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.

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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.

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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.

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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?)

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Statement Pieces

Statement pieces are something you hear a lot about in women’s fashion, but not so much in men’s. A statement piece is something you pair with your classic basics to pump up the volume. They are, essentially, what sets you apart from the crowd.

That said, a statement piece can be anything: something brightly colored, an unconventional pattern, a different cut on a traditional piece, a fun accessory, even just your favorite funky socks.

Since these are a section of your wardrobe where you can really express yourself, I’m not going to give you rules, but just show some pieces I really love.

One huge trend right now is pairing a wild print shirt with a suit and I absolutely love it. It is a great way to add a pop of excitement without worrying about going over the top. This is also a great way to punch up work or formal wear.

The Exciting Undershirt

The next on my list comes from a similar vein: the unconventional casual shirt. A lot of times we will tell you to add interest to a shirt by pairing it with a jacket or eye-catching pants, but these shirts need no additions.

I’m a big fan of the “animal” print shown here, especially because it is paired with a dusty teal color that isn’t common in menswear. But I am totally in love with the Renaissance ceiling t-shirt. I think I’ve actually been to the church that this is based on, but the overall print and muted colors make this piece one of a kind.

Statement Casual ShirtsThere are so many exciting, unique pieces out there, but I’m only going to cover one more genre for now. A bright jacket is a welcome surprise amid all of the neutrals. You may not want to wear this every day or with every outfit, but that’s how a statement piece should be.

This patterned turquoise blue blazer is a fantastic piece and looks amazing with an undershirt with similar colors in it.

Bright JacketsOther things great in unexpected colors: pants, socks, ties, even shoes. Find something out there that really speaks to your personal style and that you can put with at least two different outfits.

 

White Shirt Wonder

Never underestimate the power of a plain white shirt. T-shirt, button-up, Henley, sweater, doesn’t matter. White shirts have a crisp effortlessness about them. They look so relaxed, but also a little like a rebel without a cause.

Sure, white button-ups can be the most formal of shirts, but they don’t have to be if you ditch the tie and/or layer up. In fact, all white shirts look great with layers. Leather jackets toughen them up. Blazers class them up. Cardigans are cozy and casual. Trench coats make you look like you walked out of a Burberry campaign. And let’s face it, life is better in a Burberry campaign.

ALL the white shirtsThe real key to your go-to white shirt is caring for it. Wash it before you wear it, every time. Some shirts you can get away with doubling up, but even if you don’t see it, you’ve probably spilled something on your white shirt and it is noticeable. Also treat it aka use bleach or safe stain removers in order to help it last longer.

It is not a bad article of clothing to have a few of, in fact you probably already do. You’ll know it is time to toss and replace your favorite when the fabric begins to ball, it gets holes, or pit stains. And please stop wearing them in public as soon as these signs appear, especially the pit stains. Also you are less likely to get said stains if the shirt is looser under the armpit.

Find ones that you really like the fit of and have a good neckline because this should be a comfortable piece of clothing–both physically and confidently so.

white shirts

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