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Understanding fashion in america

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by kalra2411, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. kalra2411

    kalra2411 Senior member

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    I am a little confused with what is in fashion in the States, A few things. Firstly the commonly defined Preppy look, somehow I think that the US is the only place where this kind of look is is fashion. Here in London I would never seen anyone under the age of 60 dressed like that, I have some ideas of what it is, things like Tweed, Check Shirts, Tassel Shoes etc, but it would be good if someone could correctly define the term to me.

    Secondly Baggy clothes only very few teens trying to be what is in their minds "American" but they have probably never been there, wear baggy clothes. But is seems soo many people wear them in the States. I was wondering if you laughed at us Europeans wearing fitted shirts, suits, jeans and t-shirts in the same way we do to you.

    Thirdly colours, Beige seems very very popular there, here not very many people wear it, Black is seldom seen in your big citys, why? here If you are wearing either only black and/or white you are deemed as very fashionable.

    Lastly is it considered gay to be fashionable in America, it is like this in the North of England, and possibly Germany but I would say nowhere else in western europe
     
  2. aybojs

    aybojs Senior member

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    To answer a few of your questions:

    1. In my opinion the preppy look consists of the following:
    shirt: polo shirts (often with a lacoste/polo logo) and rugby shirts, often with bold colors or horizontal stripes and sometimes worn with collar upturned; button-down sport-shirts, usually in a white or pastel shade.
    pants: either shorts or chinos, almost always in khaki or white, though the more "adventurous" sometimes wear pale blue, nantucket red, yellow, or plaid, although they usually offset this with a white shirt.
    shoes: boating shoes, penny loafers, or sandals
    accessories: woven leather or colored canvas belt, sweater in similar colors/styles as polo shirts.
    I don't think its necessarily a bad look, but it can get tired pretty fast. It also tends to draw ire from a lot of people, see point 4 as to why.

    2. As for baggy clothes; in America, the average person either tends to be rather overweight or bulky and muscular. To accomodate that market, clothiers have to make their clothes looser and cut them larger. It's feasible to take in a few inches on a suit or cut away some extra fabric and make a too-big garment look acceptable on a smaller person, but it's not possible to add extra material to something that's too small, so it makes more economic sense to cut clothes larger. Americans also are concerned heavily with comfort, and to some, form-fitting clothes can be perceived as confining and unnecessary. I don't think your average American would mock a Dior-type look; rather he'd say something like "why bother?"

    3. I really hate the beige look too; my guess is just that it's just a non-offensive "color" that saves the average man the effort of coordinating a wardrobe. I see black a lot in the cities though, actually to the point where I think it's being overdone.

    4. My take is that a lot of American guys hate fashion because they see it as pretentious and elitist (they have somewhat of a point, a visit to any major label's website will show you how full of themselves some designers can be). The general opinion is that since decent clothes (and Banana Republic et al, isn't necessarily bad clothes, just boring) can be had on the mass market cheaply and easily, there's no reason to spend a lot on clothes.
    Take a look at how Americans dress for interviews in such a bland manner. If you show up in a slim-cut three piece suit wearing a pocket square and french cuff shirt, a lot of people will get offended and think you're some kind of ostentatious prick. One possible explanation for this trend is that fine clothes have always been associated with wealth, and give off an aristocratic image. America has never taken kindly to the idea of nobility or aristocracy, and basically was founded as an agrarian/blue-collar protest to the European tradition. I think that legacy might have something to do with the poor perception of fashion in the U.S.
     
  3. AAA

    AAA Senior member

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    My two cents...

    Regarding the "Preppy" look, I agree with Aybojs on the definition. I think he is spot on. I don't think this look is limited to the US. When I was in Denmark and visited the dance clubs, the women were dressed very chic and fashionably, yet the guys were all in Polo type shirts with sweaters tied around their necks. It was as if it the guys had stepped right out a 1988 John Hughes movie. As far as wearing tweed, do people actually still wear that?

    Black is everywhere. Why do you think its not seen in the big cities? At least here in the NYC area EVERYONE wears it. In my opinion it's what people where when they are trying to look fashionable and hip, yet often forget that there is more to their clothes than just the color.

    Extremely baggy clothes is definitely a street/hip hop look. I have no idea why it is so fashionable in the States, but whatever is hot on "the street" tends to permeate to the rest of America at some point.

    I think you are right about the whole its gay to be fashionable, at least in most of the country. Just look at "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy". Aybojs' explanation is probably as right as any.
     
