In these, the dog days of summer, it’s rare to see a pair of trousers extended to their full length. Plenty of people even wear a special garment called “shorts.” This article of clothing has been subjected to a truly absurd amount of debate, especially on the topic of whether or not it’s appropriate for a man to wear them. This is ridiculous. Wear whatever you want, your masculinity can withstand showing a little knee. While I’m not an enemy of shorts in general, regardless of the gender of the person wearing them, I prefer not to put them on myself. If you, like me, insist on not wearing shorts, there are two ways to send a breeze around your ankles in long pants—cuff them or roll them up (versatile!), or get the more clean-cut look of pants cut a few inches above the anklebone.
Beige gets a bad rap, as far as colors go. Sure, it may be the color of oatmeal, a food long derided for its blandness. But people who compare boring things to oatmeal obviously aren’t cooking it correctly, because oatmeal with spices and fruit and nuts in it is delicious. Same goes for wearing supposedly “neutral” colors—of course it’s going to look dull if you don’t inject any personality into it.
We live in the golden age of patterned fabrics. Yesterday in New York City I saw a man wearing an oxford shirt with tiny hamburgers embroidered all over it, and I’ve already discussed the prevalence of botanical prints in a previous column. Sometimes popular fashion seems to reflect a certain collective sobriety in subdued colors and tasteful patterns, but at other times there’s a sort of zeitgeist of… whimsy. Lately it seems like people are pretty into wearing things that look like they’re patterned with a standard set of stripes or diamonds from a distance but upon closer examination turn out to be a string of curses in tiny font, or a field of corgis.
Independence Day has come and gone, but the color scheme remains in popular fashion. You can’t forever assign meanings to color combinations, anyway—different people will have different associations with certain colors based on their personal preferences, their high school sports team colors, or their knowledge of color theory. What has an obvious connotation for one person might not even be on the mental radar of another, though some associations are harder to ignore than others. Red, white, and blue is a big one.
There is power in reclamation. Some people adopt derogatory nicknames and terms that their former bullies used to put them down as a defensive tactic. It’s much harder for a word to hurt you if you divorce it from its negative connotations, and imagery works in a similar way. The face of a dead celebrity or a symbol of resistance or oppression can be mass-produced and commodified so much that it’s reduced to a shortcut of meaning, almost separate from the original human personality or the elements and thought that made up the design in the first place.
I feel a similar way about flowers. Now that it’s officially summer and most people’s pollen allergies have retreated until next spring, we can proudly wear the image of our tormentor. Here you are, plucked from the earth and emblazoned onto t-shirts, blazers, and even shorts. You are defeated and we wear you as a trophy, free of the sneezing and itchy eyes you once gave us. Also, I like seeing people aggressively clash patterns like this. Summer fashion is usually some form of “oh god, whatever keeps me cool and passes basic public decency,” so it’s also nice to see and appreciate some interesting patterning, especially if you can act like there’s a deeper meaning to it.
If you live in an urban center or hang out with a lot of youngish people, I’m sure you’ve seen a particular trend emerge in the past year or so. Adorning one’s face with metal is nothing new, but septum rings are suddenly everywhere! The first time I really noticed them en masse was at last year’s Afropunk festival, which was full of fashion visionaries. Not that I’m complaining about the abrupt popularity—I think almost everyone looks good with a tiny metal loop in their nose and have had mine since 2007. The bigger ones and the more ornate ones require more confidence and nasal strength, though.