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