Street Style Round-up: August 2012

Our teachers lied to us. When we were sitting in Maths lessons they were stringing us along. They did the same in French, and Biology too. At parent’s evening, when they looked earnestly at us and asked us to try harder, because these exams were very important, they were laughing inside.

The secret they were hiding is that trying hard doesn’t always work. Sometimes you need to work smarter rather than harder, and sometimes you just need to relax and let it happen.

When I hear that fashion has to be relaxed, has to feel sprezzatura, that it shouldn’t try too hard, it can frustrate me. But it is partially true. This week we’re looking at that problem: what is this notion of not trying too hard, and how can we start use it? Better yet, how do we address the wider problem of attitude?

FashionBeans Street Style

FashionBeans Street Style Picks - August 2012

Bram (Left)

Photo By: Ghent Street Style (http://ghentstreetstyle.com/)

I doubt there are many more true Ivy League inspired outfits in this world. That aspect of this outfit – it being so completely focused on one influence – could undermine the overall effect by making it appear ‘try hard’.

Similarly, the whole outfit is a very neat exercise in layering – wearing a varsity jacket over a blazer is clever, and original. It links in beautifully with what Will Colman has said recently in his ‘Varsity Jackets Revisited’ article. But it’s almost too clever for its own good. It’s clearly been thought out in advance, or copied from someone else.

So what save this outfit from being ‘try hard’?

It’s the trousers and shoes. They are unpretentious, unassuming and work perfectly in the context. Had the outfit had another splash of detail it would have overwhelmed the whole look – instead, conservatively coloured chinos and casual trainers relax the aesthetic, creating a fine example of American influence that Michael Bastain would be proud of.

Inspired By Clothing:

  • Topman Grey Multifleck Heritage BlazerTopman Grey Multifleck Heritage Blazer
  • Asos Varsity Jacket With Quilted Fabric And AppliqueAsos Varsity Jacket With Quilted Fabric And Applique
  • Dockers Stone Classic Twill D2 Relaxed ChinosDockers Stone Classic Twill D2 Relaxed Chinos
  • Drakes Slim Check Melange Woven TieDrakes Slim Check Melange Woven Tie
  • River Island Rover TrainersRiver Island Rover Trainers
  • Vulc Rod – Trainers – RedVulc Rod - Trainers - Red
Marcus Paul (Centre)

Photo By: I’M KOO (http://www.koo.im/)

I freely admit this outfit confuses me a bit.

I’m going to start with the smock (that’s what I’m calling the big white coat thing.) That is, surely a beacon of ‘try-hard-ism’?

Not really. To me it feels like it takes its cue from the fishtail parka jacket, and that means it brings with it defiantly utilitarian and relaxed associations. Add to that the trainers, which become more interesting because they are not overblown multicoloured hi-tops, as well as the use of small personal accessories that have character you can’t buy, and the outfit is saved.

‘Try-hard’ isn’t the presence of effort – it is the presence of conspicuous effort. Evidently this outfit is thought out, but it is done so in a way which is unassuming. At no point does it shout and tell you that actually, the wearer knows lots about what the catwalk collections were like this season – although he clearly does.

Inspired By Clothing:

  • Sparks Parachute Oversized T-shirtSparks Parachute Oversized T-shirt
  • Paul Smith Round Collar ShirtPaul Smith Round Collar Shirt
  • Topman Indigo Vintage Slim JeansTopman Indigo Vintage Slim Jeans
  • Nudie Jeans Navy Thin Finn Organic Worn JeansNudie Jeans Navy Thin Finn Organic Worn Jeans
  • American Apparel Hanover EyeglassAmerican Apparel Hanover Eyeglass
  • Supra Skytop – High-top Trainers – YellowSupra Skytop - High-top Trainers - Yellow
Anonymous (Right)

Photo By: Street Style Aesthetic (http://www.streetstyleaesthetic.com)
Photographer: Wayne Tippetts

This looks like a prime contender. Two pocket squares, a doubled breasted jacket with a backpack, a fully buttoned shirt with no tie?

But take another look at the overall aesthetic. The whole point about this outfit is that it’s neat and brusque. The fit of the jacket is slim, the two pocket handkerchiefs aren’t overplayed, the shirt is a clean white, the backpack is clearly adjusted to fit snugly and all of the details create effects which work towards the same goal. Without any of these touches the overall impression would be compromised or reduced.

Trying for, and achieving, a look with clear formal elements does not constitute ‘try-hard’. Turning up to a job interview in a onesie doesn’t make you hilariously individual. Everything he does is appropriate in its context, and that means this outfit works.

