Facing Materialism

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As of late, our society, as a whole, have been entangled by the rigorous grip of marketing, consumerism and materialism. Evidently we have it reversed, it’s no longer what you do that defines you but rather what you own. We are so easily swayed by marketing efforts that we feel an indescribable innate need to buy everything an influencer showcases or make certain acquisitions to uphold a certain image.

As I mainly utilize social media platforms to share menswear content, and could potentially be considered an influencer, I am very concerned with this largely growing phenomena. I have always advocated “buy less, use more” and “quality over quantity”. However, it is never my intention to have you belief that you will be happy, fulfilled or even mildly contented if you dress or look in a certain way. Those aspects are in synchrony with your subjective perspective of life and uniquely primed personality. Happiness, or self-fulfillment, can lead to dressing well but the opposite never does.

That is why I am always partially hesitant to answer “where did you get that x from?” questions. For me, it is never about advocating a brand or it’s image but rather the underlying structural integration of garment pairing and utility.

I am going to deviate a bit by saying that I aware of my recent generic mediocracy blog posts. This was never my intention when I wanted to launch DWNS. Those types of posts are generally less time consuming and, in certain circumstances, substantially easier to write. However, I am in the midst of writing several fashion topics that loosely pertains to materialism, social prejudices to tailoring or even clothing minimalism. I am still in process of finalizing these topics as they take a ridiculous amount of time to write, my head/ideas are still in misalignment and the conjunction of these topics must present considerable symmetry. But, considering the return from my trip and the holiday season (end of exams), I have the time to organize everything and hopefully launch new content by the start of 2017. Stay tuned.

A Vintage Outerwear Jacket

Previously, we discussed a potential outerwear option and the advantageous aspects of an unstructured outerwear. We also briefly talked about how expensive a good outerwear piece can cost. If you are on a budget, like myself, second hand websites and vintage stores are great alternatives.

In regards to second hand websites, particularly Grailed and eBay, jackets may still be rather costly – especially after factoring the Canadian to America conversion rate. The upside of Grailed and eBay is that you can find pieces that embody a more contemporary and slimmer silhouette from current designers. On the other hand, shopping at your local vintage store(s) is challenging due to sizing or dated silhouettes/detailing and often requires a lot of patience. However, the patience and diligence of a vintage piece is often worth it for the price tag.

I don’t usually like vintage shopping, as the sizes are often undesirable and unsalvageable for my body type. There have been a few occasions where I would purchase a jacket, thought it could be tailored and bring it to my tailor to only have him disappoint me with bad news. Don’t get me wrong, if the shoulders fit, the rest are often alterable. But my long arms and substantial drop proves to be difficult for such a feat.

However on my recent occasional vintage hunts, I found this beautiful beefy sailor coat with great detailing and a price tag of $50. I tried it on and suddenly, I felt that all my efforts were not in vain.

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This heather grey jacket was a rarity. The sleeves were long enough to accommodate my lengthy arms and it did not possess any odor or garment damages. The fit of the jacket is not exactly ideal for my slender body, but it does come with a waist belt (a feature I often encourage you to locate when shopping for a vintage outerwear) that helps enable my preferred waist compression.

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Granted, the belt was tied a little too snug around the back of the jacket during this shoot.

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The jacket also features a generous lapel, with a beautiful roll and shoulder epaulets that’s often on military jackets. I tried to ask the vendor if he had any knowledge of this jacket or of its prior usage. Unfortunately he did not have information to provide me with.

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One of the characteristics I enjoy about vintage shopping is the history of each clothing piece – distinctively how functional they were and the longevity of a well-made garment.

Honestly, the key to getting a vintage outwear piece is patience, a lot of it, and frequent visitations. If you drop by your vintage shops regularly, don’t be faltered after numerous ‘failed’ searches because the price tag of one that you finally find is always justifiable. Good luck hunting!

 

 

Unstructured Outerwear

If you have read some of my previous post, you will be aware of how much I love unstructured tailored clothing.

Unstructured wear, particularly the tailored jacket, is incredibly light in weight, breathable, contours your natural silhouette and exceptionally comfortable.

The only potential downside to unstructured tailoring is its inherent casualnesses, making it inappropriate for office wear. But, let’s be realistic, with today’s growing creative workforce and flexible dress codes, wearing an unstructured jacket is the least of your occupation’s concern.

However, in this post, I want to shred some light on unstructured outerwear. Currently, unstructured outerwear is still relatively uncommon and has yet to receive mass prominence. I always believe that an outerwear jacket should have less shoulder padding, or nothing at all. Have you ever tried to put on an overcoat with large shoulder padding over your jacket? If you have, you know its a hassle to don it over and consistently adjust your jacket accordingly. Well, the unstructured overcoat alleviates that.

The jacket I am featuring today is a charcoal herringbone topcoat from Gap x GQ’s Steve Allan’s collection. It was recently purchased at a Gap retail store during their 50% off sale. I have demonstrated three looks that is appropriate for all spectrums of formality.

All Business:

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I can’t remember the last time I wore a tie. These days, I don’t wear ties often. But if its needed for say a meeting, I frequently choose a silk knitted tie, particularly one in navy to retain some form of formality.

