Monday, November 8, 2010

What Went Wrong?

Let's take a theoretical world. Everyone dresses in a uniform 1984 style. None of this personal style crap, just clean cut. Take American individualism and the desire to consume differently than others out of it. Everyone eats the same food, wears the same briefs, and wakes up at the same time every morning. Then, out of somewhere awesome, someone starts to do things differently. Underwear is put on backwards, cookies are for breakfast, and said person rolls out of bed at noon; just in time to miss the staff meeting.

Unfortunately, this is not where menswear has come from the past few years. Uniforms? They're out the window. Individualism? It's rampant to the point of bad taste.

Collections tend to want to progress with the male. They take him from his basics one season, onto the stripes and patterns the next. They seem to be trying to help him build his style. Here's the problem. People buy individually, and buy into the advanced seasons, thus missing the point of actually building the basics. JCrew falls into this problem this season.


Credits to SF

Awkward three button or 3/2 roll jackets (they're loosely ironed, meaning that you should be individual and unkept), tuxedo orphans, and silly hipster hoodies abound.

All this? All this would be great if menswear were coming from that theoretical world described above. As mentioned previously, it's not. It's coming from a world where men wore whatever they wanted. And now if they wear a collar, it's quite the step up. Dressing like Frank suggests isn't much more individual than wearing flippy flops and a trucker hat. Sprezzatura is not going from Threadless t-shirts to undone french cuffs flopping around your wrists. It's not mismatching a tuxedo jacket with your pants. It's not throwing a bunch of crap together because the male should be an individual.

Brands like JCrew need to spend time perfecting the basics. It's not going to happen after one season. It'll probably take five.

Maybe menswear needs to spend some time in North Korea.


  1. A-fuckin'-men. Why can't I buy the same damn basic pants I bought 5 years ago, now that this pair has worn out? Why isn't there always a basic merino v-neck or cardigan that fits perfectly out there?

    It's already this bad for women. You should hear my wife complain about the damn ruffle fixation of the last few years.

  2. I don't really agree with the sentiments of this post. J. Crew always offers a full line of basics. Maybe you don't like the fit of their knits, but they always have a wide selection of merino, cashmere, AND cotton cashmere v neck and crew necks. They offer entire lines of basics every season. They obviously arent going to waste their time and show a bunch of basics in their previews. They show what is relatively new and different for the upcoming seasons. Similar to a runway show, you aren't going to love every look and they aren't all going to be practical or wearable.

  3. 'Sprezzy'? The most sprezzatura thing I've seen in a while...

  4. The undone french cuffs are just awful. Awful.

  5. For you VB, it's been fixed... and the incomplete sentences.

    @Anon: Basics need to be good. They're not good by any meaning of the word.

  6. Maybe we don't need a FULL LINE of basics. How about a few basics that fit well and don't wear out as fast. I'd pay more for that even if it was made in China. What they are basically doing is force feeding us "trendy" and "new" for a profit and letting the core stuff go by the wayside. It's lazy is what it is. I basically have to buy 2 or 3 of whatever I decide I like that season because it will pretty much be gone and replaced by a lesser than. Asinine!

  7. not to mention j.crew's recent plug for new balances. since when did comfy frat boy campus shoes become stylish? frank is getting crazy these days. a caveat though, they're still the best of the mall store brands. hands down.

  8. Don't you realize? It's the perfect sales medium! Most guys, even ones we see on the regular, don't really have good personal style, meaning that their drive comes from within and not from lookbooks and seasonal previews. The guys with true personal style are wearing the same gear, not because they saw it on a model, or because menswear bloggers and lookbooks telling them it's the thing to wear, they wear it because they like it and it fits in with their personal style.

    It's one of the reasons I could honestly give a shit about what's trending in menswear. One of my favorite lines from FYM is still "you think I give a fuck about chambray"? I don't, and I probably never will. Just like J. Crew's and others floppy-ass previews. Let the other guys buy it up, I'll thrift that shit three years from now and look better in it than they ever did.

    It's kind of like politics, sometimes you get all riled up about it and follow everything that's going on, then after a while you realize it's all the same old stuff that's been going on forever. You then retreat knowing your own beliefs and keep on doing your own thing. Most guys with real style will sometimes surface briefly into the trends, grab what they like then go back to whatever they were doing before.

    Also, I was doing undone french cuffs in high school, shits played out son. Run tell that homebay Frank.

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