style

Grieving in the Age of the Selfie: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION — 30 DAYS OF WRITING. EPISODE 7/30

Apprehensive.

Apprehensive.

This is day 6 of a New Year’s Resolution.


An hour ago, when I said goodbye to my Uncle, it was really goodbye.

He might make it through the night. Maybe. But there is no other conversation to be had when the patriarch of your family wishes you a good life and tells you to “take care, kid.”

This has been a year of loss. Close family friends have lost wives and mothers. My parents lost a close friend. But all of these were sudden and traumatic and tragic and the Facebook threads show shock and grief and deep discombobulation.

This is different. It’s just as sad, but my Uncle knows he’s about to die, and he wanted to say goodbye, and so I knew this was my last call. I got to say everything. Everything that matters, in the end.

Reminiscing.

Reminiscing.

I had my phone, my laptop, my sunset, my quiet office.

I was wearing a suit.

 What does a Style Blogger have to say about death?

Crying isn’t something I do very often, but when I do, it’s not a pretty sight. I cry every year on Yom HaZikaron, when I remember two friends killed in a terrorist attack at Hebrew University when we were all too young and too far from home to die.

I cried, witnessing my hopes and fears as a teacher acted out on stage by a brilliant theater-improv group.

I cried when my journal was stolen.

Realizing.

Realizing.

I cried after the last episode of Battlestar Galactica. 

All of these have one thing in common – unabashed, unashamed expressions of my true self, my deepest being. And in every case, while deeply vulnerable, I am also safe. I am held in the hands of my community, my friends, and the Lords of Kobol (or the One True God, depending on whether you’re a human or Cylon sympathizer).


flowerMany think that style is about artifice. It is not. It is about capturing what is inside you and wearing it on your sleeve, so to speak, in a way that others might see and understand who you are before you say a word, before you lift a finger.

Saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye.

In that sense, my suit – a tan suit with a blue, polka dot shirt, a cheerful red lapel flower, and a slightly mussed haircut — was the perfect thing to wear while saying goodbye to my Uncle.

He was composed. Like my suit. He was organized. Like my polka dots. And he was cheerful. Like my flower.

I was the one who sobbed like a teenager should but can’t.


I’m glad I wore this today, and I’m glad I had my laptop nearby.

I’m glad Uncle David was my Uncle, and I’ll be sad when he’s gone.

Deep inside.

Grieving.

I’m glad that I laughed and I made him laugh, I’m glad that I got to say goodbye.

And just as I felt for the crew of the Battlestar Galactica after their long and exciting and painful journey, I’m happy my Uncle is going home.

Collecting.

Reflecting.

Reflecting.

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Top Five Ways to Rock a Sweater… without looking like a slob.

“Put a sweater on, your mother’s cold.”

Once upon a time, a sweater was something I might don, at my mother’s behest, only because it was drafty in the living room, and no one important was going to see me in it.

The warm garment of choice was a hoodie sweatshirt. Sweaters were for, well, dorks.

Then, five years ago, I was in Berlin, at one of the most infamous nightclubs in Europe. And lest you think I’m boasting, let me clarify: the bouncers at the door of this exclusive club glanced at me as if I was floatsam that had washed up on their beach, and it wasn’t worth their energy to throw me out.

I tucked my favorite sweatshirt behind a rusty pipe for safekeeping, and five hours later, the hoodie was gone. (Again, not because the garment was so cool that some tattooed, pierced Berliner needed it for his collection. It was probably used to mop up spilled Club Mate.)

My girlfriend was sympathetic to my loss but she surprised me, saying: it didn’t look that good on you, anyhow.

A bit of wisdom from the official spokesperson of the cardigan sweater.

A bit of wisdom from the official spokesperson of the cardigan sweater.

* * *

This was the dawning of the age of the sweater. It’s the sweatshirt’s older, classier, and more versatile cousin. And when selected carefully, it becomes an essential component in your style.

Here’s how to wear a sweater without looking like Mr. Rogers…or like a slob.


bill

This perfectly fitting garment is a hybrid – crossing the sweater, jacket, shirt nexus. That’s why it pairs so well with a hoppy IPA.

Rule 1: It’s gotta fit.

Like all garments, the difference between a styley sweater and a “put a sweater on, your mother’s cold” sweater is fit. A sweater’s seams should trace the outside point of your shoulder, and it should conform to your body, without being tight. In other words, it’s not a sack. It should confirm to your torso, not hug it, and not bury it.

