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

litgent

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

Lit Gent1

Take a Day Off

We are always telling you that even casual wear can look nice and fairly sophisticated, but today we’re talking a whole new level of casual. This is for your day off – off work, off the town, off duty. We’re talking sweats, sweaters, glasses, and tees.

This is the one time on this blog where we will say comfort is the most important thing.

Sure your clothes should always be comfy, but that is almost never a good reason to buy clothes (every single episode of What Not to Wear dealt with this clarification). Even your comfiest clothes can still be nice.

day off

Throw on a sweater and leave your hair a mess. Still take a shower, but go ahead and trade your contacts for glasses.

Keep your sweater a little looser, but don’t let it drown you. Find a hoodie that is thinner and a little boxier than the traditional college hoodie. This will actually be more comfortable (no waistband) and looks a little more grown-up. Also if you can find one without a front pouch, that is definitely good too.

Now is where the advice gets a little confusing/contradictory.

Holes in your sweats are bad, but might be good/hot on a t-shirt (only if they are very small and near the collar or bottom hem). If no one else is going to see you all day, who cares? But if you are around extended family, in-laws, friends, anyone, keep the holes off your sweats.

day off1

If you do venture out of the house throw on some comfy slim jeans, a cardigan, or an over-shirt.

Everyone deserves a day off. Let the scruff grow, wear the comfiest old clothes, and slouch around a bit. Just make sure you and the clothes are clean.

Subtlety is Key

“Menswear is about subtlety. It’s about good style and good taste” -Alexander McQueen

There’s a reason we have so often warned against clothes, particularly t-shirts, with obvious logos, brand names, or photos on them. Even if it is a well-know, well-respected, or frankly, expensive brand, having a logo branded across your chest looks a little less than sophisticated.

Also this

Truth from Ian Bohen

is a problem most easily hidden with plain, nondescript shirts.

But, occasionally, a shirt is just too good to pass up or let go. So here’s what you do when that is the case:

Note: Funny phrases are rarely as clever as you think they are. Avoid trying to wear your humor on your literal sleeve.

Aim for black and white or a neutral and one other color. This keeps even a busy image simple and doesn’t draw the eye to quiet the same degree.

Another way to tone down the message/focus on the shirt is to layer. Use another shirt or jacket to cover part of the design, making it interesting, but not the focus.

subtle logos

There are times where it is okay to try to be witty – and that is when you are unabashedly, but subtlely, reping yourself. This Stark Direwolf/Iron Man shirt is clever, but it is infinitely better on Kit Harrington and Robert Downey Jr. It’s an extra level of inside joke. Most people can’t really get this, but you know, it was worth mentioning.

Too Clever

And my personal favorite is this hat:

Blake.

Bob Morely wearing this hat at Comic Con is a clear reference to his character, Bellamy Blake. But, the hat is vague enough that it could literally refer to anything. I want one – do I love the retired tennis player James Blake, or the Romantic poet William Blake, the character Bellamy Blake? You don’t know*! I love it.

*It’s a trick question, the answer is all three. (Although full disclosure: my favorite Romantic poet is John Keats. I would gladly accept a hat that read “Keats.”

Summer is…

Summer is…Light

While we all love jewel tones and dark neutrals, something about summer demands lighter colors (and lighter weights). This is when you pull out the classic white tees and henleys, the linen button-ups, and the paler shorts and trousers.

Easy Breezy.

summertime lightness

Summer is…Cool Button-ups

When you need to be a little more professional or dressed up in the warmer months, nothing beats an open-collared button up. Checks and light solids are perfect for summer get-togethers, and even dressing up a casual pair of shorts.

While wearing tanks and tees around the house or pool is perfect, this is summer’s answer to business casual.

summertime

Summer is…fun

Take a risk, even if it is just throwing on a subtle print instead of a solid shirt. Try shorts that are a little shorter, or more colorful, or have a pattern. Hawaiian prints and florals are huge this year and can be manly and modern.

Not ready for a full commitment? Try taking your risk with swim trunks or sunglasses.

summertime fun

Summertime…the living is supposed to be easy, don’t make your clothes complicated.

A Blue Blooded Man

Blue Blood

Dressing rich comes from three basic things: rich colors, rich materials, and attitude. Crisp whites, smooth neutrals, and dark colors show sophistication and discerning taste – they are called jewel tones for a reason. Bright pastels might be preppy, but these colors have graduated.

A Blue Blooded Man

Color alone is not enough.

Although you may not know what your suit or the next guy’s jacket is made from, you can tell when something is cheap. There is nothing wrong with getting a bargain, but there is often a clear difference in the quality of materials. Thick wools, smooth silks, and the like are clearly a cut above. Layer these rich materials for even greater effect.

rich materials

“Sprezzatura,” meaning to have an air of studied nonchalance, is a quality often associated with ideal male attractiveness.

The essence of the blue-blood attitude is that of nonchalance, power, and a calm collectedness. This man doesn’t need to fight for anything, he already has it.

