BY THE GENTRY MAN
In category A, we have: leg-warmers, three-button suits, cargo pants, shoulder pads, Ed Hardy, patterned shoe laces, baggy trousers, trucker hats, scrunchies, t-shirts with stupid jokes on them, and popping the collar of your polo shirt.
In category B, we have: Tribal tattoos, spider webs, skulls, calaveras de azúcar, angel wings on your back, sparrows, nautical themed tattoos, sacred hearts, and of course overused quotes (carpe diem, fortune favours the brave, etc.)
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – they are all pretty terrible.
Whether it’s their new pair of ugg boots or their second sleeve of tribal tattoos, here are some of the things people say in response to the question, “Why?” :
- “It’s how I express myself” – 12 out of 10 on the how-generic-can-you-be scale.
- “it represents ___________” – Yeah, people actually use this line about their clothes.
- “I just wanna be cool” – That’s better.
Despite the cynical tone, there isn’t anything wrong with any of those reasons, or whatever reason you have. There is something wrong, however, with lying in an attempt to justify actions. Trends don’t become what they are just because a cohort of people suddenly realise that skinny jeans make your butt look big, or whatever. Trends happen because people start thinking something is cool, and then other people want to be cool too.
Being part of a trend, achieves two things for the participant:
- Firstly, they immediately feel significant and a small shift in attitude occurs. It makes you feeeel goood. “Oh hey EGO, haven’t seen you in a while what up?”. Take for example, the lame super-geek who suddenly gets people snappin’ their necks because he’s the first one to get his hands on the new Air Yeezy’s
- Secondly, the participant feels a sense of belonging (HSC ENGLISH COMIN’ AT YA) to this community of coolcats who wear trucker hats to the side. Everybody secretly wants to feel like they’re part of something larger, or that they belong, so this isn’t as tangible or measurable as other effects.
I understand both, we all should. Why? Because we’ve all experienced those feelings, probably on numerous occasions. Don’t worry, it’s fine. It’s probably a good thing too, because if you haven’t experienced either of these things then I worry about what else you haven’t experienced.
Then I got thinking, is there a limit? Is there a point where you say, “You’ve gone too far, bro” or a point-of-no-return?
You might have been the victim of a Jersey Shore make-over show and lost a bet where you had to wear those clothes for a year. You might be Christian Audigier’s poor protégé and be subject to his heinous crimes against eyes everywhere. No matter how bad it might be for you or your wardrobe, there is always a painless option of reversal. You can throw out clothes, you can replace them and you can start on a clean slate if you need to. Do you know how your Dad gets embarrassed when photos of him with a mullet and ripped jeans surface? He laughs about it in good fun right? Do you still think he would be laughing if the mullet was still on his head or his jeans still ripped?
Photos and videos last forever these days, so evidence is difficult to erase. However, I would argue that going through a few phases is good for your development as a person – that is, providing you grow out of them at some point. Why? Because when you do grow out of them, you can look back and not only laugh, but appreciate how far you have come. You might want to be that token cool old guy who has a pink mohawk and still rocks out, but there’s a reason why you don’t see many of them. Why he is the token.
One thing I’ve learnt the hard way is not to take yourself so seriously. Laughing at yourself does wonders for your outlook on life. If you wanna drown in $W4G and put on a snapback over it, or stick a flock of sparrows on your back just be honest about it. What’s the point in making up some bullshit story about being “from the hood (middle-class-suburbia)” or how your great uncle was a sailor. Keep it simple.
“I got these clothes because I see the look everywhere and I think it’s just really cool”
“What happens when it goes out of style?”
“I’ll throw them out and replace them with new, cool clothes”
The Gentry Man is a personal stylist who believes that Australian politicians would be better liked as a whole and as individuals if he were in charge of their wardrobes. You can check out his blog and follow his twitter.