Like "hipster" and "douchebag," the word "bro" has been applied to such a vast swath of American culture that it seems no one is really sure what it means anymore. Turns out, much of that confusion can be attributed to the fact that a bro is different depending on where in the Bronited States of Bromerica you're currently bro'ing down.
Before we enter the brozone, we must answer, for our purposes, the age-old question: What is a bro? The most practical, workable definition: An adult male whose social life revolves around collegiate homosocial bonding and who also presents himself in a way that assimilates to the prevailing aesthetic of men with similar socialization patterns. Or, if I was going to put it in a way that sounded less like a student who didn't do the reading trying to fill out the essay portion of a sociology exam, a bro is a young, usually unmarried, often immature guy who just does what everyone else his age seems to be doing. He's not necessarily a bad guy, he's not necessarily worthy of derision (some of my best friends are bros!). He's just figuring life out and trying to enjoy himself in the process (unfortunately, this pursuit of enjoyment combined with a lack of self awareness, can, in the case of some bros, result in asshole behavior), and he's not secure or confident enough to do it on his own.
Overall, bros just wanna have fun! In a group of 5 or 6 other, similarly dressed bros!
Interestingly enough, what's required for bro-ing down in, say, Chicago would not fly in a bro bar in, say, New York City. And imagine a New York City bro rolling into a gathering of Portland bros. Imagine a Red State Frat Bro trying to kick it with an LA Bro. A DC bro and a Cowbro. Bros, like liquor, rarely mix well, if at all.
So, without further ado, a brief survey of regional bros and their aesthetic ideals.
Uniform: Blue button down shirt, grey or black work pants, nice leather Big Time Job Shoes. Good hair.
Habitat: The office (they're all investment bankers), or the bar down the street from the office that is filled with other bros who have identical jobs and identical wardrobes, or the biggest table at a popular but expensive steak house in Brooklyn during the after work hours. Bathroom stalls that lend themselves well to the blowing of lines.
Hobbies: Over-identifying with the really over-the-top scenes from Wolf of Wall Street. Stealing cabs. Eventually marrying women named Claire, and then divorcing her for a woman named Madison (who is 23). Yelling.
Secret shame: Feels bad about small penis.
Celeb brospiration: Alec Baldwin punching a guy
Uniform: North Face jacket, Big 10 college sweatshirt (ALMA MATER ONLY), athletic shoes. During the summer, basketball shorts, a college tee shirt, baseball cap, and sandals. Toes aplenty among the bros of Chicago during warm weather.
Job: Consulting or accounting. Finance, but not, like, sexy finance. Maybe a loan officer or a financial advisor.
Hobbies: Getting blackout drunk every weekend.
Secret shame: Is going bald (that's what the baseball cap is supposed to hide) and getting large in the middle from all that drinking, despite only being 28 (every bro in Chicago is 28).
Celeb brospiration: Vince Vaughn
Uniform: Boat shoes without socks, pastels. Salmon colored shorts. Sailing motifs.
Intoxicant of choice: Beer, vodka, whatever. Eventually the night will lead to cocaine.
Secret shame: Has poor parents. Actually does not know how to sail.
Celeb brospiration: Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers.
Uniform: Like The Mad Hatter preparing to appear on Fox News or a Dad about to go golfing. Impeccable, possibly side-parted hair. Think high school bully in an 80's movie.
Intoxicant of choice: SoCo. Occasionally chewing tobacco.
Hobbies: Fancying self to be "gentleman" (one source familiar with southern bros even referred to them as "gentleman bros") Being borderline psychotic about SEC football.
Secret shame: Belongs to a fraternity that is still segregated. Has scar on neck from bar fight he got into after his favorite football team lost to another SEC team.
Celeb brospiration: Tucker Carlson
Uniform: Knit cap in warm weather, ironic tank top, comfortable shorts, flip flops, lazy beard, shades.
Job: Agent or something. He's friends with Zac Efron. He's on the list, okay?
Hobbies: Weekend trips to Vegas with the boys. Name dropping.
Secret shame: Barely-under-control coke problem.
Celeb brospiration: Brody Jenner
Uniform: Polo shirt, backwards BoSox cap, white Adidas shoes. Shamrock tat. That. Accent.
Habitat: Dive bars. Fenway. Massive L-shaped couch in a white-walled apartment.
Hobbies: Driving like an aggressive dick, throwing around homophobic insults like it's the early 90's.
Secret shame: They feel very little shame.
Celeb brospiration: The Wahlberg brothers
Uniform: Vineyard Vines pants, lacrosse jersey, croakies.
Job: Lobbyist, consultant, or something random on The Hill.
