Designing for Dudes

Is it just me or is it near impossible to find fashion inspiration for members of the opposite sex? I recently revamped my boyfriend’s wardrobe to help him suit up for his summer internship and was frustrated by the lack of outfit inspiration out there for men. Why should we women have all the fun? If you’re sitting on a few links to men’s fashion blogs you frequent, I would love to hear from you!

I love this European look (saved from Facehunter ages ago) but I’m not sure that my all-American and entirely heterosexual boyfriend would go for it. The boat shoes we bought him last month were a big hit but white jeans and hipster shades might be pushing it. 
I don’t know that Michael, intelligent though he is, can be trusted to mix and match his own patterns, particularly a tweed jacket with a plaid shirt with a striped knit tie. Somehow this fellow makes it work, but that’s just the art of French dressing at work, isn’t it? (Isn’t the camera the perfect touch? What if I got my boyfriend into photography somehow? I suppose that would be venturing into gay best friend territory — though I’m on the market for one of those as well… Any takers?)
I don’t see Michael sporting leather driving gloves (or hair gel, thank God) anytime soon, so perhaps the lesson here is that I love the color green on men. A green jacket would flatter Michael’s blond locks and cool blue/yellow eyes, wouldn’t it? J.Crew, get on that!
Anyway, I digress. The point of this post wasn’t originally the difficulty of finding straight men’s fashion inspiration but rather that the aforementioned boyfriend is also moving into off-campus housing at Bucknell next year and is somehow willing to trust me with the task of outfitting his new digs. The dilemma here is similar, however: how to give him a space that looks macho and entirely undecorated? (You know, the opposite of my style?)
Long before this predicament ever presented itself, I stumbled upon this story on New York Magazine‘s website. Being the genius that I am, I read the article, marveled at the pictures, and promptly forgot about it entirely. Fast forward one year and I find myself frantically emailing Grace of Design*Sponge (who must now think I’m crazy) wondering if I had seen this space on their blog and if what I was describing from faint memory was ringing any bells with her. Of course it wasn’t and I abandoned it for a second time… Until I magically stumbled upon these photos on Little Blue Deer and professed my undying gratitude to Shari (who probably also thinks I’m a little off). Really this is an entirely roundabout way of informing you that I think I’ve finally found and saved the inspiration for my latest project.
While bright paint and gallery walls probably aren’t the subject matter of Michael’s wildest dreams, I think it would be cool to go green and adorn the walls with vintage maps, photographs from our time abroad, and old sailing flags or sports pennants that I find online. Aren’t the different frames and mattes brilliant?
Ignoring the drapery ties and prospering plant, I think a well-stocked bar would make him the envy of his housemates (as opposed to the laughingstock). How convenient that I spotted Ralph Lauren‘s black watch plaid at HomeGoods (ahem, still waiting on that website) the other day!
I can’t claim to have expanded Michael’s wardrobe to these depths (yet) but I love the colorful ties against the green backdrop and the $80 thrift store dresser underneath the gilded mirror. 
Besides the above inspiration, the only project I’m dying to try is this Union Jack dresser I spotted on From the Right Bank. How perfect since Michael just returned from five months in London! 

What do you think of my ideas and inspiration for the boyfriend’s boudoir? Nothing could be less cool than a room that looks like his girlfriend swept in and made the place sparkle. I’ve been given free reign (and a helping hand!) so I’m trying not to mess this up! Where do you find interior inspiration that would appeal to your boyfriends/fiancés/husbands/landscapers/dogwalkers/etc.? I’ll take all the help I can get!

21 thoughts on “Designing for Dudes

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  1. Great post! I can definitely relate to the lack of choices for us guys, both in clothing and in, well, interior design, I guess. It’s either crazy hipster or grandpa. Sometimes both.

    Here are my tips. Keep it simple. Don’t go too trendy, especially if that’s not the guy’s personality because it will show. I say stick to the basics nine times out of ten. Oh, and I usually read every day and a blog called Manifold Destiny a few times a week. You could also try The Sartorialist and/or a subscription to GQ, although they often try too hard. 🙂

    (Thanks for your comment on my blog, too!)

