Even with the same suit and tie, I don’t consider this a repeat. But maybe you think otherwise?
Those of you who know me well, know that I dislike being called an influencer. This is mainly due to the financial connotations of the term or AKA how most influencer content is sponsored. I like to post about things I like and actually own (or at least experience myself), so being connected to sponsored content or paid-for-review stuff doesn’t always sit with right with me. It’s always about agency (or control) for me. But there is one aspect of influencers that I can’t deny is highly applicable to myself: the plethora of fit pics.
By that metric (as well as how they are presented), I guess I am a bit of an influencer or at least a social media personality (which sounds infinitely more pretentious). Dressing up and documenting my outfits has been my hobby for nearly a decade, with the blog aspect accounting for about seven of those years. It’s an entirely vain endeavor which has been quite fun! Thanks to fashion, I’ve learned so much about myself, mainly through the friendly (and un-friendly) discussions I’ve had regarding my clothes and how I view/wear them. Most of these conversations end up being the bedrock for many blog posts and a podcasts. This next one is no different, as it concerns outfit repeating.
I’m not sure at what point it came to my attention, but I feel like since I’ve been into menswear (even before I started documenting my outfits or writing a blog), I was never an outfit repeater. I had always simply made something “new” everyday. New of course being a relative term, as you could argue that I simply wear classic menswear almost everyday of my life; a girl I briefly dated said as much to me once, stating that I had such static style. Pretty wild to me as I feel like I distinctly do not wear the same thing everyday, especially when you look at my social media presence. After all, common critique of influencer culture is that they seldom repeat outfits, acting as no more than a model to show off a new sponsor or at the very least simply being a conduit for consumerism with no thematic consistency between outfits. With this in mind, levying an influencer accusation at me certainly has merit!
To be clear, I don’t think that outfit repeating is a bad thing. The fact that I am not one, is not something I consider to be a source of pride, but rather something that just hasn’t been applicable to my approach to menswear. I know that my weird way of doing menswear is not universal! My context (in my mind and my everyday life) at least so far, has been unique to other people’s experiences which always puts me at odds with other menswear guys. And my seemingly non-repetition of outfits is a good example of that!
So because this topic has come up often (both in and out of my Patreon Discord) Spencer and I used it as the topic for our latest podcast episode. While it is about outfit repeating, we also found it helpful to share what our outfit creation process is, diving into we put things together, how inspiration strikes, and where we put our effort in creativity vs. leaning into what we know has worked. Agency (or intention) is a big theme of the episode, which definitely has factored into many of the previous topics on this blog/pod.
Take a listen below!
After listening to the podcast after recording, I think it’s best if I write a recap, which may expand (and restate) some of the points I’ve made. This is to provide a bit more clarity and self reflection on how Outfit Repeating applies to me specifically (which may not be applicable to everyone). After all, this is a personal blog, where I write for myself just as much as I write for others (but lets be real, this is all a narcissistic endeavor and should ultimately be treated as such).
Firstly, think it’s important to know that I grew up wearing a uniform for 12 years (I went to a a Christian private school). Unlike other menswear guys who found a uniform inspiring, I always felt like it sucked agency away from me. The uniform was also specific, necessitating my family to buy polo shirts with the school’s logo and chinos from the same place; you could not wear “agnostic” pieces from other places, even if they were similar in shade or fit. And since these uniforms were not cheap, my regular wardrobe was left lacking. I wasn’t able to express myself, leaving Sunday to be the only day I could wear whatever I wanted (Saturday was for church, which required a suit).
Naturally, I walked away with two points: a uniform (or an outfit) refers to a very specific combination and that if I was given the opportunity to make an outfit, I would try to keep it fresh. To the point of the latter, this was perhaps to “make up” for the lost agency the rest of the week.
Next, I’ve found that when I’m given agency, I get filled with inspiration. This is especially true now, as clothing is a hobby for me as much as it is a practical thing (we all need clothes, don’t we?). With social media, conversations with friends, and watching movies/TV, it’s hard not to get inspired. Watching Seinfeld may lead me to a rugged-ivy look a la Constanza. Scrolling through IG may give me Yuppie Armoury vibes or something edgy from Bryceland’s. But unlike other people like Spencer, who keep this in mind for the next time they have to make an outfit (which usually happens in the morning), I make the outfit immediately, taking the pieces out of my wardrobe, putting them together, and hanging them on my rack.
