"The other day i was walking down a crowded street here in San Francisco, and i saw a women in a faux Ramones style motorcycle jacket-it was shorter and boxier, more blue than black, and I immediately thought whoa thats some bullshit, fucking w a classic, not riding a motorcycle, def not a punk in any way, just a poseur. Then I look at myself in a store window: straight legged Japanese Repro jeans from the sixties, vintage warehouse tee shirt, black logger boots, old fashioned mascot glasses. And i thought what a judgmental bullshitter. Now i know what gatekeeping is... I'm wondering about how all of you feel about your clothing choices... Like, again, i've written this before, ideas about authenticity, costuming, gate keeping. I guess i only gate keep in my mind-i'm a very judgmental person, trying to get over it-i would never say anything about anyones clothes but i might think it..."
Dressing up is cool. The internet has broken down barriers of traditional dress and localized trends, but I find the conventional channels of entry to still be incredibly constricting. Clothing does not exist in a vaccuum, it has been political since its inception. And because of that sticking your head into /r/mfa or styleforum is a bit like wearing sandpaper undergarments. It's tolerable to a point, pleasurable even, but there's two persistent dimensions that constantly grate against your genitals. And especially so if you're American. It's not beaten over your head, but there's a definite stench that emanate from these communities, a set of presumptions everyone retains outside of fundamentals like color theory or silouettes: performative class and masculinity. It's never just been about covering your corpse with a rag.
The necktie has come down to us from the Roman occupation, when Roman soldiers, unused to the damp chilly English climate, constantly caught colds and developed pneumonia until they were issued a focale to wrap round their throats - and this eventually dwindled into the necktie.
Outrageously exaggerated fashions frequently follow in the wake of disasters such as war or plague In ancient Greece, after one decimating battle, women were instructed by the government to slit their clothing to the hip as an enticement to more frequent reproductive acts.
Fashions have been set by military victories. In 1477, when the Swiss routed the Duke of Burgundy at Nantes, the tattered victorious Swiss soldiers tore up the captured silk French banners to stuff their ragged shirts. It was this silk, protruding at every hole, which created ‘slashings'. Once launched, no amount of inconvenience matters, the new fashion is secure until driven out by the next wave. Staircases have been altered to permit passage of farthingales; and sedan-chairs have had apertures cut in their ceilings to allow tall feathered headdresses to be accommodated.
Clothing's significance as a societal hackle cuts across multiple civilizations throughout history. From regalia reserved for chiefs to starched ruffles and codpieces, its cultural use transcendental from exposure or modesty was everywhere. Outward indicators of class or even god-given validity was signalled through dress. While European peasants could only afford new linen farmwear twice a year prior to the industrial revolution, castle corner shitting aristocrats dressed themselves like OSHA FR demonstrations. Peacocking with your clothing was even interpreted as a direct challenge to royalty leading to restrictions on specific articles of clothing according to class.
A couple centuries later the conclusion to WWII reinvigorated domestic industry to a degree where American preoccupations of class gave way to cheap clothing. Peacocking gave way to a democratized and increasingly hegemonic style of dress, wool suits were traded for cardigans and t-shirts (Originally a US Navy undergarment). As anarchronistic as they may seem, denim jeans' enduring legacy was quite significant in an age of feigning class, one thoroughly repulsed by any callbacks to backwards rural life. And this trend of de-sacralizing clothing continued with globalization, stripping away hats and jackets from the collective expectation on how one should dress. Americans started to embrace classless dress as its own uniform, rejecting aspirational WASPyness and the rigid formalities of Europe.
