Cityscape

Apparently the best way to inspire me to write a post these days is to give it an abstract theme. Maybe I’ve been out of creative writing classes for too long. Or maybe all the aesthetic posts on Tumblr are starting to make me think differently. Who knows?

Any way, as I’ve traveled it has become increasingly clear to me that, while we may say all big cities are the same, every place has a feeling all its own. At times I can sum it up in just a word or two that encompasses the feeling of a place.

This post is less about the actual style of these cities, but more about styles that embody their feeling. Some of it overlaps.

Also, I recognize that I picked the four most obvious cities that one would expect in a post like this. (high-five self). But I wanted to pick cities I have visited–three of them more than once–and that I could identify a comparable style for, so this is what you get.

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New York is….gritty and electric

New York is one of those cities where you can turn a corner or walk far enough down a street and suddenly feel like you are in a totally different place. You can go from some of the nicest neighborhoods in the world to centers of business and economy to trash piled on side streets. It really never sleeps, horns and sirens echo through the brightly lit night sky at all hours.

New York is hyper-masculine white t-shirts and leather jackets. It is dark business suits. It is ready for anything, armed to the gills with tech and layers of clothes to keep you going all day.

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Paris is….elegant and magical

Paris feels unlike any place I’ve ever been. It is ornate and majestic, without being loud or aggressive. It is elegant white buildings with small wrought-iron balconies. It’s a glittering dream and somehow effortlessly cool at the same time. Paris is proud and historic, with ghosts of the past down every boulevard and alley. Paris could beat you in a fight, but would probably just turn its nose up instead.

Paris is either all dark or all pastels. It is sleek lines and tailored clothes. It is funky mixed patterned and pops of artist colors. It is totally clean and a little purposefully disheveled.

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Los Angeles is…free and loud.

Los Angeles is a city of dreamers and artists and people looking to make their way into a sunnier future. It is expansive manors and apartments stacked crookedly and high. It is bright sun and righter colors. It is self-expression and carefully honed looks. It’s a little cheeky, but laid back. It is eternal summer.

Los Angeles is bright colors mixed with loud patterns. It is jackets and beanies when it is way too hot to justify them. It’s jean jackets and tank tops and sunglasses. It’s sleeves and pants that are just a little too short.

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London is…comfortable and unforgetting.

London has a long memory. It’s streets still know the kings and peasants that used to walk them. It is a cup of tea and a biscuit on a rainy day with stacks of books and warm blankets. It is personal and anonymous. It is classic and a little shy, but ultimately cooler than you. It has as much culture as it does history. It is a place you want to be a part of.

London is shirts buttoned all the way up. It’s cozy sweaters and wool coats. It is skinny jeans and leather boots. It is dark neutrals and thick scarves. London is layers at all times of year.

 

Part of the reason I love to travel is how even in the smallest details, nothing is the same. I hope to do more of this series and include cities like Portland, Munich, and Rome. Let me know if there are any cities you’d like to see and the feelings they embody.

(How obvious is it that I have spent the least time in LA?)

Spotlight: Bob Morley

Sorry for the long delay. I don’t even have a good excuse, I’ve had this post in mind for quite awhile.

Spotlights are simultaneously the easiest and hardest posts to write. I can talk about actors and shows and characters all day, but those are not the point of this blog. I could go on and on about how quickly I got sucked into the world of The 100 or how Bellamy Blake has quickly become one of my favorite characters in anything, or how it is completely endearing that Bob Morley appears to be a bit of a nerd.

As for style, Bob Morley’s is pretty much as simple as it comes. A combination of t-shirts, over-shirts or jackets, over-sized sweaters, and baseball caps. Like a weirdly large selection of baseball hats. (My favorite is the Blake one seen here)

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Half the time his sweaters are a size too big, and his hair is always unpredictable, but at least a little bit a mess. But a selection of well-fitting white, black, and grey t-shirts go well under any type of sweater or jacket.

At Cons and fan appearances he wears t-shirts and hats that reference other pop culture (as you know, I’m not always a fan of these types of things, but Cons are definitely a place to wear them, and I am always a fan of unapologetic enthusiasm.) I also may have witnessed a picture of him wearing a shirt that quotes Shania Twain, which, is just pure gold.

His glasses (which wow, his face didn’t need anymore help, but okay) are strong frames, but don’t overpower his face. Oval shaped faces can get away with most glasses styles, and angular jawlines (and/or heart shaped faces) also do well with squared frames. The matte black keeps them from being too flashy, but just funky enough.

