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What should you wear?

April 14th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

Are you a people-watcher? You know, go sit in a public place and just watch people go by, and maybe make up stories of who they are and where they’re going? Or if you sew or are interested in fashion and the like, you look at what they’re wearing, and wonder where they got it, or what they were thinking when they bought it? You’d probably really enjoy The Sartorialist. It’s kind of (ok, it really is) supposed to be about clothes, and the combinations thereof, and you will wind up getting a fair amount of runway shots and such. But a lot of them are really just people you would see on the streets of NYC (probably because, um, the guy who does the blog lives in NYC. And takes pictures of people on the street).

I think some people visit just to look at the outfits (which is a waste, because it’s much more fun looking at the people). The critique them, they gush over them. Sometimes, scarily, they’re inspired by them. I certainly would never go to The Sartorialist to learn how to dress. But that is one thing that The Sartorialist has firmly cemented upon my mind—I always thought so, but now I am convinced beyond measure. Fashion and style have very little to do with clothes. It’s all about the attitude. Nothing else matters, really. Because no matter how ridiculous or hideous anyone looks, there is always someone gushing about how “perfect” or “flawless” the thing is, and usually it comes down to attitude. Not so much the clothes but “I love the way he/she wears that!” So it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.

Unfortunately for me, you and probably the Sartorialist, he doesn’t have any permalinks, so I can’t link to individual posts (and their ensuing comments, which can be nearly as hysterical as the outfits themselves, out of pure absurdity and nothing more. The commentators can be so pretentious and cultured when viewing something that looks like garbage, much like those that comment upon modern art. Or the Emperor’s New Clothes). However, you can “click on the picture to see it larger” and then link to that, which I am going to do, but if you want the full flavor, you’ll have to go the blog and look around yourself.

Here is one of the few I managed to find a way to link to. Side-splitting, isn’t it? People say things about this like, “Oooh I love it, edgy grunge at it’s best – and outside of Marc Jacobs. It doesn’t get much better than that!” and “love love love love love love love it.” and “love how she pulled off this colorful look so effortlessly. it just works for her…like she rolled outta bed, threw it on, and was out the door. NICE!” and “I can’t say how many times I see girls attempting this sort of look and falling short. She truly has perfect execution: the perfect length of the scarf, the slightly offsetting colour of the boots and the fabulous hair.” and “exactly what do such fabulously dressed people do for a living?!” and my personal favorite “I love the outfit. So randomly matched.” I laugh and laugh and laugh. The curious thing is that so many of those comments are from “anonymous”, which sometimes makes me half-wonder if someone is going around getting kicks out of writing all those comments.

Not, mind you, that I have any problem with that lady dressing like that. She looks happy. And that’s exactly my point. If you can’t look in the mirror before you step out the door and say “Man, I love the way those clothes look together,”—well, you’re not being stylish and fashionable. If you work against your self, who and what you really are, you’re always going to look a bit “off” or “not quite right”. The main thing is to be utterly certain that it’s what you want to wear, that it’s the perfect thing to wear. That shows—that feeling, that certainty.

And that means that fashion or style is not exactly sharable; of course I would never wear that. I’m not her. We’re not the same—why should we try to dress the same? She likes it; good for her. I don’t; good for me! I don’t feel any guilt for not liking what she’s wearing, ’cause if she likes it, that’s good enough. All I’ve got to worry about is if I am happy with what I’m wearing, not imposing my tastes on other people.

(And by the by, what do think that lady is thinking? And where do you think is she is going, and what is she doing, and why did she decide to wear those clothes in particular?)

That said, don’t go thinking this is the only type or style that the Sartorialist shows photos of; he’s really quite wide-ranging.

I’m not sure quite what you’d call this one. I think I’d settle for “Um. . .very colorful!” But you can’t deny there’s confidence oozing all over the place. No doubts here, man!

Lots of times, impeccable suits are photographed. Sometimes from the front, and sometimes from the back. And often times, close ups of the collars, or cuffs, or ties, or especially the “pocket squares”. And people in the comments fuss like crazy if the sleeves are just a tad to short or just a tad to long. Jackets have to fit perfectly, dagnabit! (And the one I just linked to, by the way, is a prize specimen. Despite the fact that the guy is listing to one side and so one sleeve is a little too long and the other a little too short, we are assured this suit fits perfectly in every way.)

Sometimes, a person just catches his eye, apart from what clothes they’re wearing, like this lady. Don’t you agree that’s a very striking face? I love striking faces. I never understand all this fuss over “beautiful” or “flawless” faces. To me, “striking” is a much greater complement—not that I’m insinuating this face is flawed or ugly. Just that it’s very, very striking. The kind of face you wish you could remember forever, because you know you’re not going to see another one like it.

Yes, this dude is fashionable. People loved his mix of arrogance (see the look on his face? see the way he stands?) and humility (OMG, that guy is filthy!!). It was a picture taken in Paris, which is what made it great in some people’s eyes. For other people, it just made them wonder how they could only take showers once a week and still always carry their bread around in their armpits.

