Found in a thrift store in Austin. Still fresh after 3000 years.

Got a Style-Criticism? Good. Keep it to yourself: [30 DAYS OF WRITING: EPISODE 20/30]

helmetThis is day 20 of a 30 day New Year’s Resolution.


Back in February, blogger Howie Chong wrote a post on bike helmets that blew my mind. So to speak.

It was not about how helmets save lives. It was partially about how helmets may increase injuries.

But that’s not what struck me.

What I found fascinating was, as Chong points out, how quickly people criticize, even ridicule non-helmet wearers. And way out proportion to the need for the criticism.

Truth is, as a scooter rider, I’ve experienced the way people will hurl a “get a helmet” at you if you so much as pull fifteen feet up the street for a better parking space, without your helmet on.

I’d like to suggest that we live in a world where there is not enough good communication, not enough listening, and where people feel like their opinions don’t matter. So when they see someone with a helmet off, it’s their big chance to be heard.

I may, in my day, have yelled the same thing, myself.


Found in a thrift store in Austin. Still fresh after 3000 years.

Found in a thrift store in Austin. Still fresh after 3000 years.

I want to pull back a second and say, of course – there are times when people need to be told what’s what. There’s a great quote from the Mishna – I’m getting Jewish nerdy here – which is a 2000 year old instruction manual in the form of a series of arguments.

Q: “From where do we derive that one who sees something wrong about his friend should rebuke him? A: It is said (in the Torah), ‘One should surely rebuke.’

Q: How do we know that one should continue to rebuke [if his first attempt does not achieve the desired results]? A: We are taught this from the [odd grammar that one is to rebuke] no matter what.

So, yes. When it’s important, rebuke. But what if it’s some unimportant, antiquated fashion faux pas?


Picture taken in OCTOBER! Oooooh. Risky!

Picture taken in OCTOBER! Oooooh. Risky!

In style, I would maintain, there are a few rules which need to be thrown out. And yet, when I break one of them, the same guy who yells, “get a helmet” also tells me which sartorial rule I’m breaking, as if rebuking me for some moral flaw.

I take umbrage with this. So here are my top five rules you shouldn’t worry about breaking.

And what’s more…you shouldn’t worry about others breaking ’em, either.


1. White pants should not be worn after labor day or before Memorial Day.

Baloney. On a sunny winter day in California? Put ’em on.

So much matchy-matchy! Off to "style-jail?" Are you gonna narc on me?

So much matchy-matchy! Off to “style-jail?”
Are you gonna narc on me?

2. Seersucker: same.

Baloney. Okay, maybe not when it’s raining or snowing, but on a hot autumn day? Wear the damn seersucker.

3. Don’t wear Blue and Black together.

Baloney. Different shades of blue look great with black. Even navy-blue and black can look fetching.

 4. Don’t match your jacket and tie / jacket and shirt / etc.

Baloney. If it looks good, do it. Intentional overmatching is a way to raise your flair. Just, you know… get a second opinion.

Bottom button is buttoned. The earth keeps spinning.

Bottom button is buttoned.
The earth keeps spinning.

5. Don’t button the bottom button.

Baloney. If the sportcoat has a high button-stance and the bottom button keeps the jacket hugging your torso? Go for it.


In short: don’t be afraid to break the rules.

And furthermore, if you see someone else doing it? For God’s sake, keep your rules to your self.

And wear a helmet.

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