Sunday, August 29, 2010
Style Balls≠Style Brains
I took this picture about a week or so ago in Center City. Yes, the man in it is dressed as a cowboy adhering to a business-casual dress code. The moment I saw him I immediately thought that he looked ridiculous, but I also realized something that I didn't expect: that this guy, assuming that he wasn't a crazy vagrant stealing shit from Dudes Boutique on South Street, had brass balls and I admired him for it.
This presented me with some cognitive dissonance. How could I, a self-proclaimed style guy who prides himself on his knowledge of the traditions and history of Western tailored clothing, admire a man who went out in broad daylight in a place other than the rural American Southwest dressed like a fucking cowboy? I could do so because part of having style is having the willingness and ability to dress as one sees oneself, and if this man sees himself dressed as a cowboy, then so be it.
In style as in life, however, balls do not always win over brains. While this man showed off a major pair of cojones by dressing as a cowboy in Philadelphia, his look was inherently costumey and this is what I believe compromised it. Wearing a costume is a cheap, easy way to get attention; smartly coordinating a shirt, tie, and pocket square is more subtle but just as effective once the subtleties are realized. It's a simple case of negative attention versus positive attention.
The broader lesson here is that to dress ostentatiously is to appear foolish. It means you can't be taken seriously. This is particularly important to remember for events like job interviews, because no company worth its salt would fail to ask, "What the FUCK is this man wearing?" My advice is to learn the finer points of dressing -tie dimples, shirt/tie combos, proper fit, and a million other things- instead of being loud as hell and coming off as ridiculous. It takes a long time to learn the rules so well that you can break them, but once you do, you'll never look better.