Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Pillars of Style, Part II: Pattern Coordination

Back in June I started a series called "The Pillars of Style." It's time to expand on fit, and this, Part Two of the series, deals with pattern coordination. This subject in and of itself is a huge can of worms, so I'll be breaking it down over a few entries. First, let's make one thing clear:

In theory, any patten can work with any solid. This means solid shirt with patterned tie, patterned shirt with solid tie, patterned jacket with solid shirt, etc. These are your training wheels, and it's difficult to mess up unless you have Ray Charles' eye for color (don't worry, Part Three on color coordination is forthcoming). Try it out, but let's put on our big boy underpants and learn a slightly more advanced lesson.


Some guys looks amazing in a striped shirt paired with a repp stripe tie while others look schlubby. The same goes for men wearing windowpane pants with a gingham shirt. How do you make it work? You keep scale in mind.

"Scale? What the hell do you mean by scale?"

A pattern's scale is its size, its proportion. Take, for example, two sport jackets. One has pinstripes (meaning that the stripes are very thin, as if they were drawn with a freshly sharpened pencil) that are 1/8" apart, while the other has chalk stripes (stripes that look like they were drawn in -you guessed it- chalk) that are 1/2" apart. Both are stripes, but the chalk stripe pattern is of larger scale than its pinstripe brother. Got it? Good.

Take a look at the shirt/tie combination in the photo above. This is textbook stripe-on-stripe coordination, and it looks boss as hell. All the wearer did was realize that he had a striped theme going, and he varied their scales. Narrowly-spaced stripes look great against thick, wide stripes. The same theory applies to checks; small checks look great against big windowpanes, which are a type of check. Having two like patterns of different scales allows you to have an intelligent theme to your ensemble while not making the viewers' eyes have to work to differentiate between the two patterns.

Next time, we'll mix two different patterns. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Barefoot on NJ Transit

About a week and a half ago, a friend of mine posted the picture you see here on her Facebook page. Like so many other people who commented on it, my thoughts were basically as follows:

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Bare feet? On public transit? This is not only a serious sartorial issue, but a hygienic one as well. Here goes:

First, what in the hell indicates to someone that it's okay to go barefoot on a train? This is a public place, and there were probably quite a few assholes like this guy who did the same thing. If he ends up with ringworm, athlete's foot, the clap, or whatever else might be transmitted through the floor, it's his own damned fault.

Second, it's easy to see why this is a problem from a style standpoint, and it doesn't require much in the way of expert analysis. Bare feet are appropriate when you're at the beach, the pool, or in the shower. That's pretty much it. Sure, when you're seated for extended periods of time, removing your footwear can make you more comfortable, but taking your shoes off on a plane, train, and/or automobile is only permissible under the following conditions:

1. Your feet don't stink, and
2. You're wearing socks.

I don't know if this man's feet smelled like hell, but it's plain to see that he wasn't wearing socks. Not only does this not make any sense whatsoever with his business casual outfit, but it's disrespectful to the people around you. Like many people, I neither get off on nor am particularly disgusted by feet, but seeing bare ones on full display on a NJ Transit train is fucking unseemly. Also, it's important to note that this man's feet aren't just bare; the manner in which he's crossing his legs puts them on display, as if to say "This is my world, and you people who paid the same money for your tickets as I did are just in it. I'm going to treat this car as if it were my living room, take my shoes and socks off, and get comfy. Deal with it."

Way to alpha-male everyone on the train, dude. I'm sure you're proud of yourself.