Everything That Was Once Gauche Is Now Stylish

It’s been interesting following the menswear timeline for the past couple of decades. If you are constantly researching clothing, you will eventually notice certain styles, colors, and silhouettes wax and wane in popularity. I started to become interested in fashion at a pivotal point when menswear was coming into its own. New designers were popping up right and left introducing new artistic visions, but at the end of the day, you knew the things you were supposed to be wearing and which ones you weren’t. Those rules are now very blurred in menswear as all those things we were told not to wear are being worn unapologetically, perhaps even rebelliously.

One of those items is something we all know well: the white crew sock. As unoffensive and basic as it may seem, there was a span of time when these things were shunned. I admit, I didn’t wear them for most of my 20s, but truth be told, I never understood the malice toward the garment. My theory is that when menswear started getting dressy with their slimmed down suits and gingham button-ups, white socks were seen as too casual, too usual. At the same time, colorful patterned socks became popular with men as a way to make their boring outfits more exciting, thus replacing their colorless brethren. Now, with athleisure and streetwear all the rage, white socks have become the new standard. You can see them all over the high street and the catwalk.

Another garment that I remember getting into (social media) fights about is cargo shorts and indeed anything with big cargo pockets. As the pendulum swung and oversized fits became all the rage, guys started dusting these things off that were left over from their days wearing Abercrombie & Fitch in the 90s. The reason they were so hated then is that they throw your silhouette out of balance, making you look short or stunted, but that is precisely the same reason they are popular again. Playing around with proportions and upsetting the natural silhouette has become all the rage. Some designers have played around with the placement and size of the cargo pockets in order to make them more or less conspicuous. And come on, if you see Nick Wooster wearing them, there’s a good chance you can get away with wearing them, too.

I would like to formally take credit for (silently) predicting that Western wear would once again enter into men’s closets and particularly in the form of cowboy boots. This is a more recent trend that seems to have reached a crescendo as Raf Simons’ first collection at Calvin Klein in 2017 showcased outfits heavily inspired by cowboy clothing. After that, Western wear began showing up all over the place. Even before CK, the likes of DSquared2 and Saint Laurent were showing off their own takes on the style. Of course, this trend never truly goes away in America because, like blue jeans and camouflage, it represents part of our collective culture. However, what we are seeing today is a modern twist on the trend and proof that you can wear the boots with just about anything in your closet.

The aforementioned are just a few examples of the kinds of clothes that are becoming more palatable to the fashion masses after being banned from men’s wardrobes. You also might consider bowling shirts, high-waisted pants, Birkenstocks, crossbody bags (formerly known as fanny packs), sweatpants, tracksuits, ugly sneakers, pleated trousers, matching pajamas, logo T-shirts, basketball shorts, Doc Martens, and graphic pants and sweaters. It was even suggested that Crocs were going to be huge last year. They weren’t, but the point is, right now everything is in and the more ostentatious and creative, the better. In fact, some publications are going so far as to denounce the term “trend” altogether as it applies to fashion.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to try any of these items in your own outfits, be sure to keep context in mind so you are sending the right message. You wouldn’t want to wear, say, cargo shorts with some cheap old tee from Old Navy because you will look drab and boring, like you rolled out of bed and put on whatever was on the floor of your closet. You need to dress the shorts up with something like a satin bowling shirt or an oversized Gosha Rubchinskiy jersey because that will make you look adventurous.

These are fun, confusing times in men’s fashion with no real rules except to be yourself, so feel free to explore and experiment while you have the chance because the pendulum is bound to swing back. By then, we’ll all be wearing double-breasted suits.

“Deadpool 2” Review

Sophomore efforts are notoriously polarizing, especially when the original work was commercially or critically lauded. Make something too similar and it’s called derivative. Make it too different and you run the risk of alienating the audience that loved the first work. The first Deadpool was like magic in a bottle, being one of the only R-rated superhero movies and not suffering for it. It was based on a character who not only makes fun of himself and his peers but the entire premise of superheros. This sequel sought to do mostly the same thing as well as set up a possible X-Force movie.

Perhaps that’s why Deadpool 2 doesn’t really work. Since we got the origin story in the first movie, there was nothing to compliment all the meta jokes and breaking the fourth wall. At its heart the original was a story of redemption and forging one’s own path, conquering your demons while simultaneously saving the day. This time, we begin our tale with our titular character, “the merc with the mouth” played by Ryan Reynolds, doing what he does best. Things are going swimmingly for him as he cuts people’s heads off and makes jokes about it. It is legitimately funny, I will give it that. But then things take a turn for the worse and our hero then enters a period of depression.

You might think this is a great setup for another redemption tale. While I think that’s what director David Leitch was trying to go for, he has quite a roundabout way of getting to it, so much so that it takes almost 2 hours to get there. The overall plot is very predictable and paper thin. There are a number of scenes that didn’t even need to take place or could have been much shorter. Multiple beloved characters from the comics are introduced and dispensed with almost immediately. Those that do stick around mainly serve as window dressing. It kind of reminds me of another X-Men movie that did the exact same thing–X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Interestingly, Deadpool 2 pokes fun at that film, too.

Even though I didn’t like his story or how he was developed, Cable was portrayed pretty well by Josh Brolin. In fact, his raison d’être is almost identical to Deadpool’s, with time travel. Domino is played by Zazie Beetz, and she definitely makes her more fun than her comicbook counterpart. Firefist is ably played by the young upstart Julian Dennison, his first major role since his debut in the excellent Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In fact, I’d say most of the side characters were great here even though they weren’t given anything meaningful to do. Most of the gags are pretty funny and there’s a ton of gory action to go around. The scriptwriters clearly know that their audience will already be fans of the movie franchise and has zeroed in on them.