After World War II the mass clothing industry so perfected its techniques, especially in the United States, that poverty began to disappear visually, if not in fact. When a boy's shirt, tolerably well made, could be bought for the price of three loaves of bread and the price of soap fell, it followed that rags and filth became the property of the inebriate or the deranged. Moreover, when factories provided lockers for their employees, work clothes were no longer seen on the streets of major cities. As a result, a presentable or possibly even stylish dress or suit might easily cover an empty stomach. In the words of Michael Harrington, "It almost seems as if the affluent society has given out costumes to the poor so that they would not offend the rest of society with the sight of rags." Democratization was such that it impressed even the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev. On meeting Nelson Rockefeller, he noted with some amazement: "The biggest capitalist in the world wasn't dressed in cheap clothes, but I wouldn't say he was dressed elegantly either. He was dressed more or less like other Americans."
And with this gradual transition a new expectation of dress emerged, not one centered around performative class but the exact opposite. Today in the US deviating from the spheres of "casual" is often seen as pretentious, unneeded peacocking. Rarity and formality are almost interchangable, Wingtip oxfords might as well be opera pumps in how they're seen by sweatpants-wearing members of the public. This flavor of fashion collectivism in a country well-known for its individualistic selfishness is strange. And these presumptions definitely stifled my initial enjoyment in clothing.
Similarly, reading thread after thread on /fa/ about "whether __ is suitable to wear under __ circumstances" makes me truly appreciate being in Japan. Those are too feminine, that's teetering into cosplay, all those qualifiers floating around are something I don't have to worry about anymore. The pathetic preoccupation with performing masculinity is ever-present in the online fashion forum, concentrating if it's populated by boomers. Debates over effeminacy, jinoistic little "made in america" croutons strewn over the sides alongside gas station dick pill ads, there's less meticulous judgement on a coroner's autopsy table. And there's no better thermometer than marketers shuffling under transnational corporations, the activities of collectives literally paid to find out how human beings act. Products for American markets often need to be "masculinized" in order to appeal to insecure burger sensibilities, manifesting into something as simple as a name change. And this trend cuts across hobbies, markets, and product lines. The utterly pornographic Nissan Fairlady series of the 70's turned into the Datsun Z. The Canon Kiss of 35mm fame was localized as the Canon Rebel. I'm surprised the marketers didn't just add flame decals to save some time. Or making Kirby scowl on every box cover? How utterly puerile. It's no wonder nothing followed the death of the suit, nothing could compare in raw masculine emanations. Maybe a codpiece adorned with flame decals?
But I'm guilty of all this judgement myself, I remember chuckling at effeminate pseudo-men wearing pastel capris back when I dressed like a Sears catalog model. Outward judgement precipitated into inward judgement. Without gatekeeping too hard, your enjoyment of clothing is often tied to your ability to ignore those immediate messages. Looking past the binaries of formality and masculinity, disregarding those connotations because they're hopelessly boring within the possibilities of putting together an outfit.
Now I resemble a Star Wars extra on hot days. Who gives a shit. Traditional menswear will always be baffling to me though. Formality adheres to a set of rather rigid rules on color and fit: it's a uniform with little latitude for fear of looking non-traditional. No wonder every quirky 20-something pairs their grey suit with retina-cauterizing neon socks and handkerchiefs. Just seems like two converging ideas fighting for attention.
Fast-fashion lookbooks are probably the best example of the artificiality that has much of the fashion industry by the gooch: selling volume, presenting lifestyles, it's a meaningless, commercialized pursuit. The arrangement is to be expected as an essential commodity, one that bumps shoulders with food and water. And perhaps my sacralization of plant corpses that we hang off our bodies is an overreaction. But while mainstream attention on sustainability and ethical consumption have passed over food in the 2000's, it lies latent within the world of clothing. Every few months there's a horrendous stream of news coming from Asia strewn across your screen like terrible little croutons. Multinationals point fingers at other competitors' sweatshops and shrug. The system is terrible, but to an acceptable degree.
Workwear around 2010 championed ethical consumption: Know where your garment was sewn, where the fabric was milled, where the staples were grown. Here's Takehiro, he was a NEET for 3 years after college, loves fishing by Enoshima, cheats on his wife of 8 years on the weekends, and sews your jeans in Okayama. But while transparency produces enough bravery to drop triple digits on clothing, it doesn't tackle the underlying issue: An informed consumer in the US buying garments shipped from Japan made by Egyptian textiles is not an ethical consumer.
