I do not have a look. Or if I do, I am not aware of it.
I have always wanted a look but it never came naturally to me, which is strange since I was always interested in fashion. I just lacked the energy to make it happen, I guess.
It also has to do with my being raised to believe you weren't supposed to put too much emphasis on appearances, as well as growing up male in a culture where men are not supposed to be interested in clothes.
So I've been highly ambivalent about cultivating a look, as well as judgmental of those -- men in particular -- who seemed (to me) to be overly focused on their appearance.
I generally think of dressing up as theater. It's fun to wear a costume and perform, but I don't want to do it every day. It feels like work.
Sometimes I wish I wore glasses because they can give you an instant look. But I'm cursed with perfect vision.
The thing about a look though, is how do you know if you have one or not? I mean, everybody looks a certain way, but not everybody has a look.
Maybe a look is like obscenity: it's hard to define but you know it when you see it.
Many people copy the style of a particular celebrity and that becomes their look -- often for life. In my apartment building, for instance, we have a Liza, a few Farrahs, and something vaguely-Leslie Uggams. Our Betty Grable suffers from acute senility, poor thing, but she still gets the lipstick and eyeshadow on.
When I walk around the city, or go to the Chelsea flea market on weekends, I always see people -- both men and women -- who have fabulous looks. It's more than appearing fashionable: they have found a way to express themselves through clothes that is both highly original and extremely flattering. It's like alchemy.
One of the surprises when I started sewing and getting involved with Pattern Review was how many passionate sewers are turning out ordinary-looking -- albeit attractive -- clothes. No doubt they fit better than RTW (ready to wear) and are constructed of higher quality fabrics, but sewing for most people isn't about creating a look, or at least, not one that I can readily discern. Most people just want to look nice.
When I think about looks, I remember something I read about about one's identity in some psychology book: There's the you you are, the you you think you are, the you others think you are, and so forth.
I think you could say the same thing about your look: there's the look you have; there's the look you think you have; there's the look others think you have, etc.
Then I'm reminded of the old "if a tree fell in the forest" question: if you think you have a look, but nobody recognizes it as a look, then do you really have a look at all?
This can get confusing and potentially vertigo-inducing, like when you look up at the stars at night and wonder where the universe ends.
So I ask you, readers:
Do you have a conscious look? If so, how do you describe it?
If you don't have a look, would you like one? What would it be?
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!