If you want to see a movie that’s just good, dumb fun, Deadpool 2 will certainly give you that. However, being a fan of the comics, this movie irritated me more than it should have, particularly over the portrayal of Colossus. The Russian has always been in his metallic form on-screen in the Deadpool films, which is contrary to his depiction in the comics. Furthermore, while I don’t object to making Domino black for this movie (she has chalk-white skin in the comics, but her race is never explicitly stated) the fact that they did so and then didn’t really do anything to develop her implies she isn’t a well-rounded individual. The same with having two lesbian mutants who just stand around and say hi to Wade.

This and the aforementioned treatment of other mutants shows that the scriptwriters don’t really know or appreciate the original characters. They also don’t seem to be very apt in developing new ones. In that respect, this movie seems to just be a giant meta joke about using the shell of a franchise to, instead of tell a competent story with fully fleshed-out characters, make money off of people who don’t know any better. I suppose that’s fine, but I wouldn’t suggest spending money to see it. I’m looking forward to the day that the X-Men movie franchise will be rebooted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with capable creators at the helm.

Score: 2.5/5

Want to Live an Easier Life? Consider Design

You might be wondering by now why this site is called “Of Media and Design” when I barely post about that second thing. I have already talked a little about fashion, which heavily incorporates design concepts, but that’s about it. I will probably eventually talk about interior design as well. The fact is, design is the driving force behind most of the subjects of my posts, even if it’s not explicitly stated. It is always hanging around in the back of my mind asking, “Is my experience what this thing was designed to produce?”

As a concept, design is kind of difficult to define, but I will try my best. It is the principle that an object should easily fit into a person’s life without much thought or consideration. If something is well-designed, it is thus easy to use even for beginners. Dyson vacuums are well-designed. The iPhone is as well. I once heard design described as the science of art, basically why it works the way it does. Understanding how it is incorporated into the things we buy, use, and consume can help you think more analytically and improve routine actions. Plus, incorporating design principles can make you feel more relaxed as things will function as they were intended.

netflix_abstract_marquee-e1487732158885At this point, I think it’s worth mentioning a show on Netflix that really got me thinking about this concept. It’s called “Abstract: The World of Design” and covers a different area of design in each episode, from sneakers to font to architecture. I recommend people watch the series more so that it will open their eyes to how much thought goes into product functionality that is often taken for granted. As such, a person can start to see design in everything they interact with, even themselves, and figure out ways to use that design to live a better, less stressful life.

So now you are aware of design, but you still just don’t see it or how knowing the way something is designed will help you. That’s fine. I can give you some examples so you know the kinds of things you’re looking for. One of best examples of design is street addresses. In the United States, they are by and large set up in a very predictable way. As an example, in DC if you were given the address 1234 M Street NW, you would know the location is between 12th and 13th Streets, on the north side of M Street, in the NW quadrant. Knowing this, how addresses are designed to work, can relieve a lot of stress when delivering pizzas. I speak from experience.

Each place may have its own specific rules, but even numbers are generally on the north side for streets that run east-west and on the west side for those that run north-south. Many times, the number will also tell you what block it’s on as well as it corresponds with the name of the last cross street, whether you’re in the city or in rural areas using county roads. These roads are usually set up in a grid-like pattern with all names and numbers being based on a center with four quadrants, an east-west main street, and a north-south main street. I will say that of the places I’ve lived, Charleston, SC isn’t really set up like this which is probably due to the fact that it’s such an old town. Regardless, you can see how identifying a city’s design might be useful.

Another example is in interior design. Now while positioning your furniture in order to promote movement is a great way to relieve stress, I’m actually referring more to the individual furniture and ergonomics. I bought a sofa recently that looks amazing and makes my living room look more inviting. However, the way it’s built provides no support at all and the result is people either hunching over, laying back and sliding down, or sitting all the way back with legs crossed or perched on something else, none of which are very comfortable. Many sofas these days are made similarly with a low back and an extended seat, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. This is an example of terrible design, and I made an expensive mistake because I overlooked it.

The last object that is subject to design is one you should know well: the human body. No, I’m not necessarily talking about intelligent design, but if that’s your thing, the result is the same. Our bodies were designed, either by a greater being or by 6 million years of natural selection, to be able to process nutrients, visual input, and various other things a specific way. Upsetting that design is what leads to disease and chronic illness, so figuring out how we are supposed to live according to our DNA and applying it to today’s world is the key to living a happy, healthy life.

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This principle is what led to the Paleo Diet’s inception, the idea that we should try to eat foods that are as close as possible to the foods we ate when we evolved into humans–i.e., meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, things that don’t need to be heavily processed in order to eat. Everything else upsets our systems and could eventually lead to issues because our bodies didn’t evolve to be able to handle it. There are studies that have shown indigenous peoples living healthier lives and not developing chronic illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s as a result of their hunter-gatherer type lifestyles. Unfortunately, we can’t replicate the lives of our ancient ancestors in modern times, but we can use this design as a blueprint to build off of.

Being able to identify and understand design can be very beneficial. My examples are just a few, but you can also gain a lot from analyzing the design of businesses, like how Farfetch works versus Mr. Porter. Thinking about the concept can even help you with simple things like figuring out the best way to load the dishwasher. It may sound nerdy, but I think about design a lot. I always ask myself, is this the best way to do this, the way I’m supposed to do this? In that way, I feel like I’m designing my life, giving me more of a sense of control in this increasingly chaotic world we live in. How can you incorporate design into your life?