In which we wonder, can style be learned?
As the inimitable Lynn Dell, a true decadent and octogenarian hailing from the Upper West Side, once told Advanced Style’s Ari Cohen, “fashion says me too, style says only me.”
Though my relationship with style is still effectively infantile (and I believe it will continue to be until I am comfortable ceaselessly abiding by a single uniform), I know enough to understand style’s relationship with clothing. It’s not very different from youth’s relationship with age in that the former will always project more space for change, and exceed the boundaries (no matter how extensive they can be) of the latter. If age is a number, youth is how gracefully you can throw that number away. If fashion is jeans, style is what you do with them.
But the million dollar question still stands: can it be taught? I for one, think yes. Weightlifting can aid the manifestation of muscular activity, and reading–provocative reading–can help put into motion the wheels of intellect, so there’s no reason an aficionado of self-doubt can’t figure out style, too. Over the weekend, I read a story in The New York Times by the editor of the magazine, Hugo Lindgren. In the penultimate paragraph he exposes an a-ha! moment, “Ideas, in a sense, are overrated. Of course, you need good ones, but at this point in our supersaturated culture, precious few are so novel that nobody else has ever thought of them before. It’s really about where you take the idea, and how committed you are to solving the endless problems that come up in the execution.”
The same can be argued on fashion–it will always exist and might never be new again–and style, like commitment to execution, is precisely where you take it. Take the sunglasses pictured above; sure you can wear them on your face, but why not dip them into your shirt pocket instead of above your head when you’re not using them? And that denim shirt–there’s no guide that demonstrates the art of the perfect roll (most likely because there is none) but why wear your sleeves down when you can expose an ever so slight glimpse of forearm and maybe the accoutrements decorating it?
Here’s a particular favorite: my coat worn as a cape. I can’t amount for why I prefer to let the cold condemn my arms or even quite articulate why a coat-as-cape makes me feel more elegant, but it does and I do, and the inexplicability is enough. Per the half tuck: this works well with a pair of low rise jeans, elongating your leg, successfully concealing your ass (such is the beauty), and making even the most obvious shirt and pant combination so subjectively yours. Jeans that nest zippers make the whole process a bit easier and it’s nice to remember that contrary to Happy Meals and show hair, in matters of the zipper, it’s never go big or go home–it’s graze the heel of your shoe, see how that makes you feel, lift up or pull down accordingly, et voila.
Yes, these are some of my own personal styling techniques. They’re simple, really, and you can do with them what you want. Take them, make them your own, shit them out and call my suggestions nothing more than residual fecal matter–this is your canvas as much as it is mine. The only commonality, we should after all share, is simply that personal style is, well, personal.