Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Veteran Hipster

Woman 3/26/09

You’re a woman. Probably in your early forties, though mid-forties is not entirely out of the question. And you’ve dressed this way since you were probably in your teens, or maybe twenties. You’re the veteran hipster. You never graduated to a high-level corporate job, certainly didn’t get married and have children, and still attending concerts and dinner parties in the far outposts of the city.

What do you wear?

Well, if you’re the veteran female hipster, in winter, you start with the coat. A vintage number, red with a sort of black stencil print that almost looks like embroidered paisley. That abstract pattern complements the frayed edges that lines the entire coat. Plus, the two side pockets share the same frayed edging on the top opening. To add to the hipster-ness of the coat, each of the three coat buttons are made of a different material, though same size and shape.

Your shoes would be the next most important item of clothing. These would be suede. An orange suede. A faded and dirty orange color on boots that run to midcalf; each with a buckle and strap across the lower front.

The rest of your outfit?

Well, you’d never be a stickler for matching, so you’d be wearing one of your favorite black dresses. Only this one features an allover mini-polka dot print. The stockings would be black fishnet, and the scarf a basic purple. Not exactly clashing, but just enough to suggest your continued bohemian lifestyle.

Your accessories?

Well, if its raining. You’ll probably have a small compact umbrella tucked into your coat pocket. Red of course, the umbrella would be. You wouldn’t be carrying a run of the mill handbag. And because you’re on your way to a party, you’d be carrying clutch instead. A large dark aquamarine clutch that has a triangular top flap. Leather, but definitely not luxury designer unless it was vintage.

Your earrings wouldn’t be run of the mill either. They’d be large hoops – silver, but with ornamental extras attached and dangling in the center of the hoops. I’d guess it was an ethnic design, maybe Native American given the Dreamcatcher resemblance, but could as easily be South Indian or Central American. You’d be wearing at least one ring. A large amber stone set in silver. But on your right index finger lest someone pre-judges you.

Your outfit aside?

The hair is red. Well, dyed red but the black roots would be visible. It’s shoulder length of course since you’ve had it this way for at least 2 decades. No bangs but wavy on the bottom, almost curly there. You’re not cutting your hair short for anyone just yet.

The make-up would be precise. Red lipstick – standard. Eyeliner that is a glittering silver, typically found on younger women, though not a problem for you. Long black lashes – check. And blush. Don’t forget the blush.

The nails? A British racing green. Because if they can’t tell already, you like darker shades of green.

Some finishing touches?

A flower tattoo on your right wrist. Something you got a while back since it’s slightly faded and in need of touch up one of these years.

The last thing?

A Chinese silk embroidery covered mirror. Not the lipstick case, just the mirror. Reinforces your street credibility.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Super Fan


It’s rare to see a woman Super Fan in New York. They exist, but by and large its really just men who are decked out in their team’s apparel. What’s even more rare then is the female Super Fan who supports a team not from New York. That’s right, in this city where they love their teams, there are Super Fans who proudly show their loyalty - New York public condemnation be damned.

She had on a Pittsburgh Steelers canvas varsity jacket. Big bold Steelers logo embroidered on the back sitting on a black background. On the front left, another embroidery of the Steelers logo with the words “Super Bowl” above and “Champions” below the logo. On the front right, roman numerals indicating the Super Bowls won - starting from bottom, IX, X, XIII, XIV, XL, three rows in all.

The sleeves are a bright Pittsburgh Steeler yellow with the actual Super Bowl logo patches sewn on. The left sleeve had the logos of Super Bowls XIII, XV and XL, while the right had IX and X. The cuffs, waist and collar were done in a yellow and black striped rib-knit.

A football fan would know that Pittsburgh just won their sixth Super Bowl, and that this fan’s jacket was at least almost 3 years old given that Super Bowl XL took place in 2006. Nevertheless, this Super Fan wore hers proudly.

The rest of her was pretty working class, straight out of Roseanne I’d say. Faded black jeans, a black cotton hoodie, a white oxford shirt and a crew-neck white cotton tee. White Avia sneakers. Which really means that she dressed like a man living in blue collar Pittsburgh.

