The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Nov 052010

Interesting piece in the NYT style section recently.  Apparently, in the very long wake of the Great Recession, people aren’t as attracted to the boyish waif look in men’s fashion anymore.  Interestingly, there was a lot of discussion as well about this in the couple of years after 9/11. Something that Bill and I used to suggest, and wrote about in The Fourth Turning: greater distance between gender roles in the [4T] and in the emerging Millennial (born 1982-200?).


Especially in a depressed economy, the editors concluded, the Details man was not well represented by the boys so fashionable a moment ago.

“It’s not just models, it’s actors, it’s advertising, it’s the movies,” said Sam Shahid, creative director of Shahid & Company and a force behind campaigns that first helped put Calvin Klein’s name on half the world’s backsides. “It’s trendy to do this, and everyone’s suddenly jumping on it,” Mr. Shahid said, referring to the abrupt rejiggering of masculine ideals.

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  • What impact will this have on the gay male, such as the ones so beloved in the ’90s on Will and Grace, etc.? It would seem that a change in fashion foretells a deeper change in cultural sensibility. And with the new GOP takeover, one wonders…..

    • -millenial-

      Millenials are more accepting of homosexuality than Xers so I doubt there will be a huge move toward homophobia. Look at Glee: a cheerful cast of clean-cut Millenials (both gay and straight). I suspect fashion could move in this direction with both gay and straight men becoming more clean cut, traditional, and “manly” (whatever the new Millenial definition of that will be). It could be the new Millenial “Rock Hudson” could be fully out of the closet yet just as physically masculine. It would be strange but not out of the picture.

  • Guest

    Millennials were more gender-segregated even when the leading edge was in high school. Xers were brought up in a more asexual environment (most of us had longhair as boys in the ’70s and early ’80s, for example). With Millennials, there has always been that well delineated boundary between the sexes.