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In Defense of the Deep V

As long as there have been fashion trends, there have been critics of them. I will be the first to label acid-wash jeans as atrocious, high-waist trousers as “iffy” for anyone over a size two (which, let’s face it, is most of us), and strappy stiletto sandals as precarious. Most of us remember “The Rachel” cut, the bell-bottoms and the shoulder-pad phase everyone and their mother seemed to go through. Through all of these things, there have been designers, enthusiasts and shadowy fashion-bloggers ready and waiting in the wings to pounce and either rip each fad to pieces or praise it and revere it as some sort of pagan god. Today, I will serve as judge, advocate and executioner (or cheerleader?) on the subject of one particular trend that has overrun Europe and Britain and is currently making its way through the five boroughs of America: The Deep V.

No, not the “super-deep-v,” the kinds you see on AA models with loads of chest hair, ready to be documented on Instagram. Just the simple open-collared top. At first glance, many proponents of the men’s Deep V, or v-neck tee shirt, seem to be of the same build: wiry, beanie-wearing, chain-smoking, organic-produce-buying hipsters. Many of its critics hail from the same mold as well, all brusque mannered, football cheering, muscle-car swooning, “did-he-just-build-a-boat-in-his-basement-because-he-smells-delightfully-of-sawdust” scented manly men. Twice I’ve overheard otherwise well-intentioned male colleagues brush away the trend of the Deep V as “too homoerotic” and metro-sexual to be current, which I would assume is part of the draw; the idea of wearing something that the average man would shun seems deliciously complicating and the absolute ideal for the hipster, who disdains anything too mainstream.

In order to settle the case of “The People v. The Hipsterdom,” I’ve decided to lay my judgment at the feet of the public and speak solely for the vein of women in society who agree with me. The Deep V will remain. So say we all. Court is adjourned.

In its defense, I have only the following points to make:

1. In the right fit, a deeper v-neck tee shirt can be sexy. The little hollow of a man’s clavicle usually isn’t something you see beyond the beach or poolside. Usually they’re buttoned up and in a fitted-suit (god help us: a well-tailored suit is to women what lingerie is to men). Most of the time, they’re wearing some strange combination of gym shorts, black socks, and that free shirt they won at the basketball game. Then, from time to time, a man will walk past in a baggy v-neck shirt, jeans, and sunglasses, and we women secretly swoon a little bit inside even if we’ll never admit it outside of the blogosphere.

2. On the right man, a v-neck is more suitable than a plain button-down. So long as that fellow is not man-tanned, spiky-haired, fist-pumping, and doused in cheap cologne, a v-neck can give the impression of someone who is open to trying uncommon trends. Before donning a v-neck, though, be sure your physique fits the bill: just as not all women can wear skinny jeans, not all men should wear the deep v. And, please, when I say deep v, I mean this,

Not this:

We  really don’t want to see man-cleavage.

And finally,

3. When paired with the right attire, the deep v can assume a non-fussy air of simple genius. Worn under a vintage varsity or soft leather jacket, a v-neck tee is casual and doesn’t look too thought-out. With a homy sweater, it comes across as stylish and a little bit artistic. By itself, the deep v can be fashioned to look rock n’ roll with the right pair of jeans, or smart and intentional with a faded and fraying pair of slim khakis. It’s the male equivalent of the female “boyfriend tee.” Casual, but useful with almost every other item of clothing.

There will always be those who disagree over the polarizing trend that is the Deep V shirt. There will always be a line of men who revile the notched top as long as the line of men who would stand for hours to buy one that fits just right. But as the old saying goes, “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.” The next time you find yourself in a hipster-chic boutique waiting for the wife or girlfriend to leave the changing rooms, put your ego aside and meander slowly and purposefully to the tee shirts. Pluck one off the hangers. Place underneath a pile of denim. Enter the changing rooms. Try on and judge for yourself.

…So say we all.

You can read more from Melanie Schmitz on her blog.

Feature image via, Image 1 via, Image 2 via.

  • Douglas Koebrich

    I wear v necks, because when I joined the coast guard we write them under our uniforms. At first it was under all of them, but later it was only under our dress uniforms.

  • Douglas Koebrich

    Eww, I that rather poorly.

  • Jade Stokley

    huh. I was completely unaware that a v-neck t-shirt is any more ‘shocking’ than a round-neck t shirt… I’m also quite confused as to why the header photo is of male models wearing what you refer to as a ‘super deep V’ when you state several times that your article has nothing to do with this. Where do you live? I must visit this magical place where all men wear button-downs and fitted suits…

    Ps: I’m a size 12 and I rock high waited jeans. Thankyou very much.

    • Abigail Moss

      I agree. Obviously certain styles are more flattering on some people than others, but I am so tired of being told that I am not allowed to wear styles that I really like and that make me feel awesome.

      This is an opinion piece, so I’m not bashing it at all. It’s an interesting perspective on style. But I also think that people should be able to express themselves through clothing without getting ‘ew’s’ from others. Fashion is such an important mode of expression that belittling someone’s choice and reducing it to ‘hipsterdom’ is a bit unfair.

      • Melanie Schmitz

        Abigail– don’t worry. The “hipsterdom” comment was just poking fun at the way everyone assumes you’re a “d**chey hipster” just because you wear chunky sweaters and slouchy beanies. It makes me want to scream, “I LIKE MY CABLE-KNITS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!”
        Thanks for your comment. It gives me a lot to think about and work with for the future.

    • Melanie Schmitz

      Hey Jade! Thanks for reading. Of COURSE you should rock your skinny jeans, lady! When I mention in the article that “certain women shouldn’t wear skinny jeans” I should have clarified that I meant certain physiques, definitely not certain sizes. I have loads of friends who aren’t a size 0, but have gorgeous curvy figures and they all can pull off the skinny-jeans look like I never could. I personally have really big athletic thighs and skinnies just look like pegs on me; I have to stick to a straight-leg that mimics a skinny instead.

      (Also, not sure where the editors picked their header photo from, but the models are obviously wearing the “super-deep-v”… haha.)

      Fashion is fun. We all should be able to try whatever we want to wear and be ourselves. My intent behind this piece was to defend the guys out there that wear a v-neck tee instead of just letting others make fun of them for it. As to your question about the magical place where all men wear classy clothing? Sadly, ’tis but a dream…!

      Thanks for your comment. :)

      • Melanie Schmitz

        And as for “high-waisted trousers”, I’m sure you look great. Don’t worry, I’m just sad that I can’t wear them as I have no defined waist… if you’re a size 12 and can wear high-waists, then go for it! My Asian background gave me no shape and I have to wear mid-rise pants only. :(

  • Gabriela Varela

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