She was a short petite natural blonde with her hair tied back in a ponytail. No make-up and no nail polish. Though she did have on these basic round-ish glasses.

There were three things about her that I’m still not quite sure about:

1. Earrings. She had these silver earrings that looked like they were tusks coming out of the lobe, almost but not quite connecting on the bottom. Something I am sure I had seen before on countless goth or punk kids roaming NYC.
2. Messenger bag. It was black leather. The top flap had a white heraldic cross (that stylized medieval cross), and silver square studs around the edges. It was like a biker version of a messenger bag, only you could probably buy it at Wilson’s.
3. Lord of the Rings. She was reading a paperback copy of LOTR, The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a fairly recent copy since the cover referenced the movie.

NFL team varsity jacket and the blue-collar outfit made sense together. The earrings, messenger bag and the Tolkien book. What was a simple chicken noodle soup just became a chicken gumbo.

I miss the chicken gumbo served up by Morry’s Deli in the south side of Chicago.

Monday, March 23, 2009

He is The One.

Man 3/23/09

In a subway car filled with metro-sexuals this morning, there was one that stood head and shoulders above the rest. I daresay that he probably refers to himself in the third person or tells everyone to call him by his nickname: Neo, because clearly he is The One.

Why is this man, The One?

Because he carries a woman’s handbag. Yes, a woman’s handbag. Without shame. Without irony. No tongue-in-cheek. No Sarah Palin plebian-flirt wink. A real woman’s handbag. Not a man-bag. Not a murse. A real woman’s handbag.

The bag itself isn’t very feminine nor is it even very fashionable. It’s reminiscent of something vintage, though clearly still a bag for women. It was a brown pebbled leather. Not chocolate or dark brown, but almost a faded grey-brown. It was about medium-sized and had to basic leather handles and minimal stainless steel hardware - hand-carrying only, no shoulder straps. The bag had white contrast stitching around the edges, and the zipper on the top was pulled shut.

The rest of him was to be expected from a metro-sexual. His winter coat was black wool, but came with a interesting detail. The lapels and the cuffs were trimmed with a tartan fabric. And the entire coat had edges that were frayed. From the lapels to the bottom of the coat, frayed edges and loose threads. All together a great touch of a basic black coat. I wonder if it was self-altered or if a designer actually thought if it –kudos to the designer regardless.

The coat was buttoned up the entire time, but you could see the dark blue skinny tie over his dark maroon shirt. You could also just make out the collar of a cotton zip sweater – it was navy blue. And the jeans were the basic dark indigo slim-fit denim. Curiously given the rest of his deconstructionist flair, the jeans seemed to be well kept.

The shoes really cemented his membership into the metro-sexual club. They were very worn and weathered black leather loafers. Not your typical loafers but rather a more European version with a high cut. The tongue was the design focal point and he deliberately tucked his jeans behind them to show off those shoes better. The tips and sides of the shoes were extremely worn and from afar looked like brown patches on black.

His Bose in-ear earphones linked to a player in his left breast pocket. And the rest of him was free of jewelry or any other accessories.

His hair was short and super curly. And he was also sporting a full beard that was groomed just so. The bushy eyebrows just really added to what seemed to be a man who had a lot of hair.

So. What have we learned?

Wow. A man carrying a woman’s handbag without shame. I don’t know if I am quite ready for this revolution.

I think I’ll sit this one out, Neo. You and Morpheous can go kick ass with Trinity and Niobe. I’m just gonna hang here with The Oracle.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Styling me softly

Woman 3/6/09

At first glance, I really didn’t think there was much there to document. But as I sat down across from her in the train, all the little details started to really appear. It was then that I realized that this girl was stylish in her own way, and for her, the look was all in the details.

I think it was the shoes that clued me in. They were silver. Not white or grey, but really sharp silver. They were these athletic-inspired silver shoes that looked to be a cross between ballet flats and sneakers. Even the laces were silver.

Her coat was this black trench but trimmed in red. The only color on her, apart from the shoes, was the red outline of her trench coat. The coat also had a slight military flavor with shoulder tabs. Though the belted waist, cuff straps and large black buttons suggested a very utilitarian function.

