Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 6, Issue 47, Tuesday, December 06, 2011




10 'Must' in a man's wardrobe: Streetwear

Lorena mariscal pagola
Lecturer, Fashion Design
Raffles Design Institute, Dhaka

There is a very smart strategy, which we usually apply to life in general, that allows us to optimise the use of our time and effort. The strategy is simple: take advantage of the things that worked well for others and personalise them to fit our needs.

You may well ask, what has this to do with fashion? Everyone, at one time or another has had doubts as to whether their look will fit or if the clothes chosen convey the message that they want to put across. In order to ensure that we have an adequate “Fund” in our closet to be able to create perfect, total looks, it is convenient to use this 'strategy' to get hold of what has been described by specialised critics and fashionistas as the “classic” or the “must have” garments. These can be reinvented and updated season after season to ensure we always appear with impeccable style.

Of course, there is always a danger when you fill your cupboard with basics and 'musts'. If you don't give these garments a personal touch to create your unique style, it may seem that you've come directly from the army outfitters where uniforms are grey, boring and monotone, making you fade into the background and go unnoticed.

In this article we will review the 'musts' of streetwear. While this style does not have many 'classics', there are certain 'fetish' items which are refreshed slightly in style, year after year, in all the boutiques.

To begin with we must differentiate between the wearing of casual and street wear, with the requirement of feeling comfortable regardless of the style. We all remember the incredible style of James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause”, where three of the great classics of streetwear were all worn together: Blue jeans, white T-shirt and a black leather jacket accompanied by classic Ray Bans and worn leather boots. Very stylish as well as easy to wear.

The number one basic for streetwear is a pair of blue jeans. If you have the budget to buy one every season, that is ideal. You can bet on brands like G-Star, Trousers, Meltin' Pot or Diesel. They are expensive but worth the extra cost. If not, the wisest alternative is to buy a pair of Levi's 501 originals, the classic among classics.

Secondly let's talk about t-shirts: whether Basic box or v-necks, you will need at least 3 different colours starting with black, white and navy blue. In summer, a light, warm grey is ideal.

A word of caution about the size you choose for your jeans and t-shirts:

If you have a muscular build, make sure it doesn´t look like your clothes are about to explode. By wearing them tight, your initial objective might be rather compromised, unless it was to attract the wrong sort of attention.

If you are very thin, taking 4 sizes too big will make you look even thinner rather than hiding your bones; a good trick is to choose a thicker fabric that rounds your shape.

Another essential is the basic print long or short-sleeved shirt. Leave the vertical stripes for formal or semi-formal occasions and instead be daring with a Vichy or other check or maybe a more risky printed fabric (Hawaiian prints). Pay attention to the detailing of the shirt, it has to be 'street' style, namely, decorative top stitching and metallic or plastic trimmings. Make sure that the colours you choose combine or match well with the clothes you already have.

A horizontal striped long sleeve t shirt is a safe bet, ask Jean Paul Gaultier. It is sexy, timeless and very cool. If you are more of a polo neck guy, go for it, although my favourite is the boat neck.

The Bermudas or normal shorts are an indispensable garment in Bangladesh, as the temperatures are very high for 9 months of the year, but remember, do not wear them when you go to work! From the cargo style to the child-like styles, inspired in the 40s (knee-length tailored trousers), there is a huge variety to choose from.

A hooded jumper, whether open or closed with a zipper, is an ideal addition, even under a casual blazer. Be careful not to choose synthetic materials or vulgar prints as you can look like an ex-con drug dealer straight out of a movie. Always choose cotton or mixed cotton and avoid those which look like a jogging suit.

The 7th must is a denim-style jacket. This garment could also be replaced by a classic leather jacket with a clean cut. You can also choose a denim jacket style in other materials such as canvas or khaki Panama, with the 'army touch', which is very attractive as well. To see someone wearing these garments in a very stylish way, I recommend you watch James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause " or Marlon Brando in “The Wild One".

