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The best dresser I ever knew was a guy, and I think this is a coup given the options out there for men. So I asked this particular guy—let’s call him D.B.—about the ideal behind his ensemble. (“Shabby provincial academic or “ageing hipster/shops the women’s section,” I was thinking.) D.B. told me a story: He was out with friends. They had to pick up a dude named Frank on the way to a party. Frank was napping in his apartment. When they got there, he walked to a pile of clothes in the corner. (D.B. was unable to determine whether the clothes were clean.) Frank pulled a shirt off the top of the pile and buttoned it poorly. He pulled a pair of jeans off the floor. He was ready. “He looked amazing,” D.B. said, “and that’s exactly what I’m going for. I want to pull a dirty shirt off of some random pile of clothes and kill you with how hot I am.” It’s an old idea of course; to master the art of looking good, you have to master the art of looking like you don’t care what you look like. The Neoplatonists talked about it all the time. Camillo Baldi (1625) says it best: while your right hand “strenuously promotes the arts of dissembling” your left “strenuously denies that it is doing so.” In short, half of you should be spending hours in front of the mirror while the other half says, “Are you kidding? I was born looking this good.” But be careful, guys. It’s harder than it sounds. Look like you spent hours in front of the mirror and most women will think you’re a self-loving ass; look like you spent no hours in front of the mirror and sleep alone. Thankfully, I’m a woman. I just make the call.

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