Tag Archives: fashion

Rest in Peace Glenn O’Brien

As a 14 year old struggling for a small slice of social acceptance I used to flip through the pages of GQ magazine. Mostly I would just look at ads in search of the perfect haircut thinking that if I could get my own just right, maybe I could one day be as cool as these guys looked. No. That isn’t quite true. I was mostly just hoping to get just a little bit closer to cool but I knew I would never really get there. So I just flipped through the pages looking not reading.IMG_2747

Except for this one column, “The Style Guy”.

I grew up in a world where people were very much judged by what they were wearing, but almost no one knew a thing about style. It was just her skirt is too short, His pants are too saggy, and what brand is that? I was aware enough to know I was clueless and too ignorant to really know where to look for guidance. My father could tell me exactly what someone might have been wearing in 1825 Wyoming, or the importance of socks while hiking, but would then communicate that thinking about clothes at school was too trivial to be concerned with. Mom could point out a Mondrian or a Rembrandt but had no interest in either Coco or Chanel.

My only hope was Matt Hilbig.36654_1511282859621_2937488_n

Matt lived around the corner and taught me that you could buy boat shoes at Payless and no one would ever know they weren’t Bass. He also taught me that you could find everything from GQ ads in Nordstrom, but that my money was probably more in line with J. Riggins. Matt was the source of all of my practical and tactical sartorial lessons- but he was also 14.

Then I discovered the Style Guy.backyardbill_glenObrien42

As I got older it was The Style Guy that answered questions I never knew I should ask, and that even if I knew to ask, I had no one around who could answer. He explained to me the difference between a barrel and a French cuff, which one might assume everyone would know but I didn’t. He taught me what a contrast collar is and helped me understand that they probably aren’t for me. Above all he taught me that I could think about this kind of stuff without just trying to imitate some external norm or marching in some sort of conformist regimental order… and how to do so without being an idiot.IMG_1916

I had been reading the Style Guy for quite some time before I learned that he was that one grown up who used to show up on MTV talking about news. It was long after that when I learned this guy grew out of the Andy Warhol Basquiat punk rock New York and into the suit wearing wingtip world of GQ, without doing some sort of image dance that wasn’t really him. This man was amazing.

I have to say was because yesterday he passed away and I have lost the best teacher I ever had in how to be less of a dork, while still being me. He was the best.

 

 

 

Matt, you were second best. Just sayin.

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Brohammas Goes to Wine Country: Temecula

Wine isn’t just a beverage, or even an industry, it is a country. It is of course those other things too, but since that first day a zillion years ago when someone decided to drink a bottle of spoiled grape juice the whole world has been spending inordinate amounts of time and real estate on grapes.

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Half way between San Diego and Riverside is Southern California’s version of Tuscany. Or maybe its another version of Sonoma, or Napa, wherever it is like, it is called Temecula and I went there.

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I spent three days at the Carter Estates and didn’t drink a drop of wine. I did however guzzle about a gallon of root beer and ate my weight in cheese. But I was not alone and there were plenty of others to make sure the wine didn’t go to waste.

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Any place that has that much cheese is great with me, and the idea that it might be the sort of place where an ascot could be worn made me a fan.

An ascot. In real life.

Wine helps people do all sorts of things.img_7456

Like fly in hot air balloons. It was more than a hundred years ago that some French folks broke humans free from Terra firma, and since that time we have developed other things like airplanes and the ability to steer. Yet somehow people still climb into combustible unsteerable baskets and go up into the sky.

Wine.

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There was of course some swirling and sniffing, lots of toasting and nibbling, but most of all, there was an ascot.

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Perspective

My wife calls it “Fakebook.” I call it “intentional online messaging.” It is that thing we do where we present an image online of our most happy and prosperous selves.rxbg5470

For example, I have only beat this “Jared Raynor” in chess twice out of 200 hundred games. But I did in fact beat him and I think it no coincidence that I did so on the same day we met this guy on the street. It is also no coincidence that I have not previously posted screen shots of my losses. No coincidence at all.

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I do not eat this beautifully all the time. But sometimes I do. I assume you have no interest in my peanut butter jelly sandwiches. They are neither artisan nor farm-to-table. They are pedestrian sliced bread Jiffy spread things best stuffed in elementary school lunches not posted anywhere on anything.

