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There’s a scene pretty early in the film Looper where a futuristic mobster, played by Jeff Daniels, has a chat with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character. In this conversation, Daniels spends the beginning of it making fun of Levitt’s fashion—his outdated tie especially; I’m paraphrasing but he essentially makes the comment, “Even in this advanced world, you’re still dressing like those old movies.” It’s an interesting moment—both in the film and for me personally—because it points to the fact that with all the advancements made in modern society, high fashion still emulates the Hollywood of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. As someone who’s obsessed over every kind of film I could get my hands on and watch, it’s not without good reason. People still wanna dress like James Dean because James Dean is still the coolest guy in any room and that suit you think you look so dapper in, I’ll bet money on the fact that you wish you could wear it like Sidney Poitier in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.
I grew up loving movies, especially ones from the 60s and 70s. Saturday mornings were spent by the TV watching weekend double features on the local channels—a time in life that introduced me to Burt Reynolds, Bill Cosby (before The Cosby Show), Robert Deniro and a cavalcade of Kung-fu and Blaxploitation films that helped to warp my young growing mind. I loved these movies and the characters in them like they were close friends and all I wanted in life was to grow up to be like them. They owned their style, 100 percent. Everyone owns a white shirt, but Dean made it his and nobody I’ve seen has worn a fedora and turtleneck sweater as good as Cosby—hell, I don’t even smoke but I still think about smoking a cigar just because of that guy. I know these guys were stars and they had stylists and make-up artists and all types of people who made them the gods they seemed to be on-screen, but that’s a moot point. At the end of the day you can where whatever you want, if you don’t have the flair to pull it off then you just don’t have it. It’s a lesson I learned early on as I started buying my own clothes trying to look like them. I may have bought the right things but I couldn’t make it work for me. (Not at that time at least.) It was especially rough considering that I was trying to dress like actors in the 70s while being a teenager during “the baggy era” in black culture.
Other than the fact that my parents found it deplorable, I never got into that phase because frankly, I just didn’t find it cool. Shirts as long as evening gowns, shorts sagged to the point where you might as well just be wearing pants; it was a dark time for everyone. Meanwhile, I’m still stuck on nostalgia for a time that I never even experienced, watching films like Lady Sings The Blues and Mean Streets, wondering why my own generation couldn’t embrace the essence of cool that Hollywood still obsesses over to this day—and also wishing that I could have just an ounce of the swagger that Deniro had in his younger days. Nonetheless, despite ridicule about the slimness of my jeans or shirts, I carried on (and thankfully enough people got out of that “all baggy everything” phase) and as I transitioned to college and adulthood, I started to discover myself more and more when it came to fashion. I became focused on finding my identity within the clothes I wore and began to deviate from wearing things just because they were popular. This was probably the moment that I realized just how influential those movies were on me; I would go shopping thinking about scenes in Easy Rider or 8 ½ or hell, even The Mack, trying my best to figure out how to take what I liked about characters there and how I could adapt it to my own sense of style—and my budget especially. I may not have it all together but it’s definitely coming together nicely, merging the past with the present and putting my own personal stamp on what I wear. Contrary to popular belief, style is not effortless—it involves trial and error but most of all maturation. Anyone can wear clothes and look good but what makes it yours. I can look at the same exact outfit on 5 different people and it will look different on each of them; clothes don’t make you stylish they only make you trendy. So at this stage of my life, I find myself trying to express who I am through what I wear; and as I still figure out who exactly I am in this post-grad life of mine, I’m also figuring out what to wear. That’s the one thing I think learned most from those movies I spent every weekend watching, you do what’s for you and make your own path.

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While I sit here, listening to Weeknd songs and wishing I could go on a syrup-filled bender instead of searching for shit on the internet to write about, I find that I have something I must get off my chest. Most of these lookbooks that seem to come out everyday suck. Maybe it wasn’t for the fact that tumblr exists I would be more interested in them, but the fact remains that none of theme step out of the box or stand out enough to separate themselves from these street style shots menswear bros get their photographer friends to do for them in order to get their likes and reblogs up. Also I could be wrong but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve taken photos in every wooded area on this damn planet, and maybe this is just from the overload of these things but man are they all starting to look the same (oh check out the paisley or safari pattern on the pocket of that pocket tee, I haven’t seen that in almost two minutes). Seriously bros, something must be done to make these tings interesting again, I mean I get it it’s about selling clothes at the end of the day but dammit make the shit fun, I have too short of an attention span for the bullshit.

It amuses me how much, as a culture, we’re obsessed with jewelry. Not content enough to wear an understated necklace or Cartier watch, instead we choose to either wear as many chains as humanly possible or just go for broke and get the most extravagant and decadent piece of bling out there.

Like the kid who got into mommy’s makeup we’re not content with being nuanced or subtle, we’re gonna put on everything we can. Is it really necessary to have a diamond encrusted replica of yourself around your neck? No. Did you really need 50 chains, 30 bracelets, 10 watches and a ring on each finger? No –but it’s hot right?

Far be it from me to harp on anyone’s unique take on style. I feel like everyone should do what feels right for them, but at the same time, there is a such thing as overkill. One thing that the post hip-hop landscape has brought into the social conscience is the marriage of decadence and ignorance with the idea of “normal” in modern society. In a nutshell, we live in a world where you can take that cashmere burberry sweater and maybe rock a chain or two with it–some may hate it and some may love it but the point is, it’s a thing to do.

Bling, like everything else, is best when done in moderation; you know, a gaudy ring or two here and there or the flashy bracelet from time to time. Too much extravagance seems to come off as attention-seeking to me. It’s always best to stand out without seeming like you’re trying to stand out; that’s why you never put on too much cologne and that’s why you never wear any clothing that distracts from you the person. But maybe I’m just sleep on the matter, maybe a diamond-studded four finger ring is the perfect accessory to match a suit. I’ll have to take that into consideration next time I’m online shopping my last bit of money away.

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