In general, my beau has an excellent sense of style. While I wouldn’t put him in the cuff-links-and-velvet-blazer category, he owns and wears several very nice shirts, and has good taste in Japanese denim. I am, however, increasingly concerned about his addition to hoodies. Nice shirts can feature spiffy interesting, elegant patterns and lovely collars, but if they’re buried beneath a gray hooded sweatshirt with a silver metal zipper, they will remain significantly underappreciated.
Can you recommend an alternative to the hoodie, something comfortable that can be worn informally when one is out and about? Or should I just accept the superior wearability and perpetual teenaged nature of the hoodie?
New Haven Co-ed
Dear New Haven Co-ed,
Nice to hear from you again. My advice is to not push for a cold-turkey termination to his "hoodie". I would consider replacement therapy and systematic desensitization. Fewer things are as unflattering and, at times, as demeaning as the zip-front hooded sweatshirt. What better way to insult your date, host, and self all at the same time? There ARE times when it is appropriate and harmless, but when is ruins the mood, evening, or outing, it may be time to consider upgrading. When I played sports in high school and college, hooded sweatshirts were perfect, just as they were when the electrician and I crawled through the filthy underside of the house to examine the joists for drilling.
Almost anything looks better than a hooded sweatshirt on an adult. Since your beau wears a zip-front garment, I will not stray into any over-the-head types of clothing. I tried to think of clothes that would allow easy-on/easy-off wearing, opening fronts, versatility, comfort, and warmth.
A friend of mine wears a hooded sweater as his knock-around outer layer. Unlike the photo, his is plain.
Another friend wears his waxed vest over EVERYTHING... suits, running clothes, sailing duds, weekend attire... you name it, he'll pair it.
A zip-front sweater might be a sensible upgrade, but it may be a tough sell. I have long-advocated for curling sweaters, but they can be a little eccentric looking. I wore mine to a party this winter, and as I stood by my host's magnificent fireplace, his pre-teen daughters giggled at it overtly when they weren't too busy texting, eventually asking me if I was "warm enough".
A cotton jacket is one of the most versatile garments, wearable in a wide range of temperatures and weather.
Another option is the lined shirt or "shirt jacket" as some call it. I keep one of these at the office, one at home, and one up north for the cool evenings (even during summer). It's comfortable, warm, and like a zip-front, it is easy to wear and remove.
None of what I have listed above is a style grand-slam, but it will be a good start. Since this isn't a catty-male style forum, I can be realistic about this.
I would suggest voicing your concern (be cool about it), ask for occasional compromise in the matter, and provide an alternative for him... preferably one that he has approved. Remember though, if it is not similar in use to the "hoodie" (easy-on/easy-off, opening front, versatile, comfortable, and warm), it will not likely catch on. He wears it because he likes it, and while some people (myself included) think that this garment often looks horrible on adults, the majority of the population finds them applicable to nearly any setting and situation. You need to accept it in moderation, but don't settle for it completely. If you push a guy too much, he will latch on to it out of pride and you'll have to move on in one way or another, with or without him.