Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blue-collar Butch, Manual-labor Masculinity + harem pants

Menswear nowadays has an obsession with all things working-class.  Auto mechanics, lumberjacks, lab technicians: guys are starting to take key items from these occupations' usual garb and incorporating them into their own look.  It fascinates me to see how far from the original intended purpose men can take a workwear-inspired item.

For instance, this guy puts an artiste/hobo spin on the buffalo-plaid flannel shirt usually associated with lumberjacks.  Check out the pink socks!

Now you ask, why would a blog named "The Dandy Project" concern itself with such utilitarian fashions?  Well, allow me to remind you that living out one's fantasies by way of one's outward appearance is 100% dandyism.

Let us explore today's manifestations of blue-collar style:

Top-of mind: plaid, most especially, buffalo plaid.

both probably from The Sartorialist

Work boots: perhaps the second most ubiquitous.  Men's magazines are all over it, maybe because they're the easiest to work into a regular dude's look.

combat boots from OakNYC

notice how easily work boots work in a jeans-and-blazer outfit

Chambray/denim shirts are iconic Americana workwear.

I have way too many of these.

The jumpsuit is an auto-mechanic staple.  More recently, the flight suit, a variation on the jumpsuit, is gaining popularity, with a version by Eairth being one I seriously covet.  

a flight suit on Facehunter

The sailor shirt: costumey cool! 

APC SS 08: the best EVER

The lab coat: part mad scientist, part Scandinavian chic.  I saw the coolest heavy chambray vintage lab coat in Japan that cost an arm and a leg in Yen.

from The Sartorialist

Tabi Boots.  I have previously ignorantly believed tabi boots were the original brainchild of the great Martin Margiela.

Margiela tabi boots on model Daul Kim

Only in my recent trip to Japan did I discover that tabi boots have long been the footwear of choice for laborers.  Legend has it, tabi boots were also the footwear of choice for ninjas, way back in their day.

pardon the distant shot, but if you look closely you can see the Japanese workers wearing tabi boots

So after a lengthy introduction, let us examine the appeal.  What makes the working-man look so fascinating these days?  I, for one, think it's a refreshing change from the previous male archetype of the metrosexual (excuse the term, I'm merely using it to illustrate a point) man whose popularity peaked somewhere between 2002 to 2006.  The feminized “metrosexual” look has gotten so overexposed, overdone, it’s lost all its novelty.  Overtweezed eyebrows, overshaped goatees, obvious gym bodies, overpressed form-fitting clothing, it’s all just so tired.  Men of all sexual orientations are having fun dressing up the way working-men do, the way men used to dress back in the day.  Perhaps men have gotten so tired of looking their best that now they just want to look like somebody other than themselves.  

Just for fun, let me share other occupation-inspired items I would like to see reinterpreted in fashion, seriously:

Safety goggles: workwear-inspired eyewear, now that's something new.  

Denim overalls.  Slim the silhouette? Render in raw denim? This might be do-able.

The tool belt.  Way smaller than a work tote (and hands-free!), way cooler than a fanny pack.  I say, fashion-ize the tool belt!  Because sometimes, the things you need to bring that don't happen to fit in your pockets are just too little to stuff into your smallest bag.


Fashion inspired by occupation has always been there, I think it never really left. It's just refreshing to see it being wholeheartedly revisited by fashion today.

EDIT: Quick outfit post.  (Sorry, it isn't workwear-inspired.)  I got these olive green harem pants by Greyhound at the same sale I got these.  Yes, I'm diving into the trend head-first.  I will be the first to laugh at myself when the rose-colored lenses of the harem pants' trendiness fade.  

Zara sweater, Greyhound harem pants, tasseled loafers from Cubao

I got these cordovan tasseled loafers (left) at Valentino, a men's shoe shop at Cubao Expo, together with a pair of brown leather and lizard patchwork loafers (right).  I got them at such an obscenely low price, I can't even say.  Though the look and feel of these shoes is vintage, they are 100% brand new.  


fred said...

wow. so coool.
answer me please!who was?

fred said...


Vera said...

great post, very informative. I'm becoming addicted to your blog, there are almost no fashion blogs that cover men's fashion thoroughly

chauss said...

love the shoes :)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

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