This year’s Men’s Fashion Week had me thinking: dudes in skirts, dudes in blazers and shorts, dudes rocking mesh shower curtains and sandals. This shit is hot; why are male writers so fashion feeble? Why can’t they dress up their look the way they dress up their words?
Male writers come in two fashion varieties. One is jeans and sports jacket; the other is standard-issue hipster bro couture of T-shirt, multiple tats and “Game of Thrones” beard. The jeans and jacket (usually tweed) is the established novelist look. If we want to give it a name, we could call it “The Franzen.” The Franzen says “I got a six-figure advance, I know there’s no chance in hell that I’m going to earn out, but–fuck you–James Wood liked my last book and I hung out with Barack Obama talking about books and early 1990s NYC walkups.”
I confess I have vicarious envy of The Franzen. I mean, who wouldn’t? Yeah, I’ll take that Cobble Hill Brownstone and the publicist booking me on Charlie Rose. But as a fashion-vibe, no way, man. That look was subversive when Fonzie was teaching night school in season 646 of Happy Days. Its coolness factor has plummeted to nil since being appropriated by tech entrepreneurs. Browse any TechCrunch photo gallery—you’ll see The Franzen on yet some other dude hoping to bullshit his way into a seed round for his enterprise paperclip startup.
Male writers of the dude sensibility travel in different circles. Their look isn’t what you’d see in Cobble Hill or at a fancy tech investors conference. They blend into the general noise of the rest of unaffordable Brooklyn and its invasion of the last few affordable neighborhoods in Queens. We could call them “LitBros,” but what the fuck would be the difference? A bro is a bro. What difference does it make if he’s running a Mast Brothers artisanal chocolate game on you or reading his latest Hobart piece off his phone? This bro is rocking the same male fashion semiotics from season 1 of Girls (when it was already played out).
The fashion of this year’s Men’s Fashion Week was inspirational for its fluidity. Gender was a major theme and a great one. But I think male writers should let fashion be a visual expression of the metaphysical fluidity they explore in their work.
Perhaps the biggest mistake we all make is to confuse fashion and couture. Couture is fashion for rich people who want you to know they spent $50K on a vintage Birkin Bag made from ostrich feathers. Fashion is look, your individual look, baby. Male writers should take a lesson from wacko male artists from the past who knew that a tight fashion game is great PR.
Here are three favorites—all cats who knew that fashion forward is fashion freaky!
3.) Thelonius Monk
This photo tells you the whole story right here. Monk is all business in the suit, but the beanie is receiving messages from elsewhere. Those fingers are going to play some James P. Johnson stride by way of Schrodinger.
One for the LitBros: Dress up like a Viking in the middle of 1950s New York. You will be known as a genius composer by everyone from Marlon Brando to Phillip Glass.
1.) Andy Warhol
Some of you are wondering what Andy is doing on a list of freaky outsider artists. That’s the point! Warhol was an outsider who became an insider by declaring himself queen of his own little weird slice of the universe. His look is a complete confection that sprinkles powdered sugar on bad skin and a hairline that began retreating when he was spinning creative directors’ heads with his stippled drawings of lady’s shoes. Andy is the patron saint of all male writers who want to go to the bank with a good look. Imitate him by not imitating him. Slavish copying is what has come to be known as personal branding. Where do you think Steve Jobs got that black turtleneck and questioning finger from?
Entropy Fashion Week Line-up
- Monday: “LIT SCENE FASHION REVIEW”
- Tuesday: “From The Franzen to the Litbro: What Outsider Artists Can Teach Male Writers About Fashion”
- Wednesday: “Best Accessories of the 19th Century (Or Fashion Tips from Chekhov and Austen)”
- Thursday: “Fashion Week Special Edition: An Outfit For …”
- Friday: “The Many Fashions of The Queen of the Night“