I thought that look went out with the last reruns of “Miami Vice.” Or maybe it did, and it’s just come back around again.
In either case, it was a bad idea then, and it’s a bad idea now. I’m talking about the fashion in ads for men’s clothing to show models all dressed up in their nice suits, with three days’ worth of stubble on their faces. They look as if they interrupted a back-country fishing trip for the photo shoot, hurrying back to town in such a rush that they didn’t take time to shave.
Does anyone in the real world actually think this “stubbly chic” is attractive? Are there women out there who daydream about snuggling up to guys with faces that feel like a cross between a juvenile porcupine and a piece of 60-grit sandpaper?
Most of these scruffy-faced models are chisel-jawed guys in their 20’s. A few, maybe in their 30’s, seem to be trying to look a little older, going for the “CEO’s are real men, too” look. And even some of the guys modeling clothes for teens show up proudly in their chin whiskers. Never mind that they don’t look old enough to shave.
Thankfully, there’s one demographic that doesn’t seem to have succumbed to this look: models over 50. (Yes, there are a few, and no, not all of them are advertising Viagra.) Maybe even fashion photographers have to admit that it doesn’t work to show a guy of a certain age with gray stubble sprouting across his not-so-chiseled jaw. No matter how expensively he may be dressed, he’s going to look like he just spent the night sleeping behind a dumpster.
Taking this look of fashionable scruffiness to its logical conclusion, what might be next? Just think of the possibilities. Slender young female swimsuit models with hairy legs and underarms like King Kong. Dimpled toddlers in cute little outfits, with pureed peas smeared on their rosy little cheeks. Grade-schoolers with Kool-Aid mustaches. Cosmetics models whose close-up shots reveal not only flawless skin, but also bits of broccoli stuck between their teeth.
I’m all for truth in advertising, but this might be taking “reality” a bit too far. Especially when most real guys seem to hold to the quaint custom of shaving every morning before they head off to work.
There is hope, I suppose, that the stubble-and-a-suit look will eventually run its course. I did see one photo in this week’s newspaper inserts of a manly young guy with a clean-shaven chin. It was an ad for jackets, in the Cabela’s flyer. He was fishing.