The news of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s breakup last week came to me via one of those “trending links” at the corner of my Facebook homepage, the ones that, when clicked, break open a news piñata of related images all over my screen. But whereas some trending links return the same image over and over again, the assortment of photos of Ozzy and Sharon clued me into something important-- Ozzy’s peculiar strategy for dressing himself.
Ozzy cycles through a carousel of blazers and topcoats, each one draped over a separate but very much identical black crewneck top. His consistency is striking, a tailored Mark Zuckerberg with a little darkness stirred in.
If you’ve read our blog for even a short while, you’ll notice his style flouts almost everything we write about. Like boa constrictors, we at No Man Walks Alone have an obsession with covering the human neck. Previous posts have discussed the optimal collar height for covering the neck, the best way to present your neck when it’s been relieved of a tie, or the power of turtlenecks to transform your neck into a pedestal for your face.
But Ozzy leaves his neck naked, thus saddling it with most of the face-framing duties. I can already sense your own neck start to sweat as your blood pressure rises, your hands reaching for your phone to dial the Propriety Police. What happens when we leave our collars in the closet?
We prove how little we needed them in the first place. While a thick turtleneck or dark tie against a light shirt may serve as an imaginary lasso that yanks an onlooker’s gaze toward your face, crewnecks are democratic. They say, “you can look at my face if you want, but I know your eyes like to wander, and that’s cool too.” Ozzy also tends to wear a gold chain, which adds a second half-oval a few inches below his crewneck. Two concentric rings with a face in the middle. That makes his face a bullseye, or perhaps Hell in an abridged Dante’s Inferno.
You might be one of those menswear purists who views empty space between the lapels like an alcoholic views an empty wine glass-- with panic. But think of it this way: by wearing his featureless black shirts, Ozzy creates a void, a sartorial singularity that emphasizes the lapels around it. His top becomes the ocean in a landscape painting, Joe Biden at a State of the Union address, Igor in the laboratory. It slinks into the shadows, letting the lapels act as an outermost facial frame.
Gazing at Ozzy, you can either look at his face or stare into the void below. His soft-power approach to facial framing leaves the choice entirely up to you. Of course, if you happen to be his estranged wife, the best option might be to look away entirely.