-down for a plaid or flannel shirt. Just remember that most plaids and flannels are heavier in weight and color. That means they don’t often work too well in summer, lumberjack. If you do want to stay warm, however, pullover sweaters and cardigans are the perfect way to finish this look. As always, avoid crazy patterns or colors and stay simple. You don’t want to scare people away or make them dizzy.
Gym shoes; the only question you need to ask yourself is “Are you in a gym and/or playing a sport right now?” If the answer is no or even headed that way, then change out your kicks. Did you know that oxfords (“dress shoes”) were considered casual shoes at the turn of the century? So stop whining and send the beat-to-hell sneakers back to the depths of your teenage awkward stage. Invest in a nice pair of leather oxfords. Make sure they are comfortable enough to wear around town and can sustain decent amounts of walking. Well-made chukka boots, moccasins, nice lace-up canvas sneakers or boat shoes do the trick too. You’ll soon find out all that huffing and puffing you do when momma makes you dress up was overblown. If you are really that delicately footed, you can invest further in gel inserts. A mid-range brown leather will go with any type of full-length pant–camo and cargo again excluded, sorry. Make sure you get a matching belt too. You don’t want to show up to a party with a black belt and brown shoes only to be laughed at all night. Girls definitely do not dig this look. If you go the canvas shoe route, understand that these shoes are necessarily more casual than leather and, therefore, less classy. Try to avoid the overused Chuck Taylor road and go with low-top Keds or some throwback PF Flyers like Kennedy.
Well, that’s it. This is just a basic overview; there will be more tips coming soon to help fill out your manly wardrobe. Follow these three simple suggestions and you’ll be on your way up the ladder of manliness–and sociability too, no doubt. Remember, the goal of dressing well should not be to impress others, even though that may happen if you do it well enough. We are called to subdue nature in all its aspects and be kings, to be men. So stop looking like a slob. Buck up, dress up, and you’ll look grown up. Best of luck!