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Why does the MC tailored aesthetic fetishise the idea of insouciant dressing? - Page 7

post #91 of 106
you're second point resonates with me. I am suspect of many things that are "too pefect" or "too put together"... as if there's no soul. no personality. a lot of stuff is better when it's slightly off-key -- rock music, art, graphic design. though some things are better when perfectly executed like minimalist architecture or sashimi.

wrt to modern streetwear, I think the whole premise is be insouciant, so there's not the same concept of messing with any "rules".
post #92 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuuma View Post

No, it means you grew up in an environment where you absorbed them but are too cool to care...

Indeed. And some of these things - how to fasten a button, tie a tie, lace shoes - are actually learned. As, whether directly from parents or indirectly from popular culture and observation, are many other conventions about how one should or should not dress. Choosing to do them differently from the conventional way you were taught or learned is a conscious decision, not a mystical expression of "cool".
post #93 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

you're second point resonates with me. I am suspect of many things that are "too pefect" or "too put together"... as if there's no soul. no personality. a lot of stuff is better when it's slightly off-key -- rock music, art, graphic design. though some things are better when perfectly executed like minimalist architecture or sashimi.
wrt to modern streetwear, I think the whole premise is be insouciant, so there's not the same concept of messing with any "rules".

I agree on the first. I somehow grew up with the idea that dressing too neatly ("dapper") was a sign of some combination of (i) small-mindedness; (ii) mild creepiness; (iii) lower middle-class psychological repression and social insecurity. "Elegance", on the other hand, had an element of disregard to it.

My thought on streetwear (not SWD streetwear) is that things like trousers worn too low, or basketball boots without laces, or baseball caps at funny angles, are undeniably contrived, but also somehow aspire to a street version of insouciance. Of course, the big difference is you look like a complete wanker wearing any of them.
post #94 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geezer View Post

I agree on the first. I somehow grew up with the idea that dressing too neatly ("dapper") was a sign of some combination of (i) small-mindedness; (ii) mild creepiness; (iii) lower middle-class psychological repression and social insecurity. "Elegance", on the other hand, had an element of disregard to it.

Fastidiousness in general is unattractive. Being too prim in your dress signals something about your personality.
post #95 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdfast View Post

More unhappily, I suspect it may also reflect subgroup distaste for an up-and-comer/outsider/"foreigner" who tries his best to simply do things correctly but can never fit in because he doesn't understand how to break the rules just right.

From the practical perspective, this.

Dress is a signalling mechanism, even if you "dress for yourself" -- particularly if you "dress for yourself." But, like all signalling mechanisms, the easier they are to "fake" the less valuable they are.

Up until relatively recently -- in fact, up until the invention of the internet -- the finer points of classical dress had to be transmitted . . . well, I would say culturally here, but Fuuma would probably jump all over me . . . anyway, it was something that you learned from your family and from the social mileau that you inhabited which in this case, of course, means the upper classes. Because that was the only way it could be learned, it was a powerful method of identifying PLU and weeding out poseurs.

In that context "sprez" or insouciance or whatever you want to call it was part of the signalling mechanism. Poseurs, or, to use the technical term, "wannabes", might be able to mimic the macroscopic elements of classical dress but they could never learn to mimic the aspects of actually living in those clothes unless they, well, actually lived in those clothes. This is what "sprez" originally was.

To give you a small example. I have a number of RTW OCBD shirts that I wear casually (and when I say "casually", I mean as only we here on SF can imagine the term) that have double-button cuffs. I usually wear a sports watch with these shirts and, hence, I leave the button on the left wrist closest to the hand unbuttoned so the watch can fit under the cuff. Out of habit, I usually don't button that button even if I'm not wearing a watch.

It is this kind of process that generated the idea that pocket squares should just be stuffed into the breast pocket. Wearing a pocket square carefully folded into an origami crane is incompatible with the idea that your pocket square is something that you use. But so, of course, is having a pocket square in expensive silk that features a hand-made reproduction of the Bayeux tapestry or whatever.

