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!

 

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.

Fine Art

In order to make up for my long absence, and also because this is where my mind went, today’s post will be both long and a bit academically involved.

The history of art is marked by distinct styles, not unlike fashion, that take almost total control for awhile before being discarded in favor of the next trend. But the thing is, these periods of art live on, not only in our museums, but in the clothes we wear. Here are five distinct ones:

Gothic – High and Late Medieval Period

Gothic art and architecture is marked by intricate, layered designs, using flying buttresses and pointed arches to support high stone walls and ceilings. Gothic buildings often feel heavy, dark, and a little dangerous. The clothing counterpart is highly structural, layered, and voluminous (not the baggy pants and trench coats that sat in the hallways of your high school).

Wear: Long Wool Coats, Tailored Pants, Pointed Leather Shoes, Leather Driving Gloves

Gothic Period

Rococo – Late Baroque – 18th Century

Rococo took all the grandeur and glitz of the Baroque period and made it more playful. Using lighter colors, asymmetric designs, and fluid curves, Rococo was just as ornate as Baroque, just lighter. The clothing counterparts are light-weight, airy, pastel, and patterned.

Wear: Open Linen Shirts, Pastel Paisley, Gold

Rococo

Impressionism – 19th Century

Impressionism is one of those self-explanatory names, it is art that gives an impression. Rather than painting images with clear details, the Impressionists used pointillism or distinct  brush strokes to capture the essence of a design or image. The clothing counterparts are small prints, complimentary colors, layered patterns.

Wear: Patterned Jackets, Patterned Shirts and Ties, Blues and Purples

Impressionism

Folk Art – Varied

Folk art is, by some definitions, the opposite of “Fine Art”, but work with me on this one. Folk art is art from humble origins, often untrained, and completely based on the culture of the place of its origins. The clothing counterpart is cozy, chunky knits, and casual.

Wear: “Tribal” Prints, Shawl Collars, Sweaters with Jeans

Folk Art

Pop Art – 1950s

Pop Art challenges old artistic traditions by using pop culture and mass media images to create art. It is easily distinguished by the use of bright and neon colors, geometric shapes, and repetition. The clothing counterpart is bright, bold patterns, and sleek lines.

Wear: Bright Colors with Patterns, Converse All-Stars, Slim Silhouettes

Pop Art

Are there any other art movements you’d like to see as clothes?

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.

The Lightness of Spring

I’m calling it. Spring is almost here. Maybe it is the unseasonably sunny days we’ve been having or the fact that I’m avoiding finals, but I think it’s time to embrace the coming spring.

Spring weather is different everywhere, but where I’m from it definitely still requires a jacket. The sun is out, but it isn’t necessarily warm, which is why I’ve talked about spring layers before. So this time I think I’ll focus on the colors and textures that are just right for when the weather is starting to warm up out of the winter darks.

Most often spring colors tend to be what we often call Easter colors, or those light pastels. Now these often aren’t considered the most manly colors, but that is a horrible rumor that we should just end. I would bet that most working men already own a light blue button up or two because they are so ubiquitous.

Spring colors

Find the pastels that work best for your skin tone. My dad is blonde and fair-skinned, so he rarely wears yellow, but he looks good in almost any shade of blue because it matches his eyes. If you’ve got reddish undertones, maybe steer away from pinks. And men with darker skin look good in almost any light color.

These colors are gentle, but bright, and their fabric should match. Spring is the perfect time for fabrics like linen, lighter knits, and, as always, cotton. Suits don’t need to be as heavy, so go for a slimmer approach. If you are layering, look to trench coats and denim jackets. Chunky sweaters are more of a winter look, so maybe start to ease them out (unless you are going on a chilly spring beach adventure, of course).

Most of all dress to the weather. Don’t forgo a warm coat if it is still freezing where you live, but also don’t add unnecessary layers if it is a beautiful day. I wish you wonderful sunny days ahead.

Springwear

If you are really curious about your undertones and what colors look best on you:

  • Cool undertones are often found in those with  blue, gray, or green eyes paired with blond, brown, or black hair with hints of blue, silver, violet, or ash.
  • Warm undertones often have brown, amber, or hazel eyes with strawberry blond, red, brown, or black hair with undertones of gold, red, orange, or yellow

This is not a foolproof way of determining skin tone. I used information from a Stylecaster article aimed at women, but colors don’t know gender. They list some other ways of determining your colors in the link above.