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The Official Dieworkwear Appreciation Thread

somatoform

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At least in Western societies, I think it's always been considered odd for men to have an interest in clothing. Men are supposed to dedicate their lives to higher pursuits, such as a life of the mind.
I totally understand this common refrain, and I know the rest of your post places emphases on "overt" displays of dressing. And yet, though I find myself somewhat agreeing with it, I also can't see it and find too many exceptions to it, particularly since we are talking about men in general.

How, for example, would we classify an 80s/90s skinhead (disclaimer: I know nothing of skinhead culture and don't care, by which I mean, I know it's varied, but I'm thinking very stereotypically here, but also somewhat empirically). You know, you have the uniform - the nylon aviator, the white tee, the suspenders, the jeans, the docs, and then of course the white or red laces (right down to the laces!). All of these speak to an explicit, intentional, concerted, and decidedly non-sprezzatura sartorial assemblage going on here. You can repeat this same observation in any one of a number of other (sub)genres of male dressing.

What then would men not having an interest in clothing look like?
 

Chaconne

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I don't think that's quite right and the CM community exemplifies it.

Look at Herbert's Dune - that Paul wears his desert suit correctly "out of instinct" in the first book is the turning point after which the Fremen begin to believe. Or this now famous article. Or the former combat divers that formed Cousteau's first team and their obsession with dive watches. Or lawyers. There is and has always been plenty of this stuff in aggressive, "manly" fields.
It seems to depend on the level of interest. Picking out the right jersey to watch the game is cool. Wearing distinctive sneakers is cool. Wearing some nice looking shoes or a nice watch is cool. It’s when Everything you are wearing is very nice and you look too put together and especially when you seem to others to be dressed above the occasion that you face suspicion.
 

mak1277

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It seems to depend on the level of interest. Picking out the right jersey to watch the game is cool. Wearing distinctive sneakers is cool. Wearing some nice looking shoes or a nice watch is cool. It’s when Everything you are wearing is very nice and you look too put together and especially when you seem to others to be dressed above the occasion that you face suspicion.
I think there’s also a distinction between being “well dressed” and being “flamboyant“. Knowing how to dress for an occasion is (or should be) part of being a well rounded man. Reveling in dress is when one might “face suspicion“ as you put it.
 

vida

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What did you find painful or embarrassing about it?
I was really speaking from a point of personal reflection. I think that the amount of energy that I have put into the nuance of menswear has not been the most productive use of my time...and it made me think of other ways that may have been more useful. But the podcast is very interesting and revealing.
By the way, Derek, your writing is excellent! It is thoughtful, well researched, fair and always intriguing. Your contributions to the forum and the content of your site are very much appreciated.
 

Journeyman

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At least in Western societies, I think it's always been considered odd for men to have an interest in clothing. Men are supposed to dedicate their lives to higher pursuits, such as a life of the mind. Women were allowed to have fashion, but they were traditionally considered less than men. Vanity, pride, and the body are considered shameful.
I don't think that's particularly accurate. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that for many centuries, menswear (at least for the upper- and the monied middle-classes) was just as elaborate as womenswear, or even more so.

High-heeled shoes; long powdered wigs; skin-tight leggings to show off calves and buttocks; velvet doublets slashed to show bright, contrasting silk lining inside; elaborate frogging and embroidery on coats; and so on and on. During some periods, women looked positively dowdy in comparison.

I think that it's really only since the reign of Queen Victoria or thereabouts that menswear became more restrained, with a preference for darker colours, plain appearance and so on.
 

1969

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...But capitalism is a result of policies and structure. This is one of the great findings of Karl Polyani's book The Great Transformation, which looked at the emergence of what he called market societies. He looked at how even free markets are planned
Dat Buffalo check though....

1596546758423.png
 

Knurt

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1596547668763.jpeg

A quick search do not thoroughly reveal Karl Polanyi to have been a conscious and considerate dresser, but there are some indicatoons he was. At least he seems to have worn a suit most of the time.
 

heldentenor

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What did you find painful or embarrassing about it?
Painful might be imprecise. I found Bruce's dissection of sprezzatura as being ultimately about men's unwillingness to be vulnerable to be brilliant; I must show an imperfection so that people can imagine a perfect me but never see it, lest the perfected version fall short.

Also, as you pointed out Derek, mens' culturally conditioned fears of really embracing self-expression. I've been reading a lot of Baldwin recently and am superimposing a leap from him to this, but I wonder whether "classic menswear" (which I love) can ever really show, rather than hide, the true selves for Western, white, hetero-presenting men. If it does, it belongs to the realm of the subtle--but how then to distinguish that pursuit of subtlety from the competitive menswear battles that Bruce discusses (and probably exaggerates)? I suppose only the individual knows his own motives.
 

dieworkwear

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I totally understand this common refrain, and I know the rest of your post places emphases on "overt" displays of dressing. And yet, though I find myself somewhat agreeing with it, I also can't see it and find too many exceptions to it, particularly since we are talking about men in general.

