Planting Fashion Seeds: Styling My Man!

One misnomer about styling is the goal:  it’s never about making someone into someone he/she is not. It’s the antithesis: it’s about helping him/her look like who one is.  It’s unique to every client (which makes my job so fun and interesting)!  Part of expressing that is finding the right stylist to help you tap into that and help manifest it in a way that is truly authentic. Making that happen – dressing and feeling like your true self–can happen in a single closet edit session or appointment. Other times, it can take time – years, in fact—especially when your client is your husband.  

The most important thing I’ve learned about men after being with my husband now for almost 17 years, is that men don’t do anything unless (1) they want to; (2) they’ve come to the conclusion about doing it themselves; and/or (3) they are ready to do it. Want them to want a wardrobe update or upgrade? Plant seeds – water them, let them grow. Sometimes these flowers of change bloom quickly; other times they take years (or decades) to blossom.  The point is they do – and when they do, it’s a moment worth waiting for.  

I know. I know first hand because for the last 16 years, I’ve watched my husband grow, evolve and a year ago, have a fashion blossoming moment.  

Let me tell you about my husband.  He is the most caring, loving, nurturing, sensitive man I’ve ever met, and ever known.  He is warm, funny, loves unconditionally with his whole heart, gives so much of himself to his family, friends and his patients, and is really ALL heart.   He is not what pop culture would define as “metrosexual.”  He enjoys his massage every once in a while (because he does stand 15-18 hours a day, but that’s about it.  He’s a guy’s guy – he’d die for his sports teams (Giants, Warriors, especially); and when they are playing….nothing else is.  Every day I feel like the luckiest woman alive (even when I want to strangle him) because he is an amazing man, father, friend, husband, doctor — and easy on the eyes.  In fact, before our first date, when shown a picture of him, I was nervous to meet him because I thought he was THAT good looking.  He’s a fine wine, friends.  He is more handsome today than the day I met him, esp. with the salt added to his pepper dark hair, a sign of his tireless work to fulfill his life’s ambitions.  He has more tenacity than anyone I have ever met — and I am more in love with him now than the day I met him.

However, the one thing I know about him that time has confirmed again and again is that he is a creature of habit.  He does not see the need to change…well, until he does.  He has a good sense of style, generally speaking (his mom taught him well before I met him) – but like me, got lazy over the years because he could.  Being in medical school, in residency, and later in fellowship, there were few opportunities to “dress.”  He basically traded uniform for uniform since I met him — first, his flannel J Crew shirts and wool gauge knit sweaters while in college, for his grey tees and shorts in med school; and later, the shorts and tees for his scrubs in varying colors, depending on the hospital he worked at (royal blue, then mint green, now baby blue).  Once he was required to wear the traditional shirt and tie with slacks daily to see patients, I waited with baited breath. I waited for the day he would finally come to me and say, “Mama (he calls me Mama – i love it), I’m ready for a change, and I want to up my game.”

I waited 16 years for that moment. I’m not sure whether it was my work with other male clients, or even sharing my experiences working with female clients, who were ready to put it out there as they embraced a new style, and did after working together.  I do not know whether it was because I rejoined the world of fashion after I failed to put time into myself in my early motherhood years.  The why seemed unimportant.  My wait was over. The sixteen year old seeds I planted initially burst into full boom last fall, when those words delighted my patient (yet so tired of being patient!) soul and ears.

And off the races I went.  Finally, the pleated pants gave way to flat front sleek slacks that screamed sophistication.  The light blue dress shirts were placed on the back burner in favor of sophisticated plaids, pop ties, and mixing of prints and patterns.  Alas, his day in the sun arrived — and people noticed.  So many people noticed that he came home and told me about how good he felt and how proud he was of waking up and pairing the pairings I paired for him.  “I got a ton of compliments on my shirt and tie pairing today.”  He felt noticed, he felt proud, and he felt good.  I felt good that he felt good….and even though I know, deep down, I had long ago planted the seed, it finally blossomed — and that was thank you enough for me.

(Photos, top to bottom: on the morning of our wedding; on his first day of residency; on his first day as a practicing cardiologist; post closet edit and wardrobe update!)  Special thanks to the love of my life for letting me profile him (took some coaxing, but he took one for the team!)

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