To me, style and fashion are two completely different conversations. I have never thought of myself as working in the fashion industry, and capital “F” fashion doesn’t necessarily mean a lot to me, but the idea of style is a little more worthy of dissecting.
Style isn’t supposed to have guidelines, and ultimately, I suppose the only rule is there is no rule. But, as we begin a new year, here are a few off-the-cuff (and totally non-serious) musings on style that have served me well.
⚖️The 80/20 Rule
Not just the best lean-to-fat ratio for hamburgers…a balanced (and responsible) wardrobe is 80% timeless basics, with the option of 20% trends. When I say timeless basics, I mean foundational blueprints like straight-leg jeans (more on that later), a heather grey hoodie, or a double-breasted overcoat. That’s where the 20% comes in and you can have a little fun. Some sneakers that dropped last weekend, a splashy jacket, you get where I’m going.
Fashion moves quickly. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up scratching your head wondering why you bought a Prada shirt with bananas on it. Trying to chase trends is a zero-sum game, plus following trends is a great way to show that you have no personal style at all. Style is hardly a science, but this way of thinking about my wardrobe gives me some inner peace.
“Mochiwa mochiya” (I do not have food-related analogies for all of these) is a Japanese proverb meaning “for rice cakes, go to a rice cake maker.”
Certain brands do things better than others. I try to spend my money on brands that have an expertise or a specialty. Levi’s jeans, Schott leather jackets, Reigning Champ hoodies. Each of those brands has earned respect for a good reason: for making one type of product better than anyone else.
For the style-minded, fashion often means taking risks. So in a lot of ways, the idea of a uniform is quite antithetical to fashion.
I live in neutrals: blacks, whites, and greys are a big part of my wardrobe, and I’ve become quite fond of the idea of a daily uniform. I’ve been wearing this one Arc’teryx mid-layer for so long that my friends started calling it my Fortnite skin.
Uniforms are a personal branding exercise. Icons like Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld have practiced this philosophy, cultivating signature looks that they will always feel comfortable in. Obligatory mention of Steve Jobs and his affinity for Issey Miyake crewnecks.
It’s said the average person makes 35,000 decisions every day, and research shows the act of making many decisions diminishes one’s ability to make further decisions. Uniforms focus one’s decision-making energy and establish a routine that will decrease stress levels and improve mental health.
These are all soft rules, but this one is particularly so. Style advice becomes cornier as it becomes more prescriptive, and that’s not what I’m trying to do here. But any outfit really only needs one statement item. Never two. Mostly none. But sometimes one. After all, if your outfit is all statement pieces, that defeats the point.
If you’re rocking a snazzy cap, keep the kicks simple. If you pull out a statement jacket, match it with some neutrals underneath.
This is pertinent for sneakers and streetwear enthusiasts who are approaching their 30s, and may be asking, “What age is too old to wear streetwear?” Well, the answer to that is “Wear whatever the hell you want,” and in my case, that’s never more than one statement piece.
👨🔬What Are You Getting Dressed For?
To conclude with an abstract thought, what are you getting dressed for?
I couldn’t ever say it better than Brendan Babenzian to Sneaker Freaker.
“If all you’re doing is getting dressed in the morning to look cool and it’s not coming from a culture that influenced your style then you’re just a character.”