Inmates at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute produce denim clothing to both supply its internal needs, and to sell online. The jeans and coats are distributed on a prehistoric website with the same dry, burecreatic, almost sanitory language like a DMV form. The phrases "reducing taxpayer costs" and "paying for their own incarceration costs" belt-tightening attitude now sits uncomfortably alongside facts about venal judges shuttling people towards for-profit prisons. As it so happens, the 1682-bed prison is the city of Pendleton´s fourth largest employer. For-profit prison being the most depressing word salad since "silicone woman" or "reddit poweruser."
The website doesn't mention inmates are paid around $4 to 5 dollars a day for their work, much less that this is a desirable job within the prison. It isn't hard to see why considering the alternatives. Penal labor is an enduring institution in the US, the 13th amendment upholding it explicitly. Your favorite companies have taken advantage of prisoners being paid decimaled wages, even through an ongoing pandemic.
Prison Blues presented a dilemma to many workwear adherents. Legitimacy is one of the draws of workwear, and here was a source of US-made denim garments at inordinately inexpensive prices. Some forum users, no doubt acclimated to spending many times that on their superficial hobby, decried what ideologically violated a genre that championed union labor. Others didn't care.
The alternatives are similarly bleak. Multinational companies like H&M and Uniqlo have no pride like small-scale Workwear manufacturers or budgetary motives like local governments. They'll fabricate the trends and choose their suppliers according to what's most cost-effective to them. As long as they turn a profit anything under the current system is justifiable, whether it's subcontracted sweatshops with little oversight, destroying unsold garments, or using fabric made by slaves.
On the other hand, old military garments were purpose-built with an exact demographic and exact role. Within this, it's the specialized garments that really catch my attention. Mechanized troops, Paratroopers, Mountain troops, Arctic troops, they all have a different set of stipulations that neccessitate divergent design decisions. Mountain troops with double-breasted parkas, ski-ready square-toed boots, pass-through pockets, and lots of wool, all emphasizing retention and insulation. The designs are unapologetically pragmatic, unmolested by the aching libido of global capitalism. Shame about what they were used for.
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*the following question template has been stolen from welldresseddad
How would you describe your style today, and what are your influences?
Closest genre would probably be Mori boy. Earth tones, varying textures, and a wide silhouette. I have inspo folders full of Hasidic Jews, Bedouins, Afghans, the drapey layerd outfits actually reminds me of traditional Japanese clothing. Miyazaki mountain hermit characters also get me hot and bothered. The original Star Wars trilogy is fascinating with all their practical effects and props. I've always liked the value proposition and purpose-built nature of military surplus so I initially gravitated towards mil-chic/japanese americana. Dyeing, tailoring was all I did. For camo I like very geometric, angular patterns. East German Strichtarn, West German Sumpftarn, Swedish M90, Urban-T to list a few. Linen and leather boots is also a fixation of mine. Once I move I might transition to wool. Excited to see what kind of options there are in cold weather clothing.
East German Strichtarn
West German Bundesgrenzschutz Splinter
When looking for clothes, what factors play into your selections?
I really like unconventional designs and cuts. A lot of surplus looks similar and the essence of fast fashion is entirely derivative so I gravitate towards odd stuff. Asymmetry, texture, layering, oh god take it all in.
Getting hot and bothered over anoraks recently.
Still a focus on asymmetry, texture, layering, but drapeyness above all.
When putting together an outfit combination, do you spend a lot of time considering it?
Not really. Balancing colors is easy when your closet is mostly brown, white, and black. Silhouettes I've been trying to put more thought in. I also need more pants, I've been blowing them off as "all the same."
Does your interest in clothes influence other aspects of your life?
I've become a lot less judgemental about how other people dress. Once you get acclimated with truly deviant stuff, everything else looks so much more acessible. If anything it's a bit disappointing that everyone else doesn't express their passions through their clothing.