Of course you can’t stop inspiration, so even the creation of one outfit leads to making more, which ends up with a backlog of sorts. And what I’ve noticed is that many of these outfits are “new”, again referring to the specific combination of pieces. I’m sure that some vibes are similar, but it may involve a new version of that piece (like trading my old Ludlow cotton suit for an ivy-esque one from Atelier Fugue) or simply a detail change (a single breasted one vs. a DB or even a summer vs. winter weight grey trouser). I am sure that I am aware of the specific non-repeats, as I have a great memory of what I’ve worn before (and my archive is easily accessible anyway). And even if I didn’t document my outfits everyday, this mood/emotion based approach to clothing still hinders a true way to outfit-repeat, at least for the span of time a backlog can cover.
There’s also the idea that I am not defined by one vibe, let alone one specific outfit. It echoes my egalitarian approach to taste, where for me it’s all about personal preference and preferences can change. It doesn’t seem right for me to box myself into only ivy or only Esquire Man or milsurp, when I like all of those thing (though I obviously have more of a predilection for tailoring). If my approach to clothing is anything like music, art, or movies, I can be into multiple genres and decide daily which one to step into. Maybe I’m just cursed with liking a lot of things (and owning a lot of clothes), where as other people stick to fewer genres (and therefore have less of wardrobe).
Now before you think otherwise, I actually do think about occasion/daily life and use it to informs my backlog accordingly. Life is always a mix between the scheduled and unscheduled, but for me, where I typically work from home and can decide whether or not to go outside (whether for an errand or for a hangout), my agency can still take charge. I’m also certain being on the West Coast, a place where there is little to no fashion context (at least with what I do with my friends), helps me pick clothes based on almost purely mood and still be appropriate for whatever I’m doing. Again, my style isn’t even close to the cool designer focused stuff you see in r/ExpensiveHumanFashion; a sportcoat and trousers (in its multitude of variations) can be worn anywhere. To be fair to my self, I do think that all of my clothes still fit under “classic/vintage menswear”, so many of the moods fit under that umbrella and can be subverted or played into at my leisure.
It all depends on how I want to use fashion and play into what I’m up to. Do I wear an outfit that works best to “blend in” (like ivy or subtle workwear) or do I want to go out an be bold in a full cut suit and beret? How do I want to come off where I’m going? Do I want to pair a bold outfit for a day that I stay inside or do I want something more traditional when I’m at the cafe? Asking myself these questions helps guide my volatile mood and actually provides structure to the backlog so it doesn’t get too crazy. My weeks actually have some recurring occasions, leading to how I dress more trad on lowkey days when I work from a cafe and gym afterward, whereas Tuesdays and Fridays allow me to break out my bold pieces since I’m going out; weekends also have a small guideline, ranging from dates to picking flea markets which opens me up to create more casual outfits that incorporate milsurp or workwear.
In short, this balance of routine and agency can still result in non-repeating, as the multitude of vibes and moods provide opportunities for different outfits. There’s nothing wrong with consistency (some weeks do have all ties and sportcoats for example), but I always feel like I’m more than that; I like too many things and I like the ability to control how I express them. It’s not that I consciously avoid repetition, but it’s that it simply doesn’t cross my mind. It’s all about dressing however I want on a whim!
This idea of agency all makes sense when you consider what I said earlier: clothing is a hobby for me. This is why I think that the essay/pod on my relationship to music is one of the most important things I’ve ever written. As has been made clear to me, writing music is not the same thing as putting outfits together (a better comparison would be to design your own clothes) but I still think that there are connections to be made, at least in how I personally approach it. Composing music used to be my biggest hobby, which predates menswear and photography. In that medium, writing something new was always the goal, mainly as an expression of inspiration and personal creativity. And with that comes a variety of inspirations: watching Bond would inspire something akin to jazz-esque John Barry title sequences where as Williams might give me a more symphonic action piece or a fanfare; lets not forget that listening to non-film score like indie rock, folk, or jazz music can also play a part in what music I feel like making. I am not relegated to being only a fanfare composer or only string concerto guy; I just like making whatever music I want whenever I want, to give my self a framework as a challenge, not unlike thinking “cinematically” to put an outfit together. Perhaps there’s also a connection to what music you listen to
To be clear, this is not the same as playing piano, which is a different form of expression. I can see where if I was asked to play something for my family, friends, or church, I would rely on something I knew intimately well. Executing a “perfect” performance is the desire in this context, rather than trying to create something new. However, this isn’t a common occurrence for me and even when it happens, I am still awarded some leeway to make it different. For example, for job interviews, I can still wear variations of a navy suit, minimally patterned shirt, and solid ties so I don’t repeat (and the last “interview” I had was done on the phone without cameras on). To bring it back, music for me was always about the creation of music, and if my fascination with critical discussions on composers’ self plagiarism are any indication, I’m drawn to new expression rather than repetition.
