As you may have guessed, I’m asked a whole host of questions every day. Some about suits, some about ties, some about bracelets. However, the single most common query I’m asked, on an almost daily basis, is one I’ve already tackled in the Frequently Asked Questions area:
“Why do you never mention specific designers/labels/etc?”
Obviously I’m not explaining myself clearly enough, so I thought I’d author a post to give you guys a better understanding behind my reasoning.
Okay, picture the scenario: There are two young guys learning to be bakers. One is a little reluctant, doesn’t like classes much and is only “kinda’ interested” in learning. The other is enthusiastic and enjoys the lessons, even though he isn’t the world’s best baker. They both get average grades, both have pretty mediocre skills in the kitchen and neither could be considered an expert by any stretch.
Now imagine them after a few months: Our reluctant baker has taken a shine to using dough mixes to create his bread; with the recipe stating “just add water”, it’s right up his alley – it’s easy and the results are pretty darned good too; as easily as good as store bought bread! The enthusiastic baker is having it a little tougher. He’s going down the traditional bread making route and it’s a bit more difficult; but he’s learning all about different types of flour, what effect water has on elasticity, and so forth…
Skip ahead a few years. Both are fully-fledged aficionados. Our more reluctant baker is getting by okay. He continues to “just add water” to make his bread and he’s getting a fairly good batch each time. As long as he keeps stocked up on expensive powdered mixes he’s fine. By contrast, our enthusiastic baker is blooming. He can tell you exactly what’s wrong with a loaf of bread just by looking at it – not enough yeast, too much salt, whether the dough’s been overworked, etc. Not only can he throw together an extraordinarily good tasting loaf of bread with his eyes closed, his vast array of knowledge can be used to create even more fanciful comestibles; from baguettes to bagels, nothing’s beyond this guy’s reach!
Ask yourself which you’d rather be: the glorified dough-jockey reliant on powered mixes for his livelihood, or, the enthusiast, who’s able to whip up a batch of crusty rolls in two seconds flat?! Ask yourself whose product you’d prefer to eat after a long day at work…
“What the… Johnathan, have you been drinking paint thinner again?!”
So, what’s the point of this little story?
Put simply, it’s my analogy for learning the rules of fashion. On the one hand you have the guys scrounging the internet for pictures, products, photos and designer labels. It’s pretty simple, requires little effort and produces fairly good results. You see someone recommending “Blotto™ Slim Cut Navy Jeans” this season, you buy them with the accompanying “Blotto™ Tailored Plaid Dress Shirt”, wear them together a few times, then throw them in the back of the closet once you’ve out-worn the look.
But here’s the thing. Where are you twelve months down the line? You’re chasing the same easy ‘lookbooks’ again and again; you’re desperately hunting for the latest information just to see what people are recommending again this time. You’ve become hooked on the ‘pre-packaged’ styles, and ultimately spend more time, energy and exuberant amounts of cash gathering new looks each season.
If you learn the ‘fashion rules’ you’ll be able to avoid this cyclical trap. If you invest a little extra effort learning the difference between ‘plaid’ and ‘argyle’, some time discovering textures for yourself and thinking about fashion connections, you can instantly take half a dozen items of clothing and know exactly which ones will fit perfectly, look spectacular on your frame and what colours will make your eyes dazzle!