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The 100 is Bob Morley’s first real entrance into American TV. (Like all Australian actors, he did a stint on Neighbours. No really, any Australian actor you can name has been on Neighbours at some point.) And he has totally embraced who he is. He is actually quite open about how this was/is a struggle for him as a biracial kid growing up in a small town.

Find your uniform that helps you be you. Whether that is a white t-shirt or a freshly-pressed button-up, there is no reason you can look great while embracing yourself and your style.

While you do that, I’ll be off waiting for season 4 of The 100.

 

The Literary Gentleman

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I really enjoyed writing Fine Art, (which, wow, was already a full year ago) so I have been thinking about doing another. We’ll call this a spin-off.

As it turns out, matching style to literary eras, is a lot trickier than art. Art comes with colors and shapes and things you see in clothing. Literature…does not. So the resulting piece is a little bit about the style of the , a little bit about the style of the writing, and a little bit about the flavor of the authors…I hope.

The Lost Generation – World War I 

The most recent of the three eras I’m going to touch on, the Lost Generation is marked by notable figures like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot. The phrase supposedly comes from Gertrude Stein telling Hemingway the following, “That is what you are. That’s what you all are … all of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.”

Wartime and the experiences there are fundamental to the Lost Generation aesthetic, as is the rejection of wealth. Think Great Gatsby – the moral, not the man.

Wear: Tight Short-Sleeved Button-ups, Suspenders, Khakis, Cuffed Jeans, and Coats with Sheepskin Collars.

Lit Gent

The Victorian Era – 1837-1901

Ah, the fin de siècle, what a wonderfully weird time in literature and history. Now, we often think of the Victorian Era as very buttoned-up, conservative, and proper, but oh hoho, is that ignoring so much of what was churning below. One of my favorite classes in Uni was called Fin de Siècle: Decadence and Degeneration. That should tell you something. While the visible culture was often quite proper, monsters, faeries, murderers, and debauchery were increasingly popular in books and entertainment.

Wear: Deep Blues and Purples, Crisp Button-ups, Tall-Collared Coats, Subtle Mixed Patterns

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The Romantics – approx. 1770 – 1848

Right up front, we should address the fact that the Romantic Period is my favorite literary period, partly due to my overwhelming love for John Keats. (How many times can I legitimately mention Keats on a fashion blog? We shall see).

The Romantics are in part a rejection of the Industrial Revolution, embracing nature and individuality in a rapidly changing Europe. They were introspective, restless, and extremely emotive writers. They ranged from the elderly William Wordsworth to the, uh, lusty Lord Byron, and their works span a myriad of subjects.

The Romantic’s love of aesthetic and the marrying of awe and horror, results in some of the most purple and rich language and messages informed by true emotion first and foremost.

Wear: Floral Prints, Pastels, Overly-large Wool Coats, Rumpled Suits, Disheveled Hair, Layers

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Geek Rock Chic

This post was 100% inspired by listening to my “Steal My Sunshine” Pandora station. I would also 100% recommend that Pandora station.

If you ever want a momentary distraction, may I suggest reading Pandora bios? They are true gems. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a better first line than Van Morrison’s bio. But this post was inspired by Weezer’s bio, in which it points out that River Cuomo does not fit the typical rocker look.

A pretty obvious point, sure, but it got me thinking about geek rock (the look more than the genre, but there is definitely overlap) and immediately the names Ben Folds and Ryan Adams joined Rivers, and after a little more thought I added Forrest Kline (Hellogoodbye) as well.

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The funny thing is, there is such a uniform, you could build the geek rock look with like six items.

  1. A Graphic Tee – A band tee, an ironic saying, a design, doesn’t matter, just make it faded and lived in. Put it under any of the following three items.
  2. A Jean Jacket – New, faded, or vintage. Add patches and buttons for extra geek and extra rock.
  3. A Cardigan – Nothing else to really say.
  4. A Blazer – Probably neutral, maybe not. Put it over your t-shirt or actual dress clothes (probably rumpled). Add a small flower for geeky boy charm (too big of a flower reads prom or clown, neither of which you want)

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5. Thick Rimmed Glasses – Dark and probably in some variation of the Wayfarer shape. You could go rounder if you rough up another part of your look.

6. Button-up Shirt – Plaid or a pale plain shade or denim. Leave it rumpled, if you add a tie make skinny and crooked.

7. Annnd your optional last piece. A wind breaker, a puffy vest, a sweater vest, etc.

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And then hair. Rivers and Forrest keep it short and in place. Ben’s is shaggy, but not too out of hand. And then there is Ryan.