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This is because I am a positive guy and my online life is not my life. My online presentation may be derived from reality but is not, nor has it ever been my, or anyone’s totality.img_2756

So I share the things and places that are good and worth knowing. worth doing, Possibly worth replicating. Like Leo’s successful execution of California casual unintentionally blending with my living room decor. That is worth replicating.

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But not everything is interesting or good or presentable. I choose mostly the good. I choose this so that when I present the bad, perhaps it might get some notice. Maybe when travel tips and food pics gets crashed by the realities of racism, some of us will take an extra pause to consider.

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Maybe we will do more than consider and we will act. We will do something. Act. Exert. Do good.

So I spare you my morning breath and laundry laden bedroom floor. You don’t need to see my kid’s mistakes or my neighbor’s noise. Because so-what. Who cares.

What you should know is that I find double monk strap cap-toe shoes to be incredibly versatile. They dress up and down like a grown up but not an old man. You should know that Bodega Louie is the best pastry in town.

And you should know that racism is real and we should do something about that.img_6726

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@Sunflowerman

image2Matthew Miller is a semi-nomadic menswear illustrator. He is the only one I have ever met, which is according to him, because he is the only one. This is probably true. Now there may be some illustrators who work in fashion including menswear, or some semi-nomads who also paint, but I believe Matt when he says he is the only one who actually makes a living off of doing just that one thing-menswear illustration. This making a living thing is important here because by all accounts he does in fact make one and is semi-nomadic because he can be and not because he is homeless.  I have not done any market research or investigation of my own, mostly because I don’t care; I just find his work and his story interesting.

Miller is a Midwestern kid who was always into art and when he came of age he decided to go off to college. No one in his family had ever been to college before so when he chose to go to art school as opposed to business or pre-law, no one was concerned. It was after all, still college. It was while at SCAD in Atlanta that the artist took an interest in clothing. Oddly enough this interest started with his first pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars. They were the first item of clothing he loved and he wore them to death. He has since learned to love hats and watches as well. And as is the case with most artists who are young and not yet financially burdened, he painted what he loved.

Now comes the interesting part.IMG_3279

This young art student started walking into menswear shops and pitching his work. It worked. He painted for H. Stockton, did a bit of blogging via Instagram and such, till Marcus Troy invited him to a trade show and ta-da, he was a professional. Now he does work for Maurice Lacroix, Carlos Santos, ONS Clothing, and M. Gemi. Thanks to these folks Miller  and his companion have been globetrotting, painting, and if our meeting at LA’s Grand Central Market is any indication, they have been generally enjoying themselves.IMG_3283

Miller does not present himself as a menswear expert, nor am I convinced he is trying to become one. He did not pontificate on this aesthetic or that, nor did he critique my shoes. He did say he thinks watches are “magical” but I think he was talking about gears not fashion.image1

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Manly Men are and Have Been Dandies

… and for the record I own none of these images nor have I had a hand in their creation. They are just here to illustrate a point.

Dandy is not normally meant as a compliment when directed toward a man. It is considered calling the masculinity of the accused into question. I find this curious.DandyCutout

Maybe the man’s clothing show a little too much flair, a bit too fancy, overly decorated, maybe even froofy in the opinion of manliness police. Calling someone a dandy is often the same as, or at least overlapping with, soft, feminine… gay. Interesting.armor

Now in most cases, someone who would call another man a dandy- or metrosexual, or flamboyant, or prissy- in a derogatory way would also think gay to be bad. I have no intention of dealing with anyone’s opinion of homosexuality here, but I would like to address this curious connection with hetero normative masculinity and fancy clothes.custer-portrait

Clothing does not in fact make the man, or even make someone a man. I say this not to deny that humans signal or communicate when clothing themselves (very much the opposite), but rather to challenge what many think the messaging of frilly clothing means relating to hetero-normative masculinity.george-catlin-iowas

There is a stream of popular American culture that for some reason thinks decorated clothes, or colors such as pink, communicate femininity or weakness. This makes me chuckle. It makes me laugh not because anyone has accused me of dressing less manly (I don’t personally like flamboyant clothes or excessively decorated outfits), but rather because it is historically silly.Teddy-Roosevelt-Was-the-Toughest-Person-Ever

This tends to be normal for anyone mocking someone else for not fitting some imagined standard. Most mockers are ignoring their own shortcomings, however they measure that standard.

