Friday, February 27, 2009

Suit of the Times

Man 2/25/09

Thom Browne has been the men’s designer of this decade. Hedi Slimane and Christopher Bailey probably run a very close second, but when all is said and done, if Giorgio Armani owned the 80’s and Prada the 90’s, then Thom Browne is for the man of the new millennium.

Curiously, the most influential designer of the decade doesn’t have a great retail following. You don’t see too many men wearing recognizable Thom Browne clothing. And even more so, you don’t see them riding in the subway.

So, was this man wearing Thom Browne?

Let’s look at the checklist:
  1. Grey slim fit suit with slightly shrunken jacket
  2. Slim suit pants that are cut-off at ankles
  3. Dark charcoal grey suede desert boots – probably Clarks and not TB brand
  4. Slim tie – this one was black with gold flecks woven into the fabric; slightly more flair than the standard TB tie, but still within the aesthetic
  5. Silver Tie bar – ditto
  6. White shirt – collar slightly larger than expected, so probably not a TB shirt
  7. Form-fitting Winter overcoat – this one in tan but my buddy who wears TB religiously has one similar, so I would say yes
  8. Socks – this is winter and I’m sure TB allows for this concession to the cold
  9. Close cropped hair – remember the TB aesthetic also includes a certain grooming style
  10. No visually distracting jewelry – like a giant watch or earrings or whatever else comes to mind that suggests bling
Two things stood out to me though.

His messenger bag – it was this black nylon messenger bag from Diesel that was packed to the gills, and probably weighed more than everything he was wearing combined. It was neither sleek, nor well kept, given the state of its wear and tear.

The other was his choice of reading material. The latest issue of FourFourTwo.

Style and soccer do go together. Just ask Thierry Henry.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tank Girl 2009

Woman 2/19/09

Anyone who remembers Tank Girl would appreciate this posting. Not the movie, though I never saw it, so I won’t disparage it, but the comics that introduced Jamie Hewlett to comic world, and later to popular culture as a co-creator of Gorillaz.

My first thought was that she was just really cool and comfortable in her own skin. The second was that association with that character I had forgotten long ago – Tank Girl.

Her hair was dyed red. Not absolute red, but a shade that was somewhere in the neighborhood of a deep pink or a light orange. The sides of her head were actually shaved, though somewhat grown out a little by this point, and that red-ish hair was pulled from right to left and back into a ponytail; held in place by a yellow rubberband. You could just make out the dark roots at the crown.

The motorcycle racing jacket fit her perfectly. This black leather racer jacket had white patches on the shoulders and two stripes on each bicep. There were two small adjustable straps and buckles on each side of the jacket; right where the kidneys are. And she left the sleeves unzipped.

She was also wearing this grey hoodie under the jacket. And it was actually longer than the jacket. Her black work boots looked like Docs. But the stitching was just slightly off the standard, so I can’t say for sure. The jeans were a slim fit, not skinny, and of a light faded blue.

Her face had these delicate features. Angular and sharp, but delicate in a porcelain manner. Her nose was sharp, and the eyes were blue. No make-up though and barely a trace of lipgloss. On each ear, she had 3 small rings. Nothing fancy, just basic silver earrings.

She was also carrying a small messenger bag. This grey nylon number that was worn over the left shoulder. It was a Puma bag, but again, nothing fancy. Very functional.

The best part?

She had these white cotton gloves on. And on the top of the gloves were silk-screened prints of bones, done in black. Normally, this would be the start of a novelty outfit or for some costume for Halloween – skeleton gloves. On her, they were perfect.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Suzanne Somers Fan

Because rules are meant to be broken.

Because some people hate my writing.

Because Suzanne Somers helped you master your thighs.

Because you can't make this up.

Because this leads to more questions.

Whistling Dixie

Man 2/11/09

People use their clothes to make statements all the time. And this gentleman was no different. At first I thought he was perhaps an aging hipster – though not very hipster in style.

