Formality and Style in an Informal, Unstylish world
If you’re like me you’ve probably noticed a subtle shift in the blogosphere lately. As more and more people begin to develop their own style, they begin to feel more comfortable dressing “like themselves.” However, something has been nagging at me. A thought that something is not quite right. I haven’t been able to articulate it thus far as the proper wording (and perhaps even the fully formed idea) itself has been escaping me. However it finally clicked this weekend.
I was back home (Wilmington VT, pop. 2,225) for the Farmer’s Day fair. Now, as you might imagine, a country fair for farmers is not the most formal of occasions, however I noticed something that even I found surprising.
I was wearing a gray henley, dark selvage denim and boat shoes. In this stylish, but very casual combination, I was the most formally dressed person at the fair (perhaps edged out by the gentleman wearing a flannel shirt, braces, jeans and black sneakers, depending on how your viewing of formality rules skews). This is when I realized what’s been bothering me.
A couple weeks ago Derek blogged on PTO,
What I love about what I wear is that it’s appropriate and sharp for nearly all situations. Take, for example, the fact that I’m in Moscow right now. As I’m typing this, I’m wearing grey tropical wool trousers, a light blue spread collar shirt, navy fresco wool blazer, navy socks, and brown loafers. It’s not unlike what I would wear to dinner in San Francisco, where I’m from. Whether in Moscow or San Francisco, however, I’m appropriately dressed for nearly any function (at least any function that a 32-year old man would attend). It’s an international uniform that will probably serve me well for the rest of my life, and since the fit is good, I look sharp in it. That’s the value of classic men’s style.
(via Put This On)
Most menswear bloggers are urban. Further, most live in larger, more metropolitan areas (Quick! Name a style blogger from a city smaller than 100,000 people! There’s me and DO repping Portland ME, but I can’t come up with any others off the top of my head). This skews the appropri-omoter towards what to wear in a chic, metropolitan city.
However, if you’re in a smaller city, or a small town, that same meter would be flashing warnings that you’ve gone too far, and risk looking foolish. If you’ve seen a tie after spending a week in Wilmington VT you’ve been to court (or a funeral). There are no boardrooms within 100 miles. The baseline of #menswear, Derek’s international uniform, would be absolutely inappropriate there. People would assume you’re trying to sell them bibles.
I think what bothered me about that was that it makes a common assumption that doesn’t sit squarely with me. That you can find one outfit that is universal, that is always in style and can take you anywhere and be appropriate.
Is that really what we should be striving for as men? To all look “appropriate” to each other (I mean this in a classic menswear model, not a “we should all look ‘appropriate’ i.e. wearing pants outside” model) at all times? I think that Derek’s described outfit, while appropriate, and perhaps perfect for him, is not ideal. Not for Wilmington. It’s even a bit too much for most people in Portland ME (though I guess my general style would belie that statement).
Recently Ethan Desu had this to say about appropriateness
So to make it simple, how you dress depends on you. Grown men style is literally that - the style of a confident, self aware man. Dictated only by where you are, what you are doing, and who you are with. A dinner suit is a tool, perfectly adapted for the formality of a black tie event. As inappropriate at a breakfast as jeans in a board room. To respect the occasion and the people you are with by the formality, or lack of, in your appearance is truly grown man style.
By Ethan Amos Newton
(via Most ExeRent)
I think we, as men and menswear bloggers should be searching not for the perfect outfit, but for one main thing. Our personal style.
What we like, what looks good on us, and what communicates our personality, values and lifestyle to others.
I don’t put as high a premium on “appropriateness” and “sobriety” (ed. note: in clothes, not in booze) as many and I think it shows. I live a life that features far more dive bars and thrift stores than Michelin Star restaurants and airports, and you know what? I’m okay with that.
I think in the end
style exquisite tailoring
style streetwear, workwear, or any other type of “wear”
style only exists when you can take those elements, mix in your surroundings and then grab yourself a fistful.
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- m0ym0y said: what the hey, an asian man at a county fair is as inappropriate as 3/2 blazer at a county fair but that’s just me grossly generalizing
- superdanger-us said: yup.
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