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Making Sense of the Perplexing World of Bro Fashion

Updated: Aug 14, 2012 19:15
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Recently, I attended a surprise birthday party for my friend Kaitlin, and had a great time. Birthday Girl Kaitlin: stylish and sassy, as per usual. My friends: major babes, as per usual. The party location at the Standard Biergarten: teeming with hella bros. Yes, this is to be expected at a trendy hotel in NYC’s Meatpacking District, but it wasn’t the masses of clean-cut Caucasian men with 401k’s that struck me (I may be broke, but I ain’t got nothin’ against the gainfully employed!), but rather their… um, for lack of a better word, bold fashion choices. Don’t get me wrong, you know that I live for wacky outfits. I honestly do. But this was a crowd that sports biz cas all week, and typically isn’t known for statement-making ensembles, so their sudden departure into the world of eccentricity kinda left me with this expression:

I was perplexed, to say the least.  Maybe these bros were just letting loose for the weekend? Anyway, the following are some of the truly headscratch-worthy looks that I spotted at The Standard. Let’s play college Social Anthropology class and see if we can analyze them!

1) A sea of mandals: Mandals, or sandals for men, were seen on pale, veiny, hairy-toed feet as far as the eye could see. Part of me doesn’t want to judge because men really have limited summer footwear options, but I just have to say it: flip flops are simply unacceptable in New York City. Think about all of the dirt, the bum pee, the broken glass and mysterious puddles! Think about walking through that, and then going home and hopping into bed with Jen from Sales! But just as I was about to barf up the empanadas that I ate for lunch, I remembered: bros don’t walk. Bros take cabs! Call me Nancy Drew, because I’ve got this mandal-infestation mystery solved! Ah, cabs– the luxury of the non-broke New Yorker.

2) A floral women’s blouse: I got really excited when I saw a guy in an ill-fitting, sheer, floral-print women’s blouse with faux mother-of-pearl buttons. I ran up to him and squealed, “I love your modern interpretation of gender!”  But alas, he simply glared at me like I was the one wearing something that made me look as if I was about to Lip Synch for My Life (to his credit, I was the only girl at The Standard with greasy bangs and a Hare Krishna-esque orange-colored muumuu– apparently “The Standard” is double when it comes to wacky outfits at that place), and went back to cruisin’ for Jen from Sales. What a letdown– I thought that fool was a fan of feminism, but I guess he just spilled Cholula down the front of him while eating a taco snack at his mother’s house on Long Island, and– when the Tide pen wouldn’t work– turned to Mama’s closet for a quick fix.

3) A cheongsam: Apparently sporting women’s clothing has become quite the trend among the boozed up, white, frat boy set, because another bro-renegade was challenging both gender and racial constructs by wearing a silky, three-quarter sleeved, traditional Chinese number. What a pioneer, squeezing himself into a sweaty, unbreathable Asian women’s top, all to prove to Jen from Sales how “hilarious” and “worldly” he is.

4) A gold lame՛ hoodie: Well, it was certainly gold. And lame. And wannabe hood. I don’t even think Jen from Sales would go for this one– it was so early 90s Glamour Shots.

5) iPhones for days: I’m not anti-smart phones, but when a guy’s opening for hitting on a girl is showing her the weather report on his iPhone…. zzzzzz, sorry, I just passed out from a sudden flash flood of boredom before you even finished that sentence, brah. Forecast for me hooking up with you: 100% chance of me making up a sudden case of the barfs to get away, and then going to talk to that cute bar back strong hands and red pop socks instead.


If there’s one thing that we can learn about the perplexing world of bro fashion, it’s that the clothes make the man.  And if the clothes make the man, then all of the “men” at The Standard Biergarten were actually ladies, because I sure saw a lot of women’s fashion up in that piece. After an entire week of wasting away in their cubicles, those bros were probably just too exhausted to start conversations with people, and wanted their insane outfits to do the talking for them.  The problem is, by crying out so hard for attention, people just wanted to push them and their Glamour Shots jackets away.  Far away.  Like back to the mall in 1991, or onto the body of my great-grandma Midge during her old people bus trip to Vegas.  Fashion should be effortless and express who you are, broskis, it shouldn’t be so contrived.

Or perhaps we should feel sorry for The Standard bros, because it seems like they had a serious case of broke-envy.  Like prep school teens who have a fascination with the plebian public school kids, those bros probably looked at all of us broke-asses with edgy jobs like “non-profit employee” or “office temp,” and wished that they could truly know gritty struggle like we do.  They saw our thrifted clothes– a direct result of being forced to be on a budget– and thought, “Jeah, brah, I can do that!  Pshh, YOLO!”  (or whatever bros say).  Thus, they traded in their J. Crew for a trip to the Goodwill, where they promptly got overwhelmed, and couldn’t even find the men’s section before having an anxiety attack.  The poor souls blindly grabbed the first articles of clothing that they could, and then high-tailed it outta the joint, excited to debut their quirky, “hipster” look at The Standard that weekend. So, maybe I shouldn’t knock these 32 year old still-frat boys– broke-ass imitation, even poorly-done broke-ass imitation, is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Photo credits: Pop on the PopFlickriver, Southern Comfort, Hot Shots Hot Sauce,  I am a Bride, Oddee, Brian

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Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she
lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food,
but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends
to have a flair for the dramatic.