In I Rant You Read

I Rant, You Read! Sagging

I'm trying to think of all the fashion & adornment trends over my years that caused angst, excitement and/or a mixture of both.  When focusing on the necks of the woods of my rearing, my mind leads me to things like the 'status-laden' eightball jacket or the influx of the pseudo-combat ready army field jacket in a bevy of US camo colors.  But what about the donning of neoprene masks that left the early 90's purse-snatching victim with the only recognizable trait being her culprit's beady eyes.  Or maybe even steel-toed Viking boots, the Triple-Fat goose or the shag hairstyle and clipper cuts in the eyebrow.  And ladies let's not forget (lest we repeat) the two-toned hair, nose rings or combat boots worn with hockey jersies complete with knee and elbow pads only for the daring.  It seems that trends, by definition, are always intent on riding the wave of the next, new and noteworthy.  What happens is that the most noteworthy go on to form the style definitions of a decade.  

However, I don't think that any one trend has gone on to become more than it was intended or affected the populus more than sagging.  That is, wearing your pants below your waist so that it exposes your underwear on purpose.  Now while the purpose for every trend might not be easily definable, the outcome of some trends reflect the thought processes (or lack thereof) of its trendsetters.  In this particular case, the adoption of sagging seems a reflection of popular culture.  That's right!  I feel you may have seen sagging first from the 'behind bars' sect but I believe that it persists now due to a sign of the times at how the hastened pace of society and all that we 'über-demand' truly leave power in the hands of the populace. 

Call it what you may.  Indecent, sloppy, non-traditional, hypersexual, shameful or immoral, it only reflects this internet-crazed, 'teeny bopper come millionaire', youth-obsessed, 'individuality rules' culture we're swimming in today.  Let's face it, isn't every word at the top of the previous sentence something that can be applied to society today?  However, as nauseating as it could be for some of you, the words liberating, trendy, rule-breaking, expressionistic and non-judgmental could also apply to society today.  However, I think the antagonists' main argument is that, 'should they?'.    

Sagging, like any abstraction from the standard or commonly understood or accepted norm of dressing, is a kind of rebellion.  It's a rebellion brought on by the realization that one can make their own rules by choosing to sensationalize their POV through the personal medium of dressing and adornment.  This argument calls to mind the angst brought on by dressing liberation of the 60's with peace signs and expressive tees.  Or possibly the slashes, cuts, cheeky political statements and deconstruction of traditional garb in the birth of British punk's seditionaries clothing.  However, what is lost in wardrobe expression today is the fact that because of the quick-changing, fleeting and 'today happened yesterday' attitudes, nothing done seems riddled with any rhyme or reason.  Rather, clothing expression seems obsessed with overexposure in a society that is constantly being forced to expose every visual nook and cranny of it's worth; thereby losing it. There seemed to be more reasons 'why' with trends of yesteryear; now it just seems 'because it's the style' with unexplainable extremes of overexposure.  Popular culture is intent on outdoing itself.

My two-cent take is that if you sag to express indifference to the accepted norm then make it your duty to at least educate yourself as to what the accepted norm is.  Attempt to try to have a lucid reason for why you dress the way you dress.  Be mindful of your 'true' size and proper fit in relation to how your body will look in the clothes.  If you're straight, then be aware of the homo-erotic aspect of drawing attention to your halfway points.  If you're in a work setting then be aware of the professional aspect of dressing to be taken seriously.  If you're a father then be aware of the young eyes watching you.  If you have to have one hand free to hold your pants up or walk at a snail's pace to keep your pants up, then realize how comical you come off.  If you're a bit 'bountiful' and insist on wearing skinny jeans, then for god-sakes take efforts to make sure your abundant flesh remains sheltered.  Now this does not mean that I feel that sagging should be taken to the point of being outlawed.  Clothing and adornment is always of and for the people; for the peoples' choices dictate silhouette, cut and the popular fashion.  People do have the right to wear their clothing the way they want to; it's just that so many of us wish they would choose differently, with more intelligence.  If those individuals realized the 'socio-implications' behind their choices that will be left on their legacies as individuals part of a whole then they'd see how it's oftentimes better to go against the grain with exposing your brain rather than your boxer shorts. 

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In I Rant You Read

I Rant, You Read! Patrick Robinson and The Gap

What drives your thought process when you enter a clothing store?  Dread or desire?  Maybe you're one of those individuals with money burning a hole in their pockets, where the only thing that can extinguish the interlined inferno is a perfect cordovan oxford or a slingback in buttery kidskin.  Perhaps you have a considerable amount of focus to where you know the store has a stack of cranberry v-necks on sale or even the most perfectly dyed coordinating murse or überpocketed tote couldn't draw your attention away from your targeted buy. 

Well I have a thought process in stores.  Stay away from the crowd!  Not necessarily because I may get trampled by tourists, 'mullers' and moms with carriages chasing after marked down twinsets but rather because I realize a lot of people don't know how to shop with connected visions.  Meaning that their goal is longevity but their selections guide them towards 'stylistically-fleeting-trend-driven-lore' with very little 'investment-stretch-your-buck' sensibility.  I think it takes an understanding of clothing and how they'll be wearing it, garment construction vs body construction (a 38F in a tube top..really???) and when and how to go high-low 'retail-istically'.

