Beware the Broet: Looking at Literary Dudes (a Sad Story with a Happy Ending)

So, initially, I envisioned this post as a response to Michelle’s Looking at Literary Ladies from awhile back. In it, she profiled the high style of such lady literary luminaries as Zadie Smith, Joan Didion, and S.E. Hinton. I figured I’d do the same for dudes.
Easy, right? I mean male authors are basically the canon, despite the best efforts of many feminists and queers to get the world to look away for like just one second. To make my life easy for this post, I figured I’d check out a few marquee (read: NYT-bestsellers, blah blah blah extra-hyped Brooklynites, etc.) names, put something together, bam. Back to the business of trying to get my own book published, which is consuming 92% of my waking life right now.
But no. No no no no no. Here, in brief, is the shit show I came up against:

Bret Easton Ellis. Jesus, is that a HOODIE?

I love his work. Really. But the guy who brought us deep into soulless, ’80s, Wayfarer-and-blue-jean LA wears this to a photo shoot for the Guardian?! Lord.

Jonathan Safran Foer in cargo pants.

Sigh. Where is Jason Schwartzman when you need him (never thought I’d hear myself saying that but seriously).

Nick Hornby, what the fuck?

So much is wrong!

Okay, it’s not all bad news for the modern mega-selling dude author of literary merit.

Is this what we've come to?

Ha ha. Just kidding. Seriously, folks:

David Mitchell: good job.

David Mitchell: classic. Being handsome helps, but the man is also just put together. However, the winner is clear:

Colson Whitehead: Thank you.

Yeah, Colson Whitehead!!! You look awesome!!!

Back in the day, writers didn’t dress like a sloppy stereotype of themselves. These luminaries look like they didn’t just watch the world through greasy glasses, they got up, got dressed, and fucking went out and LIVED:

Hunter S. Thompson, professional gonzo.

Hard-living, perhaps. But living.

We all know how I feel about Jack Kerouac.

But he looked great. Not too fussy, but always 100%. He looked like…well, himself. A man who’d cultivated an aesthetic.

Is that Jon Hamm? No, it's Jack Kerouac.

That’s a writer on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, he’s got a pipe. Of course he does. What are you doing with your life?

James Baldwin in Paris.

Speaking of living, there’s JAMES BALDWIN looking like he knows more than I do, handsomely, in Paris.


There’s my favorite author, Truman Capote, looking nerd-fey with a Southern twist. Alright, good sir!

Mark Twain. May we all look so awesome in our twilight years.

Please let me die in an outfit like this.

There you have it. No more excuses, men of letters! Pull it together. Out of the airport-sweatpants, and into the seersucker suit. Because art is life, man.

About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here:


  1. blevit

    I gotta say, the women have way more range when it comes to their styles. Still, these guys look pretty good—Twain, especially.

  2. I was totally going to say Colson Whitehead before I scrolled down to him! I’m glad we’re in agreement about his handsomeness. I also think poet Li-Young Lee deserves some points for being the rare man who can rock a bun:

  3. Pingback: Beyond Beach Tundra: Clothes for Many Climates « Ironing Board Collective

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