  2. Mackenzie-
    Love, love, love the Union Jack dresser. Just spotted a dresser at Goodwill that would look fabulous with that treatment. So glad you posted it

    Oh, and I am so enjoying your blog. I stumbled upon it when you were featured on High-Heeled Foot in the Door (who I found via Apartment Therapy – ugh, that was a little confusing). Anyway, you probably don’t remember me.. but I am Julie’s friend (the one she moved out to Oregon with). Keep up the great work… I love reading your work.

  3. Every girl needs her gays Mackenzie. My bff of 10 years and I met working a stint at Gap and have been closer than 2 peas in a pod ever since!! Yours is out there…and he will be able to assist in suiting up your bf.

    The Chef is a John Varvatos guy. Not too much with the vests, but several other pieces for sure.

    I loved this post. Gotta get back to the tail end of it though…you lost me at best gay boyfriend. They are the best ever. 🙂


  4. The different frames and mattes are SO brilliant. I always wanted to have an entire wall like this. I have a section of my wall collaged but the frames are all relatively the same black w/ differet matting. the fancy liquor bottles are a great touch as well. DONT LEAVE THAT OUT! good luck. how is your room coming?

    PS I love Little Blue Deer.

    PPS I realized I follow your other blog and not this one! We’ll im following now so feel free to follow me back! 🙂

  5. Love the dark green, the union jack, the vintage maps….all classic choices for the quintessentially American hetereosexual male.

    I’ve long since given up trying to hip up Dave’s style. I’m just happy now he wears clothes that fit him properly. Fortunately though, I have convinced him of how lovely he looks in pink or lavender shirts.

  6. Helping men with fasion is always an on going process. Nearly everything my BF wears now is items I picked out or bought for him. He dresses cute, my secret though is to buy him things I know he likes that are a step up from what he wears (which is now his style and fits his choices) then I buy one thing that’s out of his boundaries, like a different color, a new sweater style, etc. So far it’s been working, but we’ll see how far I can get.

  7. I always LOVED Max’s dorm room…that would be fab inspiration. I mostly model Pete’s wardrobe choices after a less purple Chuck Bass, so if Season 4 could come back and just pretend Season 3 never happened…that would be fantastic.

  8. I love the inspiration photos you’ve picked out for your bf’s new place! I think they will be a fan-tastic jumping-off point! Can’t wait to see it when it’s all done. And I had to laugh at the beginning—it seems like so many girlfriends’ plight, having to restyle their boyfriends’ clothes, right??? to funny! love it!

  9. I think what you’re going for isn’t necessarily “undecorated” 9cause these images look like lotsa work to me…) but “manly”, and I love the inspiration you picked.
    As for the fashion- I think you want to stick to some basic pieces he can mix and match and a pair of really good shoes – that’s what I would invest in.
    Also – You’re so funny! Aren’t we all a bit “off” when it comes to an image tht sticks to our mind? (hum… maybe you should’nt answer that 🙂 )

  10. I hear you on the white hipsters and shades.. my husband would run if I suggested this look for him.
    I think less is more with guys and I must say I think Marshall looks best when in a pair of well fitted jeans and a t-shirt.. But that’s me, and yes I did grow up in the 80s when the Levis jeans ads etched deep impressions on my brain.. 🙂

    As for the room. Less is usually more when it comes to guys and they tend to need simple but structured storage. A wall mounted TV, simple framed photographs (including a glamour shot of you!), a cool feature (of some sort), a music station and cool storage for movie & music collections as well as a nicely stacked bar trolley will go a long way.
    Go easy on the colour of the walls – I’d say go neutral. This doesn’t mean no colour, but try to avoid bright shades as this will clutter the room easily.

    My 2c worth.. Best of luck!

    xx C

  11. I think the thing with men is they don’t have as much variety to choose from as women do. What elevates a man to truly stylish isn’t all about the clothes, but how he wears and styles them. Even in pictures you can see some guys just have “it” and could make even a ratty t-shirt look cool.