I’ve seen Ryan Adams in concert, he’s incredible, but honestly I never saw his face under the mass of hair. He’s had a lot of haircuts, and I’m gonna recommend you keep it a little more reigned in than he has been of late. But he totally rocks the messy rocker look that elevates his whole style from geek to geek rock.

The Best Bad Boy Around

I have to admit, I’ve been meaning to write for some time, but I’ve been lacking inspiration. I really should have just looked in front of my face. With the new revival coming up and a coworker beginning her first viewing of the series, both of which spurred my own rewatch, I have had Gilmore Girls on the brain lately.

Now I know Gilmore Girls may not be terribly familiar to this audience, but here’s what you need to know for now. Jess is the Best.

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Jess, played by Milo Ventimiglia, is the quintessential intellectual bad boy; he’s got a troubled past, doesn’t like small talk, and is more likely to sass than not, but he also gets his life together in a big way. He’s the best bad boy around.

While Jess is immediately recognizable as the resident rebel with his James Dean glare, black leather jacket, and carefully coifed hair…the rest of his wardrobe is pretty…normal.

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There’s a lot of dark colors, ribbed sweaters, and so, so many layers. But even a yellow/gold coat can work for a bad boy with the right amount of snark and disregard. But he plays up his assets. The neutral colors don’t pull focus away from his face. Pushed up sleeves, tight-ish sweaters, and bulky watches draw attention to his arms.

His hair changes length through out the series, but always remains artfully disheveled. When it’s short, he uses product. When it’s long, he keeps it out of his face.

And while his jeans might be a little loose by modern trends, and some of his shirts scream mid-2000s, a lot of it is quality basics.

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Mimic Jess with hoodies under leather jackets, or maybe even different types of sweaters. Trade the classic mid-2000s look of a long-sleeved shirt under a short-sleeved shirt for a black or white v-neck.

Jess Mariano’s wardrobe matured as he did, and I can’t wait to see where his life and wardrobe have gone in the past eight years.

#JessistheBest #TeamJess

 

To nail the literary part of this intellectual bad boy’s look, keep an eye out for a literary gents post that I am desperately trying to complete.

As always, please send requests for things you’d like to see!

 

Stuck in the Middle

Honestly, I had plans for a couple more Hunger Games posts (a Sam Claflin Spotlight has been in the hopper as long as the Josh Hutcherson one, it will happen one day), but I’ll probably just redistribute at this point.

On one of my other recent posts, I got a question about growing hair out, but maybe not committing to man-bun length locks. Growing hair out can be tricky for anyone- there are always awkward stages along the way – but mid-length hair can also be some of the best.

So I picked a couple stages in the middle, starting with…

mid-length.jpgThe Shaggy Stage

Now, fair warning, I was in middle school in the mid-2000s, so I’ll always have a soft spot for that surfer boy vibe (I was over it by Bieber, but it is back in a big way with men like Bob Morley).

The main rule of shaggy hair is that it has to stay out of your eyes, and not because you’ve developed a hair-flip-twitch, like so many of my middle school classmates. If you plan to keep it shaggy, consider cutting it so it stays at your eyebrows or a tiny bit lower.

If you are in the process of growing it out, comb it or style it in a way that sweeps it out of your eyes.

If you are working a combo style, like an exaggerated quiff, either style it to be pushed back or be prepared to have your hands in your hair a lot, which might not be a bad thing.

Having naturally textured hair helps this look a lot. If you’ve never grown your hair out before, you may be surprised at the texture that presents itself, and that it will vary continually based on the length and day. If your hair is smooth and straight, you can try to add some texture with product or – and I hesitate to say this, although its what I do – you can try not combing your hair. My hair goes straight if I comb it, but has a wave/curl if I don’t, so after a morning shower, I just let it be. Do not do this if your hair tangles easily, it will just look unkempt and dirty. If you do try it, you have to wash your hair, often.

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A Little Bit Longer

So, some of these guys could probably go with a man-bun at the length their hair is, but these show ways to wear it down.

Again, texture and body go a long way with longer hair, but basic rules still apply. Keep it clean, out of your face, and never ever go the mullet route.

If you’re looking to add some body to your hair, consider adding layers. This will lessen the weight and allow any natural texture and lift to flourish. Eoin Macken is a perfect example of this. His hair is relatively smooth, but it has a lot of movement because of its layers. (I have a post saved in my drafts from like three years ago that is about Eoin Macken’s hair…I might need to dig that back up, I’m not sure why I never published it).

