Step aside, Blake Lively. Men have breasts, too, and they are whipping them out with a vengeance. Man cleavage, dubbed “heavage” by the Telegraph’s Hilary Alexander, is on the rise, reports The Wall Street Journal. Now, heavage is nothing new. As early as the twenties actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. had his upper breasts and middle chest routinely on display in his films. But the Journal argues that man cleavage hasn’t been this prominent since the seventies (John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever). And man boobs — but not man nipples (mipples?) — were all over the spring 2010 runways, namely those of Yigal Azrouël and Michael Bastian.
Bastian says heavage is coming back because trendy male models have gone from waifish twigs to hulking, lumpy, manly men with breasts most deserving of a little airing out. But also, as we’ve noted repeatedly, designers are in love with the idea of clothes that aren’t actually clothes. The spring runways were filled with models in panties instead of pants, bras instead of shirts, and low-cut tops for men — all merely an extension of gradually working our way toward a world in which a nudist way of life is the norm.
Also, hipsters and wannabe-hipsters have been buying the deep-Vs at American Apparel for years, and if any store matters to street fashion it’s that one, whatever your feelings may be about it. It is possible that men are embracing heavage out of lady-cleavage envy. They don’t want us to forget they have boobs, too!
Brad Wieners, editor-in-chief of Men’s Journal magazine, believes that the magazine has made guys feel more comfortable about wearing more fitted clothes and styles that show that they work out. Mr. Wieners notes that for a recent cover shoot, actor Alec Baldwin donned a shirt open at the collar, subtly revealing chest hair. “He’s not Burt Reynolds,” says the editor. “But he’s letting you know he’s got a chest.”
And, ladies, we could possibly learn a thing or two about putting the girls on display from men. Currently (and seeing how crazy men are with their fashion these days, this could certainly change), women stand a greater risk of abusing their breasts and walking out of the house with them on indecent display. It’s not fair: The fashion industry keeps making those giant waist belts that can push a girl’s boobs up to her eyeballs. Men don’t really have this option. But they are meticulous about what they show and don’t show.
The latest resurrection of man cleavage does raise a not-so insignificant issue: to wax or not? For a number of years, any male chest hair was considered a fashion don’t, but very recently a thin thatch has become quite acceptable. The low-cut look “is better if you have a little chest hair,” says Tyler Thoreson, a New York-based men’s style consultant. “It’s not about showing off chest hair, it’s about it peeking out a little bit.”
…Robert Caponi, a 32-year-old musician in Greensboro, N.C., isn’t taking any chances. In order to get the hair-to-skin ratio just right, he shaves his chest every two weeks or so – a regimen that helps him to feel comfortable in one of the six deep V-neck shirts he owns. Not all styles fit the bill. After purchasing a wide scoop neck recently, he declared it simply too revealing. “I looked in the mirror and I was disgusted,” he says.
Now, men could learn a thing or two from women and ogling, because while they have their boys out, we will probably never be as blatant about staring at them as this.