Here’s the most recent article I wrote for Louis Vuitton Night, discussing some strategies for choosing your wardrobe.
Tactics for fall fashion transgressions. With fall fashion in full swing, mansies have their work cut out for them. The major houses, with their boring or un-wearable designs and their vulgar prices leave us little to nothing. And on the other end, radical subcultures promoting drabness and conformity season after season are no better. In the mêlée that is fall fashion, what’s a mansy to do?
Thus far, the Boulevardier has discussed why mansy fashion is relevant, how it undermines militarism and patriarchy and why outlaws are fashion heroines. But many aspiring mansies still seem to be at a loss for how to make the first steps from unfashionable cretins to elegant outlaw socialites. In this column, we look at a few strategies for making mansy fashion work for you and a few tricks that will help you enter the world of the well dressed.
Fall: a blessing and a challenge
What better time to discuss fashion strategies than the fall season, a time for experimentation, layers, scarves, practical accessories, wind blown hair and romantic lip pouting. But for the aspiring mansy this can be a challenging time as well, it is getting colder and for some this means it is a time to give up on fashion for “practical” garments such as puffy jackets made of a material that is referred to by it’s chemical compound. As for being practical, they simply go too far, they are part of an Xtreme Xtremist conspiracy bent on infantilizing mansies and tricking them to look and act like they are in j-high. This will not do. If you are tempted to wear these garments it is far better in a fashion sense to cut off both your arms, that way you are not tempted to reach for the proverbial gun that would put an end to your entire fashion life.
Yes the cold weather is a challenge, but it is something that allows for a kaleidoscope of possibilities. By disavowing the garb of the unsightly Xtremist, the mansy is forced to rely upon fashion innovation for protection from the elements, which almost always yields positive results. A good trick is to consider the season from the point of view of color, fabrics, and silhouette and choose your wardrobe from there. You needn’t pigeon hole yourself to a classic fall look, though it is often fun to take that look and play with it. A recent photo shoot by Jean-Baptiste Mondino is a good example. Here, the heavy fabrics, cravats, vests and deep reds, violets and blues are taken out of their class context through intentional disheveling. While this boulevardier prefers a far more sever and almost cruel look, this shoot is a good fall look for the crunchier readers.
The Handsome Devil’s in the Details
Many aspiring mansies want to start out as a fashion star, but fashion is a process and one cannot go from Xtremist to boulevardier in one day, there is a learning curve; one that every mansy has and is going through. To begin, one cannot be afraid to utilize all the tools at his or her disposal, men’s fashion doesn’t give us many garment options so we must be able to flitter through them all without loosing your personal style. Here are a couple garments of note this season:
Cravat: Croatian activists have recently informed us that all ties, bowties and ascots are a form of cravat, derived from Louis XIV’s observance of Croatian pirates. Every mansy must have his or her personal take on the cravat, whether it is the classic tie, often tucked into a button-up, or a sloppily tied piece of silk in the style of a bowtie perhaps. Or you might be the type that prefers a very long and thin piece of fabric that is tied at the neck and falls to the waist. There are numerous knots that you can use, the Windsor, the double Windsor, the Prince Albert and so on, or you can innovate your own knot. The ascot is a personal favorite of mine, you take a fine silk scarf (easily found at any free boutique or thrift store) and tie it in a loose knot on your collar. With a little practice and finagling, you will be able to produce a cascade effect with one end, pulled wide, flowing over the knot. As well, you can ignore fabric entirely and pin a broach at the neck or if you are sassy, engage the Native American innovation of the bolo (the official state cravat of Arizona).
Vest: I recently heard an aspiring mansy proclaim that he went to a party and was dismayed that there was another mansy wearing a vest. I must point out that mansies have very very few options when it comes to stylish garments and the vest is one of the big ones. The vest is a garment that should be worn with discretion and only if it adds to your particular outfit but there is no such thing as a “vest guy” if there is, it is just another form of Xtremism. The vest is a basic garment, something that forms the foundation of an outfit and from which you can add flourishes with accessories or a cravat. You can use the vest as a flourish but it needs to be exceptional, like a women’s vest from the 90’s, (if you have ever been to a thrift store, you know what I mean). However, for the most part the vest should simply set the stage for accessorizing.
Accessories: These can be tricky for the aspiring mansy fashionista, but if you have a solid base for an outfit, you are free to add almost anything to your look and call it an accessory. Since any men’s accessory is a transgression these days, you are free to find the most sassy and outrageous thing you can get your hands on. Old women’s jewelry is something that seems to work well for mansies, broaches and gaudy necklaces are the classics but there are lots of others out there you simply need to look.
Sisterhood for Mansies
The final, and most important hurtle for the aspiring mansy is the process of shopping. The unfortunate truth is that shopping at free stores and thrift stores is unbelievably exhausting, especially if you are new to fashion. One thing that I’ve noticed is that when I shop with other men they tend to be both obtuse and in a rush to get it over with. This reaction to shopping betrays a deeper trend in masculinity, the fear of closeness with other men and the fear of being seen.
In order to transcend this, I introduce the tactic of the fashion affinity group, a la the “Sex in the City” model. A group of people to share a coffee with and chat about new free store finds and how to style them, people that help you sort through the endless racks looking for that perfect vest, people that help you take in those perfect Toile de Jouy pants, and people that will listen to you complain about the lack of single ____’s in the city.
Divorced from its capitalist intentions, Sex in the City represents that homosocial bonding and optimistic attitude toward styling that is at the heart of the fashion affinity group. Aspiring mansies need other mansies to help to learn the intricacies of fashion, not to mention that in creating support for the superficial it lays the foundation to make allies in other ways. Sisterhood is the perfect way to imagine this. Men’s counterpart, brotherhood, is a sham of a mockery when compared to sisterhood. What do men have? Repressed sexuality that is manifested in nationalism, war and sports. Men like to pretend that brothers will always be there no matter what, but this comradery has no expression outside of physical conflicts or the possibility to play a hero in some action movie. Instead of an emotional support network, men have a pat on the ass. Perhaps with the fashion affinity group, men can begin to attain some of the gifts of sisterhood: lifetime confidantes, people that know you inside and out and like you anyway, and fashion guidance. So with that said you need to schlep over to the library, ignore the name brand shout outs that you can’t afford anyway, and brush-up on your SATC.
Till We Meet Again
Now, armed to the teeth as you are, with sage sartorial advice, I urge you to rise to the occasion. Get gussied up! You best go put on something special!