In 2010, the Sony Corporation sold more than $70 million worth of eight-track cassette players, horse and buggy sales topped $70 million at General Motors, and Hair Club generated more than $70 million by peddling tiny patches of human hair to bald men. Preposterous, you say? Well, sure, especially that last one. But of course only the last one is that true. The Hair Club chain is now owned and operated by the Regis Corporation, and according to the Regis Corporation’s 2010 annual report, Hair Club generated $141 million in revenue in 2010, half of which came from its hair replacement service. Technologies come and go, and yet in the age of Rogaine, Propecia, and increasingly sophisticated hair transplant techniques, the old-fashioned toupee — employing the same basic technology it has for the last 5,000 years — remains a solid seller.

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We see commentary on women’s clothing all the time, but we rarely see much said about men’s clothes outside men’s fashion magazines, which are, let’s face it, an oxymoron. My own tendency has been to pity men for the lack of variety in their apparel. How sad to have to constantly replenish those bland staples: the tie, the trouser, the buttoned shirt. And yet, as someone who knows that a sonnet can be more richly satisfying than free verse, I also recognize that limitation can be a spur to creativity.

 

Which is why, recently, I leveled my gaze at the men’s buttoned shirt in the hope that it might yield insight into the subtle expressiveness of the male wardrobe. Once I began to look, I saw more than I bargained for. In fact, I came away dazzled by… More…