I’m terrible at getting my hair trimmed regularly, and that is a huge understatement, but my rule is that when my hair starts to bother me, becomes unmanageable, or I’m constantly trying to get it off my neck and shoulders, then it is time for a haircut. You don’t have to cut it all off when you get to this point, but you at least need a trim or a new style.

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Your Go-To Guy: Gaspard Ulliel

This French actor has had some variation of shaggy or mid-length hair for the past decade. He uses it to change his looks from boyish to manly to mildly terrifying. Most of the time he keeps it solidly away from smarmy and creepy – the exceptions being for roles (like a young Hannibal Lecter), this is done primarily by keeping it clean – even when it has product in it, you can tell the difference between that and just dirty – and keeping it out of his face without being totally slicked back.

If you are pushing your hair back off your face, please, please, do not make it slick and hard with product. Movement and some lift are key.

Good luck!

 

Spotlight: Liam Hemsworth

Part II of the Hunger Games spotlights and I’m already questioning the order because now there are all these new photos of Josh Hutcherson with a great new haircut…but alas we must press on.

Liam Hemsworth plays the other leading man in the series, Gale Hawthorne. And I can’t talk about Gale without quoting my brother as we left the first movie with his very pregnant wife, who had made him read the books: “I never really understood why people liked Gale, but he’s sooo handsome.”

It’s true, Hemsworth family looks are well regarded, and while Liam’s filmography may not be as far reaching as his brother Chris’s, but he is steadily working his way up, particularly building on his action star status.

Liam Hemsworth A well-fitted suit can make anyone look polished, but Liam has figured out how to use his grooming to tailor his look further. Moving from clean-shaven with carefully coiffed hair, to scruff and slightly messy hair, to a full beard and longer hair, all work, but they clearly give different tones to his appearance. The scruff is the classic Hollywood heartthrob look, and the beard gives him a more mature look.

Also, notice the colors. The light blue shirt matches his eyes perfectly, making them stand out. The burgundy suit works in the opposite way to achieve the same effect. The charcoal grey suits aren’t as harsh as black would be and make his skin appear tanner.

Liam

Liam is a really good example of a classic wardrobe. It’s very rarely too risky and it is almost always flattering. He’s one of the best examples of achievable style, ranging from ultra-casual to formal. Keep an eye out for even more Liam Hemsworth in your future because his notoriety is just growing.

And just for funsies, here he is with the Muppets because it doesn’t get much better than that.

Spotlight: Josh Hutcherson

Now I promised to do a spotlight on Josh Hutcherson clear back on my post about his character Clapton Davis in 2012….so I guess this has been awhile in the making. But I am excited to announce that, in honor of the release of Mockingjay – Part 2 next month, I am going to do a series of spotlights on some of the Hunger Games’ leading men…beginning with the man himself, Josh Hutcherson.

If you don’t think that Hutcherson’s character Peeta is incredible, just you wait. I am so excited to see how Hutcherson portrays his journey in the last film because if anyone could do that justice, it’s Josh Hutcherson.

Josh Hutcherson

Josh Hutcherson’s first acting credits are from 2002, he would have been 10 years old, and has been featured in approximately three works a year since. There is no doubt that he is a hard worker and has escaped the “child star” curse. So while he has been working steadily for the past 13 years, Hutcherson didn’t really become a household name until Hunger Games hit theaters.

Despite all of the red carpets and award shows, Hutcherson’s wardrobe is fairly casual. He sticks to t-shirts and layers button-ups or jackets over them. This no-fail look allows him to get a lot of mileage out of some basic white and black tees. Thin sweaters and henleys are other simple, but essentially no-fail, casual looks.

The Josh Hutcherson Staple

Hutcherson keeps his hair shorter on the sides, as is in fashion, but not in such an extreme way that it dominates his appearance. This look works well when you want the ability to range from carefully coiffed to elegantly disheveled. If you’ve only seen Josh in his Hunger Games role, then you might be surprised that he is a natural brunette. While the blond is fine on Peeta, his natural dark brown works better. Natural hair colors tend to compliment your natural skin tones.

As for facial hair, he rarely has any. Yes, he is relatively young, but he also has a crazy powerful jaw (Saturday Night Live knows). Facial hair is great for defining your jaw, but if that is already one of your most prominent features, you probably don’t need to rely on it.

Although the Hunger Games series is coming to a close, I am looking forward to seeing what Josh Hutcherson is up to next. He’s played the range from Oscar nominated drama The Kids Are All Right, to the vastly underrated animated film Epic, to of course, my favorite trippy indie horror comedy Detention. Don’t miss your last chance to see him as Peeta Mellark in Mockingjay part 2, opening in November.

