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Style, Living and Breathing

Recently, I was talking with a fellow man of Ivy/Prep about rules and his resistance to overly stiff rules. I have written and spoken about rules before, but I thought I would add another short note on rules of which I am sure will not be the last. First of all, I don't like to use the word rules. There really aren't rules. There are strong guidelines that are harder sometimes and softer other times, harder for the beginner and softer for the experienced dresser. Anyone who talks constantly about rules and what you shouldn't do most likely doesn't have much of a personal style of his own. It is my opinion that the guy who has more negative to say than positive (in style and in life) doesn't have a positive, original vision himself and so all he can do is forbid things in response and reaction to others.

The man I was talking to about overly stiff rules brought up the "rules" that "you can't wear shorts and you can't wear white socks". These are just absolutely ridiculous. First of all, if it is scorching hot, wear shorts if you want. Bermuda shorts are a traditional short that is bold and beautiful. Prep is decidedly attached or orbiting around the water. Shorts are, believe it or not [sarcasm], appropriate when one is near the water. The short inseam of those khaki South Africa and Rhodesia style shorts is totally intense, classic and cool in its own unique way. I love those. The idea that you "can't wear shorts" is absolutely ludicrous to me. If one doesn't want to wear shorts because his personal style is on the quite formal side, then don't! You don't have to wear shorts, of course not. In my criticism of this fake "rule" I am not making some fake rule of my own that you have to wear shorts. Shorts are fine, if you want to wear them, wear them. If you don't, don't. To pretend there is some rule that came down from Moses on the mountain that you cannot wear shorts is absolutely absurd.

The idea that you can't wear white socks is equally ridiculous. If one is into Ivy style and says that you can't wear white socks, I really don't know what to say except it is ridiculous or maybe "what?" White socks (or off-white) is an absolute classic in Ivy style. Some people love them, some people hate them. But without a doubt, there is absolutely no discussion or doubt about it, white socks are not only appropriate but are a total classic in our style. Again, you don't have to wear them, but to say that there is some rule that you can't wear them - that is nuts. As is the case with shorts, if your personal style is of a different stripe than Ivy, then maybe there is a general trend that is strong against white socks, I don't know all the different suggestions in every different classic menswear sub-style. I talk about Ivy/Prep and in Ivy style, white socks are perfectly classic.

It is my opinion that sometimes an obsession with (fake) rules takes the place of a personality or a personal style. It takes the place of any kind of life and music in a personal style. Our style certainly is a signal of order, but it isn't a signal of overly snippy tut-tutting of rules. It is about a bigger picture. Of course, there are things that generally should be avoided. I will often talk about various suggestions. I have a whole host of clear ideas regarding what tends to look good and what tends to look bad. I write about them here constantly. And of course it is true that the more of a beginner one is, the more careful one may want to be, in certain cases. But, I never say "the rule is....", that is a phrase that will most likely never come out of my mouth. Some things tend to work better than other things on some guys. Yet, of course, there are always exceptions.

Of course, there are guidelines. Some are stronger than others and the more developed one becomes in his personal style, the less they are considered. We all need guidelines, it isn't anarchy. But, we must have a spirit that is living. This isn't a museum, we are not dolls behind glass. We are living and breathing and our style is fun, it is jovial and full of life while also of course always being of strong, clear order. Personal style is life, living, breathing, music in aesthetic form. Every day is a brief measure, our lives are like our own symphony. We aren't just a rule book.

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