Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hoist Your Freak Flag

For awhile now I've been hounding Mark to create some guest posts for my blog, firstly because men's fashion is sorely underrepresented in the blogging world, and secondly because I'm trying to bring some variety to the blog by sprinkling in guest posts and other features in addition to the daily outfits. So without further ado, here is Mark's contribution.

Very little separates one shirt or pants, or even shoe from another, and visitors from other planets would conclude that most every male human shops for clothes at exactly the same three places. I was at a festival this summer on the Central Coast, and I noticed that the guys were almost lockstep uniform in their expression of individuality. Through clenched teeth I muttered that the sight of one more RVCA hoodie and generic graphic t-shirt was going to send me over the edge. I had visions of sabotaging them with Supersoaker filled with highlighter pink paint, the way animal rights activists stain baby seals to keep furriers from clubbing them to death.

Fortunately, I live in a San Francisco where people can wear literally whatever they want and not be a freak. Well, at least if they are they have plenty of company. Guys not only can get away with wearing things outside of the proverbial box, it is encouraged. There are plenty of local designers to fill a growing demand for creative stuff that doesn’t look like it came from a mall or a department store, but also isn’t cheesy costume wear. Another source to find unique and interesting looks is in combining vintage items with new ones.

I confess it’s taken me a while to work up the nerve to be a little different. I might be noticed (gasp). It’s best done gradually so as not to shock the cerebro-nervous system and cause painful separation anxiety with your current wardrobe, most items of which look just like the next one. One example of versatile and colorful menswear I found not long ago is a vintage, early to mid 1960’s suit. It was deadstock, meaning it was still brand new, never worn, and older than I am. The blazer is a dark yellow plaid pattern with green and blue pinstripes, and the pants are a solid dark gold. I found it by chance, and it fit as though it had been custom tailored for me. Women seem to know more than men do when clothing is just meant to go live with them. This was one of those.

The suit is remarkably versatile, and by mixing different combinations I can get at least a half dozen or more outfits with it. First, it works great as a suit with a solid matching shirt and color-compatible tie, and a pair of vintage oxblood wingtips – all of which I found at thrift stores. Secondly, the suit can be casualized such as pictured with a pair of jeans, a blue-striped Nautica shirt, and a pair of red and green John Fluevog shoes.
Also shown here, it can be dressed up modern-like with a pair of new Heathen jeans with a side-stripe, a black & yellow striped Marimekko shirt, and classic black boots by Frye. Even the look of the matched jacket and pants of the suit changes dramatically with a bolder shirt and contrasting tie, such as the pictured red-white vintage shirt. To completely change the look, I swapped the jacket for a vintage teal one, and slipped into some dark brown modern Rockports.

Shopping for vintage clothing or even thrifting is mostly an exercise in patience and training your eyes to see past the mountains of crap, but it's worth the effort.


Mervat said...

Welcome Mark! Did you notice how beautifully colour co-ordinated you are with the blog layout?

Unknown said...

Great post Mark!I once had to help an ex-boyfriend of mine find a pair of smart black pants. There were literally 3 choices; flat front, pleated front and oh I don't even remember the 3rd one but it didn't help. They all tapered in exactly the same way. I was horrified. Now I really appreciate a man who dresses well as I realise how difficult it is for you guys. LOVE the striped shirt combination. Keep 'em coming.

Jean said...

Great post Mark, thank you! It takes a lot of confidence to stand out (something I've never done) but you do it beautifully. Bravo!

Lorelei said...

Love the look with the striped shirt! Well done!

Anonymous said...

Mark, you rule. (As you well know.) Thank you for encouraging the guys in our lives to push their boundaries and explore a little.

Chan @ Chanmeleon said...

Great article! I'm going to send this to my boyfriend - he once told me he would dress "more like himself" if he had money. You don't need money - just hit the thrift stores!

Also, you are very cute. (Audi - lucky girl!)

Sheila said...

My husband will love this post - he has a plaid jacket very similar in colours to this one (it's a Tommy Hilfigger, bought on clearance years ago), and he is not afraid of colour.

It is so nice to see a man who isn't afraid to stand out! I am very lucky to have a husband who loves to get dressed up (he is a little shy about being on my blog, but I have a link on my sidebar called "Dressing up your man" which features a bunch of his clothes - I think you would approve.

Bravo, Mark! I hope we will see some of your other cool outfits!