Posts Tagged 'streetstyle'

fashion, it is irrelevant

I am putting off Chinese homework, diagramming the uses of my building, reskimming S,M,L,XL (a canonical architecture book), scanning for thesis because I just received The Sartorialist by Scott Schumann. It is the first compilation of his work as a street style photographer and it is a bible, treasure chest, a gem, an encyclopedia, a wunderkabinett of style . Too many cheesy words come to mind.

I discovered The Sartorialist the summer after freshman year in college and it has since held my absolute loyalty and respect. Within the first week of discovery, I had gone through 2 years worth of the blog’s archives. There was some inexplicable magic in Schumann’s photographs that revealed the thoughtfulness and true skill with which these people dressed, but also conveyed, somehow, that good style was easily within reach. I remember thinking “Of course, I can do this too”. Over the course of the summer, I went from being superficially interested in fashion to completely being fascinated by the details and grammar of style.

Studying the diverse range of Schumann’s photos gave me a language with which to understand style. Suddenly  I realized that a good outfit which I previously understood as a lucky, magical set of matching clothing, could be dissected into the choice of proportions, choice of fabric/texture, and choice of color (there is much more variety than you think). Schumann’s work has been and still is one of the greatest influences on my ever changing ideas about ‘good style’. The magnitude of his influence is up there with St. Andrew’s preppiness, a handful of fantastically and individualistically dressed friends and the T style magazine.

Despite my complete admiration for his work, I do have some criticism. After two years of following the blog,  I find the proportions and silhouettes he captures too repetitive  and his photos compositionally look too much the same. Ironically, someone who does these two things very well is his girlfriend, Garance Dore, who constantly shocks me with the beauty of her images. What Schumann does consistently well, and better than any other blog, is capturing the texture of clothing. It’s obvious that he is obsessed with it and if you look closely enough, his blog is an encyclopedia of matching textures, contrasting textures, unexpected textures, everything textured.

Below is a few excerpts from Schumann’s book of my favorite ‘texture’ photos. (Sorry for the terrible quality. In fact, I’m not sure you can see any texture at all. This will be fixed later.)

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Giorgio Armani. To pull of monotone is all about getting the weight of the materials right.

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(Right) Rubber, cotton, knit, tweed, silk, canvas. He's got it all.

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(Right) This is probably my favorite. I love the lightness of the shirt dress in contrast with the kind of bag I would normally categorize as a 'winter' bag. It's perfect because the thick texture of the bag makes her shirt seem even more weightless.

A soft, fitting cotton/synthetic turtleneck with an extremely structured skirt. It's unexpected and beautiful.

(Left)A soft, fitting cotton/synthetic turtleneck with an extremely structured skirt. It's unexpected and beautiful.

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(Right) A heavy jacket with smooth light + pajama looking pants.

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(Right) Denim vest and tweed jacket? That is daring. And corduroy pants on top of that!

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the anatomy of style

collagepersonI have a theory: the single most important element of an outfit is exactly how a pair of pants or any legwear meets the shoes. It’s not completely the pants or the shoes, but that moment where they join. Yes, yes, colors, fabrics, patterns, the rest of the proportions of the rest of outfit are important, but the pant/shoe moment is far more telling than anything else. And of course, there are always exceptions.Maybe this is also an architect or designer’s way of thinking of things. “It’s all about how the materials are joined, how they meet”, says Chris Dewart’s voice in my head. But what do you think?

Consider this, when we think of stereotypical outfits we think of: tight black pants with Converses, baggy jeans with Timbs, skinny jeans with ballet flats, flared jeans with rainbows, baggy sweatpants tucked into Uggs but spilling out a little at the top, leggings fitting cleanly into calf height boots, pants rolled up mid-calf with nice sneakers for urban bikers, straight fit jeans partially tucked behind the tongue of loud sneakers a la Kanye, Thom Browne’s entire market of men’s suit pants ending above the ankle.

In other words, people dress to fairly specific looks/attitudes/trends that are not as much defined by shirts or jewelry but very much defined by the proportions of the clothes they wear and for a large part, the proportions of your outfit are dictated by the shoe/pant moment (I need to find a term for this!). I am obsessed with this detail because it seems to have so much control over how everything else in an outfit works, everything adapts to the fit the right moment between the pants and shoes. But this is still a continuing thought….

Streetstyle bloggers whether consciously or not seek out the same sort of details. Here is a catalog of shoe/pants moments mostly from street style blogs, some good and other just standard. See for yourself that variety and possibility of proportions that are out there….

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[photocredits: the sartorialist. cafe mode, stil in berlin, f&art, jak & jil, stockholm street style]

beyond blue jeans

During this spring’s fashion week, I relegated myself to only occasionally checking specific collections on style.com. Partially, this was because I was trying to allot more time to academics…which sort of worked. But I was able to keep that self-restraint for four weeks because I was quite satisfied flipping through streetstyle fashion blogs which were just as interesting as runway shows but more understandable and relevant than all those sheer skintight dresses or voluminous layers coming down the catwalk.

Streetstyle bloggers have made off the runway/on the streets just as popular and thoroughly documented as whatever new design is being strutted around in shows. They are the fashion week papparazzi swarming around any mildly stylish girl, model or magazine editor (+ their posse) and at some point, there is just indiscriminate photographing and uploading of pictures because everyone at fashion week looks damn good. The fraction of blogger/photographers that distinguish themselves from the crowd are the ones who filter out the lastest Balmain jackets, tall blond models, bright colors and find people who really understand that perfect balance in the clothes they wear.

My favorites in street style blogging are unquestionably Scott Schumann of The Sartorialist and Garance Dore. They both have an incredible affinity for the well-crafted outfit.* At the Autumn/Winter-09 shows, they both picked up on the refreshing look of loose pants sometimes high waisted and rolled-up, with tucked in shirt and high heels.
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Perhaps, I like this because it looks vaguely like a sophisticated and classy version of the comfortably loose rolled-up jeans we wore in boarding school. I’ve recently outgrown all my blue colored jeans and seeing these pictures reminds me to venture out and experience the many other styles, colors and fabrics for pants that exist out there. I’ve been stuck on blue jeans for too long and I am determined to stay out of that comfort zone this spring and summer. Instead it’s going to be white jeans, linen pants, and whatever else I find!

*I can only think of a way to explain in terms of architecture. The people and outfits that SS and GD document are like the Renzo Piano buildings: detailed, elegant, resolved, and hold presence. Renzo Piano’s refinement as opposed to the flashiness of Herzog and De Meuron or the simple catchiness and boldness of BIG which is the kind of clothes most streetstyle blogs document.


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