The comments are beginning to flow (blame sunshine for the glacial pace?) on my Top 10 Challenges for dapperQ’s list, and fortunately, one of the first from epinard states:
Love this. Can you add as one of your challenges “little money”? I’m broke! Thrift stores work I am learning to sew but . . I am far from being able to see an outfit I like and then go out and buy that outfit. In addition to featuring cool outfits, we need discussion of core principles and the elements of dapper style in order to make it accessible for everyone.
I purposely left out money so that I could write this post in which I argue that while money helps, it can also be an enemy of style. I learned this from my ex-girlfriend Vanessa Lyon and Nate Berkus well before he became Oprah and America’s favorite interior designer. Let me set the stage: when I met Vanessa, all of my furniture was painted black so it would match. I hope that is all I need to tell you about how poor my taste was.
Most every morning as I got ready for my corporate job, Vanessa helped me build my outfit. She had incredible taste and used it to brilliantly mix stripes, textures, vintage and new. And she helped me do it, too. She and Nate worked at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers during the day. Nights and weekends we scoured garage sales and second-hand stores for collectibles that we used to furnish our homes and that Vanessa used to stock a stall at an antique market where she marked up the items she found 10 or 20 times what she paid.
I called this the “fag magic mark-up.” (No disrespect intended.) Because what she and Nate did, and what they taught me over several years to do, was to find the good stuff in piles of trash. Distressed mirrors, vintage fabrics, Fornesetti plates. We were willing to put in countless hours to find the pieces that folks who didn’t know, or wouldn’t spend the time, were willing to pay a premium for. They had style and I imitated what I saw. It took years and now I have the chutzpah to believe we can formulate that magic for dapperQ ends.
I think it was Nate who told me that having money often gets in the way of having good taste. I didn’t include money as a challenge in my list because I’m sure we’ve all seen plenty of men who sport menswear with a magic that exceeds the tired presentation of the Wall Street boys schlepping to their tired jobs. What I love about epinard’s feedback is how it linked the question of money to need to understand. If we don’t have the type of money needed to go buy this stuff off the rack, we are going to have to work MUCH harder. But, frankly, it’s worth it.
I put together a top-notch outfit yesterday for what turned into a two-hour interview. Both the suit and shirt were Ted Baker of London. New I would assume the suit $750 and the shirt $200. I paid $20 (!!!!!) for the suit at Beacon’s Closet in Park Slope, and about $45 for the shirt at a consignment store in Boston. The shirt definitely needs to be tailored because, now that we’ve done the how-to measure for men’s shirts coming out this week FINALLY, I know there are tailoring solutions to address the excess fabric. The shoes were Italian (hurt like hell) burgundy beauties – probably $125 on sale three years ago. Like a secretary, I schlepped to the office in my Cole Hahn Air and then slipped on these angry bad boys for my interview. The piece de resistance? A pink and blue paisley tie that I tied inside my shirt like Rebekah who is featured right in a recent set of dapQSnaps. (Gotta tell ya, the chicks went crazy for the tie that way – seven separate compliments from gay and straight women.)
My point? Yep, some money is required. If you are in school or raising kids or caught in this bullshit down economy, you may have to just be learning tricks til you can implement them. (One trick: cozy up to hot gay men your size and tell ’em you aren’t opposed to hand-me-downs.) But for the dapperQ, it’s going to take much more than money. Time, networking with those of us who are figuring it out, feedback from femmes who happen to know sh*t (that’s why god made femmes!).
Keep the feedback coming. Top 10 Rewards are in process (if compliments and gentle guidance from femmes aren’t enough…) as is the plan for developing the dapperQ style guide in collaboration with dapperQ’s across the country.