The hat was this faded baseball cap – a camouflage print actually, with a Confederate flag patch stitched on the front. Now, normally, the typical reaction is that he is either a good ol’ boy from the South or perhaps making an ironic statement. The thing about it was, he was also reading this thick hardcover book: “The South was Right”. And if there was a more opportune time in our recent history – with President Obama’s election and President Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial, and this being Black History month – well, let’s just say that Civil War awareness is at an all time high this month.

So, what does a defender of the South dress like on the NYC subway?

A faded charcoal grey denim jacket. The Levi’s red tab clearly visible on the left chest pocket. Classic. And underneath a light grey athletic hoodie; fully zipped up. I guess the militia look really only started to dawn on me when I realized he was wearing Army green cargo pants. It looked like something one would get from Army Surplus. Basic cargo pockets on the front of the pants, and two pockets on the rear, all with Velcro flaps. The pants were made from a cotton twill.

On his feet? Black Doc Martens. Yes, Docs. Cap toe, mind you so not the classic ones you remember from the 80’s. But still Docs with that unmistakable stitching.

He had short hair underneath that Dixie cap. A full beard, but not quite overwhelming or overgrown. Just about to get scruffy. His eyebrows were dark. No jewelry, watch or earrings. I’d say he wouldn’t seem out of place even if he was in the deep South.

He was about halfway through the book. He stood the entire time he was in the subway car, leaning against the door. Moving when he had to let passengers in or out. Perhaps done with his book for now, he put it into his messenger bag, which was this basic black nylon number with a TL brand logo on the top flap.

For the rest of the train ride, he watched this Chinese mother tend to her two small children. The oldest was probably around 5, and the younger about 4 at most. What was so interesting? Well, the older boy had a camouflage winter down jacket on, and his brother was wearing camouflage sweats.

Kindred spirits maybe?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Son of a Scotch Peddlar

Man 2/6

A kilt. He was wearing a kilt. The coldest day of the year and the man was wearing a kilt. Not a traditional one either, mind you. It was a fashion kilt – without a real tartan but a textured brown fabric with geometric squares.

You’d think that there would be some much going against him, what with the kilt on the coldest winter day. But no. He pulled the look off with great panache and made it into a personal style rather than a costume that one only wears on a Scottish holiday. I actually envy that guy. Not only having the chutzpah to wear a kilt, but being able to pull off the entire look so effortlessly.

So, what did the rest of him look like?

For starters, he had a leather double-breasted overcoat on. It was a very worn, old leather coat with these incredibly large 70’s or early 80’s lapels. The color reminded me of a chocolate M&M. The jacket reached to just above the hemline of his kilt.

His head was a mop-top mess of dirty blonde wavy hair. It was long and it just about blended in with his shaggy beard. The round back frame glasses on his face made him look like a homeless version of Mike Mills from REM. The parts of his face left untouched by the beard showed scars from acne. Wrapped around his neck was a brown scarf – wool and not too distinctive.

The kilt wasn’t the only Scottish influence on him. The blazer sleeves showing revealed a windowpane pattern – blue and yellow lines on a dark brown texture. The white tattersall shirt was finished off at the top with a tartan tie. He also had on brown leather gloves.

The piece-de-resistance had to be the riding boots. They were a leather and canvas combination that stretched to just under the knee. From the top of the calf to the top of the foot was the dark brown canvas, and the rest of the shoe was a tan leather. The boots were as worn as the leather coat. And sticking out were equally high tan socks.

Over his ears were a set of over-ear headphones that were orange in color. Plugged into the iPod that he checked every so often; always placing it back into his left breast coat pocket. He did also carry a small purple Bergdorf Goodman shopping bag, which he later placed into a small Apple store plastic drawstring shopping bag.

Did I happen to mention how much I liked his look? The Satorialist would have loved him.

