The (Handsome) Devil Is In The Details

How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? Mine was pretty fashionable. I went to an orphan’s dinner featuring many a hipster and dapper gentleman. So much plaid and selvedged denim. Also: bow ties. And: cowl-neck sweaters. Yes! I was thankful for all the food, but also thankful for all the detailing of these gentleman’s clothing, which got me thinking about details! And not only details, but HOW to create these details yourself, on a budget.

Let’s go!


Over the summer in Berlin, a beautiful man’s rugged face poured over me from a huge billboard near the Spree river. I have no idea who the man was, or what he was trying to sell me, but the T-shirt he was wearing was wide-necked and had a natural, tattered finish. Not a cut-off, per se, but a controlled type of rawness.  I would walk by this billboard every day with my friend Holly and think, ‘Damn I want that fucking SHIRT!”.  Then I got an idea: couldn’t I just lightly trim the edges of one of my already-existing wide neck T-shirts? It was worth a try.

Well, it worked out perfectly, and I ended up doing it to two more T-shirts. The idea of controlled chaos on the end of a simple garment is very enticing.  It can make a basic piece of clothing really stand out. If you’re going to do this on the cheap, I’d recommend an American Apparel ‘Summer Shirt’ and just taking the top quarter inch off the seams around the neck, arm holes and main opening. The trick is not to disturb the seam that separates the ends from the shirt, that way, when you wash it, the cut-off part will only roll to the seam. I was impressed with how easy it turned out to be and how effective it was.  Lots of folks noticed.

Tattered simplicity.

Raw seams+ Script Tattoo=Hipster

Tip: Use a sharp pair of sewing scissors! You want to look like framed ruggedness, not like you’re attending a twink pool party.


Oh man. So let’s talk about wooden buttons. SO many of today’s beautiful bags and tailored men’s garments have very simple closures made of leather, wood, or tortoise-shell acrylic.  What’s so great about the simplicity we are seeing these days, is that it is materials-driven and these materials are entirely within reach.  Here in Seattle, a local store called Stitches has a huge array of Dill Buttons. I started replacing the buttons on many of my pieces to breathe new life into them.  If you don’t have a sewing machine or fear sewing/cutting complicated things, then replacing buttons is probably within your skill set. All you need are the buttons, a nice thread, a needle and a pair of scissors.  Here’s some of the results I’ve had:

This made my favorite shirt even better. The old buttons were a plain navy blue.

Worked like a wooden charm on this sweater, as well.

A $10 thrift score on this jacket, further embellished with $20 worth of buttons and cord replacements.

Detail from the coat. I learned how to tie an ornamental finishing knot for the ends of the cords. Google it, knots rule.

Tip: Make sure the buttons you buy are the same size as the ones you are replacing. If you need to cut one off to bring with you, do so.


Let’s start out by saying that there are about 30 different pairs of boots I want right now. But alas, I have these things called BILLS. Also, I like to BUY FOOD. And AVOID TINA FROM CHASE CARD SERVICES. Most of the boots I want are in the $300 dollar range, which isn’t bad for a pair of boots, especially if you can liven them up year after year with a new accessory: bitchin’ laces.  Last year I bought a pair of Timberland boots that came with a basic pair of waxed brown laces. I loved the crap out of them, wearing them throughout the summer as well, with cut-off jean shorts (1990’s Castro realness, folks). And of course the boots have held up, but the laces have seen better days.

I brought them to my shoe guy to get them winterized (Do you have a shoe guy? You should have a shoe guy. My guy is this guy.) and had these fashionable mustard and brown woodsman-style laces in stock:

Simple but beautiful woodsman laces.

He sold them to me for two bucks and I felt like I had a brand new pair of boots:

A sunny day in Seattle. Good thing I took a picture...

Tip: For higher boots, make sure to measure your original laces to get the correct size. Also fun: getting laces that are even longer, and wrapping them around your ankles like in the picture above.

So folks, invest a little time, a little money and you too can add awesome details to your wardrobe on the cheap.  Mostly it’s about having a keen eye and being resourceful like MacGuyver, but with better hair. And less explosions.

Peace to you on this Thanksgiving weekend. Also, if you are waiting in line at Best Buy for crazy-cheap Black Friday purchases, I could really use a new laptop, thanks.


About adamboehmer

Adam Boehmer is an artist, musician and writer living in Seattle, WA. Adam's poems have appeared online and in print journals including Spork, Gertrude, The Monarch Review, CityArts magazine, and the anthology The Full Spectrum, from Knopf Books. He has worked as a contributing writer for online entities such as Ironing Board Collective. His music project Tenderfoot works towards an unabashedly romantic collection of queer folk songs. Visually, his art is sculptural and assemblage-based, and stems from the desire to arrange and bind objects in a powerful way, recontextualizing building materials, masculine accoutrements and ephemera. He is currently producing a collaborative book, Sweaters & GLASS with LA artist Maggie Carson Romano.

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