Warriors throughout the ages and across many cultures, have exerted hetero masculinity, strength, and aggressiveness… as well as an abundance of feathers, ribbons, and makeup.samuraiWe kid ourselves that armor and military regalia is utilitarian. Plumes on helms deflect sword blows. A forged metal face plate is only for protection, or maybe a touch of intimidation. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Guys wear that stuff because they think it looks cool.hawaiian-tattoo-on-left-chest

Which is great because in most, or at least many, cases it does look cool… but also super fancy. Super decorated, just for looks, non utilitarian, fancy. I’m okay with this. I understand that such clothing tells me little, or likely nothing, about anyone’s orientation, strength, virility… but it does tell me quite a bit about their taste.Birdman-rapper

And I don’t need to have the same tastes as you. That is okay.mma-karma-elite-daily-800x400

I don’t have to be like you, or like you, but if I don’t (like you) my complaints should not be tied to your clothes.slide_308704_2702404_free

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Wherever You are, Be There: on campus

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Tweed because one should never be above a stereotype, scarf because this is California and you have to capitalize on scarf opportunities (when it dips below 50 degrees), and surly look because you kid yourself that this balances out otherwise pretentious behavior.

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White Shoes and Picasso

Most people don’t realize that Picasso really knew how to paint. He is known for being the chief inspiration of people worldwide saying “My five year old could paint that”, but what these critics don’t know, or rather one of the many things they don’t know, is that those squashed square faces with yes on the sides of their heads were painted that way for a reason other than lack of skill. They were intentional. That is the right word, intentional.picasso

I was given a white pair of shoes for Christmas. They were, or rather are, great; no logo, all leather lace ups with a cap toe. So I wore them, on Christmas. I wore them again in January and again in February all the way up through March. I’m not wearing them today; not right now. Right now I’m wearing brown shoes with my navy suit because I’m not wearing a tie. Had I on a tie I would be wearing black shoes.IMG_1072

I’m in no way a Picasso but I know a little bit about how to paint. When it comes to painting I know what sort of images I like and I know the limits of my abilities. With some more work and training I could probably further my abilities, and with more money I could definitely further my collection, but for now I’m alright. For now I have no problem wearing white shoes in the winter. Mostly I’m okay with this because right now I live in Southern California.

I know the rule that you aren’t supposed to wear white shoes, or pants or whatever after Labor Day or before Memorial Day. I get it. I’m all for seasonal dressing and it makes perfect sense if you live in a place that actually has seasons. Most rules grew out of reason and in my mind keeping or breaking the rules should be based in those same reasons, not in simple obedience. Not that I am off hand against obedience; not at all. But I have seen how obedience to trends and norms and magazines and television has led to giant big box stores and people in LA wearing pea coats in February.

I love pea coats. LOVE them. But I don’t love them when it is sunny, dry, no wind, and it is 75 degrees. Where I live now it is almost always 75 degrees and because of this, though I love my pea coat, I mostly miss it. I also miss snow pants. In the office I miss gym shorts and while at the gym I miss my blazer. At the beach I miss tweed and in snowstorms I miss linen.IMG_9317 (18)

I see it most pronounced when I venture to the mall (an evil suburban necessity). I see trends and groups much more than I see people. This is normal. All people, no matter how individualistic, follow some sort of group pattern or norm, I’m okay with this. What I am less okay with is that prevailing norms appear dictated by some odd unnamed other who is obviously somewhere else who appears to be dictating what everyone should be wearing. Tight clothes, loose clothes, warm clothes, cool clothes, collar up or collar down, all worn without regard to situation, unless of course that situation is defined narrowly by magazine ads, box store mannequins, and TMZ.

Mannequins and advertisements trump body type and climate. We should all learn a little bit more, how to paint. For instance the wearing of stripes and or tights (which are not pants) may best be determined by body type than celebrity imitation. Sportswear and accompanying gear may best be determined by activity rather than brand popularity. Color, composition, and form, should come before cubism or pop art exposition.IMG_3507

And while I live in a year round sunny desert clime, I will wear white… and do a lot of laundry because I will also eat salsa.

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