In this menswear zone, everyone thinks so carefully about their own personal style. Everyone has such specific ideas about what they are trying to say, who they are and what they think looks best, and what looks bad. This is certainly a niche sub-culture and for that reason so many involved with our style have made a true study of it. This is a great thing! So many thoughtful ideas. Sometimes, and I think it is natural given what kind of sub-culture this is, what can come from this is a sort of hyper-criticism that becomes almost obsessive.
It's like everyone gets sucked into developing their own purity spiral in which they are at the center core, totally pure. You see this a lot in certain online mens forums. There is this snippy, snappy attitude. Not only is it pretty cringe inducing, it is kind of womanly. Whenever I see this sort of back and forth, it's embarrassing. It's like seeing catty women sniping at each other. It's very odd, yet also it makes sense. When a subculture develops, people get super into it and because they have thought so thoroughly about their own ideas, they come to the conclusion that their ideas must be the only pure manifestation.
As a man, I don't think this is a healthy sign or attitude. The simplest way to put it is that it feels womanly to me. Badgering, never enough, nit picking etc... To me, as a man, you represent what you believe, tell the truth, advocate for yourself and support others who are like you and share the same idea and goal as you. Of course you tell the truth, but telling the truth is not nit-picking, not this snipping and snapping and sort of museum-fetish. You as a man stand for what his right and moral and you use your full voice against evil, but that is not snipping over minutiae just to hear yourself talk. Getting so worked up about minutiae that has no moral, good, evil dimension. This is not worthy of time. I think as a man, this is not a good way to be. As a culture / subculture it is also not a good sign. It's a sign that you are not healthy. It's a kind of mental-masturbation, collapsing in.
I think that today, something that happens a lot in our society and psychology is a sort of mis-ordering of priorities and losing the point, focus and purpose. We get lost in these pointless details, trying to touch up the paint in our closet while our house burns down. Worrying about our acne, when our leg is bleeding profusely.
I have lots of opinions and a whole idea, philosophy and approach to this style, I write about it, talk about it a lot. But, I am not so delusional or narcissistic as to think that I am the pinnacle of all opinion on the matter. It is like a road with 6 lanes. It isn't a tiny 2 track. There are multiple places you can be on the road, and still going in the right direction. There is also something outside of the road, and it isn't going in the right direction. You warn against that road, say it is the wrong road. But, there is a road and it is wide.
In this way, to me, when I approach men and this style, intention counts. To me, if a guy is getting into this style, trying to work his style out, trying to dress with dignity and purpose and understand what that means to him, he is with me. He has a good heart, and good intention. We are on the same road. He is pointing to the same star as I am. We are on the same side here. Maybe he likes this, and I don't, maybe he prefers this, and I prefer that. So what, he's got the right direction, going the right way. These nuanced differing opinions on this or that within the style do not mean anything. Who cares. 98% of guys today dress like absolute animals, if a guy in 2021 is getting into Trad/Ivy/Prep and taking himself seriously and trying to understand his style, give the guy a break, he's on the right path! Again, no womanly nit-picking.
I generally will not publicly criticize a guy's style. I will write about what I think looks good in the abstract / in general and I will publicly comment on what I think looks good on a specific guy. I will write about what I think looks bad in the abstract / in general and not directed at any specific guy, but I will not direct critique at a specific guy and say this or that looks bad. If a guy wants to read my stuff, he will read my stuff. If he likes it, he will do it, if he doesn't he won't. If a guy wants my opinion on his specific outfit, or his style, I will give it, privately. I am not going to critique a guy's style and outfit publicly, even if he asks me to.
You are a man, a grown adult man. I am not going to publicly rip on your style and your outfit which you clearly have thought about and put work into. This obsession with public criticism is a psy-op that is designed to lower everyone, constantly and perpetually. It is to remove any sense of honor or sense of confidence. If you are supposed to always, perpetually be taking public criticism and always supposed to be internalizing it and working on it, and everyone is supposed to do it, what exactly does that do your sense of confidence, self-worth or even a sense of honor or committing oneself to anything?