Inspired By Clothing:

  • Allsaints Bukowski Slim Fit ShirtAllsaints Bukowski Slim Fit Shirt
  • Reiss Valentine B Double Breasted Cotton Blazer BlueReiss Valentine B Double Breasted Cotton Blazer Blue
  • Paul Smith Double-breasted Wool-blend Twill BlazerPaul Smith Double-breasted Wool-blend Twill Blazer
  • Gucci Printed Silk Pocket SquareGucci Printed Silk Pocket Square
  • Filson 262 Tan RucksackFilson 262 Tan Rucksack
  • Allsaints Trap ShoeAllsaints Trap Shoe
Coggles & The Sartorialist

Coggles & The Sartorialist Street Style Picks - August 2012

Look 1 (Left)

Photo By: Coggles Street Style

A friend and I have a running joke about pink driving shoes. We both think they’re silly, outrageous and eccentric, but are drawn to them all the same. Whenever we see an advert for them the other one gets a text message, and we mutually reaffirm our love of bright pink shoes.

Here it is clear what one potential problem could be – you’re wearing pink shoes, obviously you want to stand out, and that verges on ‘try-hard’.

However, some very practical techniques apply, as always:

  1. Wearing neutrals elsewhere softens the extreme colour.
  2. The t-shirt and cardigan combination is simple and unimposing, therefore not competing for focus.
  3. The rolled trousers avoid overwhelming or clashing with those venerable, bright, beautiful pink shoes.

There are very simple ways to avoid overloading your outfit, so make sure you use them!

Inspired By Clothing:

  • Allsaints Tonic Scoop T-shirtAllsaints Tonic Scoop T-shirt
  • Marni Elbow-patch Cashmere SweaterMarni Elbow-patch Cashmere Sweater
  • Dockers Stone Stretch Cotton D0 Slim ChinosDockers Stone Stretch Cotton D0 Slim Chinos
  • Reiss Exmouth Garment Dye Clean Chino StoneReiss Exmouth Garment Dye Clean Chino Stone
  • Cutler And Gross D-frame Acetate SunglassesCutler And Gross D-frame Acetate Sunglasses
  • Car Shoe Suede Driving ShoesCar Shoe Suede Driving Shoes
Look 2 (Right)

Photo By: The Sartorialist (http://www.thesartorialist.com/)

Relaxed and casual can also be ‘try-hard’. People who dress to look like they just rolled out of bed can become fixated on casual, and end up looking like they view ironing as a sin. By all means, be relaxed, but don’t look like a counterfeit of the thing you’re trying to express.

This example avoids that by finding a middle-ground. It’s the way these clothes are worn that makes it work: without the unbuttoned, rolled up and unequally tucked in shirt, the whole thing would fall apart. It conveys that part of fashion which is very hard to teach or analyse – how attitude is the father of style.

Inspired By Clothing:

  • Reiss Zinc Long Sleeve Poplin Shirt GreenReiss Zinc Long Sleeve Poplin Shirt Green
  • River Island Tribe ShortsRiver Island Tribe Shorts
  • Topman Jw Anderson Printed ShortsTopman Jw Anderson Printed Shorts
  • Burberry Brit Gold Metal Framed 3061 AviatorBurberry Brit Gold Metal Framed 3061 Aviator
  • Ray-ban Aviator Metal-frame SunglassesRay-ban Aviator Metal-frame Sunglasses
  • Topman Burgundy Polka Dot NeckerTopman Burgundy Polka Dot Necker
Final Word: Attiude

We can create attitude by wearing certain clothes – just think of the first time you put on a suit. However, on some level we are relying on ourselves. With street style, you often see men who wear things which their personalities clearly don’t suit, and as a result they look hideously awkward.

Fashion is about much more than clothes. The best designers see that. Adults don’t want to wear clothes to look like one of the gang, that’s what children do. When Gatz (the film version of The Great Gatsby) is released this Christmas, Leonardo DiCaprio will be wearing clothes that express Gatsby’s “platonic conception of himself”. There is a reason one of the greatest novels in American Literary history has a vital emotional scene which hinges upon a woman crying at the sight of piles of luxurious shirts.

In a very personal way, I became interested in clothes as I began to realise I actively didn’t want to be like everyone else. When I started to discover that I could be an individual (which for a kid at boarding school is quite a discovery), I wanted a way to show that. The number of times I was berated by friends at my insular little school for wearing a pair of suede shoes defies belief – but that was a statement I had to make.

I don’t know how I can explain the issue of attitude further. However, I can repeat one of my two favourite quotations in fashion: “You must create your own style” – Lowey. It sometimes seems as if I can’t get through an article without mentioning it!

If you have anything to add, I’d really appreciate it if you shared it in the comments section…