Is this all pointless now? Probably for its original purpose, yes. Though the idea of sprez is a useful antidote if we find ourselves spiraling into OCD trying to follow all the real and imagined rules attached to classical dress. But even the signalling mechanism of the suit itself is fading. This may be the last generation where wearing a suit and tie will get you a better table at a good restaurant.
post #96 of 106
I think that, ultimately, unless you wear tailored clothing nearly every day until it becomes second nature, whatever insouciance you have is either inherent or a pose. There's little you can do about acquiring the former. For MC enthusiasts who rarely put on coat and tie (and have no history of doing so regularly), it will almost certainly be unnatural and contrived. For the same reason, most of us are wearing costume when we put on black tie, even if we are regular suit wearers.
post #97 of 106
I would add one more: dressing "too perfect" for me signifies death - literally. Being dreessed too perfect simply means that you never do anything, you never come in contact with the elements, you don't sweat - you just sit there, looking crisp like a mummy. This is why the implicit meaning of the suit aesthetic terrifies me: it is the uniform of a man who is single mindedly focused on business activity, and nothing else. No matter how much we would protest, the suit and tie outfit is inappropriate for (or will not last looking crisp very long) during any activity actually connected to living. The same applies to the type of social life typically associated with the suit - polite, restrained, slow mingling, dancing. Nothing too spontaneous.

You could counter with examples of true moneybags or playboys who actually live in their suits. But guess what - they actually don't look that great. Agnelli in particular is a walking abomination. People are just mesmerized by the idea of using an expensive tailored suit like a track suit - very poor use of time, skill and money, regardless of income level.

Burn your suits, gentlemen. We've got nothing to lose but our misguided aspirations icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif
Obviously, this is hard for me to do (i'm here smile.gif), so I draw the line at counrty clothing - odd jackets, w or without tie. I am on my way to play soccer after work without changing from my slacks and suede shoes. The jacket will come off, the tie maybe. But enough slavery.
post #98 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarbutch View Post

For the same reason, most of us are wearing costume when we put on black tie, even if we are regular suit wearers.

Black tie every night is tough on the wallet, to say nothing of the liver.
post #99 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by eg1 View Post

But if Frye is correct, this phase does not last forever -- winter does eventually give way once more to spring ... smile.gif
If he is wrong, then it's just ffffuuuu.gif all the way down until entropy's darkness swallows all.

I don't know smile.gif . But anybody making random references to entropy has got the right worldview, yessir icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif
post #100 of 106
Interesting.


Coming from someone like me, that is, a person whose knowledge of "MC tailored aesthetic" is limited to what I have intentionally sought out here and who has a minimal need to wear jacket and tie,

I always thought of MC as the opposite of insouciant. But, then again, If I read into your title, I suppose it really is only the idea of insouciant dressing, because, you are after all wearing a jacket and tie in an age where... well we know what
post #101 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuuma View Post

The protestant ethic and the pretend-meritocracy of market democracies has not managed to erase the (spiritual) feeling that it is better to be chosen (by fate, by god etc) than it is to develop something. We all want to be anointed, merely working for something just doesn't compare to having fate deliver it to you.
This is a very interesting thought and probably true in large part. But I would argue that the Protestant ethic has contributed to insouciance in dress. If there is a united Protestant ethic, it favors hard work in areas thought to be of high value (business, study, morality, prayer), but it does not praise time and effort spent on things of perceived low value, such as personal appearance and reputation.

In recent coverage of the Olympic games you could see clearly how Americans praise hard work, dedicated training, and self-sacrifice for a worthy cause. It was even obvious in the recent Batman movie: Bruce Wayne is both playboy and Batman. As the playboy he looks good, trashes his luxurious accoutrements (clothes, cars, furniture, arm candy) and shows up on the tabloid pages. He is the model of insouciance, and as such he's admired to an extent. But not nearly as much as when he takes on the role of the Batman, who devotes long hours to study and physical conditioning (to defend and improve his community) while not caring much at all about his looks ("Does it come in black?") or reputation.