(Tee-hee-he. Yes, I’m still laughing.)

In this one, I discover that I, too, am stylish. Because she is just wearing baggy jeans and t-shirt, just like I do all the time. ‘Cept probably not. Because I don’t wear suede boots. And I don’t like wearing scarves.

Very, very fashionable. What else would you call it? No, really, what would you call it? I love the look on his face. I’m still trying to figure out what he’s thinking. I’m not sure if he’s pleased with the attention or if he’s a camera-phobe. “Yeah, yeah, so I’m not dressed normal. What’s it to you?” And hey, what’s up with not wearing socks? Don’t you people get blisters? Sticky shoes?

Isn’t this hideous? I’m sorry, I really think it’s hideous. I think that guy must be having a mid-life crisis, and it shows. I can forgive everything except the jeans. And all the rings. What is wrong with people that they feel like they need all that metal on their hands?

This was billed as being worn “naturally and effortlessly”. I call it “genuine happiness showing through regardless of clothing”, and so I like it a lot. Doesn’t it make you want to smile? Okay, maybe I’m just a girl. It makes me want to smile, anyway.

This one makes me crack up. Yes, I know it was deliberate. But I still think it’s hysterical, and I reserve my right to laugh when I see biker-chic meets, um, French garden tea? You don’t have to laugh if you don’t want to. You can call it striking, instead, and remember it forever.

This guy is utterly, utterly batty. He might be the living definition of “batty old man”. I love it.

Personally, I wouldn’t be very happy with the dry-cleaners if I was this guy. And what is it with this no-sock wearing thing? Come on! Didn’t your mother teach you how to get dressed? I guess not. The guys aren’t wearing any socks, and the girls are wearing socks with high-heels. My grandmother would be appalled.

I loved this one. I’ve always been a big fan of capes. The Sartorialist said he loved how she dressed goth but kept the sweet innocent face. But he was still a little nervous approaching her to ask if he could take her picture. Personally, it was one of the few shots I’ve seen that made me want to say “Oh, it’s so perfect! I just love it!” in my best girly-girl voice. I love that cape, the trim on the hem, the lined hood. It’s velvet, so it must feel wonderful and have a great drape and movement. And the over-coat; I love the cut of the over-coat. And I always love long dresses, and I love it that it looks like she’s wearing comfortable shoes. And I can’t believe most people in the comments wasted their time trying to figure out what time period or look she was going for. Who cares?! I just want that cape! Please?

I am so going to have to sew myself a velvet cape someday.

This is now called the “deconstructionist” look. Last I knew, it was called the “I’m a bachelor, and the pants were too long” look. But I guess I’ve been out-voted. So I guess I can’t tell the bachelors they ought to be ashamed of themselves any more. I guess now I have to call them stylish.

Don’t you think this is a classic? It must be a classic. Why does it look so darn familiar? Don’t tell me! I like wondering.

I’m told this guy is going for the Bo-Ho look. Can anyone tell me what the difference is between the “Bo-Ho” look and the “Hobo” look?

I’m probably going to get in trouble for dissing all this high fashion. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

Speaking of such, this one is a very good follow up. It’s one of my favorites. Especially when the Sartorialist informs me that “This man has style in his bones.” In all seriousness.

Tee-hee. Yes, I’m laughing again. There was much compliments on the effort that went into getting this “look”. Tee-hee. I never knew there were so many fashionable people around here. And they can do fashion effortlessly. Accidentally, even. Wait, it doesn’t count if it’s by accident, does it? You’re just a slob who doesn’t care about your looks if you do it by accident. But if you do it on purpose—wow, you are like, totally talented, man! What a look!

My favorites, though, are usually of the distinguished gentlemen who still believe in wearing hats. Like this guy. Or this guy with a bowler; I bet you though nobody wore bowlers anymore. Bowlers were made for guys like that. It looks so perfect on him, it almost looks as though he’s been imported from the past. Apparently, in some places of NYC, the past does cling on, though fading. And the past is never without it’s hat. Sometimes it’s a happy old man, sometimes a somber old man, but they’re always wearing a hat. And the thing about wearing hats is that they do such a terrific job of framing the face, making the many years and the deeply-etched character stand out all the clearer.

So, yeah, The Sartorialist is a good place to go if you like people-watching. Or clothes-watching. But one thing that the site will always be driving home is that personal style is just that—very, very personal. No cheap imitations will do; it’s the real McCoy or nothing. No amount of fashion rules or guidelines or being up on all the treads is any amount of compensation for wearing what you want to wear. And being completely unapologetic if it does break all the fashion rules and guidelines and trends.

To thine own self be true, people, to thine own self be true.

Posted in Contemplations, Fashion, Websites | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. abigail Says:

    I love this post, but I have company here (surprise). I will try to remember to return and post exactly what I like about it at a kinder hour.

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