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.

mid-length1.jpg

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.

mid-length2.jpg

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!

 

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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.

Mixing up the Patterns

Full disclosure: I’m walking on risky territory with this post. Pattern mixing is an element of my own wardrobe that I rarely risk and when I do, I doubt myself the entire time. So we are taking this trip together.

If we are being honest, pattern mixing is an element of fashion that men actually probably have an advantage in. With the popularity of gingham and  the reemergence of patterned suits and jackets, all paired with usually patterned ties, you guys are basically old hat at this now.

One basic rule I’ve heard is that if at a distance your pattern looks like a solid, then it acts like a solid. In the pictures below, at least one, if not more, of the patterns are faint or easily appear as a solid. This makes them easy to pair with anything you would usually put with the predominant color. Often these will be monochromatic patterns, using slightly different shade of the same color to make the pattern. These are also the types of patterns most commonly found in suits, so that they can be paired with basically anything. The other type of solid appearing pattern is featuring a really small design, like in Michael B. Jordan’s shirt and tie.

Patterns as solidsAnother method of pattern mixing is picking a uniting color. This is where I struggle because I actually get uncomfortable if I’m matching. Neutrals work as an easy uniting hue without feeling too matchy. Coordinating colors work too. A basic way to tell if colors go is if they are on opposite sides of the color wheel, like orange and blue (shown both above and below). Here too though you need to be aware of color saturation. If your blues are too royal and your oranges too basketball-y, you are going to end up looking like a very dedicated Boise State fan. Tones with more grey will likely look more masculine and grown up.

One area where I would say you can definitely take a risk is outerwear. I have a navy plaid coat that I absolutely adore and for years I wore it with absolutely everything. Particularly with winter coats that you will ditch once you’re inside, have fun with it. The same goes for sweaters, where you will see just a bit of the shirt beneath, just make sure the colors go.

Pattern MixingAlso a safe zone is when your patterns a separated by a significant amount of unpatterned space. Just buy those polka dot socks, you will not regret them and they will not clash with your shirt or tie.

When mixing patterns also try to use different sized patterns. This will either make one seems like a solid from afar or at least provide enough solid space to not become an optical illusion/headache inducer.

Pattern mixing is definitely adventurous, but it doesn’t have to be. Just make sure you feel comfortable, check yourself out in the mirror and maybe get a second party’s approval. Baby steps are still steps. We don’t expect you to layer three different patterns well on the first try.

Maybe too ambitious for first timers

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.

Keep it or Cut it

Okay, so this post has been a long time in the making for many reasons. First of all, my feelings have become more and more complicated on the matter. It’s a big topic and I want to treat it fairly. Also, and perhaps weighing most heavily on my mind, is how to address Kit French and Eoin Macken on this blog (Let’s put this out there now, there will be more posts on both of them, also Ezra Miller). So now I am ripping off the bandage, WAMSW is tackling long men’s hair in three parts with the help of actor Ezra Miller, musician Kit French, and actor/model/director Eoin Macken.

Let’s start with Ezra because to me at least, his case is the simplest. If anyone is king of personal style and owning life and self it is Ezra Miller (you might recognize him from Perks of Being a Wallflower, We Need to Talk About Kevin, or just being “a young, bizarrely awesome technicolor dream of weirdness”). First off, I would never try an dim Ezra’s personal flair because that is who he is, but he looks better with shorter hair. Just putting that out there. When it is shorter he can pull off the crazy dishevelment without looking dirty or homeless. It is still as fun as he is and keeps him looking young.Exhibit A: Ezra Miller

What you should take from Ezra: There are more options than long or buzz cut. Find a length in between that shows your personality without misrepresenting you.

Next up is the man who made me question my dedication the anti-ponytail tribe, Kit French. But stay tuned, the issue is, as I said, complicated. Kit French provides saxaphone, keyboards, and backing vocals in the band Parachute (featured in Double Denim). And I’d be lying if I said he didn’t catch my eye right away and my complicated relationship with his hair derives mainly from the fact that it wasn’t always long. When I first encountered the band back in 2009, namely their “She is Love” video, he was fresh out of college with dreamy elegantly disheveled hair, cue weak knees. But then his hair kept growing and he did nothing to stop it. Although he has the facial structure that will always be good looking, the long hair distracts from his naturally strong features, which ironically is why ponytails work on him. I am ashamed to admit, but that man can rock pulled back hair.

Exhibit B: Kit FrenchWhat you should take from Kit: Okay so you have strong enough features to not look terrible in a ponytial, that doens’t mean you should wear one. Kit’s enviable bone structure was highlighted by his shorter hair. Like Ezra’s, it was still shaggy and looked rock and roll, plus it is way lower maintenance. Demetri Martin puts it best:

from Demetri Martin's "Person."

