“Style is timeless. It transcends generations—it's enduring. If you're thinking about fashion, it's of the moment. And that doesn't mean that it's not important at times to embrace trends and that type of thing, but style is less about trends than it is about how you carry yourself.”
– Designer John Varvatos, who gets me and my struggle.
I pride myself on being stylish, as do most of my equally stylish peers. Having a serious interest in creating a particular look coupled with the knack to write about it is what lured me into the fashion and publication industry (because let's be honest, it's certainly not the paycheck).
Being a guy interested in fashion means you have more than likely gone through your fair share of trends over the years. It comes with the territory—with a new craze comes a couple more additions to your wardrobe. But what does one do when they're exhausted (mostly financially) from keeping up with trends? You create a personal uniform. You build a rack in your room and you fill it with white T-shirts and jeans and you only wear that. So, after a few years of chasing endless trends, I finally took my own advice.
I decided to cast aside my pursuit of trends and commit to a personal uniform in an effort to prove to others and myself that I can still be a stylish guy without wasting time and money on an ever-changing wardrobe.
The author's personal uniform rack.
The one-rack wardrobe that I built was flawless for one summer. I woke up every day, threw on a basic Alexander Wang and AllSaints cigarette fit denim (with variation in footwear, because I still am a stylish guy), and looked dope as fuck IMO. In creating this uniform, I cemented a look for myself that people appreciated and acknowledged, all while eliminating the headache that came with getting dressed every morning. Most importantly, I was saving serious money by committing to clothing that I wore all the damn time as opposed to just once or twice.
Those close to me started to notice this uniform in a positive manner, solidifying that I had made the right sartorial move. I was feeling like the modern day James Dean, a Steve Jobs 2.0. Some rumor about Einstein wearing the same suit so that he used the energy that one puts into getting dressed into his work kept me going.
And then something terrible happened. The fall season came, I got a new editorial job here at Complex, and shit hit the fan.
Being even more surrounded by all these amazing brands and clothing than I had in the past weakened my resolve. Before long, I caved. I was back to posting daily #OOTD’s on Instagram, tackling each sample sale that came my way like a champ, and instantly purchasing everything I liked because I wanted to execute a certain look that was enjoying a moment. I was back to being that stylish guy again.
I relished in the feeling that my closet was full of so many great pieces and I could pull off all these different looks at any given moment. There was the cozy boy fad that required copping a head-to-toe John Elliott sweat suit (because their tailored sweatpants are perfect). There was the running sneaker trend that had me buying Nike Frees in nearly every colorway. And I can’t forget the parody tee phase where I had to purchase and support up-and-coming designers Conflict of Interest and LPD New York.
I forgot about the rack that I had drilled into my ceiling and was again stuffing my actual closet full of clothing that got a few wears and then forgotten.
One of the main reasons for this sartorial shift was more mental than anything. I thought that conquering these trends each season would make me better at doing my job. If I was actually experiencing these new fads each season, I would then be able to properly expound on them to an audience of readers who are interested in the latest in style.
I now know that this mentality is so, so wrong.
Studying designers and brands, reading up on the newest collections, having an overall knowledge of the history of fashion and its contemporary place, as well as essentially having great fucking taste is really all I needed to excel at my job; not cop everything on sight.
Being stylish does not mean having a wardrobe that moves along with the world of fashion. There will always be new trends and there will always be people who will follow them. But there is still room for the few who respect a good trend when they see it and they leave it at that.
Now we're here with another spring/summer season upon us and the need to excessively layer up for fear of turning into a human popsicle is no more. I've somehow fallen back into this minimal wardrobe that existed in my previous life and I feel safe and still stylish. I am back to wearing the same pair of jeans all weekend and even leading into the workweek with no shame. I’ve dusted off the cobwebs from my DIY clothing rack and now pluck a random shirt off of it without a second thought of if it “goes.”
I can’t give all the credit to serendipity or the impending New York heat waves, though; trends like the explosive normcore moment have played a part in this changeover. Yes, somehow, in a twisted way, following trends have led me into not following trends, again.
I’ve settled back into this personal uniform and this time I’m 100% dedicated to dressing like I am a long lost relative of the Olsen twins with just a little more melanin. Not to be misconstrued, I still gawk over the new arrivals section of my favorite online retailers like everyone else. But I’ve settled in this nest of white T-shirts and I don’t plan on leaving. Why should I?
After much trail and error, I now know what works for me and instead of a life hopping from one trend to next and fearing the notion of being left behind, I’d rather look like I just rolled out of bed and into a simple (but still of quality) white tee/button down/knit, a pair of jeans, and some shoes. If an occasion calls for something different, I’ll obviously tackle that when it comes.
I now know that I can maintain my uniform, be confident in it, and give no fucks if anyone is questioning if I am wearing the same shirt I had on yesterday. I’ve decided to live a sartorial life of being extremely selective of the items I purchase, investing in quality, classic items that I can wear for the next five years and not be scared of looking outdated or off-trend, because I will be above that. After all, most of your sartorial icons were known for a specific look that they stuck with in the midst of a changing world and wardrobe.
I plan on making this minimal look my uniform for a very long time. Or until fall comes again and I fall back into a black hole that is trends, because I am a stylish guy with no will power when it comes to this fashion shit. Because like everyone out there who battles with constantly being barraged by the onslaught of new trends knows, the struggle is very real.