Friday, October 17, 2008

Black and brown.

Black and brown. by quean

I had mocked my friend for wearing brown shoes with an otherwise all black outfit. He laughed at me, and the very next day I saw a beautiful boy all in black but for his tan leather cowboy boots, belt and satchel bag. Something like this.

It helped that he was terrifically gorgeous, and a fine arts student (I'm a sucker for anyone carrying a folio), and that brown in this case was less a colour than a texture, with all the lovely associations of tan leather, both luxe and casual, boyish and old ...-timey, intensely urban and coolly rural. Sings of lonely days on an open road, and a cigarette in the alley before the next set. Guitars. Deserts. Unsent letters. Yeah.

The fashion god's punishment for my arrogant rule-making, I guess. May I never commit such a misdeed again. But I'm glad I've learned to love black and brown together. I think this is the start of something splendid.


I really enjoy making menswear sets because everyday men's clothing (that, say, more than 5% of the male population would consider wearing) is so subtle, which makes every nuance in tailoring really count.

I mean, if you walk through the city on any given day, you're likely to see at least a dozen necklines for women, while for men you'd be lucky to find six: crew neck, polo neck, v-neck, turtleneck, and the classic shirt collar. You might spot some trendy young thing in a scoop neck tank (uggh), or a South Asian man (or hippie) in a tunic or shirt with a split collar -- though that's really just a variation on either a crew neck or mandarin collar. Jackets have various types of lapels, mandarin collars, or no collar at all. To pull a statistic out of thin air, I'd estimate at least eight in ten men I encounter on an average day are wearing a crew-neck tee (short or long-sleeved), a hoodie (zip or pullover), a collared shirt, a suit jacket, or some combination of those four items. In summer I'd add a Bond's singlet to that basic set, and in winter some form of coat (in which you'll probably find the greatest variation there is in everyday menswear).

So every little thing counts. I really like v-neck t-shirts because they're just a little more interesting than a crew neck, without being overtly fashionable if that's not what you're going for. French cuffs or extravagantly wide cuffs make me grin. And I have strong aversions to tiny details, too: Two breast pockets on any shirt that's not cowboy style? No. Cargo-style pockets? No. Large prints? No. Button-down collars? Fuck no. All these judgements go for women's clothing, too, (except for two breast pockets, that would be okay on a safari/nurse dress but not a shirt I think) but they're much more important when there's such little variation in the first place.

However, I don't buy into the only fashion debate that most men do willingly engage in -- the hierarchy of t-shirts. I think Stuff White People Like says everything that needs to be said on that topic.

1 comment:

Fez said...

I totally accord with your comment re: details in menswear. This is something that many of the phallic population grapple with, preferring instead to either sport something overtly audacious (but tasteless) or dispense with styling all together. But there is definitely some merit in parsing the little elements of one's wardrobe to achieve a good, sophisticated look.

In terms of my own wardrobe, I find that many a times I seem to lack 'something' or that something is 'wrong'. Earlier on in my sartorial expeditions, I thought they were due to macro considerations like colour combinations and patterns. But I have slowly come to the conclusion that these have to do with the more subtle details like collar types or sleeve lengths.

You're right to say that menswear is incredibly limited in terms of fashion choice (it's almost a form of discrimination). But that is why the fashionable man must learn to use subtlety to his advantage. :)