Like overindulging at the Thanksgiving dinner table and slipping comfortably into a two day food coma, in the wake of Fashion Week here in the city I feel stricken with a serious case of clothing fatigue. For the past few days it’s been much of the same – same shirt, same sweater, same pants, same jacket, same shoes. It’s not that everything I saw this week was that great, it’s just that it was at least something and after a while that many little things add up until it’s tough to determine where the good ends and the bad begins. I saw blackwatch parkas, corduroy robes, exploded houndstooth, velvet moto jackets, and flecked cable knits and when you add all that (and far more not worth writing about) together it’s a lot easier to just turn your brain off then try to make sense where there just might not be any.
It’s akin to a puzzle. You open up this massive box only to find countless pieces and no real idea where to start. You could say that I spent this weekend searching for my corners, a starting point on what to discern from the glut of collections and photos from this week. I found that first puzzle piece on Saturday morning, when after growing tired of mindlessly flipping through collections, I decided to take a look at this season’s installment of Backyard Bill’s 5 x 7 series for GQ.com. While this quote from Mark McNairy, “I know I’ve been wearing crazy clothes, and I look pretty crappy sometimes,” would’ve been worth the thirty-five clicks alone, it was Hooman Majd, the Island records executive turned author, style writer and occasional model, that snapped me out of my stupor with his outfit on the second day of NYFW.
The navy blazer/worn in jeans pairing is not some landmark discovery, I’ve featured it on here before (with those absolutely regrettable shoes that have never seen the light of day since), it’s become the so-called “uniform” for modern-day menswear mavericks, particularly the team down at Sid Mashburn in Atlanta, and it’s popularity has only fueled the worship of those “total look” Italian brands such as Incotex and Cucinelli who seem to have turned the production of slim-fit, no cuffed, washed denim into an art form. But it is one of my favorite looks, and was once a cornerstone of my wardrobe, although recently I haven’t been pulling it out all that often. But of course there’s the other side of this combo, the midtown zombies in their coarse wool, fully structured sportcoats, “designer” mall brand jeans, and square-toed loafers, or worse beat up old running shoes, plodding into their offices thinking that somehow they “beat” the workaday uniform with this outfit.
It’s often the “simplest” looks that are the most difficult to actually pull off, because as you pare things down, each element comes under a magnifying glass. But in the photo of Majd up top, he’s reminding us all of how it should be done. Start with an unstructured navy blazer (not sportcoat), and whether that’s unstructured as in Italian, or as in an American sack suit is entirely up to you, but just make sure it’s casual enough to not look like you just stole one of your dad’s old suit jackets. While it’s tough to discern where Majd’s jacket is from in the photo, that gold buttoned three-roll-two with open patch packets is certainly covetable, so if anyone has any ideas of the maker, please let me know. From there, pick a washed denim that’s slim up top, but straight through the leg, as anything too tapered will throw off your silhouette and draw too much attention downward. You can either go with a slight turn up cuff, or just follow Majd’s lead and forgo the cuff altogether. The key here is the wash, as you want something with enough contrast to play off the darker colored blazer, but you should avoid anything that’s too distressed as that can often just look dirty, cheap, or both. I personally prefer vintage Levi’s 501’s that can be picked up on eBay for less than a night’s worth of drinks.
Consider the shoes to be the anchor of the entire look, and pick a brown leather dress shoe similar to Majd’s. I, like Majd, prefer brogues but really anything that will add polish to the whole look will do. As for the rest of the outfit, it’s tough to see what shirt Majd is wearing underneath, but I’d go with something simple such as a blue or university striped oxford, and from there finish the whole thing off with a pocket square. Majd goes with the light blue here, my personal favorite is a forest green. And my last bit of advice, is don’t over think it – stick to the simple template, stuff your hands into your pockets, and be on your way. Consider it a step forward by taking a look back.