How, for example, would we classify an 80s/90s skinhead (disclaimer: I know nothing of skinhead culture and don't care, by which I mean, I know it's varied, but I'm thinking very stereotypically here, but also somewhat empirically). You know, you have the uniform - the nylon aviator, the white tee, the suspenders, the jeans, the docs, and then of course the white or red laces (right down to the laces!). All of these speak to an explicit, intentional, concerted, and decidedly non-sprezzatura sartorial assemblage going on here. You can repeat this same observation in any one of a number of other (sub)genres of male dressing.

What then would men not having an interest in clothing look like?
That's true. I suppose I should say men have always been interested in clothes, but also are careful about showing too much interest in clothes.

I think the kind of dress you're talking about is more about group identity and signaling. People dress in ways to show they're part of a group, but also in subtle ways within that code to show they're individuality within that group.

But I think guys also are careful about showing too much interest in clothing and are often very careful about overstepping gender norms in the ways they dress. It wasn't that long ago when metrosexual was a thing.

When the podcast Failing Upwards (now Throwing Fits) was picked up by Barstool Sports, I headed over to Barstool's blog to read their introduction of the show. Comment section was filled with variations on "men shouldn't care about clothes." I remember realizing at the time that I live in a bubble.

Dat Buffalo check though....
Have you read Polanyi? One of my favorite authors.
 

Knurt

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I have read Polanyi. He is also a favourite of mine, as is Alexander Gerschenkrohn who I have seen you have referred to.
 

Blake Stitched Blues

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I wonder whether "classic menswear" (which I love) can ever really show, rather than hide, the true selves for Western, white, hetero-presenting men.
Can you explain why classic menswear would 'hide the true self' for white men but not the non-white, non-heterosexual men who wear it?
 

heldentenor

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Can you explain why classic menswear would 'hide the true self' for white men but not the non-white, non-heterosexual men who wear it?
Mostly context. Men who are not white and/or straight can, and certainly do, put on classic menswear for conformist rather than expressivist reasons. Whether that stems from authentic desire or oppressive expectations is a complicated question, and I wouldn't suggest one size fits all in answering it.

In the podcast I linked, Derek does a great job explaining why expressivist dress, transgression, and outsider status are historically related. I'd suggest that not only non-cisgendered, non-heterosexual people (like Wilde or, in our own moment, Megan Rapinoe), but also black dandies, have claimed space to use classic menswear as a mode for complex expression--of autonomy, belonging, expression, differentiation, and perhaps of oppression, all bound up together.

MEgan Rapinoe Thom Browne.jpg


Baldwin tweed.jpg


For white heterosexual men who want to use classic menswear as a mode of claiming the self (rather than basic conformity to a code, winning at competitive menswear, or establishing a reputation for taste), the question becomes about transcending the barrier between intention and perception. I'm white and straight, and I love the more visually expressive parts of the menswear palette (colorful tweeds, big checks) that I think are consonant with who I am and how I want to perform that self into being. Those elements are also perfectly consonant with my professional identity and with a historical canon consistent with my race, my gender, my sexual orientation, and my professional/class identities (the last in aspiration if not by birth). I don't know where what I like ends and what I want to represent begins when I put on a glenplaid jacket; I do know that both are in play.

No one has to care about any of this, of course, and in the twenty-first century I wouldn't tell anyone who was white, straight, and male that they're wearing suits or tweeds or linens for any reason other than pleasure and preference. But I also think there's more to consider.
 

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Blake Stitched Blues

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I'm white and straight.
That's cool. I just don't get why you need to flagellate yourself for it. You were posting a few weeks ago about the link between menswear and 'white supremacy' for goodness sake. It's really tedious the way you try to 'problematize' something that just isn't problematic in the first place.

Those elements are also perfectly consonant with my professional identity
I feel that this is an awfully long-winded way of saying 'I can get away with wearing colourful tweeds and checks at work'. Good for you I guess.

and with a historical canon consistent with my race, my gender, my sexual orientation, and my professional/class identities
I find it troubling that you feel the 'historical canon' of menswear is only consistent with straight white people.

Menswear was worn by virtually all men up until relatively recently. Black, brown, gay, straight, rich, poor, whatever - all of them have an equally valid claim to it. For years - decades - it was simply menswear and it was just as consistent across all races and orientations.
 

heldentenor

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I don't think you read a word of what I actually wrote, here or earlier, @Blake Stitched Blues. I get it. You were looking for a fight and trolled me successfully. You win.
 

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