Rule 2: choose one based not only on how it looks on a hanger, but how it looks with the rest of your clothes.

A sweater isn’t just something to throw over a T-shirt, although that’s one of its many duties. It’s also a layer to pair with a nice shirt and tie, for date night or for drinks after work. In a lounge full of blazer-wearing other dudes, your carefully crafted sweater-tie combo will catch eyes. From there, your scintillating personality will have to seal the deal.

chris

The tie says: classy. The sweater says: snuggly. That’s a killer combo.

Rule 3: the thickness of the threads is inversely proportionate to the sweater’s formality.

I call this the thickness-formality principle. It’s been written about in many academic journals. Trust me.

What does this mean to the non sweater-pundit? If you pair a sweater with a fine weave with a white shirt and knit tie, for example, it’s biz-casual. And very styley. If you work in a creative field, you can wear it to a meeting with a client to go over some ideas. And afterwards, celebrate with a barrel-aged Manhattan.

But if you pair the same shirt and tie with a chunkier sweater, then it’s better for sipping pretzels and bier after work. With the shirt and tie, you’re the best dressed, most relaxed alta in the garten.

The take home: mashing up fancy and casual is a recipe for a funky, styley look.

Rule 4: No holes. No wrinkles. No pilling.

Your sweater isn’t a sweatshirt, and while it gets more character from being beaten up, it’s not the kind of character you want when you’re going styley.

Once a sweater starts pilling — (those little fabric nubs, satisfying to pluck off, akin to popping bubble wrap) — it’s over. You can keep it at home for lounging and wear it to the laundromat, but it won’t do much for your style. (A word to the wise: higher quality sweaters will pill less and look good for longer. Meaning: buy fewer, better. That said, there are ways to treat pilling, after the fact).

sweater-vest

When rocking a sweater-vest, make sure it is slim-fitting, and make sure the shirt under it is also slim fitting. Otherwise, you’re going in the middle-school geek direction.

Rule 4: Try a sweater vest. Seriously.

A sweater vest, if it’s slim and a simple design, looks amazing. It’s reminiscent of styley dudes as far back as the 20s, and has never gone out of style. Pair it with a wool or knit tie, a chambray shirt, and a blazer for a knockout look. Then, if the office is sweaty, take off the jacket, roll up your sleeves, and you look like you’re ready to get down to business – styley casual business!

joe

A sweater with contrasting sleeves is great for bigger dudes, as it helps bring your body definition. The contrasting stripe is also good for bigger dudes because it looks awesome.


Rule 5: A good cardigan will raise your game.

A sweater with buttons broadcasts a styley, relaxed look. It’s a little preppy, a little sporty, and even a little badass, depending on what you do with it, the design, and the weave.

  • Leave it open, pair with a plaid shirt.
  • Wear it with a t-shirt and a cool hat.
  • Button, and wear with a tie.
  • Roll up the sleeves.
  • Wear it with slacks or dark denim.

But warning: cardigans are like tattoos. After you get your first cardigan, you’ll find an excuse to find another.


drawingcardigan

Cardigans are like tattoos. Addictive. But easier to remove.

Ultimately, figuring out how and what to do with a sweater is a little bit of an art. My first suggestion is to skip expensive sweaters at department stores, and hit the resale stores. For whatever reason, sweaters are abundant at resale stores, and since they’re easy to try on (no need for a changing room), you can burn through the whole rack in 10 minutes.

I guarantee: you’ll no longer associate sweaters with drafty rooms. You’ll associate them with drafting tables.

And lounge tables.

And dinner tables.

And tons, TONS, of compliments.

How and When to Roll Up Jacket Sleeves

blazersNo, you won’t look like Don Johnson.

Yes, you can roll up your blazer sleeves.

Just follow these three simple rules.

1. Shoulders

NO: Big shoulder pads.

YES: “Unstructured,” casual jacket.

2. Material

NO: Wool, tweed, “suit material” – essentially, a suit jacket.

YES: Casual materials like cotton, jersey (sweatshirt material), or “sweatery” material.

3. Fit

NO: Boxy, drapey fits.

YES: Slim fit.

Got that? Put it on with a casual, knit tie, and roll ’em up!


Wanna know more about unstructured blazers? Check out my other posts on how, when and why to wear unstructured blazers.