The contrast between performance and composing also highlights another key factor in my personality: I like to keep works as they are. I don’t continually work at fits until they are perfect; if I do, the “trial and error” (practicing if we are continuing the music analogy) comes during outfit creation rather than outfit wearing. And as outfits are tied to mood and certain occasions (that I may or may not make for myself), it’s a bit romantic to me to let them be tied to that day. This mindset applies to photos too; I certainly have my top picks for portfolio or profile pictures, but I do not re-edit old photos I’ve taken, even if my editing process is has changed (and it definitely has). However, I will say that elements (like specific garments, musical motifs, and shoot locations/lighting ) can be transposed and explored in other outfits/pieces, but the specific combination is done. It’s not sad, but instead a positive: the garments are free from their relationships and are ready to be recontextualized into new outfits, or at least new combinations.
Overall, I realize that this is all just me working backwards to justify something that not many people identify with. Again, I have nothing against repetition, but it just seems that with my personality, hobbies and specific context, the draw to consciously repeat (or to lean into it) just never comes up. There isn’t that call to “just do it again”, even if the outfit is great! I love all my outfits, but I also love what comes next; it doesn’t matter if I wore that specific combination to stay in my room or if I wore it to our to a party or if I took a photo of it (which I almost always do). I simply keep getting inspired to make new things and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. When you’re in the same room as your clothes (or your piano), the call to act on inspiration (from anywhere) and put together combinations is quite alluring.
A lot of this leans on things that are specific to me. I like clothes and I enjoy wearing them and documenting them. I am not in pursuit of a “perfect” outfit to wear in any occasion. I am more of a self-documentarian, noting how volatile my moods can be. My appreciation for menswear is multi-dimensional, resulting in multiple areas of inspiration and execution of different outfits; it also leads to an abnormally large wardrobe that is not advisable to everyone. In addition, that outfits that I make tend to “require” multiple pieces (like a shirt, tie, jacket, sock, etc), which make it easy to be different (with specificity) each time I get dressed; it would be easier to repeat if I only wore shirts and pants. And as I acquire new clothes based on new found appreciation (like flared trousers) or agency to finally commit (like with Barbours or Paraboots), this leads to outfits with new spins and nuances (which again, takes specificity into account to make it a non-repeat).
But what if we looked at this from a a different point of view? What if we took out my weird focus on specificity as a metric and looked at things from a general point of view? Perhaps a more cinematic one that takes vibes into account. After all, the cast of Seinfeld do wear different outfits nearly every episode, but they have a tangible theme especially when you have Jawnfeld to look at all them together. Perhaps in that sense they have repeats or at the very least, a general sense of repetition. Variations?
I think Spencer says it best in the podcast, where he goes into how certain vibes have different uniforms he can lean into. Going Out has a Groovin’ To The Late 1960s-1970s70s lean or spending a day in the newsroom (he’s a news editor) can have an easy going rugged-ivy prep vibe. It’s not that these things can’t be combined in a myriad of ways, but that his framework allows certain pieces to go together. And since he doesn’t need a tie or a sportcoat, his approach lends itself to repeating both intentionally and unintentionally. And through the course of that podcast episode and writing this essay, I think that I do this too.
To close out this topic, I’ve looked through my archive of fit pics (which spans almost my entire menswear life, from when I worked at a menswear shop to my agency life now) and included images that I guess prove that I do indeed repeat “outfits”, if they are taken in an expanded view and not through my specifics-focused method. Despite years of agency, intentional choice, and bursts of seemingly “random” inspiration, there is a throughline.
Each of the moods or characters I lean into certainly have elements that are consistent and repeatable, which is only noticeable when you get to look at them all together like this. Many of these outfits are weeks or even months apart; this is probably attributable to how volatile my moods can be when spontaneously making outfits for the backlog. Though to give myself some credit, some ideas I love enough to revisit more often (which again depends on my mood).