Her tote bag was another item that looked very basic at first glance. Then you realized that the top of the bag had a fur trim – black so that it blended in with the rest of the tote. And the straps actually had a functioning stainless steel clip buckle on each end attached to the tote. The bag itself had a quilted pattern similar to a puffy coat.

Her hair was a stylized Afro that looked like she used to have dreads but perhaps had recently cut them off though the curls still show a little. For whatever reason, she reminded me of Nina Simone.

The pearl earrings she had on gave a completely different vibe from the large metal medieval ring on her left index finger. What they were meant to say when used in this tandem I have no idea.

All these little details that one might have missed.

If I could only decipher what she was trying to say.

Shaft 2.0

Man 3/6/09

I’m sure he knew that he resembled a celebrity. And I’m sure that he put on his clothes knowing that he was going out of his way to dress like he resembled a celebrity. Which begs the question: ”Why do people want to look like celebrities?”

He looked like Issac Hayes circa 1973, still relatively fresh from the success of Shaft. That shaved head with a cultivated beard and goatee. And he even had on a pair of gold frame aviator sunglasses – he was in the subway mind you. His coat was this maroon leather car coat, a little weathered, but not quite vintage. Standard modern 3 button with a belt across the waist. His pants were also leather, though black. I don’t know what a mostly leather outfit says about you. But when you pair it with a bald head, groomed beard and gold aviators - it says Issac Hayes.

Still there were modern touches that made him more 2.0 versus a carbon copy. For starter’s his shoes were black leather high-top sneakers – not your typical 70’s footwear. And this guy was carrying a Louis Vuitton Monogram messenger bag; with straps that were slightly frayed suggesting frequent use. His t-shirt underneath the coat was lack, with a print of something done in gray. And his chunky cotton scarf was also black.

His build reminded me of a linebacker, broad shoulders and this thick neck. And as he was looking into his messenger bag for what later turned out to be a rather large appointment book, he actually pulled out these black hand-exercise grips. Not exactly a typical resident of an LV messenger bag. But perhaps appropriate if you were very into working out?

So, what do we know about Shaft 2.0? He works out, he still likes leather, Louis Vuitton is his favorite leathergoods maker, and he prefers sneakers to more formal shoes. Sounds about right to me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In Rainbows

Woman 2/26/09

I’ve barely been at this blog thing for 4 months, and I think I’m getting soft. Either that or I’m seeing beauty in a whole new different way. Seriously. What people mock or find weird, I’m starting to like. It’s really the ones who follow the rules or try to hard to be someone else that I find out-of-place.

This girl is really on the fringes of what most would consider odd dressing. Only for me, it totally made sense.

Where do I start? How about the smallest item? She had on this broach. A spider shaped broach with gold plated spine, limbs and feelers, and a red ruby-esque stone where the body should be. Maybe it was a beetle, and not a spider. Pinned to the right lapel of her brown double-breasted winter coat.

The rest of her was color. The shoes were a pair of Diesel sneakers that were a light blue, with fuschia accents and yellow laces. Her glasses were these oval-ish frames that were multi-color; like a kaleidoscope or patchwork of mis-matched squares. Her gloves were black and pink striped, and fingerless. On her neck was a mutli-color scarf – reminded me of something Kanye West might sport. She must be a Yeezy fan.

There were a couple things I didn’t quite get though. She was wearing these purple sweatpants, which looked a bit loose on her. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt, but the color was definitely her style. And sticking out from her coat sleeves were the sleeves of this mini-polka dot pattern – black and white. Not sure if that was a sweater but the color totally threw me off. The chocolate winter brown coat is fine, but black and white seems a bit too stark for her. Maybe there was a more interesting pattern beyond the sleeves?

In truth, the entire outfit really only worked for me because of her hair. It was this fierce 60’s style pouf that was equal part The Supremes and Kelis. Seriously, this girl knew that she was rocking something totally different and it was part of her identity. She dressed like she had a point-of-view.

Even her iPod was attached to these magenta-cabled earphones. These wires lead to a pair of over-ear headphones that were a slight metallic blue. You can’t tell me that was a coincidence.

I wonder what she was listening to?