Thursday, October 23, 2014

Live and Let Live

Illustration by Me, Desmond Kinlaw

Look inspired by:
Rayban Wayfarer Sunglasses
Givenchy Leather Quilted Kilt

It’s funny that in the year 2014 with its infinite amount of theories, ideas, and concepts, it’s still encouraged to have hard, black-and-white opinions on things. As if there’s no room for growth and adjustment. Allow me to issue you a challenge: for the next 6 minutes (or however long it takes you to read this) find it in your hearts to float objectively in the middle with me.

I’ll start by listing off some of the major sub-genres that menswear has split into in the last few years: hipster, preppy, minimalist, normcore, lumberjack, hypebeast, peacock—ok, I’m stumped. I mentioned all that to say that the height of men’s style is no longer the guy in the well cut, three-piece suit. It is not the super chill guy in Japanese selvedge denims, bespoke oxford shirt and English made wingtips, either. The height of men’s style is looking like the best version of you. This may sound contradictory coming from a style blogger who spends his time giving you tips on trends and essentially ‘telling you’ what you should be wearing. But I only consider myself a resource who simply does a little legwork and presents the findings. I would hope that my readers know to cherry-pick what’s for them, and respect what isn’t. But therein lies the problem. I don’t think there’s enough respect. There’s not enough respect to recognize that something isn’t for you, and just leave it as that. I’m of the mindset that every creation is beautiful in its own way. It just depends on your perspective. Somewhere along the line, we were told what is and isn’t beautiful. What is and isn’t acceptable. And my favorite, what is and isn’t menswear.

#Menswear came about as a revolt to the notion that men didn’t give a rip about fashion and the only ones that did also happened to enjoy the romantic company of other men. In the early 2000’s, southern rap had taken over the nation. Insert baggy clothing, flashy jewelry, and duffel bags from French and Italian fashion houses nearly older than Abe Lincoln. What seemed like all of a sudden, the pendulum swung all the way to the other side. Men were now able to wear suits for no special occasion at all without a second look. Now there’s bow ties, tight trousers, and skinny jeans. Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z do a song titled “Suit and Tie” where Jay-Z announces “It’s time to wear tuxedos for no reason.” Everyone jumped on this #menswear bandwagon- me included. But everything was new to me and I didn’t understand. Now, the pendulum is slowly starting to settle in the middle. Men’s style icons are beginning to appear less buttoned up and more relaxed. For Christ’s sake, sweatpants are a legit thing now. Sweatpants?! It is my hope that soon the menswear pendulum will fade away into obscurity altogether. It will sway to neither the right nor the left. It simply won’t exist.

I consider fashion to be an art. An expression of a mood, feel or idea. No one should be allowed to criticize that. Just appreciate it for what it is, and move on with your life. There is no longer such thing as being outside the box because the box went away with the pendulum. I understand that for product marketing purposes there must be a women’s category and a men’s category. But what if a man wants to wear clothing that is marketed to women? (Side note: there is a fine line between men wearing women’s clothing and a man “trying” to look like a woman. I’m only referring to the former as the latter is another topic all together.) But I pose the question: what’s the difference between a woman wearing trousers (which was deemed downright offensive from about 4000BC up until around the 1920’s) and a man wearing a skirt? Ask those living inside the imaginary box and you will hear that that man is queer. But I say that maybe the guy really liked the skirt, he has the figure and styling know-how to pull it off, good for him. If you look back through fashion history (as I’m fresh off that course in my college studies) you will notice that in more than a few periods men of power wore skirts, kilts and tunics. They wore leggings and hose. And when it was time for battle they would slit your throat without a moment’s notice, so why is it now an assumption of femininity? What changed? Honestly, who cares? Right now, with all our many differences, why is it so hard to just live and let live? Or better yet, wear and let wear. That’s the message in all of this. We’ve come too far as a species to be so closed minded about things. What gives you the right to toss your negative unsolicited opinion in someone’s direction? Life is too short to get caught up on things that don’t affect you. WEAR AND LET WEAR!