An unstructured navy hopsack jacket from Spier & Mackay was chosen. Unstructured jacket with an unstructured overcoat = comfortability maximized.

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The jacket does not have an accompanying trouser, hence a charcoal birdseye was paired as 1) neutrals work perfectly alongside each other and 2) charcoal is a great navy alternative for business wear.

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I wanted to add some patterns to the outfit and thus a striped shirt from Spier & Mackay’s MTM program was picked.

One feature of an unstructured outerwear jacket that I love is the convenience of folding and holding it. With the lack of shoulder padding, the jacket can easily be “crushed”, wrapped or held as shown.

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Topping it all off with a chocolate suede long wingtip and, of course, the overcoat.

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All Day Casual:

One thing I love about an unstructured overcoat is how effortlessly it is to pair, especially if its in a neutral colour – like this grey charcoal herringbone.

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For something casual and secure, grab your go-to raw dark denim, a pair of boots in literally any colour, a sweater or chunky turtleneck in this case and you are good to leave the house.

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Business Casual:

We have a business one and a casual one so far, now for something in-between. This look features the same unstructured navy jacket from the All Business look and denim from the All Day Casual look. It just utilizes a thinner turtleneck (one that is able to fit under a jacket) and a pair of Chelseas for a more cohesive, or professional, appearance.

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I used to dress extremely flamboyantly and often like wearing loud patterns or colours. As my style is maturing, I find myself wearing the same items and more muted colours/patterns. Through my experience, I learnt that fit and proportions are more important to nail to look stylish – an advice that I encourage you to thoroughly consider.

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There, three looks of how versatile an unstructured outerwear can be. In regards to its comfortability, you got to try one for yourself to understand 🙂

Why Should You Get A Topcoat Next

If you live in a four season city with treacherous Winters, like Toronto, I always recommend a Parka to be your first outerwear piece. An outerwear is a crucial investment, it keeps you warm and it will be the garment that everyone first sees. A Parka, especially one that is well made, will protect you from the elements (snow, rain, wind) and can potentially be worn for many years to come.

One thing though that I dislike about the Parka though is its aesthetic, particularly with tailored wear. A Parka can be worn with virtually anything, but it generally fails to retain the formality when worn with a suit – or alike pieces. I always like to wear my navy Parka with raw denim, a cashmere sweater and a light layer like a cardigan or quilted jacket. I always feel that its the hooded fur that makes the jacket appear the more casual.

Of course, it can be worn with tailored wear. But it just doesn’t seem right… Here at DWNS we are obsessed with the minute details of our clothing and we want to find an outerwear that compliments tailored wear accordingly.

If you already have a Parka and looking for another outerwear investment, I suggest getting a topcoat. A topcoat is a single breasted outerwear, typically encompassing a three-button closure and is long enough to cover your knees, or at least just above it. A topcoat, like the Parka, can also be worn with virtually anything and looks exceptionally well with tailored wear.

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Of course, just like everything in life, there’s a trade off – a topcoat is never as warm as a Parka and is susceptible to elements (rain, snow). Wearing a topcoat requires extra under layers and accessorizing, like a scarf or umbrella, to counter its downside.

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We can establish that an outerwear investment can be kind of pricey. But, with clothing, you get what you pay for. Of course the most important factor to always consider is your budget. A more expensive topcoat typically compromises of a nicer (read: warm or luxe) fabric, like a tweed or cashmere, and detailing, such as double breasted closure or quilted lining. It’s imperative to seek a topcoat made out of a thicker fabric that can keep you warm and insulated.

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This topcoat is from Topman’s Winter Harris Tweed collection a few years ago. Although I am skeptical of it’s construction, the fabric is a nice thick plaid tweed (harris) that provides me with nothing but warmth.

A topcoat provides a cohesive look with tailored wear that is impossible to acquire with a Parka. I believe that everyone is aware of how well a topcoat pairs with a suit, as a camel topcoat with a navy suit seems to be the staple for all #menswear Instagram pages.

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Even taking on a partial tailored look, involving only tailored trousers, the topcoat keeps the outfit complete by blending in perfectly with the turtleneck and denim jacket. I wouldn’t recommend a patterned topcoat to be your first (my first was actually a camel), as it’s a little tougher to pair. Also, do not be falsely  convinced that you should acquire a loud coloured outerwear by the influencers on Instagram. You will be perfectly fine with a neutral coloured one and will definitely already stand out in a sea of hideous outerwears.

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These images exemplify how much I like blending formal and casual pieces together. Bespoke flannel trousers (formal), wingtip boots (formal), turtleneck (casual) and a denim jacket (casual). A topcoat is one of those pieces that is neither formal or casual, rather, it takes form and replicates the formality based on what is worn underneath it. To put it simply, if you are wearing casual pieces, the jacket will appear casual and vice versa.

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I like wearing my topcoat unbuttoned. Because it is not a double breasted closure, buttoning it up hardly does much to provide extra warmth. Having it unbuttoned also exudes a air of nonchalance or a relaxed temperament. But choosing to have it button or unbutton is nothing more than a preferred personal choice.

So, if you are in the market for a new outerwear piece and already possess a parka, go for a topcoat. Keep in mind to invest in one made from a thicker fabric, a sturdy construction and in a neutral colour (navy, brown or grey).