There’s an unwritten code in fashion. It’s the scrambling and rambling of a self absorbed madman. The kind of inner child that enables Lord John Marbury to storm the white house armed with a disheveled pocket square and reading glasses on an antique Victorian chain and somehow allow this witty juvenile to sustain even a shred of human decency. You see, fashion to most of us is an idea. It’s a thought; a thought that dares us to the unexpected, the witty, and the ant-benign. There is however a difference between business casual and business ridiculous. Fashion, for all its woes and throes I’m afraid, is the main culprit.
|This wont turn the heads you want..|
I heard a man once tell me about wearing a bow tie and fancy suspenders to an interview. He swore up and down that it would set him apart from the other candidates. He would no longer be known as the man from Pen State... nay, he would be the man with the bow tie and fancy suspenders. Somehow this was better than being Jack, a candidate, better than actually being suited for the job at hand. Now, the next thing you know Jack's the guy that wore the bow tie, not Jack from St Louis, or jack the witty, the clever, the brilliant - the Bow Tie Guy. If you want to wear a bow tie, do it, own it - but don't become the bow tie. It's you, not a pasta shaped neck piece. Remember that.
Defending individuality doesn't come with a sword and shield, it comes from simply staying true to what, and who you are.
|The lodge is not equal to the office. |
In this constant fight of style and soul there will be changes, there will be hurdles, and there will be challenges. There’s a way to adopt a fashion minded front, and still retain your nature, it just takes temperament. Nevertheless, I understand the plight of the soul searching fashion victim, and in many, many ways defend him from the masses. But we really shouldn't get get ideas on our meeting attire from Ralph Lauren's winter collection center piece, well…at least not in full force. There’s something your boss and coworkers will find offensive about faded corduroys tucked into your wool socks and up-laced duck boots.
Fashion is a raging trend of purpose, a change in the wind or the rising of the tide - and just like a pot of swirling water, swimming against the grain will in time, lead to a new grain. The same is true in most things. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is trying to make you something else is the greatest of achievements”. So, do yourself and Ralph a favor - instead of the plaid jacket, how about a plaid pocket square – or a pair of Cole Haan Duck shoes with tasteful dark cords and a brown herring bone jacket? Gimmicks aren't fashion, they aren't style – there just gimmicks. Bosses don't typically promote gimmicks, they promote free thinkers and go getters.
|Gingham and Plaid are better as accessories|
than jacket colors
Still, there’s a line between swimming against the grain and all out jumping out of the pot. I don’t care how awesome that plaid jacket looks on the mannequin in the store’s window, it’s not for the board meeting. The same should be said for scarfs indoors. Remember, is business casual, not business ridiculous. The general rule of thumb is actually quite simple, if you wouldn't wear it as part of your usual ensemble, or on a date with a prospective lady; don’t wear it at work when you’re trying to impress the clients with your savvy. Gimmicks have a way of taking over, becoming more about the trick than the man. Rolled suit pants and saddle shoes aren't avant garde – they’re ridiculous – unless you’re sitting on the beach with a mao-tai – in which case, impressing anyone at all shouldn't be on the radar.
I've said it many, many times. Style and fashion may be related, but there aren't on each other’s favorite caller lists. Charles Bukowski, the famed American poet once said, “Style is the answer to everything; a fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing. To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it. To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.”
Be that as it may, in the end – it’s how you own it that defines the little red line between fashion and style.