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.

cityscape2

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.

cityscape1

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.

cityscape3

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?)

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.

Tattoos are Forever

First of all, watch this.

He pretty much says it all.

Here at WAMSW, we aren’t huge fans of tattoos. But they are a part of our culture and mean a lot to some people. And they can be kind of sexy. Listen to Brooks, think your tattoos through. Think about placement, meaning, fads, number, etc.

The tricky thing about meaning in tattoos is that what’s important to you changes. You are pretty much always safe with your child’s name because you will always love them, but their face might be a little weird. People hesitate about spouse’s or significant other’s names, but my thought is: if your are dedicated enough to ink something on your flesh forever, you should be that committed to your spouse. So nothing too early in relationships. Jon McLaughlin has his wife’s name in simple cursive on his forearm and it is particularly sweet. (And I’m not just saying this because her name is my name). There are other meaningful moments, like the entire Fellowship from the Lord of the Rings movies getting the elvish word for “nine” because that was a significant part of their lives and important friendships. Matthew Lewis got roman numerals XI on his arm because the number resonated with several important events in his life. Also because roman numerals are pretty classy looking.

Tattoos with meaning

 

I remember hearing about one girl who would have a copy of a design she was considering in several places around her house–on bathroom mirrors, places she saw often, etc. If she got tired of the design before a year was up, she wouldn’t get it. This seems genius. It doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t eventually ware on you, but you’ve proven to yourself that you really like this design.

Another key thing to consider is professionalism, or how the tattoo will affect how you are perceived because it will happen. No matter how much we rail against the system saying we shouldn’t judge based on appearances, we do. We all do.

So here I turn to the example of Adam Levine. Everyone loves Adam Levine; he’s equal parts charming, bad boy, talented, and funny. And he has a number of tattoos. He often shows them off in plain t-shirts, but if you find a picture of him in a suit, you can’t see a single bit of ink. All of his tattoos can be covered with clothing if the occasion requires.

Now personally I wouldn’t want to be restricted to long sleeves, if I ended up regretting a tattoo, but it does provide a nice safety blanket. So choose wisely.

Tattoos

 

The ABC’s of Tees

Here at WAMSW we are always encouraging  you to put on ties, suspenders, jackets, and all manner of “extra” articles of clothing. But believe us, we understand the urge as the weather gets warmer/ as finals approach / on a quiet weekend to pull on a t-shirt and call it good. And that’s okay. (I may or may not be sitting around my house in a t-shirt and shorts as I attempt to write an essay).

t-shirts

And although they are the ultimate lazy clothing (I refuse to accept sweats as an entity), that doesn’t mean t-shirts need to be shulmpy. As with everything, fit is essential. Baggy shirts are the easiest way to hide your body, and that is not a good thing. I don’t mean hide flaws, I mean hide the fact that you have a body. If you’re a slim guy an overly loose shirt can make you look scrawny. If you’re a bigger guy it can add the appearance of extra weight. Pretty much a baggy shirt does no one any good. Don’t believe me? In Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, they purposefully dressed Fran Kranz (Marty) in baggy clothes because he was noticeably

“in as good if not better shape than the other male students. In the commentary for the film, the writers joke that he was “ripped like muscular Jesus” and assert that if Marty were shown being that fit it would ruin the character”. (From IMDb trivia page for the film. Do not read this section unless you’ve seen the film).

So now that we’ve fully explored the woes of baggy t-shirts, we have to say that too tight can be just as bad. Unless you have a character-destroying body, a skin-tight tee is just going to reveal any and all flaws. My friend and I were actually distracted by a guy in the pub the other night who had either out-grown his shirt or unfortunately thought it looked good. It didn’t, trust us.

What you do want is a shirt that follows the line of your body, but with some built-in breathing room. Sleeves should end at your mid-to-upper bicep, the elbow or below, or commit to being a long sleeve. If your regular short sleeves are ending near your elbow, you need to rethink your size or style. (The hem hitting your mid-to upper bicep keeps your arms from looking scrawny).

various basic tees

I’m always a fan of plain and neutral when it comes to t-shirts, but an overall pattern, like a stripe, with a pop of bright color can be refreshingly summer-y. Another way to mix up the basic is with a nice baseball tee (those ones with the different colored sleeves). V-necks are never a bad thing, but gage the depth appropriately, very few guys can pull off a super deep-v and even fewer that aren’t musicians (don’t ask why, I can’t explain, but it’s true).

If you’re looking for more examples of how to really wear a t-shirt, check out Adam Levine. His shirts always fit perfectly; he’s a skinny guy and is never overwhelmed. Also, although personally I’m not really a fan of tattoos, his add enough other interest that a plain tee is never boring.

Facial hair

Most everyone has an opinion on facial hair for men (and hopefully we can all agree to be anti on women). It’s become more apparent in the last few years with the reintroduction of the mustache (how many of us have been to a party with a photo booth and mustaches or a mustache themed party?) and the trendy hipster bearded men.  My own opinions on this one are pretty firm, I admit, but I also feel they are pretty forgiving and general.

Mustaches – I have to say that I’ve never met a man who can pull off a mustache. I take that back, if you are an evil villain (the bowler hat guy) or drive a semi or have season tickets to a monster truck rally (I apologize for the stereotypes) I could see it working. I understand Movember. I get it. but I don’t get it. If you’re going to shave the rest of your face you may as well shave your upper lip as well.

Beards- I am definitely Pro beard. It is a beautiful look that I’m in full support of. I don’t think EVERYONE can pull it off but those trendy hipster guys sure do pretty well. That being said, if you’re going to go bearded keep it clean, don’t let it get all gross and long and heaven forbid, foodie. No one wants to see that.

Goatees, sole patches, chops, side burns, anything that’s not a beard or mustache- SHAVE IT OFF. ALL OF IT. please.

Clean shaven- Every guy looks good freshly shaved. It is a general and beautiful truth. Embrace it every now and again.

Scruff- this is a tricky one. It can either be the sexiest thing ever or the most awkward thing ever. If you’re not sure which category you fit into find a friend that is completely honest and ask them. If you don’t have one of those send me a picture and I’ll gladly tell you. If you’re too afraid of either of those options keep these next thoughts in mind: if it’s patchy, it’s not working. If it’s barely visible at first glance it’s a no go.

Happy Shaving!

– Rachel

P.S. Amy’s Rules of Facial Hair: 1) I like a good mustache…until it’s real. 2) If you aren’t going to shave every day, let it grow for three and then shave. You will almost never end up with a gross beard in three days. 3) Clean shaven and scruffy are gold. Any thing else is walking on risky ground. 4) You are not proving your manliness by having a mountain man beard (or your hilarity by having one a la Zach Galifinakis).