“I know I look like a wanker. I enjoy looking like a wanker. Looking like a wanker is a basic human right and a huge part of having a signature style. I have always looked like a wanker. I looked like a wanker when I wore plaid bondage outfits in 1978. I looked like a wanker when I dressed like a pirate during the early-’80s New Romantic era. I am sure I will die looking like a wanker. I never subscribed to the idea of good taste: It’s a subjective concept promoted by fashion scribes to oppress the rest of us. Dressing age-inappropriately is, so they say, in poor taste, and it’s vulgar. This is exactly why I celebrate it.” Simon Doonan wrote an enjoyable counterpoint to articles (and, um, websites) that advise people to dress tastefully and age appropriately.
“Manhattanites in plaid flannel shirts and crepe-soled leather boots are hiking down Fifth Avenue. Students in goose-down vests and baggy sweatpants are trekking through Harvard Square. Dudes in lumber jackets are hanging out in Beverly Hills. Few of these folks have a clue how to swing a fly rod or an ax. But they do know that outdoor gear designed for the backwoods has come in from the cold for wear everywhere.” — Written in 2010 or 1976? Answer is here.

Put This On: Consolidation (Milan)

Milan is one of the world’s great fashion capitals… but these days, it’s dominated by one megaconglomerate: Prada. How does this consolidation affect craftsmen? What about consumers? We went to Milan to ask those questions.

This is just one segment from our latest episode; you can (and should!) watch the whole thing right here.

Put This On Season 2, Episode 6: Consolidation

Gucci Gucci Louis Louis Fendi Fendi Prada… what happens when a hundred artisans’ shops become a few global megacompanies? We went to Milan, Italy, to talk to small-scale makers who work in the shadow of fashion conglomerates like Prada. It’s one of our most ambitious episodes and the grand finale of our season.

Take Antonio Pio Mele, a cobbler who makes shoes by hand in a small shop in central Milan. He’s grateful that huge brands occasionally hire him to make samples, but he’s angry they rarely pay him on time and that their “bespoke” operations are rarely genuinely bespoke. Scholar Alex Pietrogiacomi provides some philosophical context, and photographer Simone Falcetta explains how consolidation has changed the fashion world.

We also talk to Milanese dandy Pino Pipoli, Dave Hill offers a rudiment about black suits, and the beautiful Valentina Galbiati gives us a guided tour of Milan’s most influential and beautiful boutique, 10 Corso Como.

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Watch it elsewhere:

Vimeo / Youtube / iTunes

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Buy Season One on DVD for $16

This episode was supported by our viewers.

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Executive Producers: Jesse Thorn & Adam Lisagor

Director: Benjamin Ahr Harrison

Host / Writer / Producer: Jesse Thorn

Rudiments: Dave Hill

Producer: Gianluca Migliarotti

Director of Photography: Daniele Vascelli

Sound: Daniele Belli

Editor: Brendan Ferrer

Subtitle Translation: Giovanni D’Amico

“Fashion, n. A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.” — Ambrose Bierce

Window Dressing

The best way to learn how to dress is by observing well-dressed men. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many around nowadays, so many style enthusiasts have gone online for inspiration. The internet, however, is mostly filled with clips from lookbooks, street style photos taken outside of fashion tradeshows, and images of store window displays.

To some degree, these things can give good instruction. They may make you notice how certain colors go really well together – such as grey and green – or how appealing a certain fabric’s pattern can be. However, they should not be taken too literally, as most are purposely over-the-top. Lookbooks and magazine photoshoots are over-stylized in order to be provocative; most street style photos today are just of peacocks in the fashion business; and store window displays are meant to showcase a retailer’s seasonal wares, put together in the most eye-catching way possible. Thus, most of these images have people (or mannequins) who are over-accessorized, over-layered, and often doing some new gimmick that’s meant to draw attention.  

If taken too literally, they can make you to think it’s a good idea to put some bauble in your lapel hole, pop your sport jacket’s lapels, roll up your jacket’s sleeves, invent some new way of wearing pants, and layer some denim jacket underneath a bubble vest, both layered underneath a sport coat. One can argue whether these things actually look good online (I think sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t), but they certainly don’t in real life, as they come off as incredibly contrived and affected.

So, take what you can from the internet, but pay attention to what works in real life, and what looks unnatural. If you actually look like you stepped out of a fashion photoshoot or store window display, you’re likely not be very well-dressed.

(Photos from The Sartorialist and LBM 1911)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tavi Gevinson

I had a great conversation with Tavi Gevinson on my radio show Bullseye this week. If you don’t already know, Tavi is the editor of RookieMag.com, an online magazine for teenage girls. She’s 16, and commands a staff of grown-ups (and a few other teens). She rose to prominence as a fashion blogger with her blog The Style Rookie, and I talked to her about some of the odd things about fashion blogging, as well as about our mutual enthusiasm for thrifting. This is an amazing young woman who should really be on your radar.

You can also listen to the full episode here (it also features Michael Ian Black and Retta, who’s best known as Donna from Parks & Recreation). Every episode of Bullseye is free in iTunes - you can download them or subscribe to the podcast here.

On the podcast Necessary & Sufficient, host Evan Forman sends his guests an envelope containing two index cards, each with a single word. They then open the envelope live on the air. When I appeared on episode 100 of the show, the words were “fashion” and “style.” A discussion followed.