It’s a rampant disease. From Brooklyn to Portland to Oakland to Minneapolis to Boston to Chicago to Philly and (worst offender) LA, there is a disturbing trend that I will henceforth call the Anti-Coco Chanel effect. It is an aesthetic plague and somebody needs to say something. I guess I’ll have to be that guy.
You remember the quote from the Grand Dame of Fashion, right? Something along the lines of, “Before leaving for the day, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” WISE. Why? Because not carefully considering the details/piling them on like sundae toppings makes you a) look like you’re doing a “look” rather than being a person b) erases the possibility found in the negative space–meaning that what you don’t wear should serve, in part to highlight what you do. That is the key to style.
I say that LA is a particularly nasty offender because every time I’m there I feel like I’m surrounded by people dressed by stylists: the pieces may work individually but all together it’s too much, too blatant and, thus, devoid of personality. Particularly in menswear, accessories are your opportunity to distinguish yourself from the next guy. But OD-ing on signifiers, paradoxically, makes you look less like yourself and more like everyone else.
Here are examples!
Probably the “one thing” here should be the hair. But this man does not look like a human being. He looks like a performance artist impersonating a human being.
The danger here is the misunderstanding that doing A LOT of something is inherently more stylish than doing a little. This is true if you are the type of person who rocks it by deeply considering–in a visionary way–your flair. If you are this type of person, you know it. You are not interested in what’s “classic,” you are interested in doing your own thing. More power to you! You are probably not reading this blog post or you are nodding sagely along, and you likely look like this fantastically stylish man:
This guy is from Brooklyn (duh) but don’t get all excited. Brookyn has plenty of offenders, too. For contrast:
Sometimes the confusion comes from a good place. A generally fashionable person makes a choice to go a little overboard. Then it is just one thing, and that one thing is…huge:
Portland is a close second to LA in terms of the Anti-Coco Chanel effect.
And SF, I’m looking at you, too:
Thus ends today’s PSA. And just to get it straight, I respect “too much” way more than “not even trying.” As Coco also said: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” The secure person finds the balance between their humanity and their difference, and finds a way to move in the world that reflects that. But until this grand harmony is realized, you can follow Coco’s sage advice and take one thing off.
Or, let’s be honest, maybe two.