26 October 2009

A Confluence of Styles

I tend to get heaped in with the "trad" or "ivy" bloggers. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, I guess. But it is a situation that I refuse to feed and have tried to avoid. Notice, I avoid such terminology like the plague, It's not that I see anything wrong with "trad" or "ivy"...its not that I don't fully understand how I came to be categorized as such...it's just that I've always felt that pigeon-holing ran anathema to true style. I also believe that style is an ever evolving thing, a constantly changing confluence of all the good things one has seen and experienced in life. Get ready, and take your grain of salt now, I'm about to pontificate. Today's get-up provides me with a good spring-board for my arguments:
I usually like to keep it fairly classic, but hell, I'm still young, so out come the jeans. Besides, there's been a lot of dusty, dirty work on the job lately...so I wear work pants.
Not to be a sloppy chump, I pair said work pants with an oxford and bow tie. Bow ties are great when there's dirty work to be done, they stay out of your way.

And since I was on my feet for an excessive amount of time today, rubber soled shoes were definitely in order...like these three toned saddle shoes, a gift from Toad (where the hell are you, Toad?)

I tend to go through phases. I bet the head-shrinks have a drug fro that now. Let me give you a brief rundown of my sartorial phases:

- At age 7, I asked for a sport jacket for my birthday. Mom and Dad obliged with a navy blazer.

-I went to a Jesuit, all boys high school. Considering that, our dress code was amazingly lax: no blue jeans, and a collar on your shirt. Even sneakers were permitted. I wore a suit and tie everyday.

-I worked in a Boston men's haberdashery, ages 16-19.

-In my twenties, I discovered punk rock, a look more fraught with rules and specifics that any kind of "trad". Tight jeans, studded belts, big boots, leather jackets, funny dyed hair...you name it, I did it.

-Then came rock-a-billy, which is kind of like "trad" punk. Crisp jeans, shiny shoes, rigidly combed hair, and so on...

-and now this.

My point is not to "blow my own horn" as it were, but to admit that my current sense of things is the result of all these other things, and will continue to change in the future as I find and become obsessed with still more things, but (hopefully) will always be an expression of myself.

-Jesuit high school taught me comportment.

-Haberdashery taught me...well, just read the damn blog.

-Punk taught me the importance of the right jeans, and the beauty of something that is perfectly worn out and tattered. (Funny, WASP's and punks have their love of the old and worn in common)

-Rock-a-billy taught me to work with the natural wave in my hair, rather than fight it.

-Blogging taught me that there are no end of cool takes by cool folks on the kind of things I like.

-Who knows what the next thing is?

I try to avoid terms like "trad", "ivy", or "punk" because they are way too restrictive, and to me, style is not about restriction. Quite the opposite, it should be about freedom. Look around you, and absorb that which is "cool". Use this knowledge to your advantage. The minute you decide not to wear something, or do something, because it doesn't meet the rules of whatever "thing" you're into this year, it's time to step back and take a breath. Think of the bad-ass people you've known. It's always been about a combination of an eye for quality and the confidence to be a little weird.

Hasn't it?


Young Fogey said...

Another great post.

Sweet tie! It's a batwing and not a butterfly, right?

We, your loyal readers, may not always agree with your sartorial choices, but we always appreciate the flair with which you do it.

Your observation that punk has an enormous number of rules is right on the mark. Funny how some people think they're being rebels and non-conformists by following rules other than those which society at large condones.

Anonymous said...

this was your best post and outfit in a while. love the saddles!

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Yet again, someone equates rule-following with loss of freedom.

Rules are a reference point. They provide a visual vocabulary. Someone who rejects an item because it breaks the rules isn't necessarily a slave to the rules. Maybe he *likes* the rules, and although he breaks them at times, this isn't one of those times.

Try it in another context: refusing to top pizza with lettuce and taco meat *because that's not how pizza is done* is a perfectly good policy and not one a person should feel uncool about embracing. Doesn't mean you're a slave to pizza history.

Kim said...

I've found you definitely have more freedom to write whatever strikes your fancy if you're not "labeled". I get thrown in with the "preppy bloggers" and the "mom bloggers".

Mainly, I'm just a boring blogger who writes whatever I happen to be thinking about that day. At least there's no pressure to find something that's pink and green to showcase everyday. With a discount.

james at 10engines said...

in complete agreement here...

re punk etc, am always amused at their espousement of "anarchy"... yes we'll be anarchic, immediately after we get on the bus at its scheduled time and head to the DSS to receive dole money... smash the system (not).

great stuff Mr. G.

DAM said...

Pretty cool evolution of your own style - from breaking it down by ages to the lessons it taught.


Anonymous said...

I have found that wearing a bow tie in these times...especially as a young man of 40 here in fargo ND takes on a rather punk ethos.
people are especially taken by the percieved incongruity of wearing a bow tie to a non-formal occasion let alone work (seeing as a bow tie here is something one wears to a wedding or prom with a rented tux)The existence of self tie bowties is also something that amazes people.

