If there’s one major criticism I have with this site, it’s that I’ve always been more than a bit long-winded. So, in the spirit of all things new, I’m going to at least attempt to make this post as concise as possible. On Friday, I accepted a job (which I don’t feel comfortable announcing just yet, but I’m sure you’ll hear more about soon) and I feel that I must put all my efforts into this new endeavor therefore this will be my last post on Wax Wane for the foreseeable future. Don’t get me wrong though, I will still be writing on a daily basis and I’m very excited for what’s ahead, I simply feel the need to reprioritize things for the time being.
Whether you were a regular reader or merely stopped in occasionally, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you all took some time out of your busy days to read this site. Writing Wax Wane over the past couple years brought me an immense amount of joy, and so I just want to thank you all for allowing me to turn my divergent diversions into something somewhat meaningful.
So long for now.
And now for my monthly attempt to make this blog about more than just clothes.
Not too long ago I had a conversation with a friend (who is roughly a decade and change older than I) and I made the claim that beer is my generation’s wine. What I mean by this is that while historically beer has been largely ignored as a “craft” to be studied in a similar manner as wine, it’s now finally getting its due. While my friend was scrutinizing his glass of wine, I was doing the same with the beer that was in front of me. All you have to do is peruse through BeerAdvocate‘s reviews for a few minutes (and really I recommend not doing so for much longer as the entire site gives new meaning to the word pedantic) to recognize that there is now not only a vocabulary for the critique of but a fervent fanbase that is more than ready for this level of appreciation.
If you ask me, the apex of twentieth century comedy was reached during Cameron Crowe’s 1982 coming-of-age masterpiece, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Sitting in his room, smoking a bong, discussing brain damage with his shaggy haired compadre, Jeff Spicoli (played by Sean Penn) pulls out a brand new pair of Vans slip ons and begins to bash his head with the waffle sole to show off to his equally as blitzed out friend just how mentally numb he was. We could discuss the timeless humor of a stoned out kid bashing his own head in, or number of brain cells that Spicoli discarded that day, or the slapstick origins of his cranial abuse, but for today, I’m more concerned with Spicoli’s Vans.
Spicoli’s checkerboard slip ons have become the stuff of legend, and dare I say that never before has an actor’s footwear so completely captured the spirit of his character. Even the name “slip on” reflected Spicoli’s attitude, which was many steps beyond devil-may-care, in devil-may-get-high-off-brain-damaging-weed territory. Since ’82, slip ons fortunately have lost their THC-laced reputation as shoes for stoners, but it wasn’t until recently, that they registered on the menswear radar.
If you’ve been following menswear for the past decade or so then you’ve surely heard of Eunice Lee and her renowned trousers (among other designs, particularly her now legendary varsity jackets.) The Unis story had always intrigued me, but at first I thought the brand was simply not for me. A year or so ago I went into their Elizabeth Street store and tried on a pair of Gios (their most popular pant), and I knew right away that they weren’t for me. The Gio was just too slim, too constricting for me, and so for a while I just didn’t consider Unis as an option.
A couple months back I started searching for an affordable pair of well-fitting everyday single pleat pants, which I soon realized was no small order. After searching for a few weeks, I found that all roads lead to Unis and their Davis pant, a high rise all cotton pleated chino.
The fit is slim through the leg with a slight taper, and the fabric actually feels substantial unlike so many comparably priced pants on the market, but what’s most important is that upper block. Prior to putting on the Davis, when I thought about how a pant fit, I was primarily concerned with how the legs fit, not how they looked through the rise. After trying out the Davis though, I realized that most pants are just far too tight across the front for my build, and thanks to those single pleats the Davis actually looked (and felt) like it fit properly. Now every morning I’ve been reaching for those olive green Davis’ and if I have any regrets, it’s that I’ve wasted far too much money on ill-fitting pants when I should’ve gone to Unis from the start.
For a writer, or for someone such as myself who attempts to string sentences together into something intelligible, the greatest gift you can receive is a reminder of the triviality of your own work. I’ve written about JFK so many times that I feel like I know the man. Or I at least know the persona that John Fitzgerald Kennedy wanted the American public to become familiar with, yet the truth is everything I’ve ever penned about our thirty-five president could easily be classified as trite.
When writing about bygone historical figures, especially when discussing something as narrow as style, everything boils down to projection. I will never know if JFK dressed, or looked as he did as a conscious move, or if his status as a “style icon” is simply a byproduct of good genes and the standards of dress that existed during his lifetime.
