We Need To Talk About… Why Are Men So Naked These Days?
From left: Mr Justice Smith at Vanity Fair’s A Night For Young Hollywood party, Hollywood, 22 March 2022. Photograph by Mr Xavier Collin/Avalon. Mr Timothée Chalamet at the Academy Awards, Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, 27 March 2022. Photograph by Mr Kevin Mazur/Getty Images. Mr Troye Sivan at the Elton John Aids Foundation's 30th Annual Academy Awards viewing party, West Hollywood, 27 March 2022. Photograph by Mr Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Elton John Aids Foundation. Mr Lenny Kravitz attends the Grammy Awards, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, 3 April 2022. Photograph by Mr Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Newsflash: male cleavage is trending. From the runway to the red carpet, guys are no longer tied down by buttoned-up dress codes and, in recent months, the ratio of fabric to bare skin has tipped dramatically. This begs a lot of questions, such as “How much chest is too much chest?”, “Do I need to start a grooming routine for my sternum?” And perhaps most importantly, like the episode of Sex And The City when Carrie Bradshaw sits pondering to herself, “Are we sluts?” Let’s unpack this.
OK, so are we sluts?
Don’t be ridiculous, that’s an outdated and misogynistic pejorative used to shame women for having sex. But if you’re asking whether wearing fewer clothes means that we as men are more comfortable and freer about showing our bodies to the world, then yeah, you could say that we are sluts.
Right now, menswear is way more flexible than it ever has been, and that apparently involves the freedom to show more skin. The message at the moment is that if you want to wear it, then just go for it. Take what happened at the Oscars this year.
What does the slap have to do with nudity?
Not that, the clothes. Menswear at the Academy Awards used to involve a one-way trip to tuxedo town, but that has changed in recent years. Though overshadowed by said slap, Mr Timothée Chalamet’s look was one of the most notable moments at this year’s Academy Awards thanks his sternum-baring jacket from Louis Vuitton’s SS22 Womenswear collection. Chalamet, being the pale and interesting Hollywood heartthrob of the moment, would likely garner praise for wearing anything (or nothing) at all, but the embellished cropped jacket and high-waisted trousers was a bold and memorable move, nonetheless.
Australian waif Mr Troye Sivan donned a torso-flashing spangled vest to Sir Elton John’s Aids Foundation viewing party for the Oscars, though this isn’t a particular departure in style for the singer – he wore a chest-baring dress to last year’s Met Gala and seems to favour a scantily clad moment on the red carpet. More surprising is the actor Mr Justice Smith, who recently wore a sheer lace shirt to a Vanity Fair party in West Hollywood.
“The ‘shirtless suit’ – a tailored jacket and trousers worn purposefully without a shirt underneath – is a trend that’s been gaining momentum in menswear over the past few seasons”
And… what’s Mr Lenny Kravitz wearing here? He looks like a half-dressed knight of the realm.
Kravitz’s nipples are no stranger to public appearances. The singer’s typically gets his double-D pecs out at almost every red-carpet appearance he’s made in recent memory. Still, even he has turned things up a notch and wore a “chainmail top” to the Grammys this month that bared quite a lot of his upper half. Himbo heavage like that simply cannot be contained.
Is all this chest-flaunting a new thing?
Not exactly. The “shirtless suit”, ie, a tailored jacket and trousers worn purposefully without a shirt underneath, is actually a trend that’s been gaining momentum in menswear over the past few seasons, and has been shown on the men’s runway by designers including Dries Van Noten, Officine Générale, Dior, Dunhill and Gucci. A shirtless suit is a brave thing to wear in a real life, of course, but if you can pull it off the result is actually quite suave. You don’t need to be Mr Iggy Pop either – just look at Mr Jonah Hill, who turned heads for his chest-hair-baring shirtless Gucci suit in December last year.
Are we more comfortable with men being naked than we used to be?
It certainly seems that way. And it’s not just our chests that are on show: The Face ran a story in January titled “Welcome To The Year Of The Cock” in reference to all of the penises – prosthetic and real – that have been slapped onto our screens in And Just Like That, Euphoria and Pam & Tommy. What’s behind this spell of exhibitionism is anyone’s guess, but it seems that, whether it’s nipples on the red carpet or uncensored genitals on mainstream TV, male nudity isn’t the taboo it once was.
But what about if you’ve no Kravitz-worthy heavage? No frail Chalamet sternum to bare? What about those of us who only have moobs to show?
Time to work on your bench press.