Friday, April 28, 2017

To Bend or To Break?

That is the question. And of course, I mean The Rules.

I've long dabbled in personal style, which is kind of like fashion but without adherence to trends. I suppose that I've just never been one who colors in the lines because I'm told to. Sure, I'll crayola nicely if that fits what I'm going for, but never explicitly "just because". Creative expression is just far too big for that, and innovation demands risk.

On learning that I deal in vintage clothing, many men over the years have asked me if I buy/sell menswear-- my reply has always been that I don't, but would someday like to. Perhaps most women wouldn't have an interest there, but I've long had a unique relationship with suits, velvet smoking jackets and wingtips: Most who know him, would say that my instincts towards style come from my Dad. Through him, I've been around the menswear block a time or two, spending quite a bit of my growing up years wandering through racks of jackets and ties while he browsed. Perhaps that's also where I've gotten my aversion to conventional shopping-- I pretty much never shop in malls or chain stores. Mostly this is because I discovered that I could find basically the same thing at Goodwill or an Estate sale. Really the only time I'll pay full price these days is for handmade or fair trade-- which proves to be more unique, more cost effective, ethically responsible and better quality in the long run.

Somehow in all those years of menswear exposure though, I've only recently started thinking of  men's fashion in the same way that I do women's-- that if there are Rules, they should at least be bent a little. These recent thoughts stemmed naturally from now having a man in my life, one who blessedly has a style of his own. We were having a conversation about his wedding attire, and I mused about whether a short sleeve dress shirt could be worn under a suit jacket (because I really like his half sleeve tattoos and think it might be nice to see them in some of the pictures).  The truth, as always with clothing, is "of course you can!". But is it good, beneficial, pleasing to the individual in question? That's the real issue that remains to be seen.

Sidebar disclaimer: I've always found the practice of women dressing men, to be distasteful. Just as it's distasteful for men to dress women. To each their own. Though I'm excited about his choices, Jon's attire for the wedding has indeed been his choice. I always want to honor that in him. :)

After some quick Googling, I came across several sources arguing a resounding "No." to the short sleeves topic (well la-ti-da!), and one on the opposite side, titled, "Don't Fear the Short-Sleeved Shirt". Wow, this sounds like a serious phobia that needs cracking!

The negative sources were mostly menswear forum posts about the topic-- at least someone asked the question, so I'm not alone! Most of the responses were snobbishly negative and sounded a lot to me like, "never wear white after Labor Day". Give me a break. Somehow I thought menswear wouldn't be quite as chock full of silly faux paux rules as women's, but it seems I was wrong.

For most of my life I've had to weather morning comments like "are you really wearing that?", or "but those don't match". But once I walked out into the real world, I found that there are others who get it, or at the very least found my style refreshing. There are also those that don't get it, and that's okay. At the end of the day, who are we getting dressed for? Why do we wear what we do?

The sad truth is that often meaningless "because that's the way it is" statements rule our culture. I think perhaps (in style and other things) we need to delve deeper into the why. Some of those guidelines do have substance and worth, but others don't. As I always seem to come back to: balance is everything.

D e t a i l s
{ jacket } - thrifted
blouse } - vintage, for sale at Novel Nellie
{ skirt } - vintage, coming soon to Novel Nellie
{ heels } - vintage, thrifted

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