All Together Now

Woman 2/5/09

Someone remarked to me the other day that a particular item of clothing I was wearing was really cool. It was the rest of my clothes that made no sense in relation to that piece. The exact words were “ but that shirt and tie…”.

The moral of the story? Sometimes, taken individually, one can have great pieces, but when worn with the wrong combination it just becomes like Popeye’s chicken served with foie gras.

You couldn’t help but be drawn to her. Just about six feet tall, and wearing a down winter coat that was the perfect shade of Heinz Ketchup red. The fuscia pink Juicy Couture sweats followed. And on her feet were a pair of Uggs-not-Uggs boots covered with long fur There was a snowflake motif on the heel of those boots. A somewhat matching purple handbag finished off her look.

The coat itself looked like a brand that had knocked off Moncler – right down to having a crest and a number patch on the left arm. Still, it was a very fashionable number, and I’ve seen the same jacket on a few other New Yorkers. The jacket had a hood that was trimmed in fur. And under that jacket, you could make out a cotton hoodie that was a multi-colored pastel lines print.

The sweats were basic Juicy Couture done in fuscia pink. They hugged her waist, butt and thighs, just giving slightly at her calves before being tucked into her boots.

Those boots initially didn’t seem all that fashionable. The first thought that popped into mind was that someone had cut Chewbacca off just at the calf and hollowed it out so that someone might keep their feet warm. But the more one looked, the better they got. They were genuinely fashionable. Cutting edge for some, but still well within the Generally Accepted Fashion Principles.

Taken individually, each piece would probably not be out of place in some fashionista’s closet. But put it all together, and that woman was attracting attention like a body in full rigor getting ready to spawn pupae.

Forgot to mention her hair. Small black braids that were curled like hair would be in large curling rollers. There were no rollers, but those curls were at least 2.5 inches in diameter.

Maybe it was the hair.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grease Lightning

Woman 1/29/09

I didn’t pay her much attention at first because initially only her back was visible to me. She had just walked into the subway car, and almost immediately a trio of tween girls started giggling and pointing in her direction. Kids can be cruel, and their amusement could only mean she was interesting.

She had on a high school letterman jacket. A red and white number. The sleeves were white leather, and the jacket was mostly red wool. The large white letters on the back spelled out Stuyvesant. Could it have been for the famed Manhattan public high school for over-achievers where everyone hopes to send their children? I actually know a lot of people from that school.

On the left sleeve was a patch that indicated “Capt”, and stitched on the left breast was the name “Wendy”. No sport was indicated anywhere on the jacket. Perhaps it was something I had overlooked.

The jacket itself was about two sizes too big for her. It literally overwhelmed her frame. That oversize was exacerbated by her skinny jeans. Basic American Eagle skinny jeans in faded indigo. She had on what looked to be Uggs-not-Uggs on her feet. The jeans were not tucked into the shoes, so clearly they weren’t your typical chunky winter boots.

It was really her hair and make-up that set her so apart. The hair was platinum blonde. It was probably a little longer than shoulder length, but worn today in a ponytail. Her make-up was thick. Very white, very deliberately applied, and very Dita von Teese. It was a Fifties vibe with a modern twist. Her lips were ruby red, and aside from long black lashes, she also was wearing glitter eyeliner. It looked like there were a line of rhinestones attached to her eyelids.

She finally sat down and pulled from one pocket a small paper bag. Pulled out a cookie, and starting eating. She probably only went through about three cookies before she stopped and put the bag away. From another pocket she pulled out a small notebook. The cover was glittery and the color was a reflective shade of red. She had a pencil with her and jotted down a few lines before putting that away. As she got up to exit the train, I noticed her hairclip had the Yin and Yang symbol on it.

So many questions. But then again, that’s the fun of this. I can’t tell if this is a uniform, lifestyle or costume for her. It was definitely a cultivated look. The time and effort she put in is admirable. I hope she dresses with this kind of swagger for the rest of her life.