Edited by Felicity Rhode

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Transitional Outerwear

Illustration by Andrew Mashanov 

This time of year is notorious for wonky weather. It can jump from 60 degrees at 8 A.M to a spike to the mid 80’s by lunchtime. This can make getting dressed challenging as you’ll need to wear something that will prevent you from freezing in the morning but doesn’t swallow you up by the afternoon. Lightweight outerwear can be your friend in these times. And to accompany that, you need to wear something underneath that can stand well on its own when it comes time to shed your chill blocker. I’d say a crisp polo is your best option. They look best worn untucked so be sure you get the length right (no more than 3 inches below the belt). The short sleeve allows a more streamlined look versus wearing a long sleeved button-down and rolling the sleeves (as you most certainly will want to do to when perspiration comes a calling).

This one’s the least expensive of the bunch and receives kudos for being American made (L.A. to be exact). I’ve tried this one on personally and I can say the fit and the feel are legit. A sans-letter/logo varsity jacket is a bit ironic I admit, but I totally dig it. And I’m forecasting that maroon will be the color of the season.

Everyone needs to own a denim jacket. They can be worn as outerwear, obviously, but can also be worn under a blazer or wool coat when the mercury drops to the 40’s. Just make sure its cut slim to avoid being confused with a cowboy.

This is made out of a borderline bulky lambswool so it’s the heaviest piece in this bunch. You can save this one for right before it sets into full winter. The football motif indicates you possess a confident sense of humor and the double zippers help bring it back to more serious territory.

 This piece came from a special one-time-only collaboration on a full collection from high fashion designer Raf Simons and famous painter, Sterling Ruby. This jacket in particular has a subdued feel with the blacked-out camo paired with rainbow stripes. It is something quite unique and I say if you’ve got the cash, go for it.

From L to R:
And about those perfect-for-noontime-heat polos- here are a few that I handpicked. Notice they’re all primarily solid with minute pops of contrast. That’s when I think they’re at their best.

Edited by Felicity Rhode

Monday, October 6, 2014

How to Kill it at your Class Reunion

Illustration by John Martz

I graduated from Berkeley High School (Go Stags!) way back in 2004. That’s right, 10 years ago. Back when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake got nasty during the Super Bowl and nobody knew what an iPhone was. All that means is that my 10 year reunion is coming up soon, like in a few weeks. While I’m pretty confident and excited about my accomplishments over the past 10 years, no one at the reunion really cares about that stuff. They’ll be more interested in asking the important questions, like “Who shrunk miraculously like Jonah Hill?”, “Who ballooned to sumo wrestler-like proportions?” and “Which ugly duckling turned into Kate Moss?” I’d say as much as 80% of the interest in these things is how well has everyone aged. How does everyone look? And what you wear can really tell that story in a good way or a bad way. So here’s a few tips on how to put the best version of you on display and make that old flame or crush rethink their adolescent decisions.

Look 1

A navy suit is really the safest option. It requires very little commitment because it can be reused for just about any occasion. It would certainly be the most versatile use of your money. To help spice things up a bit, nix the white shirt and go for something a little less “business officey” and insert a patterned shirt. I like this one from Gant Rugger. It has a cool wave motif in the of-the-moment shade of indigo. Also, feel free to have some fun with the shoes and opt for the just-released Adidas x Pharrell Williams collaboration on the iconic Stan Smith sneakers. Done in all black and with the three stripes stripped, they’re very understated. It’s sure to help bring things together seamlessly.

Look 2

If you’re looking to spice things up a bit more, go for this glen plaid number by J.Crew. Constructed from English wool, it’s sure to keep those fall winds at bay. With so much eye candy going on with the suit, its best to keep the shirt and tie solid. For the shoes, go the unpredictable route and forgo the oxfords for a leather desert boot. It has the ruggedness of being a boot to go along with the English countryside origins of the suiting fabric, but at the same time the look is still elegant due to the supple leather.

Look 3

Last but surely not least, even if the waistline hasn’t been kind to you over the years there’s still something for you too. Suit Supply is a fairly new brand (started in 2000 but didn’t begin to make real noise until recently), so they don’t offer separates yet. But their sizing goes up to a 50 inch chest and 44 inch waist. Your best bet is to go for a striped options. The vertical lines will help create the illusion of height, which will in turn help you appear slimmer. It has a notch lapel as opposed to the peak which will only draw more attention to your broad chest. Speaking of which, skip the pocket square, which draws attention to your chest too. And lastly, the fit is highly important. You want there to be zero break from the pant hem to the shoe to help maintain that vertical line which (let’s say it together now) makes you look taller and slimmer. 

So I've just given you three different ways to absolutely break necks at your high school reunion. So take your pick, keep head held high, and knock em dead.

Edited by Felicity Rhode