I have never been a fan of magazines for males like GQ. I also abandoned the Playboy Philosophy early on. ” Come up to my pad, and see the etchings while I spin some California Cool Jazz and chill a magnum” wasn’t going to happen while I wore ratty jeans and lugged the guitar around from folkie coffeehouse to crummy dive bar. Besides, in those days Busking in dive bars and street corners did not require high couture. So my sense of style was rather individual and budget limited.

Quite a few years later, I noted at boat shows that many young men were in Wooden Boat Chic. Boat chic for the wooden boat crowd did not mean earlier generations’ gray tropical wool twill slacks, a blue blazer, and yacht cap. Instead, on display were tastefully ratty but very expensive foul weather gear, LL Bean accouterment, and a rarely used rigger’s knife prominently displayed in a sheath or lanyard. I was barely making booth fees and wondered what source of capital supplied the wealth for these aspirant Ishmaels. Then I remembered the biblical verse reminding us that the wealthy will always be with us.

Wearing another’s threads has always been a way of expressing identity while solidly within the ranks of conformists. If you don’t know where you are going style-wise, if there is no sense of pulsion in a particular direction, there is no harm in appropriating one as a place to start. Just don’t let it rest at that point forever.

Being novel or dressing with a touch of pizazz does not necessarily require great economic resources, but it does require some sense of who you are. If the threads fit poorly on your body, it is one thing, but if they are ill-fitting on your personality, that’s another.

This sense of self-style won’t develop in a week, month or year. You don’t have to purchase from high-priced stores or catalogs to attain your look. Instead, I’ve seen people put together grand-style statements from high-end second-hand stores, Salvation Army, and church thrift stores.

The important thing? A sense of genuineness – that you look at home in yourself, not like an imposter.

9 Replies to “Style”

  1. Someone gave my son a subscription to GQ when he was about 14. I read it to study the propaganda. My favorite was a picture “how to dress so women think you know how to use your tools”, which had a guy in carhartts and workboots and a work shirt… they would be completely laughed at here, since even MY carhartts have paint stains and worn knees, and I only work on my boat under protest. City boys, good luck faking it.

    1. There are lots of people running around with little self knowledge. Let’s pity them, they are clueless, and need to steal what they can’t legitimately lay claim to.

      1. haha! Oh yeah, Lou! Banish any thoughts you had of a bunch of old retired people just sitting around. We bring it, baby!

  2. Good advice for both sexes! At 5″2.5″ (once..), all the cool midi-skirts were maxi-skirts on me: No go. However, in the 80s I worked with a tiny 20-year old secretary who apparently believed in tailoring. She absolutely nailed HER chic — exclusively via thrift and vintage shops! Sweater sets, or a turn-up collar blouse with a boiled wool sweater jauntily a-shoulder, midi-skirts (sometimes with tights), cute flats or pumps — all topped off with unique her-chic (and her-sized) accessories; I marveled day after day!

  3. You are absolutely correct!
    Not too far from me in Newburyport there is a high end mens used clothes store. during the winter they shop the estate sales in florida, and in summer sell the stuff in Newburyport. Between them, a few thrift stores, and a tailor you can throw together a bespoke wardrobe for three hundred dollars.
    It’s also where I find my more shocking Hawaiian shirts!

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