What women really want men to wear
It’s the billion-dollar question when it comes to men’s fashion. What do women really - really - want us to wear?
And it's a question that needs to be asked because (to generalise just a tiny bit) women are first-class liars and first-rate diplomats.
For the sake of domestic harmony or a stress-free office they'll pretend to like all sorts of things they secretly detest, whether that's your endless supply of knock-knock jokes or your mystifying attachment to comedy cufflinks.
Does it matter? Well, yes, because though we can kid ourselves otherwise, the fact is that at least part of the reason we buy nice clothes is to impress girls, whether that means the female population generally, or just one particular member of it.
So, for the sake of an open dialogue between the sexes, we asked real women how they really wanted to see their men dress. And more controversially, how they most certainly didn't.
You may want to look away now.
Age before booty
The response from our interviewees was most deafening on one point. If you're 35, don't dress 19.
"Men with beer bellies and greying hair can't get away with super-skinny jeans," says Louise, 33, from London, summing up the frustrations of a legion of women.
"I don't want my boyfriend to dress like an old man. But I certainly don't want him to dress like an idiot."
In fact, skinny jeans were a particular bugbear. According to top fashion blogger Natasha Guiotto(www.fashioninsidersstyle.blogspot.com), "skinny jeans are hot if you've got the right bod but otherwise should be avoided at all costs."
It's fair to say that many of us do not have the 'right bod' for skinny jeans. And Guiotto has another absolute no no for any man whose teenage years are behind him:
"Chav chic is for 15-year-olds outside Maccy D's, not fully grown men. So keep tracksuits in the house."
Don't let yourself go
At the same time, all our correspondents wanted their men to dress stylishly, whatever their age. Crisp, timeless fashions were in. Refusing to make an effort was most definitely out.
"My partner has pretty much given up on clothes and just wears the same old things: faded jeans, dark T-shirts and shapeless sweatshirts," says Anne, 29, from Manchester. "He's only 36. Sometimes I really would like him to make an effort."
For husbands and boyfriends who have hit 35 (or 30, or 40) and given up on fashion the message is clear. Nobody expects you to dress like Russell Brand, but your women do expect you to take some pride in your appearance.
And that goes double for special occasions. Even if you're not a glad rags sort of guy, romantic nights out with girlfriends and wives should be the exception. And remember, a man in a good suit - if only every now and then - still has the power to turn female knees to jelly.
"Nothing beats a man in a suit, 007 style, and they always bag the girl," says Natasha Guiotto. "And is it any wonder when they look that good?"
But women are nothing if not contrary. They want us to be stylish and they want us to know how to dress for an occasion. But they don't want it to look as if we've tried too hard.
"There is actually nothing worse than a man who looks like he's tried too hard," says Hazel, 33, from West Yorkshire.
"I like men who dress functionally. It's actually better to see a man looking confident and comfortable than like he can't sit down properly or walk in his shoes."
And that's the point. Make an effort, but don't try to be someone you're not. If your outfit of choice is jeans and a T-shirt, splashing out on designer knitwear is probably a mistake. But make sure they're nicely fitting jeans and it's a half decent T-shirt.
If all that's a bit confusing, don't worry. We have an article devoted to the tricky subject of looking good without looking like you've tried.
Don't label yourself
And it follows on that many women don't want us to be covered in the logos of designer brands.
Yes, wearing a shirt that has the name of your favourite designer emblazoned across the chest might prove that you have the money to afford expensive clothes. But splashing cash is no substitute for genuine style.
"Over-branded clothing is a real no. Yes, you might be proud that you're wearing this or that designer but if it fits nicely and looks good we don't need to see the label on everything," says Natasha Guiotto.
Anne from Manchester agrees. "I hate that 'look at me' attitude that some men have, with huge designer labels sticking out everywhere. That really is trying too hard. A bit of subtlety is classy."