Habitat: One of, like, three Georgetown bars where bros go.
Hobbies: Googling self. Name dropping. Attending Georgetown basketball games even though mostly did not go to Georgetown.
Secret shame: Knows job is totally unnecessary, is aware of his own irrelevance. Is horrible at lacrosse.
Celeb brospiration: Paul Ryan
Uniform: Nike or Adidas workout clothes worn as regular street clothes. Well-formed calves from hiking, kayaking, and "fun runs" that involve costumes.
Job: Works for Nike or Adidas.
Drink of choice: Water
Hobbies: Adult soccer, basketball, softball, or running team.
Secret shame: Owns clothing made by rival sportswear brand. Owns those individual toe shoes, which we all can agree are gross.
Celeb brospiration: Lance Armstrong
Uniform: The Dallas (or Houston) Bro is a hybrid of many bro styles; a frankenbro if you will. Like the Mid-Atlantic bro, the Dallas Bro enjoys boat shoes without socks and pastel shirts. Like the Midwestern bro, the Dallas Bro loves a good pair of comfortable shorts and the occasional visor. Like the Red State bro, the Dallas bro sometimes wears gingham button downs. And like the Country Bro, the Dallas bro appreciates the value of a good pair of leather Redwing boots.
Job: Oil, gas, real estate, insurance.
Drink of choice: Brown liquors. Smokes when he drinks.
Secret shame: Very concerned with finding a wife before a certain target date, usually in the late twenties.
Hobbies: Hunting, fishing.
Celeb brospiration: Matthew McConaughey, obviously
Uniform: Also known as "The Winter Bro," the Colorado Bro is dressed for the slopes as often as the weather and his budget permits.
Intoxicant of choice: Bales and bales of pot.
Hobbies: Skiing/snowboarding, smoking bales and bales of pot.
Celeb brospiration: Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy
Uniform: Also known as the "Mormon All-Star," the Provo Bro is a preening, hair geling, gym ratting, thick necked doofus who dresses like an Abercrombie ad and burns through Crest Whitestrips.
Intoxicant of choice: Cologne stink waves. Sugary desserts.
Hobbies: Going to the gym, attending church services in order to flirt with eligible Mormon women, bragging about piety.
Celeb brospiration: Bentley Williams, the biggest villain in Bachelor history.
Uniform: skinny jeans, a plaid shirt, beard (optional), glasses (mandatory), forearm tats, Hitler Youth haircut. Closed shoes, always. When hipster is ubiquitous, hipster becomes bro. Let that sink in.
Job: Says he's a "writer," is actually in advertising.
Drink of choice: IPA (because let's be honest: if you're rich enough to live in most parts of White Brooklyn, you're rich enough to afford fancy beer)
Habitat: Dive bars, farmer's markets, bike paths
Hobbies: Gentrifying, reading the New Yorker on the train, openly smoking pot on the sidewalks of Bushwick (totally untouched by law enforcement) while bemoaning the fact that pot is illegal.
Secret shame: Really gets into March Madness and/or the Stanley Cup. Didn't think Mitt Romney was really that bad a candidate.
Celeb brospiration: Oddly enough, it's Adam Levine.
Uniform: Casual club wear. Sunglasses perched on forehead. Gym-hewn pecs.
Job: Real estate, or dad's company.
Intoxicant of choice: Vodka and Red Bull. Molly.
Hobbies: Hitting the gym. Starting sentences with the word "Bro" or "Man," which is pronounced in Miami like "Meng."
Habitat: Beach. Unnecessarily shiny cars idling for no reason. Yacht, though not necessarily his own.
Secret shame: Owns zero books and three Pitbull CDs.
Celeb brospiration: Enrique Iglesias
Uniform: Jeans, tee shirt (sometimes sleeveless), cowboy hat (or very weathered baseball cap), truck. Yes, you wear a truck. It's your penis's exoskeleton. Everyone knows that.
Job: construction administration, car dealership, agriculture. Anything, really.
Drink of choice: Budweiser
Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, talking about hunting and fishing.
Secret shame: Says he doesn't hate gays, just "disagrees with their lifestyle," but actually deep down kind of actually does hate gays.
Celeb brospiration: Kenny Chesney
Uniform: Ill-fitting business casual clothing from Uniqlo, hair gel
Job: "In tech."
Intoxicant of choice: Anything they can get their hands on at Burning Man.
Hobbies: Tinder or any other app that might lead to a hookup
Secret shame: Has no investors, zero funding, and doesn't know how to code.
Celeb brospiration: Jesse Eisenberg
Don't see your particular bro varietal on here? By all means, please do add in the comments below.
Image by Jim Cooke and Sam Woolley.