September's theme, Made You Look, covers a lot of ground in fashion, style and trends.
I used to work in the music department at a magazine, Time Out New York. It was “a thing” in New York City for a long while—and still is to many residents, although the print edition was another casualty of COVID-19. But, if you’ve never lived in the environs, you’d be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of it before.
It was a great job, especially for a fella in his 20s who loved music. I went to three or four concerts a week, got tons of free CDs (yes, I’m old!), rolled into the office just before lunchtime and helped contribute to other sections as part of what was a fairly small staff. (It would be considered huge by today’s magazine standards.) I loved writing about other subjects than music and, sometimes, I’d even be in photoshoots or other web exclusive one-offs.
For a bit, we had a series called “TONY Fashion,” where staffers would be photographed and then do their best to comment upon their fashion sensibilities. A lot of folks in the office were pretty hip and upped their games a bit when they took their photos. (I remember a lot of leather.)
I was not hip. And I did not up my game.
Because the Time Out website has had more history erased than the Library of Alexandria, you’ll have to trust my description. Picture a tall white guy with brownish hair turning gray. He’s wearing a purple Colorado Rockies T-shirt, loose-fitting jeans and brown and black Reebok Pumps. In response to the first question from the fashion team, “Can you please describe your personal style?” he replies, “I have no personal style.”
Which, for the most part, is true. And I wasn’t trying to be a rebel. I’m still not. I just don’t know a lot about fashion and have struggled to care.
But, since then, I’ve learned that having no style is a style of its own. That Rockies T-shirt was celebrating an epic run to the World Series the year before. Smart. Those jeans? I had cast aside years of wearing chinos—learned behavior growing up wearing uniforms in Catholic school—in favor of denim, which could be worn many more times in a city where I had to walk a few blocks to do my laundry. Vogue. And Reebok Pumps were actually a pretty bold move for the late 2000s. Look at me. Poppin' tags.
A decade and a half later, I still struggle to think too much about what kinds of clothes I put on each day. But I do know that it matters. I have realized it’s the first impression that we humans press upon one another, lest we devolve into nudists yet again.
Style is so much more than just dresses and hats. The standard-bearer of newspaper style sections, in The New York Times, covers everything from home decor to weddings, love and whatever’s trendy.
So does The Doe in this month’s theme, Made You Look, which covers a lot of ground— hairstylists, Botox and modeling included. And a solemn promise to you: There’s nary a mention of purple sports teams’ T-shirts from 2007.
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