The term “retrosexual” was first used to describe a particular sort of man in 2003 by Mark Simpson. Many traits characterize a retrosexual, but the most distinctive is their classically masculine identity. Retrosexuals spend minimal time on their personal appearance, for example, and they often pursue classically masculine activities like hunting and rough field sports. Some people simply call retrosexuals “manly men,” in a reference to their very masculine demeanor.
The term is closely related to “metrosexual,” a sort of man who is essentially the opposite of a retrosexual. Metrosexual men spend a great deal of time, energy, and money on personal appearance, and they pride themselves on dressing well. They often use a wide variety of cosmetic products for skin, hair, and nails, and then tend to have a more feminine presentation. The “metrosexual” actually came first; this particular species of man was described in an article in 2002, also by Mark Simpson.
Individual retrosexuals have a wide range of personal beliefs and attitudes. Some people believe that the reluctance to follow fashion fads is accompanied with a lack of interest in general social trends, suggesting that retrosexuals have antiquated attitudes about women, people of different sexual orientations, and minorities. This is not, in fact, the case. A retrosexual can be a poet just as easily as he can be a logger, and in both instances he may not be overly concerned with skin color, sexual orientation, or gender.
If retrosexual men could be said to have a “look,” the look is generally rugged. Jeans, flannel shirts, and other comfortable garments are common inclusions in the retrosexual wardrobe, with a focus on utility rather than style. Retrosexuality is more about attitude than style, as many of these men believe that actions and beliefs speak louder than clothing. A certain sense of honor and self reliance is associated with retrosexual men, some of whom place a heavy emphasis on being able to hunt, garden, fix things around the house, and tinker with machinery.
Unlike the metrosexual look, which involves deliberate cultivation of a desired style, retrosexuals are marked by a total lack of effort. Some people might argue that retrosexuals are born, rather than made, as the live and let live attitude and other beliefs of a retrosexual are difficult things to acquire.