Why Everyone Talking About Style Should Just Shut the Fuck Up and Listen to Paul Rand:
I am a graphic design student, and I like graphic design and design theory very much. If you didn’t know, now you know. That being said, we can proceed with this article.
I have always observed parallels between design and non-design aspects of life, whether they be music, writing, acting, or style. The last one there, style, is the one that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Once you see these parallels and realize that design principle and theory can apply to style, it’s really kind of hard to not think about it. I could go the obvious route here and draw the lines between issues of balance, proportion, space, and emphasis in design and style, but honestly, that’s probably been done nine times in the last month and is boring as shit. I’d like to draw another line, a line leading from the world of style to the design theories and principles of Paul Rand. In case you are not one of the enlightened, Paul Rand is considered to be one of the greatest graphic designers of all time, a major source of inspiration for many designers today, including myself. I could go on, but basically, he is a pioneer of modern graphic design.
I am not bringing Paul Rand into this conversation because he was necessarily stylish; I am brining Paul Rand into this conversation because of what he believed and preached. Rand once said, “Don’t try and be original; just try and be good.” Alongside being one of my favorite things ever uttered by a human being, this is something that I think people developing a personal style need to hear. Innovation for the sake of innovation leads to a world of shitty outcomes. There is nothing genuine that can come from originality created for the sole purpose of being original. In both menswear product and personal style today, originality has become some sort of goal, a validation of some ultimate creative understanding. A pocket square with a chain on it? A shoe with three straps? A bandana around your ankle? Seven bracelets on your wrist? Jordan 1s with a suit? All of those things are original, as well as tiresome, ugly, and generally tasteless. Just because something has been done before doesn’t mean it’s boring, and just because something hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it should. The thing about striving to be original is that it can make you lose sight of the honest portrayal of your style. Originality can take you away from the image you wish to create, because you’re worried about the relevance of your next ground-breaking style invention. On the other hand, striving to be good can lead to true originality, and that is how you know it’s genuine. If you worry about being good, the originality will follow. It is my belief that, in style, those who dress honestly, as opposed to originally, look better almost every fucking time.
Continued after the jump.