While no one like someone who is too arrogant, you have to have the confidence to pull off the richest clothes and look like you belong.

the right attitude

Need an example?

A Little Party Never Killed Nobody

Here’s the thing about party/going out/club clothes, men really don’t have to do anything. At least not compared to what most girls do. As I was thinking about this post, I actually went back and flipped through Uni pictures to see what the guys were wearing when we went out. My findings? It’s pretty much regular stuff, maybe a little more exciting than usual, but not really.

As we’ve established and re-established on WAMSW, basic solids are hard to beat, but…this is a party, it’s time to take a risk or two.

If you’re not ready to jump in with two feet, go for a subtler look:

The Subtle Clubber

A plain or monochromatic tee will do you just fine. As will a button-up with the sleeves rolled and the buttons done. Add a basic jacket if you want another layer, but really these are solid, no-risk looks.

If you are looking to kick it up a notch:

Crash the Party

The easiest way to raise the stakes in your party-wear is with color and pattern. Clubs are dark, throw on the most florescent tank top you can find. Break out that shirt that looks like it should have come from the late 80s or early 90s, but that you really bought just last week.

If you aren’t sure what to try just check out the kings of party, Walk the Moon. These guys never slack on color, pattern, or body paint, no matter how unorthodox it seems. (I mean, I’m pretty sure that is a Where’s Waldo tank, so there’s that).

Speaking of…the pièce de résistance.

The real reason I wanted to write this post is quite simply this jacket:

A Little Party Never Killed Nobody

I mean wow.

This is what Nick Petricca wore when Walk The Moon performed on Jimmy Fallon recently and I love it. In some ways it is almost understated, because as fabulous as sequins are, they don’t actually scream as loud as neon colors can. It would be overkill if he’d tried to pair it with other loud pieces, but the monotone outfit balances it.

Basically, I wanted this jacket on my blog (and my body, it’s amazing) and it is the right way to take a risk.

Parties are an excuse to go a little wild, so do it.

Blast from the Past

The Inspiration 

“I look just like Buddy Holly, Oh-oh and you’re Mary Tyler Moore” -Weezer

buddyholly

Buddy Holly was a musician and songwriter who pioneered a lot of many of the hallmarks of modern rock and pop music. Although Holly died in 1959 at only 22, he remains immortalized in numerous songs, movies, musicals, and books about his music and influence. Critic Bruce Eder described him as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.”

The Modern Translation

Modern Buddy Holly

Style-wise Buddy Holly is the perfect embodiment of the late-50s good-guy rocker. He’s clean cut, well-kept, and charmingly genuine looking.

Tailored suits with floppy bow ties, shawl-neck cardigans, button-ups and ties, and knitwear tees are classic callbacks, that have a new life in modern fashion. Thick-rimmed glasses paired with any of these looks are the real kicker.

John Mayer is known as almost anything but a “good-guy” rocker, but his outfit at the (otherwise dull) 2015 Grammy Awards invoked classic Holly. The blue jacket, glasses, well-coiffed hair, and pink guitar were down right swoon-worthy. Especially the pink guitar.

While John Mayer may have nailed the look this time, check out consistently Holly-esque looks on New Zealand musician Willy Moon.

The Inspiration

“‘Cause you got that James Dean daydream look in your eyes.” -Taylor Swift

James Dean

James Dean was an actor that turned into a bonafide icon. He is the poster child for teenage angst and rebelling without a cause. Like Holly, Dean died young in a tragic crash. He was only 24 in 1955 and, again like Holly, has been immortalized in film, biographies, and as the bad boy of everyone’s dreams.

The Modern Translation

Modern James Dean

James Dean is angst and apathy embodied. He’s a little bit dangerous, does what he wants, and is somehow above judgement and vain.

Moto-style black leather jackets, tight white t-shirts, slim black jeans, and sunglasses make up the modern James Dean look. Largely monochrome, or at least neutral, this guy would blend in if he didn’t exude so much cool. While James Dean’s hair was usually pretty done, as per the era, the modern version can either be a slick pompodour or disheveled and a little longer.

Jamie Campbell-Bower owns the pretty, bad boy that couldn’t care if his shirt has holes in it or not, but if you are looking for the whole James-Dean-reincarnated experience, check out Milo Ventimiglia as Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls. He’s got the outfits, hair, and angst in droves.

Trend Watch: Australian Open

Tennis is one of the few professional sports that doesn’t have a set uniform. For this reason, tennis fans spend a lot of time judging people’s outfits…or at least my family does. But truly, the professional tennis world is a good place to spot upcoming trends in athletic wear.

I’ll admit that I haven’t been watching the Australian Open too carefully this time around (the 18 hour time difference makes it a real commitment), but I’ve definitely noticed some trends that I expect we will see in stores shortly.

