Ask the AG: Do you read GQ?

Sacha Baron Cohen as 'Brüno' on the July 2009 cover of GQ

Got an email this morning asking about the AG’s preferred reading material. “I’m thinking about subscribing to a new magazine. I’ve read Sport Illustrated since I was a kid, but it might be time to upgrade to something  more ‘adult’. Do you read GQ? They focus a lot on style […] and I think it would be a good choice.”

Listen fella (since you didn’t leave a name), let’s get one thing straight. Adding another magazine to your toilet repertoire is a great plan, but dropping Sports Illustrated would be a rookie move—no pun intended. The only error SI’s made in 50+ years is removing Rick Reilly from the back page. It’s a great publication that has lasted you this long, so why stop now?

As for GQ… well… there’s a lot to say here.

GQ is a popular magazine; no doubt about it. The AG even subscribed to GQ until 2007, albeit reluctantly as time went on. Sadly, Gentleman’s Quarterly swapped most of its better material for a seat atop the men’s fashion-magazine throne—a seat it has owned for a long, long time. People even use the title as an adjective in common discussion:

“He looks very ‘GQ’, doesn’t he?”

The rub, however, lies in the niche market to which GQ applies. Do these guys with Italian loafers, Prada suits and Cartier watches look good? Of course they do, but it’s not realistic. 99% of men outside NYC/LA—real men—can’t walk into the office without socks on or wearing ultra-skinny pink ties. Not if they want to be taken seriously, that is.

Most of GQ’s style recommendations are so outlandish, both in price and in substance, that many of them are outside the realm of what men could (or would) buy.

There are two saving graces, however. First, remember that GQ is the elite publication in men’s fashion. In that light, perhaps we have to cut them some slack for pushing their style cues so far outside the norm. Most of the guys in Men’s Health have 0% fat and eight-pack abs, which is almost wholly unrealistic. Doesn’t mean they don’t offer great health and exercise tips. Second, Glenn O’Brien is the man. The ‘Style Guy’ hits the mark almost every time.

Moving from the negative to the positive, the AG delivers an unsolicited endorsement…

If you want a magazine that falls into the same neck of the woods as GQ—but without all the half-naked men and 4- to 5-figure price tags—pick up a copy of Esquire. Founded in the early 1930s, Esquire started as a men’s life and style publication with and added focus on high-quality literary content. The magazine has featured masterful writers throughout the years, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Norman Mailer, Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King.

The best part about Esquire is its relevance to, well… reality. Unlike GQ, the folks at Esquire publish things that classic American men want to see—photos of gorgeous women, intriguing literature and news, and style tips for real gentlemen. If you’ve got to walk into the board room and kick a little ass, GQ’s poofy silk pocket squares and skin-tight suit pants ain’t gonna cut it. Savvy?

So, to step off the soapbox and answer your question… no. The AG doesn’t read GQ [anymore]. The freedom of choice is a beautiful thing, though, and at roughly $15/year you might as well give GQ and Esquire a try. They both offer good material—the latter more than the former—so take the high notes from each and ignore the rest.

Heck, if you want to make the truly wise decision, skip them both and just read AAG every day!

Time to upgrade your reading material and start living life better.


~ by An Austin Gentleman on July 21, 2010.

One Response to “Ask the AG: Do you read GQ?”

  1. […] what the AG said about GQ a couple of weeks ago? It’s all still 100% true, including the note about Glenn […]

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