C said...

Good post G. Not being affiliated with Trad or Ivy is probably a good idea, and certainly hasn't done anything to hurt your popularity.

Nice bow too. And wow, that blue on your shoes is slamming. Didn't notice that the first time through

Giuseppe said...


Sorry, I accidentally rejected your comment. Apologies.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have hair! I'm not sure I've seen you without a cap before. Looks good.

Kurt, you made me double sigh. I don't know how you figured from the post that Giuseppe is saying that there are no rules in style. He's saying he's not a stickler for one particular style like a textbook Trad. How his style has changed over the years informs his own rules and how he blends things. Anyone with a sense of style does this. You have to know how to edit and come up with your own thing. He's clearly coming up with some good stuff within his own guidlines. I hate it when people don't get the point.

kckclassic said...

this was an excellent post. I also dislike the internet infighting of "trad" and "ivy", though it can be amusing seeing the different camps taking potshots at each other.

ScottyAlexander said...

Love the outfit, G. I've been thinking about my own style evolution lately. I'm 22 but I've followed quite a winding road to get to my current style. Your post today made me come to a clearer realization of how everything's come together in terms of style and life events. Thanks again for the inspiration!

Young Fogey said...

Wouldn't this have been the perfect time to have worn your dirty white bucks?

Not that there's a problem with the saddle shoes or anything.

A said...

sounds like my high school, did you go to Xaverian Brothers in Westwood, MA? Tell me you did!

which haberdashery?

The Cordial Churchman said...

I think I have to side (slightly) with Kurt above. I decided against flip flops every time I went into public this summer--for the first time in my life. So am I being a square? Shall I step back and take a breath? And it's all because of a "thing" I'm into this year, namely, the rather unpopular notion that grown ups should dress like grown ups.

I agree with your post on the whole; just not this notion of relaxing and not deciding-against.

Having said that, I get lots of ideas (including many "rule-breakers") from you.

Great bow tie. Speaking of which, your readers and you may be interested in the bow tie giveaway happening at Ellie's blog: http://ellielaveer.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/free-bow-tie-giveaway/

Giuseppe said...

What I meant was rules are both useful and necessary, but they should be viewed only as guidelines. What I meant was, if you fall for something, but it doesn't fit the rules, thats no reason not to give it a go, if you really like it. Its that kind of blending of influence that leads to a personal style.

Back in the punk days, I would have conversations with so many kids who pretended not to like Led Zeppelin, even though secretly they did, because they were 'hippies' and hence against the rules of 'punk'. Absurdity!

Catch my drift?

As for the caps, anon. 12:43, I usually keep them on in the phots because they are an accessory in the outfit.

Pitboss12 said...

Still love the blog whatever the label. You might get heaped in with the Trad/Ivy blogs but you don't put out the pompous air that some seem to have. You make it all seem effortless and natural where others are definitely trying too hard.

Really funny that you call rockabilly "trad" punk. It's gets funnier the more I think about it.

Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Where do you get all this stuff? J. Crew and Polo are too expensive.

A said...

no Xaverian then?

L.A.S said...

haha, accidental rejections happen. They were some sincere words, so as long as you saw 'em were all good.

Unknown said...

I have followed your blog for over a year and never commented but have to now. I KNEW there was a Jesuit education in there somewhere! ha
One of my son's is a senior and I showed him your blog a few months ago and he loves it. Almost all that you post could relate directly to him! He is even in a band with the name "Thrift City" based on one of his favorite things to do.
Just thought I would finally comment and let you know your blog is one of my all time favs!

Unknown said...

Forgot to add that he also plans on an degree in Architecture. Too much in common!

Giuseppe said...


gotta keep some things secret.

you're son must be the coolest kid in school.

Andrew M. said...

I also have gone through phases in my style. Its kind of cool when you think about it. Style should be an always evolving thing, reflecting where you are at in life, where you have been, and where you are going. Very good post, this one really spoke to me (and I mean that in a non cheesey way)

Hill City Josh said...

This is a great post. Thank you for it.

I'm an aging (31) punk rocker myself. Shaved head, tattoos, the whole bit who also wears "trad" or "ivy" clothes (sorry) as much as I can. I love the fact that I can wear cords and suede bucks to work with my olive MA-1 flight jacket (I turned skinhead when I noticed they were like punks, but better dressed).

I used to struggle with the expectations that I'm "supposed" to look a certain way. I think as I've married, aged, and had a few kids that I no longer give a shit that someone might think my thrifted made-in-the-USA Land's End flannel shirts are not as "cool" as my Ben Sherman or Fred Perry.

I enjoy the challenge of mixing and matching the styles and creating something unique.

One of my favorites:

Suede bucks
Argyle socks
Levi's 505's
Ben Sherman plaid shirt
thrifted Pringle v-neck sweater
thrifted pea coat (with requisite Specials button on it)

Rules be damned!