“‘Stylin’ out.’ That’s how Monica L. Miller, an associate professor of English at Barnard College, describes the way black
people have used dress to expand definitions of blackness, gender, and sexuality. Men in particular have “styled their way from slaves to dignified human beings,” she writes in Slaves to Fashion (Duke University Press, 2009).The first book-length study of black dandyism, Miller’s work is part of a growing scholarly interest in how clothes fashion our lives. It also signals the blossoming of black dandyism—fedoras, silk ascots, flashy socks—on the streets of major cities. Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Outkast’s Andre 3000 have made it cool to rap in Polo shirts, bow ties, nerd glasses, and boat shoes. The NBA’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Durant pull off dandyish without being pretentious. And now black dandyism is trending in the halls of academe.” – Stacy Patton via Black Dandies Fashion New Academic Identities.
In our newest installment of “Dress Smart,” we’re showcasing the dapper stylings of Francisco J. Galarte, Ph.D. Dr. Galarte is an assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Arizona. He teaches courses in chicana/latina studies and transgender studies. He serves on the editorial board for the journal, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. He is also the fashion editor for TSQ and is actively seeking submissions for this section of the journal, for more info on TSQ (please visit http://tsq.dukejournals.org/). He also blogs intermittently about home, love, music and trans chican@ subjectivities on el sabor del amor y del dolor and posts fashion oriented photos/reblogs on El Catrin Con Safos. His most recent publications can be found in the journals: Aztlan, Chicana/Latina Studies and TSQ.
Here’s what Dr. Galarte had to share with us about his style:
My sartorial genealogy begins with my maternal grandmother; she was a seamstress and as I child I remember playing nearby as I heard the hum of her sewing machine in the background. I also remember all the women and men who would come in and out of her house to try things on, get measured, and drop off fabrics. I remember vividly how much I loved to go through a basket of fabric remnants she kept in her room. Each fabric had a different texture and pattern and I would think about how the pieces I held in my hand were of those of garments that were out and about in the world on the bodies of my grandmother’s customers. My style, therefore, is embodied memory, the collected memories of my maternal grandmother, my abuelita – the neighborhood seamstress: cue the sweetest nostalgia.
When I walk into a classroom, I’m very conscious of the ways my students read my body –my gestures, the crease on my pants, the color of my pocket square, or the shine on my shoes. While most might not think of what they wear as part of their pedagogy, I do. It is the way I let my students get a sense of who I am, and it is also the way they see me, as their professor, as a scholar, and as a person. What I wear, how my clothes fit, the texture of the fabrics that drape my body, a wrinkle or a crease, all inform my sense of self, my identity – who I am as a trans chican@. As a trans person of color and a trans man of color I am often much too seen or not seen at all. Fashion and style for me, is the way I make-do, improvise and makes sense of a life world that in many ways always feels provisional: cue the makeshift.
I use my style to create space for myself (and others), that reflects racialized trans* and queer masculinities as they relate to what one could call a pedagogy and politics of style and a resistance to white supremacist constructions of racialized difference. My sartorial stylistics are an expression of the infinite beauty of brown dandies and catrin@s everywhere.
Outfit #1: The Suit
This is one of my favorite suits. It is a ready to wear (RTW) suit, but had adjustments made by my tailor, Mario. Buying made-to-measure suits can be pretty cost prohibitive so I have come to rely heavily on my tailor to get a close to perfect fit on my suits, shirts, and trousers. I found this suit deeply discounted at a major department store and purchased it particularly because of the fabric. The fabric is a super 130s wool from Italian fabric mill Loro Piana. I’m also a big fan of double-breasted suits, which can be hard to with a flattering fit for husky bodied folks like myself. I had Mario take in the waist slightly and shorten the sleeves on the jacket and on the pants. I had him taper the leg opening for a slimmer profile, and add 1.5 inch cuffs as well as buttons for suspenders.
Double breasted Grey Birdseye Wool Suit (Cremieux)
Slim fit French Cuff Shirt (Brooks Brothers)
Braces/Suspenders (Tommy Hilfiger)
Burgundy Cap Toe Brogue Shoes (Peal & Co)
Navy polka dot Tie (Ralph Lauren)
White Pocket Square (the tie bar)
Vintage Cufflinks (ebay)
Rx Sunglasses (Oliver Peoples)
Outfit #2: Summer Linen
This outfit is inspired by one of my favorite #menswear bloggers on tumblr: Giant Beard. For this outfit Mario also tapered the leg openings, and added cuffs as well as suspender buttons. It is particularly hard to dress for the heat in Tucson from May-October so linen and chambrays (linen/cotton blends) are often my go-to fabrics during this time. They are fabrics that breathe. Remember, wrinkled linen is the mark of real linen.
Navy Baird McNutt Linen Pants (Murano)
White Slim fit Baird McNutt Linen Oxford Button Down Shirt (jcrew)
Coral Repp Suspenders/Braces (Roundtree & York)
Cream Nubuck Longwing Shoes (Leffot x Alden)
Rx Sunglasses (Oliver Peoples)
Outfit #3: Pool Party
This outfit features vintage-inspired swim trunks from Jcrew. The inseam on these is about 6.5in, shorter inseams on swimwear for men is the trend at the moment and I really like the foulard pattern on these swim trunks. The swim trunks and button down shirt look great paired with a pair of Jack Purcell Converse shoes (not pictured) and the Oliver Peoples wayfarer style glasses. The shirt I’m wearing is made by US designer Billy Reid and the fabric is an amazingly light and breathable chambray like cotton. I highly recommend Billy Reid clothing, especially the Heirloom collection which features garments made in the USA. Billy Reid clothing can be pricey but basics such as the button-down shirt and polos can be found at a reasonable price point during mid-season and end of season sales.
Indigo Short Sleeved Shirt (Billy Reid)
Black Foulard Swim Trunks: (jcrew)
Hat (Ben Sherman)
Rx Sunglasses (Oliver Peoples)
Outfit #4: Época de Oro: Vintage Formalwear
I bought this tuxedo because it looks very similar to the tuxedo my dad wore at his wedding in 1964. I also particularly love it because it is reminiscent of the tuxes worn on album covers by trio romantico groups such as Los Panchos and Los Tres Ases. My dad recently gave me his vinyl collection, which features these trio romanticos, so I often go to these old album covers for fashion inspiration. I purchased this tux on ebay, which can be a risk. However, if you know your measurements it can be relatively easy to find this kind of period specific vintage wear in good condition and at reasonable prices.
Vintage Tuxedo (Ebay)
Tuxedo Shirt (Gold Label Roundtree & York)
Vintage Self Tie Bow-Tie (thrifted)
Vintage Cufflinks (Ebay)
Black Balmoral Oxford Shoes (Cole Haan)
Photographer: Adela C. Licona for more of her amazing work, please visit her blog http://mividalandscapes.blogspot.com/