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.

Subtlety is Key

“Menswear is about subtlety. It’s about good style and good taste” -Alexander McQueen

There’s a reason we have so often warned against clothes, particularly t-shirts, with obvious logos, brand names, or photos on them. Even if it is a well-know, well-respected, or frankly, expensive brand, having a logo branded across your chest looks a little less than sophisticated.

Also this

Truth from Ian Bohen

is a problem most easily hidden with plain, nondescript shirts.

But, occasionally, a shirt is just too good to pass up or let go. So here’s what you do when that is the case:

Note: Funny phrases are rarely as clever as you think they are. Avoid trying to wear your humor on your literal sleeve.

Aim for black and white or a neutral and one other color. This keeps even a busy image simple and doesn’t draw the eye to quiet the same degree.

Another way to tone down the message/focus on the shirt is to layer. Use another shirt or jacket to cover part of the design, making it interesting, but not the focus.

subtle logos

There are times where it is okay to try to be witty – and that is when you are unabashedly, but subtlely, reping yourself. This Stark Direwolf/Iron Man shirt is clever, but it is infinitely better on Kit Harrington and Robert Downey Jr. It’s an extra level of inside joke. Most people can’t really get this, but you know, it was worth mentioning.

Too Clever

And my personal favorite is this hat:

Blake.

Bob Morely wearing this hat at Comic Con is a clear reference to his character, Bellamy Blake. But, the hat is vague enough that it could literally refer to anything. I want one – do I love the retired tennis player James Blake, or the Romantic poet William Blake, the character Bellamy Blake? You don’t know*! I love it.

*It’s a trick question, the answer is all three. (Although full disclosure: my favorite Romantic poet is John Keats. I would gladly accept a hat that read “Keats.”

Bomber Jackets

Bomber jackets, or flight jackets, got their start keeping fighter pilots warm during World War I, and with a heritage like that, they can’t be anything but cool.

They have, however, come a long way since then. They are now lighter weight, not the heavily insulated jackets of old, and more of a fashion piece than utilitarian. You can find more traditional looking ones, worn leather, with a looser shape, but generally the term “bomber jacket” has come to refer to most collarless jackets, with a loose shape (varsity jackets are similar).

bomber jacket

In recent years bombers have become the staple style of jacket for brighter colors and wilder patterns, but it works in almost any configuration. Solid colors, sleeves that are a different color, varsity stripes on the collar, it pretty much all works.

They also pair with almost all looks, from semi-formal to casual, so they can be thrown over most things.

bomber jackets

Summer is…

Summer is…Light

While we all love jewel tones and dark neutrals, something about summer demands lighter colors (and lighter weights). This is when you pull out the classic white tees and henleys, the linen button-ups, and the paler shorts and trousers.

Easy Breezy.

summertime lightness

Summer is…Cool Button-ups

When you need to be a little more professional or dressed up in the warmer months, nothing beats an open-collared button up. Checks and light solids are perfect for summer get-togethers, and even dressing up a casual pair of shorts.

While wearing tanks and tees around the house or pool is perfect, this is summer’s answer to business casual.

summertime

Summer is…fun

Take a risk, even if it is just throwing on a subtle print instead of a solid shirt. Try shorts that are a little shorter, or more colorful, or have a pattern. Hawaiian prints and florals are huge this year and can be manly and modern.

Not ready for a full commitment? Try taking your risk with swim trunks or sunglasses.

summertime fun

Summertime…the living is supposed to be easy, don’t make your clothes complicated.

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 Best Part of Holiday Dinners is the Dressing

It’s that time of year where no matter where you are or what religion you do or do not observe, you will probably be participating in some sort of holiday dinner or celebration. If you are in the US, you’ve already had one this season.

Now, I’ll admit, my family is pretty casual when it comes to our holiday outfits, but it is always nice to dress up a little bit. Here are a few options for your holiday fest.

If you are a formal crew, or your mom makes you wear a jacket to family events, you can still mix it up. Different colors or patterns on your jacket make it a little more personal. You can switch out a tie for a pocket square, which keeps it formal, but not formal. Just make sure your shirt is crisp and everything is clean.

A Dressed Up Holiday

If you still want to look nice, but don’t want to go full suit, there are three basic go to’s: The Cardigan, The Blazer over a T-Shirt, and the Sweater.

A cardigan or blazer instantly dresses up a t-shirt, but are still comfortable. Also you probably already have one in your closet. A sweater is cozy and grown up and totally no fuss.

A Comfy Holiday

But, let’s be honest, there is one choice that stands above the rest. It walks the line of cozy and formal and it is hard to mess up.

What is this unicorn? It’s a button-down shirt under a sweater.

The Perfect Holiday

(Normally I crop pictures, but there was no way I was getting rid of those animal balloons)

If you don’t believe me, that this look is great for almost anyone, check out this testimonial:

Thoughts on Sweaters and shirts

Happy Holidays, whichever one you celebrate!

Not Too Hot and Not Too Cold

There is no denying that fall is in full swing. Where I’m from, that means you need heaters on in the morning and evening, and maybe the air conditioning in the middle of the day. In fact, in a lot of places fall isn’t too hot or too cold, it is both.