#1) Nike is pushing neon pink and green combos. This look is prevalent in both the men’s and women’s draws. It’s bright and fun, and athletic clothes are the perfect place to play with brighter colors. Besides, who doesn’t love manly men unabashedly wear hot pink?

Pink and Green in the Australian Open

#2) Men’s shorts are getting shorter. We aren’t quite to 1980s levels of shortness yet (thank goodness), but hemlines are definitely creeping up. This might be more particular to sports like tennis, but I bet we generally see a decline in the bagginess of athletic shorts. (Spoiler alert: we’ve been headed this way at least since the World Cup)

Australian Open & World Cup 2014

#3) So is their hair. The men of the ATP cutting off their hair is less of a trend than slow conversion. Notable changes for he better: Federer, Nadal, and most recently Feliciano Lopez. Lopez is one of those guys that can and will be handsome no matter what, but his looks have made the move from Fabio to currently employed model. Notable changes for the eh: James Blake. Blake, now retired, had some of the most distinctive hair in the sport (natural dreads), shaving them off may have lost him some of his boyish charm, but it also may have made him more sophisticated (and let’s be honest, nothing could really get rid of the Blake charm). But really, long hair gets sweaty and that is not a good look.

Before and After: Lopez & Blake

#4) Non-athletic brands making athletic clothing. Thomas Berdych is wearing H&M. Djockovic and Nishikori have been wearing Uniqlo for at least a couple of years. And of course, Lacoste is the go to brand for walking the line between fashion and sports. Tired of what you see at the sporting goods store? Look outside the box.

Australian Open 2015

And because I can write/talk/think about tennis without writing/talking/thinking about Andy Roddick. Andy Roddick.

How to look Handsome in an Ugly Christmas Sweater

Sweaters for All!

There are three types of “Ugly” Christmas Sweaters: Classy, Funny/Nostalgic, and down right Distasteful. The big secret about Ugly Christmas Sweaters is that they don’t actually have to be ugly, unless you are in a contest, then go for it.

The main thing we ask is that you avoid the distasteful ones. The holidays and holiday parties are not the time to wear clothing that is potentially offensive, actually that is not okay at any time. Most of these sweaters are just trying to be funny, but like that coworker at the party that has had one too many, they come on too strong. So no sweaters about bodily functions or organs, please and thank you.

Now onto the fun stuff:

"Ugly" Christmas Jumper

This is how you do a clever theme sweater. Everyone will love a sweater that recalls a beloved Christmas classic or embraces the silliness of the season. Gnomes, Nutcrackers, Yeti, what-have-you, all are perfect sweater features, as long as they remain family friendly.

If you want to go a little more traditional or serious, here are some great options:

Traditional Christmas Jumpers

The go to traditional winter sweater is the Fair Isle. Make it a little more Christmas-y by adding a reindeer or moose. Small repeated patterns are also an easy way to class up your holiday themed garment.

A simple color pallet will also keep a whimsical sweater from veering into silly. Maroons, navy blues, and hunter greens are all traditional and flattering.

Interested in getting your own? Here are a few sites where I found a selection:

– Urban Outfitters: http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=33255795&parentid=M_APP_SWEATERS#/

-ASOS: http://us.asos.com/Christmas-Jumpers/Cat/pgecategory.aspx?cid=14622&CTARef=shop|christmasjumpers#parentID=-1&pge=1&pgeSize=36&sort=-1

-Simons: http://www.simons.ca/simons/category/c297/great-gifts/en/?p_4652-165113&gclid=CO616KbCobsCFcpDMgodHSAAvA#zoom

 

The Best Part of Holiday Dinners is the Dressing

It’s that time of year where no matter where you are or what religion you do or do not observe, you will probably be participating in some sort of holiday dinner or celebration. If you are in the US, you’ve already had one this season.

Now, I’ll admit, my family is pretty casual when it comes to our holiday outfits, but it is always nice to dress up a little bit. Here are a few options for your holiday fest.

If you are a formal crew, or your mom makes you wear a jacket to family events, you can still mix it up. Different colors or patterns on your jacket make it a little more personal. You can switch out a tie for a pocket square, which keeps it formal, but not formal. Just make sure your shirt is crisp and everything is clean.

A Dressed Up Holiday

If you still want to look nice, but don’t want to go full suit, there are three basic go to’s: The Cardigan, The Blazer over a T-Shirt, and the Sweater.

A cardigan or blazer instantly dresses up a t-shirt, but are still comfortable. Also you probably already have one in your closet. A sweater is cozy and grown up and totally no fuss.

A Comfy Holiday

But, let’s be honest, there is one choice that stands above the rest. It walks the line of cozy and formal and it is hard to mess up.

What is this unicorn? It’s a button-down shirt under a sweater.

The Perfect Holiday

(Normally I crop pictures, but there was no way I was getting rid of those animal balloons)

If you don’t believe me, that this look is great for almost anyone, check out this testimonial:

Thoughts on Sweaters and shirts

Happy Holidays, whichever one you celebrate!