Think about this idea of committing oneself to something. You commit yourself to an idea when you say you think it is right. You commit yourself to a faith when you believe it. You commit yourself to the way you think about yourself when you understand it to be true. These are internal commitments. They are not always eternal, but they are commitments within. What happens when you are constantly and forever doubting all of that, when you are always constantly expected to doubt it within, but also doubt it from without. You aren't even supposed to really fight it if it comes from without. You are just supposed to accept it and work on yourself. This is all a big trick to screw you up so you can't understand yourself as anything at all. You are just a blob.
Groups working stuff out together. Guys who are in a workshop whose purpose is this sort of working together toward this goal, together as a part of an in-group. This is different. Camaraderie. This sort of fleshing out ideas, going back and forth, working it out, hashing it out and debating that's a good thing. I have been a part of lots of situations like this in my life. In this sort of private, in-group, all working on this same thing together. All a part of this story, like a machine in a way. That is not what I am referring to. Most of our scenarios in life today, most of our daily life is not spent in this sort of environment. Most of our lives are spent in a kind of anarcho-tyranny ocean that is full of fish looking to take a snap and bite out of you until all of you is gone.
This lowering. The attempt to bring everyone into slop also manifests in gossip, lies. When forces broadcast accusations that someone has about someone else, accusations of behavior that isn't illegal (or illegal, an accusation doesn't mean it's true) or anything like that, just embarrassing. Why do they broadcast that? Why is that made a big deal? Why do people make it a big deal? Because people want to bring people down into the slop. It isn't about a crime, there is no crime. It is about airing your dirty laundry, to embarrass you and to bring you into the slop. In a way classifying everything that everyone thought up until 20 seconds ago as offensive and embarrassing is another way to move the goal post swiftly so that everyone is embarrassed and lowered in one fell swoop. In a way the permanence of the internet is a force very similar to this. It is almost a whole entire grand reality which will remember and remind you of your faults and your weak moments, it will never move on, never forget. You will always be lowered back down into the slop. Maybe that is the whole point of it! A reality designed in a hidden (or not so hidden) way for the purpose of perpetual lowering, flattening.
A great coalition of the dark forces of our time conspire and collaborate in a locking way to lower us all. It is a great lowering of everyone. It is like a steel ceiling that squashes us all down. It is in the world all around us. It is in the impending and threatening architecture, the ugly art, the debasing music, the degrading clothing, the sneering literature, the sociological coaxing into depression and brokenness, the perpetual doubt-casting of all the old ways, the destruction of wisdom, the tearing down of religion, the abolition of God, the abolition of Man, the abolition of Woman.
It's sick stuff. I believe that the constant questioning (ala the 60s) of everything and the manifestation of certain forms of toxic femininity in a nitpicking and snipping come together to form the linguistic form of the constant tearing down. It is the death by a 1000 cuts attitude, language and orientation that I think is so toxic. This is why I try very much not to participate in this. Intention counts deeply to me. We are in certain ways on the threshold of hell, Sodom and Gomorra and/or a dark age, whether we differ a little here or there, take a different approach on this or that, it doesn't matter. If we are pointing in that same direction, that same spirit. We have the same hope, the same idea, in the final analysis.
I never drift into people's photos and cut on what they are wearing. I am not a dink. A guy asks me to critique his outfit or his style, I am not going to do so publicly. We will talk about it privately. I respect you as a man, who has a sense of himself. We will talk about it behind closed doors, not in front of the sneering audience, winding up to throw the rotten food at you, locked in the stocks. I am not going to be a part of a struggle session. We live in one big struggle session, and many have become so used to it, so used to being the one humiliated one day, and being the one doing the humiliation the next. I have respect for another man, I am not going to cut on him publicly, unless he comes at me about something. If you cut on me, I will go back at you. If you respect me, I respect you. If you don't respect me, I don't respect you. That is something else, I am not talking about that right now. I am talking about the collective hive-mind lowering. I reject the great lowering, the willful descent into the struggle session of totality. The struggle session in the core of the self-conception.
This project of mine is about men's style and Trad/Ivy/Prep in particular. This piece like many starts out from a place of style, focusing on the clothes but then becomes a bit of a launch-board for something which sits beneath, beside or above. These things are connected. Aesthetics, style is a physical manifestation of ideas. There is always something under the style, under the fabric. Sometimes we approach it directly, sometimes we only point from a distance. There is always something more to the words and image.