You may recall my last post where I discussed the peculiar dress of the East India Company, one of the most infamous mixers of capitalism and violence before the world gave us United Airlines. I shared accounts of soldiers like Garnet Wolseley and WSR Hodson as they marched across the Indian subcontinent beneath heavy woollen uniforms to fulfill some far-off authority’s idea of national pride.
Clothing designers never prepare you for the slow death of a season. Sure, every six months they fill stores with clothes of various lengths and thicknesses, but when their customers are riding the mechanical bull that is transitional weather, designers are hiding behind their mood boards working on the next batch. All the strategizing then falls upon us shoppers as we struggle to match garment to weather condition. How do you dress for a day that starts at 40 degrees and rises to 70? The industry shrugs.
The wilderness was supposed to save us. After the 2008 recession tore a hole through the male-dominated manufacturing and construction industries, news outlets proposed that men had eased their existential torment by scanning the bulging discount bins for a look that now registers as all too familiar.
I have a suspicion. Just as the French entrust their language to a council of bookish elders, the Americans have one for the colors of their fabrics. And every time they huddle in secret into their windowless room, they agree on one thing-- keep the color red imprisoned in an opaque glass jar.
Sometimes, when the moon shines low enough on the horizon, bloggers and retailers asleep in their New York lofts dream of the same imaginary setting at the same time. In the late aughts, that setting rested in a sort of hypermasculine netherspace.
After a long bath and a brush with a time machine, the protagonists of George Caleb Bingham’s The Jolly Flatboatmen could almost pass as modern city-dwellers if not for two things. First, they seem to enjoy their free time, rather than checking their email in a perplexed fog as they wonder why their employers would let them leave the office. And they don’t seem to mind that their clothes have rumpled into a disheveled mess.
This month, Cinemax has been screening Demolition Man, which is about as remarkable as saying, “this morning on Facebook someone wrote something unreasonable.” Cable channels are always screening Demolition Man. It’s the television equivalent of a numbers station, Sylvester Stallone's face forever broadcasted into the aether as generations of viewers tune in with varying levels of puzzlement.
Men’s magazines often focus so intently on their readers’ self-advancement that they forget how much of a public service menswear can be. Your stack of GQ magazines might have told you all about proper fit, for example, but they probably neglected to mention the ways your wardrobe can save the livelihoods of a bunch of cheese farmers you have never met.