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

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Wrap it up

Isaac Lahey / Daniel Sharman

The weather around the US has been shockingly cold lately, and it’s that time of year in most of the Northern Hemisphere, so WAMSW is here to keep you warm. Specifically your neck.

Scarves are often seen as an accessory or maybe a bit feminine, but trust me, the shorter your hair, the more you need a scarf. This is definitely a wardrobe piece that changes by region–you are way more likely to see them in bigger cities or on the east coast of the US (than you would in the west) or Europe, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still embrace them.

There are four basic types of scarves, from thickest to thinnest: a thick knit (like a chunky sweater), a thin knit (like a lightweight sweater), a thin cotton/linen (thinner than a t-shirt, normally wider than the other types so it can be bunched), and a silk scarf.

4 types of scarvesNow, plain and simple, a silk scarf isn’t going to keep you warm. It is merely a statement piece. Silk is also not an easy fabric to take care of, so be prepared.

Cotton scarves are also more of an accessory,  but it will keep the wind off your neck, so they are perfect for crisp fall or spring days. It is probably easier to find more patterns in this weight and the silk and both are better if you don’t like too much bulk around your neck.

The only real difference between the different knit weights is how much bulk you end up with. So try them on and figure out what you’re comfortable with. These will keep you warm and cozy without having to resort to fleece.

Subtle Scarves

Pick a color and pattern that you can wear often and with a lot of outfits, especially if you don’t have a variety already in your possession. You can also tuck scarves into your coat, so that it doesn’t totally overwhelm you.

If you don’t think you are ready to take the scarf plunge, just make sure your coat has a high collar that you can turn up to add edge and wind protection to your outfit.

Disclaimer: All it takes is one scarf to make them your trademark, so be prepared for some attention. (i.e. Isaac “King of the Scarves” Lahey)

Defined by the scarf

Wrapped in Paisley and Polka-Dots

We all know the value of a good stripe, plaid, or gingham shirt and the way they can liven up any outfit, but generally speaking they aren’t particularly daring patterns. If you’re looking to take it a step further, we are delving into the wild world of paisley, polka-dots, tribal, geometric, and other less common prints.

patternsPattern Myth 1: Polka-dots are for 50s housewives. Just not true. Polka-dots are having a huge comeback right now in both mens and women’s clothing. It is a basic geometric pattern like a stripe or a plaid, that looks polished and isn’t too distracting. There is something a little whimsical about dots, which makes them perfect for pairing with more traditional or plain suits or slacks. Still worried they are too girly? Try darker base colors or a tighter pattern.

Myth 2: Paisley is too psychedelic or flamboyant. It’s true that paisley is one of the louder patterns out there because it often incorporates a lot of colors and various shapes, but it is also a classic. You can find monochromatic or duo-chromatic versions that are subtler and, like dots, when paired with traditional menswear items, it becomes a unique statement piece.

Zac, Ewan, MattMyth 3: Geometric patterns (besides stripes) are too busy. Geometric patterns are what I am calling repeated patterns of basic shapes, so basically all of the patterns that don’t have a name and aren’t a single picture. Like paisley, these can be loud because they really don’t have any rules. But they won’t overwhelm you because the pattern repeats, which keeps them from being distracting. Have you noticed how many times I’ve repeated that these patterns repeat? That’s because repetition is to patterns what neutrals are to colors; they go with anything. Okay so maybe really loud ones won’t pair with everything, particularly other patterns, but the idea works.

Myth 4: Tribal is for hipsters. Okay, so tribal is a little bit for hipsters, but that is just because it has a distinct feel. Tribal isn’t something you’d wear to the office, but it has an unmistakable summery feel. You’d wear this to a concert or the beach, probably on a t-shirt or flannel. This is another pattern that can handle bright colors, but doesn’t have to, it can be as muted as you like. (I’m also going to lump south-west patterns in this myth).

bright patternsMyth 5: Animal prints are for girls. I’m calling that a myth because in my book animal prints are always a bad idea. In general they tend to look trashy and cheap. You could maybe get away with a really subtle, dark, monochromatic one, but in general I say no.

And now a piece of  pattern advice: keep it localized. WAMSW is thrilled if you’ve taken to the idea of patterns, but please do not go so far as to completely cover your body in it. Stick to one article of clothing in one pattern (Pattern mixing is a topic for another day. It can work, but it is risky territory). Just please don’t follow the example of one of the group below:

Please don't.You don’t want people singing the Star-Spangled Banner to your backs. To the kid saluting the couple, we at WAMSW salute you.

If the thought of patterns still scares you, try it on a tie or some socks as a way to add individuality without wearing it all over. The feel of a pattern can be completely changed by the colors and what it is paired with, so maybe before making an out of character purchase have a plan of what you will pair. If you buy with a plan, it won’t end up in the back of your closet as a regretted purchase.

The Trendiest Hair Around

Alright, so this hair style. I have heard it called any number of things, but I believe the most correct term is the quiff. It’s a little bit James Dean, a little Morrissey, and a whole lot of on trend. I’d seen this around, but since hopping over to the UK it has been positively everywhere. Robert Pattinson notably donned one for his role in Water for Elephants and after flipping through Glamour UK’s Sexiest Men of 2012, you’re in good company (most of the men on the list either have, or have had a quiff). The basic break-down  of the quiff is simple: short of the sides and long on top, which makes it sound like just about any short men’s cut, but this is more defined.

Like I said, this hair is super popular right now, but I am going to set some stipulations. You know, guidelines, more than rules. This cut works with just about any hair type, which is a big plus. Straight or curly, it can be pretty low maintenance, or not, if you want to try your hand at styling. One thing I would say is don’t go too extreme. Now, I love Joe Brooks and I’m sure you will hear plenty about him, but when he tried this look awhile back, his stylist went a little too far. It is too short on the sides, especially considering how long it is on top. Good news: this haircut grows out quickly, and in Joe’s case got better with a little extra length.

Although this look is suitable for most hair types, it might not work for every man…type. The quiff has attitude built-in. That’s why it is seen on so many runways and rock stars. A subtler version could be great for the regular office guy, and might just spice up your life, but it is not a CEO style. This look says down-to-business if your business is looking great in front of a camera or behind a microphone. Be sure you can handle the hair, and the lack thereof, before you take the plunge. It seems to pair best with a brooding pout and a sick sense of style (but hey, that’s why you’re here, right?).

Hair grows, take the risk. It can be scary as hell (trust me, I know), but a new style can change your perspective.