And now, for the master class on hair. Not just long hair. Not just men’s hair. ALL hair. Eoin Macken is the god of hair. Literally there are sites devoted to his hair, in fact I was going to devote an entire post jsut to his lustrous locks as well before I decided you would benefit best from a comparitve study. What, you’ve never heard of him? Well he was Gwaine on BBC’s Merlin and has a new pilot of US tv coming up this fall. It is best if we all keep in mind that Eoin has some natural gifts that mere mortals just cannot achieve, but let’s break down what he does best hair-wise:

1) It is neither straight, nor limp. He’s obviously got a little curl that comes out when his hair is longer, which is lucky genes, but he helps it by having layers. This is a real style; he hasn’t just forgotten to get a hair cut. The different lengths of hair give it body, movement, and play up the natural curl.

2) He washes it. Please, I don’t care how long or short your hair is, make it clean. His only looks greasy after a week in a dungeon having to literally fight for food to keep himself and two other men alive, what’s your excuse?

3) Ponytails are only allowed when safety is an issue. Like Kit, he has the face that can pull it off. It doesn’t mean he should.

4) During the off-season he cuts it a little shorter, but similar principles apply. It has texture, purposeful disshevelment, and even at its shortest, different lengths.

Exhibit C: Eoin Macken

Seeing as Eoin is an actor and a model, I’m sure there has been product in his hair for work, but here’s what he has to say:

“I don’t use hair products. It’s probably something in the Irish water. And bread. I eat a lot of bread. And chocolate and coffee. Probably apples too. Yes, bread, chocolate and apples. That’s it.”

Did I mention he is Irish? And has a sense of humor about all this hair business:

Eoin Macken hairWhat you should take from Eoin: Unless the hair gods have personally blest you, keep it shorter. If you are going to have longer hair, or not, keep it interesting with layers. And don’t take your beauty too seriously.

What you should take from this post: It’s long, so is your hair. I didn’t cut this short, you can avoid making the same mistake. As someone who was a life-long long hair haver who sort of recently cut off a bunch, it can be freeing. Also, long hair isn’t always bad. These men proved me wrong, you’re welcome to try as well. But keep it in check, out of the creeper style, and never a mullet.

For Auld Lang Syne

As we come into 2013 and look back on 2012, we at What a Man Should Wear could do a “year in review”, a man of the year, a top (insert number here), or even resolutions for next year. Unfortunately for you, we are not that organized or decisive. So instead we are going to highlight some of our favorite moments of the year in men’s fashion (more or less), at least partially based on what you guys responded to.

One of my (Amy’s) favorite things of the year was the increasing attention paid to Mr. Eddie Redmayne. The hipster in me has to point out that I have loved him since his Pillars of the Earth days, but he is so deserving of the attention he is getting thanks to Les Miserables (I mean, let’s admit it, his cheekbones alone deserve that kind of attention). But beauty and talent aside, the man knows how to dress. And I am totally in favor of the French revolutionary look.

Mr. Eddie Redmayne

Another of your favorites was our post on Clapton Davis from the indie horror-comedy Detention. I thought this would be one of our least read posts, but you guys came out of the woodworks in love for his quirky look-at-me style (or at least the movie). And honestly I like Josh Huthcherson more everytime I see him.

Ezra Miller. So I might be a little behind on hearing about this kid, but he is wonderful and expect an Individual Style Spotlight (a la Matthew Gray Gubler) in the future.

Ezra as matador

Also loved? The reclamation of short pants and suspenders from Urkel (particularlly by Nate Ruess of The Format and fun. fame). Also, realizing that no one in England knows who Urkel is.

Never thought I'd see this comparison

Andrew Garfiled’s many magazine cover and red carpet looks. It never fails to impress when a man looks totally at ease in anything he wears.

Seeing all of the colored (or as they would say “coloured”) pants on men in London. Walking through Hyde Park in September meant a runway show of men donning rich colors and cozy sweaters and stylish shoes. The colors were worn so fearlessly that they looked like a very stylish part of the lanscape.

Someone we’ve only mentioned in passing, but you should totally look into is Burberry’s current man, musician Roo Panes. He pulls off the stately and classic pieces well. Also his voice is totally swoon worthy.

Roo for Burberry

I also completely love this picture of Logan Lerman. And his breath-taking performance in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I think I just wanted an excuse to put this picture up

My (Rachel’s) favorites list isn’t as long, or as detailed. Sorry. But I have to concur with Amy on quite a few of her favorites, including Andrew Garfield, Eddie Redmayne and individual style in general (I’m not cool enough to know who Ezra Miller is, but I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough). To add to that list I would have to include my own love of textures, simplicity, and the overall ruggedness that I feel one side of hipster is delving into.

Favorites

 

We’re looking forward to seeing what 2013 has to add to men’s style and the icons who carry them. This should be fun.

Happy New Year!

-Amy and Rachel