I don’t intend to discredit all of my writing, nor all of the pieces that have been composed about JFK’s style over the years, for his attire was certainly not without merit. Especially when looking back, Kennedy’s style certainly had more than a little to do with his immortal status. JFK (and the same could be said for RFK) quite simply looked as a president should – dignified, but not stuffy like a monarch, and yet also spirited. If ever there was a politician that looked like hope it was JFK.
But what lies beneath all that? And more importantly, why am I bogging down your Friday afternoon with this essay. Last night, I read Chris Jones’ marvelous account of Kennedy’s assassination for Esquire, and I felt compelled to respond here today. Jones’ report is as thorough of a story as I’ve ever read, and I can only speculate how many hours of interviews and footage he had to scour through to piece together the complete tale (complete almost feels like too weak of a word to describe the piece.) I implore you all to read his report, because for as much coverage as JFK’s assassination has received over the years, I’ve never seen an account that takes such an exhaustive look at those that were closest to the President.
This is not the time or the place, so I’ll leave out my misguided lefty dreams about the possibilities for this country if JFK (or once again for that matter RFK) had never been assassinated. What I can say is that it was not Kennedy’s sack suits, nor his impeccable collar roll, nor his Shetland sweaters, that captivated this nation, and leaves his untimely death as an unhealed wound, ready to be reopened at any time.
Everything comes back to language.
When I began writing this site I envisioned it as little more than a hobby, a down-time diversion in between working a “real” job. I imagined myself wearing a daily suit and tie, and so I always thought that my interests, both in the real world (ah yes, that elusive IRL) and on this site, would lean toward the classically tailored. Of course, it took less than half a year of writing Wax Wane for me to realize that the thought of me entering any office wearing the same sort of suited style as my father was little more than a farce. As my graduation neared and the workforce loomed, it was even more evident that a wardrobe of Savile Row suits and Italian ties was not in my immediate, or even extended future. And now, as summer has come to a close and I’ve found myself writing on a full-time basis, I can say that I’ve only worn a suit once in the past six months. That’s not to say that I’m ready to sell my lot of unstructured sportcoats just yet (although that day might be nigh) but I can say that these jackets, which were once among my most prized possessions, now sit idle on their hangers.
What began as an exercise in building not only a wardrobe, but an internal encyclopedia, based on the tenets of traditional menswear, has now evolved into a far more personal discovery into what makes me, for lack of a better term, happy (a term that I favor simply because it is so free of any set criteria.) This isn’t to say that I don’t still have a fascination with the “classics” (which after all aren’t even that “classic” anymore), but it’s time for me to admit that right now, that’s not for me. There’s no reason for me to dress up in cuffed wool trousers to sit at my laptop all day, it is simply not applicable to my lifestyle, nor my present state of mind. Maybe one day I will arrive back at that point, but for now, I’m much more interested in buying clothes that I like simply because I like them. I do not set out to fill any void in my wardrobe, or buy things because some list says that I “need it” (again, if this is what brings you joy, please do not let me discourage you, as I said, this is entirely personal) rather I’m just trying to reveal in the fact that for now, I can really wear whatever I want.
A friend recently told me that I had an addiction to M-65′s. How did I respond to this news? By buying another M-65 of course.
In my defense though (after all every addict has to have a defense) this latest M-65 was different, for it was the holy grail of faux #menswear militaria: an Aspesi. Now I will admit, until this point, I certainly did have a mild hoarding problem with olive drab jackets. There was the nineties Ralph Lauren piece (which may or may not have been womens), the random worn-out vintage jacket from the eighties, and of course a few actual surplus M-65′s thrown in there for good measure. But none of them ever quite worked. The sleeves were always too short, the armholes too low, the lining too puffy. And so now they’re all gone, relegated to the bloated racks of my local consignment shop.
The Aspesi M-65 is everything that a tailored (read: bastardized) M-65 should be. The shoulders fit closer to an unstructured sport coat than a surplus piece, a clear nod to the jacket’s Italian make. The material is soft and lightweight, making it easy to toss on over a middle layer for that high/low vibe that every capital F publication heralds so ardently.
So what’s the point of this story? Well aside from letting me brag that I finally own a jacket that I’ve coveted for the past year and change, the moral ties back to that old blogger adage (read: cliche) about saving up for the real deal (read: fake deal) rather than wasting money on second rate pieces. I knew all along that I’d eventually have to save up and actually buy an Aspesi if I wanted to get that slimmed down Aspesi fit, but instead I wasted my pennies trying to find a cheaper jacket that would suffice. As a result I probably wasted about double the price of a single Aspesi along the way, when I would’ve been wiser to just bite the bullet and invest from the get-go.