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.
January 28, 2013
Details of Personal Style, Monogramming, Intention, and James Bond’s Martini:
A few weeks ago there was a quote bouncing around Tumblr, posted by Jake of Wax Wane, examining and calling out James Bond’s choice to have his martinis shaken instead of stirred. The quote came from the television show The West Wing, said by character President Jed Bartlett, and is as follows: “Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.” Being a James Bond fan (read obsessive James Bond fan), I took a little offense to this quote. After brooding in moderate disgust for a while and mentally telling Aaron Sorkin to eat shit, I realized that this says something about me and about Mr. Bond, and (wait for it) it can be related to the way we dress.
Let’s get back to the martini first: You know why James Bond drinks his martini shaken, not stirred? It’s because he’s that kind of guy; he’s a shaken guy. He’s not a stirred guy. When the girl, a ten to be sure, sitting next to him at the bar hears his order, she thinks, “Damn, he’s a shaker. That’s baller as hell. Fuck all these stir guys,” and then proceeds to engage in a conversation with Mr. Bond before following him upstairs. If someone, including Mr. Bond, does something with intention, then it’s not anything you can or should fuck with. I generally don’t like people who analyze every decision (I am sometimes guilty of this) without taking personal intention into account. Sometimes a thing is the way it is because that’s how it was meant to be. I especially don’t like people who fuck with James Bond like that. That being said, shame on you fake President Bartlett for saying that and shame on you Aaron Sorkin for writing that. James Bond just drank a martini that I am pretty sure was not particularly watery and bed that dime sitting next to him; all you did was make an ass of a judgement call.
Intention is something that is quite common, but it is intention that is both understood and regimented that is the valuable kind. This is where the details of personal style enter the conversation. Of late, it is quite often that people focus on the smaller details of personal style. I myself have such aspects of my style that are present not necessarily because they are functional or practical (although most are) but because they achieve a purpose, and I intend them to be there. I’ve had a few shirts made for me, and when the option is there, I always have my shirts monogrammed on the left side of my abdomen, between the fourth and fifth button. You could look at this and say that it’s a stupid place for a monogram, because the placement is exposed and awkward when you’re not wearing a blazer. I’d agree, but there are two reasons why I choose to ignore this fact and continue with my regularly scheduled programming. Firstly from a historical aspect, this is the traditional placement for a monogram (originally in block font for easy identification at the cleaner or tailor). Personally, this is a bit of a nod to the old world of tailored clothing.
More after the jump.
January 14, 2013
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.
May 1, 2012
"There are lots of things in my life that interest me more than fashion. But personal style? That I’m endlessly fascinated by, and it often seems to be the opposite of fashion."
— Michael Bastian on personal style, via an interview with The Discerning Few
March 1, 2012
“ The Elite Club’s philanthropic initiative is designed to empower inner-city youth through mentorship.”
shot by: @oomhmf
The ELITE Club is an organization started by students at TCNJ, and I’m lucky enough to be doing some work with them. Albert and Ant are both awesome dudes, and it’s always great to sit down and talk style with them. They just put out a new post with some great photography and videography, so definitely check it out on The ELITE Club’s blog, and give them a follow.
A very stylish blog, for a very good cause.
February 10, 2012
February 9, 2012
Cunningham. Wintour. Lagerfeld. Piggy.
Fashion/style icons in fused beads by Victor-John Villanueva.