An unlined blazer is the perfect top layer of a streetwear style outfit. A blazer style jacket has a lot of 'pros': it creates the perfect masculine shape, it hides body imperfections on most occasions and is not a risky garment. Everybody looks good in a blazer. The only 'con' this garment has is that it's too 'formal'. Good news though -- using an unlined blazer in a typical 'casual' fabric gives you a comfortable street look whilst keeping all the good things of a blazer jacket.

A pair of urban ankle boots will complete your look. The 'superclassic' is the Converse All Stars. A best seller for 25 years no less. Made of panama fabric, and with a rubber sole, these are ideal for Bangladesh. In recent years we find this style of shoe in a leather and textile combination, which is really nice. Another 'must' in urban footwear is a pair of sneakers chosen from the huge variety which exist today. I vote for a pair of colourful nubuck leather sneakers.

I must say that a good choice in your accessories can transform your look into a 10 or ruin it. A fine and delicate cashmere pashmina, in a neutral tone, wrapped with several turns around your neck is the most stylish way of wearing it. A thin cotton scarf will also work.

Choose a leather or textile belt of an appropriate style. Do not use a formal style for this, but always, always remember: NO BIG CRAZY BUCKLES! I always remember a person who used to work in my office, who always wore terrible, huge belt buckles that made him look completely ridiculous. I couldn't stop laughing every time I saw it!

Regarding the 'bag issue', I don't want to get into the eternal controversy of whether it is manly or not. What is clear is that sometimes you need to carry your stuff and need a place to do it. I personally second the 'bag: YES 'motion. For your laptop choose a shoulder bag in soft leather with casual detailing.

To complete a look, that will turn heads, wear sunglasses to cap it all. I am a great fan of the Wayfarer and Aviator, both Ray-Ban models.

Finally, just to remind you that style is something that nobody can buy, no matter how much you spend on your wardrobe. It is important to attach importance to aesthetics, and try not to 'dress up'. The truth always wins and fashion is no different. The perfect look is the one that says something about you, who you are, not who you pretend to be. It's not what you wear but how you wear it!

Photo courtesy: Raffles Design Institute, Dhaka


The world on your shoulders

By Karim Waheed

The Titan, Atlas, one of the sons of Earth, made the mistake of siding with his brother Cronus in a war against Zeus, the King of Gods. As punishment, he was forced to carry the weight of the heavens on his shoulders.

The shoulder is the most moveable and unstable joint in the body. The “ball” in the upper arm is actually larger than the socket that holds it and with the range of motion being so great, it is susceptible to injury.

To remain stable, it must be kept in place by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Therefore, it is very important to make sure these soft tissues are strengthened to keep the shoulder strong, flexible, more coordinated, and conditioned to handle stress.

Important small muscles that surround the shoulder joint are called the rotator cuff muscles. They are the key muscles that keep the joint functioning properly. Weakness in any of the muscles can cause instability, which can lead to numerous injuries.

Today, I'll go over an exercise that strengthens the shoulder and the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff muscles are very small, so don't use too much weight or do too many repetitions.

Seated dumbbell shoulder press
Sit on a chair that supports the back. Hold dumbbells in each hand, with palms facing out and elbows at 90 degrees. Palms should be at shoulder level.

Exhale and push weights overhead until arms are straight and in line with shoulders. Don't lock elbows completely.

Inhale and return to starting position to complete one rep.

If you experience shoulder pain, have palms facing in toward the body. Don't arch your back.

Q. I am in my teenage years and I have flabby arms and thighs. I inherited these but it would mean the world if you could just share a few tips on how to tone them -- Sneha

Dear Sneha,
The generalised suggestion would be -- try to eat healthy and stay active. Combine cardio (walking/running) with push-ups (for arms) and bodyweight squats (for thighs). Both exercises have been discussed in previous issues of this column.

Email your queries to lifestyleds@yahoo.com


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