That’s why fall fashion revolves around layers.

Aim for light layers, these will be more comfortable and look less bulky. A t-shirt and a light sweater fit nicely under a jacket, so does a button-up with or without the sweater. Combinations like this are a great way to adapt your outfit to different levels of dressiness, so chameleon-like, you can adapt to both situation and weather.

fall layers

 

There are a lot of old rules about what you can and cannot wear in fall, most of which don’t apply to the modern man, but there are some things that are quintessentially autumn. Warm colors like rust, reds, and maroons are cozy and especially great in sweaters and plaid flannel. Neutrals like khaki, olive/army green, rich browns, and denim are great for outerwear and go with almost anything.

Also don’t forget to pull out those worn leather boots.

the color of fall

Fall is also a great time to grow out your scruff a little. Don’t go full No-Shave November, but go ahead and keep your chin warm.

 

 

I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired lately (I blame my female-dominated work place), so if you have any themes or people you’d like to see more of on here, go ahead and leave a comment.

Guide to Semi-Formal

I think we’ve all received an invitation that included a dress code and we honestly didn’t know what it meant. The rules for these seem so fluid, but at times they really aren’t, which makes the whole issue more stressful. Some are easy – the ultra formal white tie and formal black tie  have pretty clear rules – but the more common ones are generally more confusing.

This post is inspired by an event I’ve been planning for work that is “semi-formal,” which in my area could mean really anything. The western US is, generally speaking, a pretty casual place, so I did some research.

Searching for semi-formal menswear is basically like typing “clothes” into google. And all of the more specific rules I did find varied from site to site, so here is my synthesis of what you should wear to a semi-formal event.

Evening Events (after 6 pm)

evening semi formal

Do not wear a tux – that is black tie or formal – but you should wear a dark jacket. I would also lean toward dark slacks or a full suit. A tie is probably advisable, although it can be colorful or patterned. Shirts can also maybe be colored, but I would avoid anything too wild.

Be sure to take into account the type of event. Weddings should probably be more formal, whereas cocktail parties allow for a little more play.

Day Events (before 6 pm)

day semi formal

Day events have the same basic rules, although suits do not need to be dark. In fact, it is probably more appropriate to go with khaki/tan or grey (even navy is better than black for a day event). By their nature, day events tend to be a little more casual, so you could forgo the tie or play with colors, but again read the event.

An outdoor wedding is going to be more casual than an indoor, especially during the day. A garden party is usually more casual than a cocktail party (unless the former is with the queen).

In more casual places, like my hometown, you could probably really tone it down and no one would bat an eye, but here I defer to Oscar Wilde’s immortal words “You can never be overdressed or over-educated.”

Oscar Wilde on fashion

And if you are going to trust any author about fashion, let it be Mr. Wilde.

Denim Jackets

I’ll be the first to admit that it took me awhile to get back on the denim jacket train after the early 2000s, but here I am. But let’s be real, they have gotten a lot classier.

We’ve already talked about double denim, and those rules still stand, so here I’ll talk about the jacket as a single item, rather than as part of an outfit.

As always, fit is key. Denim jackets have obvious seams, which are the perfect fit guides. The shoulder seams should sit exactly on the top of your shoulder. (see Matthew Lewis below)

denim jackets

It should fit smooth across the shoulders and with a little wiggle room in the waist.

When it comes to color you actually have a broader array of acceptable colors than you do with trousers. You should keep your pants dark, but your jacket can be a nice medium shade.  Even light jackets can be alright if they have a vintagey feel, but it is a little hipstery, so if that isn’t your scene, just beware.

not your 90s jean jacket

Lighter jackets should look lived in. And no matter what, avoid the acid wash.

Denim jackets can be really stiff, so make sure you find a comfortable one or prepare yourself to break it in for awhile. Denim jackets are casual, but go with almost anything.

LinkFest: Passing Things We Love on to You

We don’t do this often (because we want you to stay here, not go gallivanting around the web), but there is a lot of great stuff out there and we thought we’d share some of our favorites.

Buy some: Happy Socks comes on recommendation from author John Green. He can be seen wearing some green argyle gems on his interview with Stephen Colbert. The Swedish company provides a range of bright and colorful socks, which are on trend and just happy.

Happy Socks

Read up on: Esquire provides some info on avoid party fouls and make friends when partying with non-drinkers.

Get inspired by: Scruffy Men in Suits.  Aspire to be worthy of a feature on this Tumblr.

Check out: OneRepublic. I know you’ve probably heard of them, but I just saw them in concert and they are even better live. These men are crazy talented multi-instrumentalists and vocalists.

Fury

Get psyched for: Fury. I am so there for this movie. This looks to be an emotionally raw and realistic war movie full of impressive acting. Also the red carpet promises to be a fine display of menswear. Just don’t pull a Shia LaBeouf and wear a paper bag in public.

Keep an eye out for: World Cup haircuts. While you’re watching the world’s favorite sport, take in some cutting edge and interesting hair styles.

Every man should know etiquette, music, film, books, current events, sports, etc. because what is better than a well-rounded man.