Juxtaposition

“Juxtaposition” is every college kid’s favorite word. It is a fancy, and convenient way, to describe placing things next to each other to compare them. There is always a way to use it at least once in an essay.

In the context of fashion, I’m using “juxtaposition” to talk about using style to create a more complex image of a person. This idea draws on more essay fodder from my school years, there is always more to the picture. We are not two-dimensional people (nor are events, places, history, etc.), but our first impressions are pretty flat. Here’s simple ways to flesh them out.

I’d been thinking about this post for awhile and had all but given up on it because I couldn’t figure out how to talk about it, when I had a serendipitous encounter at a store. All of the employees were fairly casually dressed, except one. He was wearing nice trousers and a matching suit vest, basically two parts of the three-piece suit. He also had ear gauges and tattoos on his arms.

Balance

Now, I’m never going to endorse gauges, but the point is, this young man took aspects of his appearance and personality that may initially seem unprofessional, and balanced them with sophistication. Because of his choices of tattoos and piercings, he was going to have to work a little harder in other areas to appear professional.

There are plenty of examples of this type of juxtaposition in the celebrity and fashion worlds, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Andre Hamann, and Adam Levine are all recognizable examples. The nature of their careers may make this look less necessary, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate it.

If you don’t have tattoos or piercings you can still use juxtaposition to your favor. A similar method can be done iwth clothes alone.

Juxtaposition

By combining formal or semi-formal pieces with casual clothes creates visual interest and the opportunity for unique expression. This is especially easy to do with outerwear; pair a leather jacket with slacks and a tie, or throw a nice wool coat over a graphic tee or hoodie, to diversify your look. This also expands breadth of your wardrobe without actually buying more clothes.

An even easier way to add personality to your wardrobe?

Pop of color

Juxtapose a bright color with a neutral monochromatic look.

I love black on black, and neutral looks can be striking and classic. Finding a bright pair of shoes, or a belt, or some other piece of clothing can add a lot of personality and interest to a look.

There are tons of ways you can use contrast to up your visual interest and to best flatter yourself. Pair rounded glasses with a square jaw and a round face with angular frames, softer hair compliments an angular face, and so on. Find your favorite means of juxtaposing and embrace it.

I know it is technically time for a Spotlight post, and I feel like I’ve been waiting to do one forever, but this came out…don’t worry I think I know who is next in line for a spotlight, so it hopefully won’t be long.

The TV Myth

In honor of the Emmys, which I am watching right now, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the magic and myth of TV and movies.

I love movies and TV, I mean LOVE, but all media is partially to blame for the warped perceptions of body image that our society has. I could go on and on and make this a very serious discussion, but I’d mostly like to point out how ridiculous it can be.

I mean what does it say about us that we readily accept that these men are teenagers with no friends?

No one looks like this in high school

I mean, come on! And this is just a tiny example of the dozens and dozens of devastatingly handsome 20 to 30 year olds playing socially awkward high school students. 

Of course the myth can work in a slightly different way too. Rather than convincing us that teenagers have perfect skin and well-developed muscles, the myth can take a good looking man and totally hide that. I mean, we all remember being Neville Longbottomed by this guy:

Neville Longbottomed

But the real reason I wanted to write this post and the reason why this post is even relevant here is this guy:

tv myth

This is Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Declan Gormley in Mission Impossible III. Declan is a young agent who likes to live on the edge and not get tied down. I totally believe Meyers as that.

What I don’t believe is the last picture on the right. You are trying to tell me that you put that man in weirdly patterned shirt and a camera strap and suddenly no one pays any attention to him. No. Come on. I’ve been a tourist, and no matter how big the crowd, or how weird the shirt, I would definitely pick that guy out of a crowd. Just saying.

(Also those shirts are kind of in style now)

Frankly, TV and movies can teach us a lot about the human spirit, or at least keep us entertained, but neither are going to tell us the truth when it comes to appearance.

Doubt me?

This is Jim Rash’s twitter handle and bio:

Jim Rash His handle is “RashisTVUgly” which he explained in an interview. He and writing partner Nat Faxton had written a show with the idea that they might play the main characters, but they ended up in casting reads watching other actors. At one point Rash told the casting director that the actor they were watching was too good looking to play the everyday man he’d written. The casting director’s response was that the actor was “TV Ugly.”

If that isn’t a confidence booster, I don’t know what is. *sarcasm*

So while TV is great for seeing some of the latest styles, it is far from a clear reflection of the real world. Keep that in mind, find out what works for you, and don’t worry if you don’t look like the people you see on TV.