  4. vero_group

    vero_group Senior member

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    However we Americans got around to our views on fashion, I must say, on the whole, Americans have got to be worst dressed people in the world. Sometimes just walking around in public places in America makes me want to puke. The body shapes, and the horrible quality and style of clothing covering them are just horrendous. Our citizenry is definitely overweight and only concerned about comfort. Certainly, there are exceptions to this rule with pockets of sveltness and style here and there everywhere, but by and large, the rule is the rule, and we are the Ugly Americans so visible to the rest of the world.
     
  5. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Senior member

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    concerning "it's gay to be fashionable":
    it really depends on your definition of what fashionable means. i'm sure the guy wearing an xxxl dallas cowboys jersey with denim shorts that go past his knees thinks he's being very fashionable, and not at all gay. btw, it occured to me that the whole baggy clothes thing may have to do with an adolescent attempt by young men to behave in an opposite way to young women. the teenage girls over here wear very tight, form fitting clothes, and they do say opposites attract. i agree that the american preppy look extends way beyond america.
     
  6. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Senior member

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    i agree wholeheartedly with mr. verogroup. to me it's not so much a question of quality, as i understand many people cannot afford well made clothes. but even if one cannot afford something well made, one can still dress for the occasion. tennis shoes are for playing tennis, combat boots are for combat, etc... even in poor countries, you see men wearing suits to church, or wearing buttoned shirts tucked in on normal days. it's the plethora of logo t-shirts, flip flops, and shorts that annoys me. the american is being raised to seek comfort at all cost, and this is one of the many negative results.
     
  7. vero_group

    vero_group Senior member

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    My point exactly. The average citizen living in the wealthiest country in the history of the world and making one of the highest average annual incomes in the world should be dressing a hell of a lot nicer than he or she is.

    Instead, we have people wearing sweat pants, tennis shoes, no socks, and untucked wifebeaters to restaurants and other public places. And, this happens more often than you think. Take a good, conscious look around the next time you go to the mall or out to eat. It's pretty heinous out there.
     
  8. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I don't think it's the actual items (t-shirts, shorts, baggy clothes, etc...) that make America one of the most poorly dressed nations in the world. It is the palpable apathy toward one's own appearance.
     
  9. kalra2411

    kalra2411 Senior member

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    I do not feel that your nation is badly dressed, I just find it very different. Allways in all richer countrys, people outside citys dress badly, it is not just the US.

    I just do not think we can compare the US and UK to places like Italy, France and Japan. They are what I would call unafraid, unlike we Brits, and you Americans. We are afraid of dressing too weird (like they do on the runaways) but the above mentioned certainly are not.

    Also I would like to thank everyone for understanding my ideas and not taking them as an insult, as it was not suposed to be.
     
  10. mr. magoo

    mr. magoo Senior member

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    I think everyone else's responses have been pretty good so far, so mine is just a touch of clarification...

    Preppy isn't that far from the look of Hackett's in London, frankly. You're thinking a bit more fogey than anything else. Think navy jackets, oxford shirts, flannel or tan cotton (i.e., khaki chinos) trousers, loafers. At its heart, Ralph Lauren is attempting to replicate classic preppy dress, although a designer/company of that scale has some diversity to its looks. Ever seen "Animal House" or "Dead Poets Society"? Preppy, as in prep school.

    One popular explanation of American love of tan pants (i.e., chinos or khakis) is that at the end of World War II, US servicemen returned to work and particularly to colleges. The soldiers (known as "GIs") flooded schools, partly thanks to government aid called the GI Bill. However, thanks to 4 years of war and a previous 12 years of economic depression, many of these soldiers only had the tan pants issued as part of their army dress uniforms. What would've been considered work clothes previously became a staple at the socially influential university scene. By the time that generation passed through colleges, the pants became an acceptable middleground somewhere between casual clothes (i.e., jeans) and suits. Since Americans tend to embrace the casual alternative to nice clothes, these became a standard issue trouser to virtually every male in the US. To many men, these are now "nice" pants, to be work to weddings, church, dates, etc. I'm wearing tan pants at work as an attorney right now (although I like to think fashionable tan pants that are from -- gasp -- England).

    And yes, as someone who was raised in the middle of the American west, I can assure you that a "fitted" European look would've looked uncomfortable and silly, although generally the Americans don't really care what Europeans wear.
     
  11. kalra2411

    kalra2411 Senior member

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    Thanks to all for good responses
     

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