So, imo, we praise hard work and attention to detail in "worthwhile pursuits" and not in "frivolous" ones. And, this is at least partly due to the Protestant emphasis on the fallenness of the body and the physical world in general. Catholics and Orthodox Xns see the physical world as fallen but still "sacramental," i.e. despite sin, creation is imbued with the goodness of the creator, so it can lift the mind/soul of a person to God. See the liberal use of vestments, incense, icons, statues, stained glass, etc.
post #102 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by philosophe View Post

Thanks for starting this thread, HF.
The contrast between natural ability/talent and hard work predates Judaism and Christianity. Look, for example, at ancient Greek ethics: Aristotle praises the person who is by nature moderate, generous, courageous, etc. Such a person is born with the right temperament and into the right social context, such that he has the right appetites and moral emotions. Judaism and Christianity praise the individual who strives to overcome temptation. Early rabbinic texts and later Maimonides praise continence and self-control: managing one's desires is praiseworthy. The Christian theology of post-lapsarian temptations goes even further: everyone is always responsible for conquering defective appetites and desires. the monotheists like hard work.
I find it interesting that women are praised for spending a lot of time on personal appearance and clothing, but men (with the exception of men in dress uniforms) are expected to look as if they've spent very little time contemplating haircuts, clothing, and all that. I suspect fetishizing insouciance over careful production points not only to the talent/hard work dilemma but also to prevailing ideas about masculinity and femininity.
This is very interesting and insightful too. However, iirc, it was Plato, much more than Aristotle, who thought that one's birth influenced who one was to become. I agree that Aristotle thought one's birth, and luck in general, were important. But didn't he emphasize that (1) one's life depended primarily on one's character, (2) character is the sum total of one's virtues and vices, and (3) virtues and vices are formed by long, arduous periods of practice and study? So, for example, iirc, he thought people tended to be self-indulgent by nature, and so we should practice self-denial in order to become moderate and self-controled. Virtues for him are more a matter of habit or "second nature" than nature. Is that not the case?

As you know, Xn theology on the relationship between grace and work is complicated. Augustine and other early church fathers thought they must cooperate. Thomas developed a systematic theory that combined Plato and Aristotle's "acquired" virtues (justice, prudence, courage, etc.) with Paul's "infused" ones (faith, hope, and charity). Luther separated the body and soul, claimed that faith alone saved the soul, but works were good for disciplining the body and providing worthwhile expressions of faith and love. On the surface, he seems to separate grace and works, but I think a careful study shows he remains Catholic in holding them as complementary.
post #103 of 106
very interesting thread, subscribed
post #104 of 106
I appreciate the philosophical references, but this may be taking it too far - for most of human history, the obsession about how to dress simply did not exist as a concern except for ceremonial purposes (under which I also class styles and rules developed by the ultra-rich in each respective epoch). Other than that clothing was simply an integral part of everyday culture/art, and I doubt it was ever scrutinized the way it is today.

Things changed in modernity, since a variety of aspirations became possible, and I'd imagine consciously working on one's clothing was/is one way to express them. The other thing is the advent of consumer markets. A lot of what passes for tradition, is simply the invention of burgeois shop keepers looking for stuff to sell to the rich. It is no accident that it is possible to pinpoint the birth of the Dandy (Brumell) at the exact same time when the industrial capitalism was taking off. Brumell was simply a run of the mill middle class douchebag who aspired to be a rich/aristocratic douchebag, who stumbled upon a way to liberate this striving from tradition and turn it (dressing) into an "art" in itself. The rich douches were impressed by his ability to show semblance of grace, and it's been a perpetual class fashion struggle between the old money, the new money, and the plebs ever since.

We, the SFers are the biggest suckers born since then: if we had the common sense not to fall for this fashion bullshit, we'd be living happier and more secure lives with half the effort.nod[1].gif
post #105 of 106

HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THIS THREAD?!?!?

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