Clothing Does Not Demand Respect:
I don’t respect people because they dress well. I don’t. Quite frankly, I think respecting someone because he or she is wearing clothing in a certain manner is moronic. Respecting someone for dressing well is like respecting someone for drinking a good beer. Sure, you can admire the fact that they are drinking a fine beer, but that gives you no reason to respect them as a person. The thing about dressing well and drinking a good beer is that they are both easy things to do; all you have to do is research the product and buy the right thing. Most people that dress well don’t like to think that being stylish is an easy thing to do, but honestly, it is.
The internet has objectified style as a determinant of coolness, a determinant of individuality and respectability. The funny thing is that the same means of spreading the inspiration of originality has taken it away. You have people striving to be as stylish as the internet influencers, simultaneously sacrificing their own originality. The respect that people attain for dressing well is undeserved, an illusion. This culture has made style attainable to anyone. It has made style easy, and the easier it becomes, the easier it is to appear like someone who oozes creativity, someone who demands your fucking respect and appreciation. The easier it becomes, the more shallow and insincere that respect gets. Now we’re here, and it means almost nothing.
There used to be a time when style was a secondary in judging the identity of a person. I don’t know if I was ever conscious for it, but it existed. Style was a hint that a person had something more to them than the average being, not a declaration of creative superiority. Instead of being the end all be all for determining creativity, style used to be something that made you want to ask questions about a person’s life. However, that notion was lost somewhere down the line, once menswear culture and style became a public internet circle jerk. I’ll be honest, a lot of the people in that circle jerk are not interesting. A lot of them are boring boring as shit, but this culture has painted them as something of value, before personal character or accomplishment even comes into play.
What it comes down to is that style has become a determinant of originality and creativity, as opposed to a byproduct. It used to be that style came as a result of originality, but now, style dictates it. Paul Newman got your respect for being an incredible actor. Rene Lacoste got your respect for his play on the tennis court, and JFK got your respect for his politics and leadership. Ralph Lauren got your respect because he imagined and created the clothes he wears. Updike got your respect for his writing, and Warhol got your respect for his art and philosophy. In all those cases, style comes after the identity. Clothes are a part of my life, no doubt, but their role is insignificant in the grand scheme of my identity. I am not a menswear blogger; I am a design student. Don’t hold me to a higher level because I wear a blazer. Don’t tear me down because I wear one either. Respect me for what I say, create, and think. Without substance behind them, clothes are just clothes. It’s the same shit on another fucking person.
I respect people for their work ethic and the passion that they instill in their lives. I respect people for ingenuity, genuine creativity, diligence, commitment, and the voicing of their opinions. I respect people for the way they carry themselves, the way they treat others, and the effect that they have on this world. The people that I admire may or not dress well, but they are dedicated to something, instead of things. That’s what I look at before I respect someone, before I hand them a title. The way a person dresses does not earn or lose any significant portion of respect from yours truly, and that is because anyone can do it. Yes, I fucking said it; anyone can do it. Anyone can dress like you dress. Anyone can dress like he or she dresses. Fuck it, anyone can dress like I dress. Buttoning up your ISAIA and knotting up with Drake’s doesn’t earn you my respect. Two hundred other dudes wore that same thing today. Putting on that cashmere robe and draping a blanket over your shoulders doesn’t make you a trend-setter or taste maker. You’re not forming nations and gathering loyal followers. You’re not a creative mogul. You’re just a dude wearing a cashmere robe with a blanket draped on your back.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be drawn to someone because of what he or she is wearing or what his or her style displays. I’m not saying that people with style are demons, because that would be downright hypocritical. I’m saying that style can’t be the only card in play; in this age, style or clothing cannot demand respect. It should come from somewhere else. I’m saying that that Cucinelli vest is not bulletproof. It does not radiate creative authority. It does not give you power. It does not give you significance.
What you do gives you power and significance.
Respect should come from that.