It also led to the realization that the most valuable hobbies are one that change your worldview. I cam appreciate more, find joy and inspirationin the mundane. Same thing with photography.
Are you budget-conscious or spendthrift?
I'm a cheapass. Probably haven't spent more than
$500 on my closet. Definitely less than $300 for my footwear as well. $700 on my closet. Definitely less than $500 for my footwear as well. I thrift and sew my own clothes. I'm sure there'll be a gordian knot garment that I'll have to purchase new someday.
Most garmsmen will have a few “grail items” in their collection. Not to out you, but if your house is burning, which garments do you grab?
Probably my DIY Gebirgsjägers Anorak, the feeling of cutting loose threads and wearing it was unrivaled by anything else I've made.
Anyone that buys clothes will have made mistakes, what is your most memorable bad buy?
Only 1 lukewarm purchase and that's a parka from a japanese brand for around $200. Fit is perfect, stitching is flawless, and the material lacks the swish-swash of cheap polyester, but I just don't have any instances to wear it. Too warm at home and I didn't bring it to the dorms. I don't regret it but I haven't gotten my money back in wears so far.
Do you have a dream garment you’d love to own?
Hard to say. I make anything I have my eye on so that eliminates most of my impulse buys. I'd say a Kapital Wool Ring Coat. This thing is gorgeous. It's $600 USD and too complex for me to draft up, especially in wool. Perfectly fits my desert-survivalist theme.
A Kapital Tri-P coat would also be arousing.
All in all, stuff that's too complicated or cost-prohibitive to recreate on my own.
What would you never wear?
Polyester anything, above the knee shorts, flip-flops.
How do you think others would describe your style and garments, do you get any reaction from friends and random strangers?
I've gotten Jedi-core from my roommates.
What are your best tips for buying?
Nothing out of the ordinary but take it slow. Marinate any thoughts when buying your next garment. If it's not particularly versatile and your style isn't streetwear/maximalist, reconsider. Something you can wear everyday is more rewarding than something glued to the clothing rack. Finding versatility within a garment brings more gratification than one perfect but static outfit. And buy used! There's tons of great stuff out there.
Do you have style icons, historic or current?
On lord Knoch no question. Dude patterns and sews his own garments, that shit is insane. Too bad he's probably a neo-nazi. Kamote_Joe also dishes out fire. Lots of Mil-chic/japanese americana for his early stuff. AaronAbogado got me to try out wide/harem pants.
As far as a general stream of inspo goes: Heddels, Saunders Militaria, Well-dressed Dad, TTAG blog
Having a large collection of clothes can dead to changing an outfit on a daily basis, bit if you were going to wear a single outfit the next two weeks, what would it be?
DIY linen hanten, Uniqlo linen shirt, thrifted womens' drawstring pants, beater chippewa boots. Super comfy in temperatures from 30° to 15°.
How do you see your style evolving going forwards?
Even wider silouettes, geometric patterns, and 18th century military influences.
Hopefully some more denim. Drapey wide drawstring pants are great. Kapital makes some rad stuff. As far as footwear goes I'd like to get some black derbies and Espadrilles.
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I sew my own clothes. It's fun. I initially started to save money, unwilling to spend hundreds on artifical scarcity when the clothing looked like something I could make. And so I did, starting around 2015? It's a cheap hobby when two meters of cloth for $10 translates into a shirt. The process of drafting, cutting, hemming, and sewing also opens your eyes to how mind-manglingly underpaid garment workers are, crafting up incredibly complex clothing for $3 an hour. Upcycling from used clothes is an option if fabric is expensive where you live, breathing new life in something destined for the landfill.
Sewing also makes you reconcile with your bad habits. I'm rather impatient when it comes to the stream of gratification from hobbies. Sewing made me slow down, plan, and improvise. It's by far my most steady and enduring source of hard work that always pays off. It's also made me comfortable with imperfections. A loose stitch there or an occasional crooked joint doesn't bother me: I'm at a good place when I'm much less critical of my own work. When making a small mistake you have to press on and fix it later. Afterwards you're so happy with the result that these small flaws don't matter.
