Window Dressing

February 11, 2013

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)