Designer Vivienne Westwood once said something that has stuck with me to this day.  In a telelvision program years ago she concluded that she didn't think it wise to accumulate hoards and hoards of cheap clothing.  Now while some things don't necessarily need to be acquired at ridiculously exorbitant prices (like Balmain's $1800 ripped 't-shirt' last spring) other things need to be purchased with some wardrobing intelligence, especially amongst those who travel more by means of self-driven car and rail rather than learjet.
Now I'm not about to unleash a lengthy syllabus for "How to Shop for everything from ascots to zoot suits in Today's Marketplace:101" but I will say this.  You can pull longevity in clothing out of places as common as Banana Republic and as daunting as Neiman Marcus; you just have to be aware of what's really worth splurging on and what's worth riding the frugal freight train for. 

Speaking of the Banana Republic family for example, in that pyramid Banana is top and Old Navy the bottom with The Gap filling in the middle.  However, I learned that The Gap had recently let their well-seasoned head designer Patrick Robinson go claiming that one of the weakness in the brand was the cohesiveness of the designs.  Now while I don't frequent The Gap I do shop there for clients and I will say that being such a broad chain can produce many negatives and positives.  First and foremost positively, it has the capabilities to reach a vast American audience and negatively it 'has' to reach a vast American audience.  What Robinson achieved at The Gap was the start of a new attuned fit and fashionable sensibility for the chain but it was all happening at a time when many Americans would either choose to invest with a Banana approach or play lowball with an Old Navy strategy.  Being the middleman is never easy during an economic downturn especially when the public's thirst for fashion and trend stays bubbling and churning.  I believe he was trying to create a smarter consumer all around.  Perhaps an answer for The Gap could've been to do more designer and celebrity collabos.  Who knows?  However,  I feel Mr. Robinson is a design celebrity in his own right with an amazing resume and trained skills who perhaps was selling himself short at The Gap.  He should really have a namesake label by now, but that's one for the Mr. Robinson to chew.

At any rate, I believe he was on the right track but the American public seems to either want to 'invest and forget it' (Banana) or as Ms. Westwood said 'buy hoards and hoards of cheap clothing' (Old Navy).  I guess the CEOs for The Gap were understandbly more interested in turning fast dollars than taking the time to rebuild a legacy through design.  There are companies and labels trying to do both today, I guess, and hope to strike gold by achieving the formula for both.  So I suppose until future enlightened ones arise, 'When In Rome'...get someone who thinks more like a native.

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In Lands' End

Land's Ahead

I recently learned the joy of purging.  That euphoric delight when you easily toss a suitcase full of dated moth-eaten sweaters and realize that you've actually gained your walk-in closet and checked luggage option back.  Chucking those letters, mailers and papers that contain offers of enrollments, subscriptions and one-day sales that you know you'll never be partaking of is also kind of liberating; a point of exhalation if you will.  I often remark that my mailman must think that all I do is keep stores in business with the majority of crap that falls through my mail slot being credit card bills, fashion mags and store mailers.  I mean c'mon, we all know that Macy's has a one-day sale almost every Wednesday and it's reverberated to the point where it becomes as expected as your local Budget Hut's Semi-annual 'Going Out of Business' sale.  

What I've begun to do is toss the catalogs and mailers alike while also extinguishing the countless email updates from so-and-so dot com offering such-and-such an awesome deal.  I've realized that I signed up for all these correspondences at a time when I was still young in my fashion journey and felt that everything was 'oh so worthy' of knowing and Tony the Tiger 'Great!'.  Well times change.  I am much more in tune with my fashion growth as it relates to the man I've become and keenly more aware of the potential for a recurring role on 'Hoarders' brought on by a lack of purging.  Now in my mind's fashionable eye I keep the things that convey longevity, quality and, when updated with accessories and proper silhouettes, convey a keen sense of modernity.  That's why I won't discard a particular email or catalog when their amazing fall collection announces itself in my cyber and home mailboxes. 

The mens fall Lands' End collection is a key triplicate offering.  It offers classic 'Americana' sportswear style with nods to a learned gentleman while dishing up updated pieces in trim fits pushed through with a 'youthful exuberance' through fun color and accessories all from a longstanding American clothing staple.  The collection was peppered with the spirit of Lands' End.  You had knits that caused the delightful quandary of 'town or country' in cozy shawl collared sweaters with leather shank buttons, spruced up spring tones for snowy days and paired down outer weights that made them feasible for the office and forest alike.  The iron you'd leave at home for a country trip was not missed with great wash n wear button-downs in refreshing summery tones that you'd still leave unpressed in the city.  Strong layering stories were told to further educate the American male consumer through silhouette, texture and color.  Cool slimming blazers, close cut chunky-esque knits and shrunken puffer vests were paired with striped textured knits in classic necklines and wovens in 'pop of color' plaids and solids in very liberating ways.  The message seemed to be a grand evocation to mix and match and explore nuances of color to brighten up those gray winter days.

It was very pleasing to see a household catalog-heavy American brand taking successful steps to keep themselves relevant in mens closets and mailboxes.  Lands' End realizes the importance and the versatility of the chino and the American male's shape alike.   For fall they'll offered up a new chino line-up in Vintage (sits naturally lower with a Hollywood waistband), Refined (more tailored but far from stuffy) and Heritage (casual and easy to wear broken in cotton twill) all in slim, straight and an extra relaxed fit for the Heritage.  Updated attention was paid to make their denim look and fit fresh.  Also, they appropriately expanded spread of accessories from canvas and leather bags to very impressive boat shoe, hiker and chukka boot styles.  

Am I being a bit hypocritical by praising the joys of purging but showcasing the wonderful goods from Lands' End this fall.  Not really.  See, when you purge it's to get rid of things you won't or don't need or use.  Lands' End's end?  I think not!

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