It's reassuring to have a hobby with a continually morphing "end." Usually interest is extinguished once a particular something is in your hands within an acceptable budget, whether it's watches, pens, cameras, etc. For clothing your tastes and standards change constantly, there is no singular goal. Even if you have one specific outfit to work towards, wearing clothes is a daily mix and match, there's so many elements to one outfit. And so an "endgame" garment isn't really the center of focus becuase wearing the same thing everyday isn't fun.
Finally, I'm firesafe. If I ever burst into flame the nurses won't have to debride the molten nylon off my goopy cooked flesh.
Hanten Linen shirt 8 oz 44/45 linen rayon・$20・12 hours of work・My first "real" sewing project. Wanted to put an emphasis on an open neck/collarline and overlapping body. Front closure is done via two ties. Neckline and edge finishing was a bit maddening. Patterning was fun, but I would've used heavier cloth to test. Overall, my most refined piece of clothing. 4/16/19: Added a button so the neckline is a bit higher.
Overdyed British DPM Lightweight Combat Shirt $7・4 hours of work・I already owned an overdyed jacket, but the symmetrical pockets popped into my head as an idea. Actual cost was $3 after using an ebay code, rest was the cost of the dye. Seeingly simple but fuck me dead are gussetted pockets a pain to sew. Dyed black over 2ish hours, I expect it to turn navy as I wear it more. There's a famous photo of British troops in Afghanistan who dyed their desert DPM green, coming out a grotesque shade of turqoise. Overall, a versatile jacket that I wear very often.
Wrangler 126MJ modified original$30・4 hours・Overdyed indigo, modified mandarin collar
Hanten Linen Jacket 6oz・55/45 linen rayon・This one was rather quick, opting for another pattern that avoided sewing the length of the body and simplified neckline. Drapes well, but I neglected to take out the selvedge on the hem which bugs me. I also need to add pockets and a front closure to make things a bit easier.
Pleated Hanten shirt 6oz 100% linen・$15・8 hours of work・Really wanted to make another shirt but I've already made a white hanten. Used the same pattern from the brown hanten, simplifies the neckline significantly. Decided to add some pleating to add some folds and looseness. Back is gusseted, front has maetate. looks like shit on a hanger, but I love it when I wear it. Need to think of a closure for this too. Edit 2020: scrapped for fabric. farewell.
Mountain Troops Anorak 10oz upholstery linen・$20・~30 hours of work・Loosely modelled after the WWII Gebirgsjägers anorak. It's thick upholstery fabric that I was planning to dye black. I quite like the arctic splinter camo vibes. I was expecting it to shrink during dyeing so I had to redo the pattern. If It came out too dark I was planning to wax it like a Barbour jacket. First time dealing with a hood so there were many mental gymnastics in order to visualize the final product. The rat tail on the back is a crotch strap to prevent the whole thing from hiking up during wind. There were also two ass pockets on the original, but I decided to omit them as they were in an odd spot. My copy is cut a bit shorter than the original. Edit 4/17/2019: Sewed on the buttons finally, really like how It came out.
Linen Hanten 7oz linen・$10・10 hours of work・Yep, another one. Started and finished this on the same day I got my mini sewing machine. Disappointingly, the armholes and sleeves came out a tad narrow, but I ended up wearing this as an inner layer anyway. Love the vanilla color, goes well with the myraid of vanilla totebags I have. Very interesting texture as well. Curious as to how I'll wear this in summer.
Wool Hanten 11oz wool・$5・15 hours of work・Started and finished this on the same day I got my full-sized sewing machine. A tad larger than the brown linen hanten with a different front closure. I really like it! Perfect for winter, oversized for plenty of layers, just pair it with some wide pants and you're set. My only concern is piling, a downside for using cloth as soft as this as outerwear.
