Where Ian drops some incredibly sound advice…
I think Ian’s points about technical gear (in his example guitar equipment) materializes with a profound clarity at the intersection of photography and #menswear. There’s a sense that one is a ‘peasant’ (to use a term favored by the #menswear illuminati) if they don’t have the right gear for snapping bokeh-heavy (posed) street style photography. Alex of superdanger takes some of the best pics I see on tumblr, and he does so with a fairly old Canon Rebel DSLR and Canon’s cheapest 50mm portrait lens—a rig you could pick on craigslist for around $250 if you looked hard enough. Ian’s object lesson is a great one: there’s no technical substitute for human creativity; getting bogged down in petty details, or worse, feeling bad because you can’t afford what those who pollute your imagination with their #wealth have, not only evacuates getting dressed up of its meaning (i.e., being creative, feeling good about yourself, and having fun) but is often a recipe for reckless and dangerous spending.
Personal Style, Part II: It’s (not always) in the Details
This is the second installment in a series about events that shaped the way I dress. These stories may or may not be relevant to you but hopefully they offer a perspective that isn’t often seen on the internet. Part I can be found here.
Perhaps it’s because I’m an engineer, but I love getting lost in minutiae. This is especially prevalent in my fascination with men’s clothing; I love to obsess over and ponder the implications of a quarter-inch of lapel and tie, the distance between stripes on shirts, or the brogueing pattern on a pair of wingtips. That’s one of the great things about hobbies – they give you the opportunity to delve into something so deeply that only you can appreciate all the fine points.
However, I have come to realize that this type of information is only beneficial to a point; after that, it can be distracting and even detrimental – allow me to explain.
Those that know me well know that I have spent much of my life playing music; some would even argue that my interest in #menswear only appeared when I moved to California and left my musical friends behind, thus filling the hole in my life that constant gigging had once occupied. Regardless, they are both great passions of mine and I love to obsess over both.
One of my close friends is a professional guitar player in Los Angeles. Now, one thing guitarists love to do – perhaps even more than playing – is to obsess over gear. Whenever I was able to spend time with this friend I would pump him for trade information: are vintage tubes really that much better than new ones? (yes.) Does the chip in an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer make that big of a difference? (yes.) Are true bypass pedals always better than buffer pedals? (not necessarily.) After grilling him for an hour or two I would leave the conversation feeling confident that I was a better guitarist than before. After one such conversation, though, my friend told me something that hung with me for a long time:
“Learning about gear and obsessing over details is always fun, but don’t let it take over; sometimes we spend weeks poring over unattainable items and product specs, only to realize we haven’t practiced in a month.”
This statement struck me; it’s true that my interest in creating an imaginary dream axe had completely overshadowed my desire to practice, and my playing had suffered for it. There is no substitute for practice – a good musician with bad gear will always sound better than the reverse. In the same way, we too often obsess over lookbooks and luxury items, while only seeing imperfection in what we already own. Although there is indeed value in knowledge, true understanding of any subject comes from experience. Don’t let your imperfect wardrobe or .jpeg library of #menswear keep you from putting things on with confidence in the morning. Try things, learn from your mistakes, and have fun.
Practice is the key to improving; money is not.
Many of the items I’m wearing above were cast deep into my closet for not being “perfect;” however, I’ve learned from the experiences and I still know that if I wear them with confidence nobody will notice their imperfections anyway.
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