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.

cityscape

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?)

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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.

geek rock

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!

 

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.

Man-Buns: Not for Everyone

My co-worker and I had a long discussion the other day about the man-bun and the inevitable accompanying beard. You see, one of my friends has had long hair for about the last four years and now has a rather excessive beard. It wasn’t a problem at first, but I’m afraid it has now gone on too long. Because, you see, this man-bun look that is rapidly gaining popularity only really works on the un-real.

On the fictional, the famous, the other-worldly.

In terms of male hair trends, long hair is hard to pull off and it is hard to maintain.

It shows grease (if you think greasy hair is good looking, you are looking at professionals who have been styled and primped, it doesn’t look that goo naturally) and doesn’t always fall the way you want it to and can generally be a mess.

But it can also look good.

man-bun

And that’s the tricky part because they look better a little messy. A little texture can go a long way when trying the man-bun, so it is best recommended for those with curly or wavy hair. Hozier’s hair is the perfect example. The natural wave and body looks good down and long or up.

Scruff also helps balance out the man-bun. Whether because there is a lot going on on top or because the bun is too slick, the scruff balances the face, while also adding a little ruggedness. But, do not let your facial hair go any farther than scruff or a really well trimmed beard. Any more and it veers into mountain man territory. (I know LumberSexual is a thing, but they are not the same thing, trust me, I’m a Westerner)

more man-buns

But here is what it ultimately boils down to, all of the men above are pretty darn attractive, but the vast majority are more attractive with shorter hair. That may be personal opinion, but like my co-worker and I said at the beginning, you pretty much have to be un-real to have a man-bun look good all the time. If you are going to go for it, just know it won’t always look great, that sometimes you will fight with it, and it will drive you nuts at some point. So choose wisely.

Know Your Glasses: Clubmaster

Traditionally called Browline glasses, the Clubmaster is a term coined by Ray Ban in the 80s, but let’s be real, what Ray Ban says goes.

These glasses are distinctive for the top of the frame being distinctly heavier than the bottom and recall classic 50s and 60s looks. 

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While the Clubmaster/Browline shape might be associated with the hipster look these days, these are really a classic shape that are really flattering. The “browline” creates a second browline which is very flattering on the face. (Don’t believe me? Just check out all those pictures of people without eyebrows)

These are also a shape that are great in both sunglasses and regular glasses. In fact the prescription version would be a nice compliment to your professor look.

classic browline 

Hello, Professor

While we don’t condone any inappropriate behavior, I think we can all admit that there is something sexy about the professorial look. You can psychoanalyze that all you want, but we think it’s the clothes.

The academic look is basically composed of layers. This makes it great for creating a wardrobe because you can mix and match and even choose how formal you want the outfit to be.

Here are your puzzle parts and pieces:

A variety of button-ups in various shades and patterns. The most classic professorial looks are white, oxford blue, and thin blues and white stripes. Must be slim cut.

The Professor

A few basic cardigans in neutral colors. While I’m all for a variety of cardigans, all you really need are a black, grey, and maybe taupe. These are great toppers for button ups, and can even be layered under other jackets.

Slim-cut pullover sweaters for the same type of layering as cardigans. These are also great in rich jewel tones like hunter green, maroon, and navy. For more info see WAMSW’s Sweaters.

A waistcoat or two that look like they belong to three-piece suits. Waistcoats need to fit properly (aka close to the body) and can easily veer into cheap and sketchy if you aren’t careful. If it comes with a suit, or looks like it does, it won’t be a shiny, tacky mess.

Textured blazers. We’ve already written about tweed, a classic professor look, but any noticeable texture looks like old world money and knowledge. These are great over any combination of the previous tops.

Academia looks good

Every neutral shade of slacks available. Personally, I prefer flat-front, as pleated can easily go 90s, but you should figure out what you like best. Flat-front might be more likely to suit slim men. You can also mix in some dark-wash jeans and still keep it pretty academic.

Be sure to have a selection of ties, pocket squares, and leather accessories on hand to top off your outfit. Also consider scarves and maybe suspenders. Thick rimmed, curved bottom glasses are like icing on the cake for a professorial look. 

Create any combo with these and top it off with a little scruff and you are ready to bestow wisdom from your leather armchair in the library.

 

Preppy, not Fratty

This post is partially inspired by those delightful pastel suits we found for Easter, but also by the fact that it has been almost hot the last couple of days, meaning everyone’s wardrobe has changed. Around here that means a lot of bro-tanks and open shirts. I’m not a fan. I am, however, all for the preppy brights and youthful summer-wear, but make it look like you are taking the day off from your crew team, not your keg stands.

Community goes preppy

The three basic components of preppy are: color, plaid, and shorts.

You don’t have to do all of them at once, but we’ll break down the pros and cons of different combos.

Brights and plaids actually go great together because plaids are usually a combination of opposing colors and they are often bright. If you want to add another non-neutral article of clothing to your outfit, pick one that matches a color in the plaid. Also keep the plaid localized to one piece of clothing.

Preppy plaid Now shorts are something else we’ve talked about before because it can be really tricky to get the right length. The goal is to hit right above the kneecap. A little shorter is actually preppier, but if you’re above by more than an inch or two, you’re in risky territory. Cuffs are also extra preppy and would allow you to switch up the length depending on your comfort and style.

Colored or plaid shorts are another quintessential preppy look, but again, be careful what you pair it with, so you don’t overwhelm your body. Muted colors, especially blue, and neutrals like khaki and olive are all good options. Jean shorts are questionable at best; see what else you can find.

Preppy shortsWarm weather really opens the door for more adventurous clothing, including classic preppy looks. Bonus preppy points for no socks. Negative points (although it is preppy/fratty) for popped collars. Now go forth and enjoy your yachting, or croquet game, or whatever preppy thing you have planned.

Oh, and if you are looking for a little extra Theo James, check out this video of him singing.

Easter Suits

As a little girl, one of my favorite parts of Easter was getting a new springy dress and I vaguely remember my brother often getting a new dress shirt or tie that was a little bit brighter or more colorful than usual. But shouldn’t you do the same now that you’re an adult? And why not really go for it and invest in a suit that says spring?

You could go for a pastel shirt (like those we talked about in Lightness of Spring) with one of your regular suits, but just this once go all out. It’s totally on trend.

Just like colored jeans get huge a couple of years ago, today we are seeing unexpected colors in everything. While some are better than others, we applaud this risk that has permeated the runways, if not the sidewalks just yet.

pastel easter suitsPastel suits are a preppy look, but need to fit perfectly to avoid veering into Dumb and Dumber territory. These are also a fairly seasonal look, so know that before investing too much. You can probably wear them throughout spring and summer and you will make an impact when you do. Coordinate your accessories with the same color in darker hues to keep the look more subtle, or take a risk and really stand out by donning the opposite color on the color wheel.

more neutral easter suitsIf you don’t think you would get enough wear out of a colored suit to make it worth your money, which is totally understandable, you can go for a more neutral option.

White suits, and the very, very light blue above, are also probably restricted to the spring/summer seasons, but they are perfect for any summer weddings or formal work retreats that you are planning on attending.

The light grey suit is a great option for any time of year, as is a brighter than navy blue suit. Punch up these suits with fun pops of bright color, like the pink on Idris Elba to make them springy and fun.

Whatever your choice, make sure you embrace this freedom from the winter darkness (which has its own perks, I’ll admit) and have fun with your wardrobe.