Wide Pants 6oz cotton・$3・6 hours of work・They're pants and they're wide. The pattern is just two rectangles and a triangle as a crotch gusset, minimal fabric waste. The waist is pleated with elastics. Added an ass pocket as well as a waistband wallet/keys pocket to keep things simple. Might dye them later but these things are obscenely wide. And versatile too, you can cuff them high or tie off the ankles. 4/15/2020
rectangular manpurse 6oz cotton・$5・5 hours of work/Loosely inspired by Igiboso worn by buddhist pure land priests. Has an internal pocket and lanyard for keys. I use this thing all the time, especially useful on pants without ass pockets.
brown 2 12oz 45/55 linen cotton・$8・19 hours of work/Another one of these. I'm not a terribly big fan of the wrinkled cheap kimono-esque texture that this fabric retains, completely different from typical linen wrinkles. Actually learned a lot this time, Played around with vertical pleats but the silouette came out narrow and nasty. Turns out a short neckline is essential for the drapy figure I'm after.
Still figuring out the front closure and sleeves 8/7/2020 Added a front closure and finished the sleeves. I wear this thing out constantly. 11/17/2020
cargo pants 8oz cotton・$3・10 hours of work・Still working on the Fly , waistline, and hem. Gusseted pockets are hard but satisfying. 9/3/2020 Finished, deciding whether to add normal slit pockets. Waiting on some mordant to dye this with red onion skins. 12/12/2020
splinter hanten 12oz upholstery linen・$20・10 hours of work・another one of these, using the same fabric for the mountain troops anorak. need of a front closure or maybe pockets 9/23/2020
muji long shirt 100% linen・$10・3 hours of work・A thrifted women's shirt that I elongated the sleeves and removed the chest pocket. Repurposed the grey linen from the sacrificial hanten. The side slash pockets are great.
vanilla hanten 1.5m 10oz 45/55% linen cotton・$7・5 hours of work・This one was fast. An identical copy of brown 2. Might experiment with pockets depending on how the short version goes. 2/6/2021
buttpack 2m 12oz cotton・$9・~7 hours of work/Based off Russian Partizan harness buttpacks. Really liked the angled side pouches and wanted something that can comfortably hold both water bottles and groceries in the summer. Not quite big enough to cover full-size notebooks. 2/9/2021 Added hardware 2/11/2021
harness 1.5m 12oz cotton・$6・Based off British PLCE harnesses and Crye Precision magazine pouches. Zippered compartment in the back. Pouches sized for 2 quart water bottles. 2/9/2021
vanilla short 1.5m 8oz 45/55% linen cotton・$7・~8 hours of work・A cropped version for layering. Experimenting with pockets. 2/6/2021 finished 9?/2021
oversized blazer1.5m 8oz 45/55% linen cotton・$10・10 hours of work/Based off Edwina Horl blazers. Deciding on lapel size and overall length. Aim is to make it look very casual, very unsuitlike. 3/5/2021
anorak 2m 10oz 100% cotton・$10・inspired by the US cold weather mountain parka 7/2/2021 finished 7/10/2021. I'll do the hem in the winter.
chinese grenade pouch/double zip igiboso added a secondary pocket to the grenade pouch, made a second igiboso with two zipper closure this time. 3/7/2021
bucket hat x2 cotton + 50/50 rayon linen・$5・8 hours of work・Based off of a Soviet Panamaka reproduction 2/27/2022
Waistpackmade from an old shirt. for when I horribly maim myself. trauma shears, 4" Israeli bandage, compressed gauze 3/2022
pant1.5m 10oz 45/55 linen cotton・$5 8/18/2021
vanilla3 2m 8oz 25/75 linen cotton・$10・unfinished because i'm a thirsty little flower 2/27/2022
belted anorak 2m 10oz 100% cotton・$10・still need to add buttons 5/7/2022
linen camera strap, print from Bruno Munari's Art as Design
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