This week's featured outfit: suede Chelseas, cotton chinos, and this spectacular wool bomber jacket by Swedish start-up A Day's March. For my first outfit shoot back since a bit of academic burnout threw me for a loop, I wanted to build an outfit entirely around natural materials. As much as I love GORE-TEX and the like, there's a textural richness that only organic fabrics like cotton and wool can conjure. While defaulting to texture may seem like a cop-out way of describing an otherwise boring outfit (it's minimalist, Mom! My Tumblr friends think it's cool!), minding small details like how different rough-hewn fabrics look next to each other can add a lot of visual cool to basic palettes.
Unfortunately, if you're like me, even adding "a lot" of visual cool is merely throwing sand back to the ocean. No matter how long you spend comparing textures and hand-feels, the very act of searching out "complementary organics" only exacerbates an organic clash guaranteed to negate any potential coolness: the material conflict of "nerd v. clothes."
Herein lies truth. Finding truly cool clothes takes effort - whether that's stalking eBay or building relationships that grant access to the good stuff. Furthermore, cool clothes look cool in isolation; yet, no one buys cool clothes to not put them on. Cool clothes look cooler on cool people; yet, the societal consensus on what makes someone cool concerns how little effort they broadcast.
Herein lies conflict. If it takes effort to find cool clothes, but looking good in them requires showing the exact opposite, there exists a wide and uncomfortable middle ground. To clarify: this middle ground is not the purgatory so often assigned to people wearing styles they don't understand to build social proof (popular moniker: "fashion victims"). Instead, it's the familiar tread of just the opposite: the hobbyists, the enthusiasts, the people whose deep love for and understanding of the style they wear extends far beyond "CDG is popular now so I'll buy the little heart Converse."
To the world at large, those enthusiasts often aren't cool. They look like they tried (effort!!!), and are therefore disqualified from the pedestal of sunken-eyed, listless-yet-image-obsessed #influencers.
But I never really got that.
Everyone takes care of their appearance, full stop. So why penalize someone who lets that effort be seen?
After all, isn't that person living authentically, a virtue most aspire to yet seldom achieve? Isn't that same person also setting realistic expectations of what it takes to achieve their look, a flashpoint topic in most mental health debates? While it's certainly neither cancer research nor national security, taking little steps to destigmatize public effort would go a long way in discourse.
From my perspective, the best part of this entire "uncomfortable middle ground" is that those same hobbyists, enthusiasts, and cool clothes collectors frankly don't care if passerby like how they're dressed. "Screw what this uptown R train thinks," thinks the dude dressed in full Rick Owens on the subway. He's happy to express himself. In my opinion, that level of authentic self-realization is the coolest thing out there.
TL;DR I'm a huge effin' nerd and writing about why nerds are cool only dug this hole deeper.