As I added in the photos, it became pretty clear that I’ve picked up on the fact that certain vibes work best with specific pieces, which result in them being worn largely the “same way” each time I get that mood. Sometimes I’m fascinated with an general idea and return to it with small modifications, like the use of brown suits and chambray or striped shirts and foulards. Maybe it’s particular color combinations, that are expressed with seasonal variations. Or perhaps it’s about trying alternatives in a fit, such as wearing Paraboots instead of loafers or working around sneakers and boots. It’s different each time but yet retains a feeling of “sameness” I can’t deny. Perhaps there is that sense of “trial and error” to approach the best version of a fit, but one that is more holistic and pragmatic in the sense that I’m always open to trying new “combinations” under that theme.
And to bring this full circle to music, it’s clear that despite my different moods in types of orchestral music to write (when seen chronologically), there is this consistency even between years of tracks, perhaps hinting again at the honing (or fascination?) of particular approach. This is easily seen in my minimal scores. Cues from Breathe, Such is Life, and Nothing Grows Here have different main motifs but the instrumentation relies heavily on piano, strings, and synth. My “love themes” are certainly more complicated in orchestration and were written years apart, but their main meldodies contain a similar structure, featuring 7th intervals heavily, which I certainly leaned into for in the main theme for the Chocolate Shop score as well as the [rejected] main title for Pesto. These two Bond-inspired action cues also had a break between their writing/publishing, but you can tell that I have a bit of a homogenous approach despite containing different motifs; they certainly build upon the initial ideas I wrote here when I first got obsessed with writing Bond music; you might argue I set precedent with this random demo. You can also sense playful John Williams inspiration in these “action” cues like“Chase Through the Fair” and “Take #2”. Each piece of music is different on its own merit, but there is repetition and reliance on methods hinting at my use of reference/codification to guide my creative expression. It’s simply Variations on a Theme, if the idea of a theme (meaning a personal approach rather than specific notes) was more abstract and general.
I guess this whole idea of me never repeating is just a bunch of bunk!
Maybe this is just another way of getting at the concept of an overarching personal style, just with my capricious approach informing the execution of this menswear hobby. Granted, it’s broad, at least when compared to other people. Evidently my hobby of making music informs my outfit mindset quite a bit! Creativity is never exhausting for me, but I think its good to know that I subconsciously find comfort in repeating, at least in the general/abstract.
I am not simply a model with random clothes thrown on each day. Even my diversity in moods still has a sense of cohesiveness. Perhaps in that sense, I do think that there is an “ideal”. Not in a specific combinations, but in vague ideas to lean on when crafting outfits (and music). Maybe someday in the future, I will get closer to a true static uniform (with specific repetitions) though that depends on if my moods and interest ever truly stabilize. I definitely admire those who aren’t as volatile as I am.
Overall, taking a small sample size, whether its from my blog posts or even my occasional fit dumps on Instagram, will certainly yield no repeats. But if you zoom out and take in broad vibes in favor over specificity, you’ll see that I am indeed an repeater. A repeater of vibes, moods, and outfits. It’s time for me to embrace it! I think I already have, especially when you look at how unfocused I used to be.
Of course this essay may have only opened a can of worms. As I finish writing this post, I am slightly haunted by the idea that the article reveals that none of this is exactly as “creative” as I initially thought. Even my musical compositions, which I think of as a “higher” form of personal expression (for myself) than dressing, are reduceable via repetition and references when taken from the holistic view. Though maybe there is something to be said about personal (small scale) expression and creativity in our daily life, as we are dressers not designers. This might be a topic for another time…
- 07:03 – Topic Start
- 09:52 – What Makes an Original Outfit?
- 18:08 – Daily Life vs Special Occasions
- 27:16 – When Do You Repeat an Outfit?
- 35:14 – Uniforms
- 46:24 – Is it Exhausting to Make New Outfits?
- 52:43 – When Do You Choose to Make an Outfit?
- 1:00:47 – When Does an Outfit Feel Done
- 1:11:56 – Wrap-up
We also explored bit more on this topic with Producer MJ and Patron Ivan our stream. It’s short, but it does go over a few things we missed, like work attire and when we buy new outfits!
Thanks for listening and reading along! Don’t forget to support us on Patreon to get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord. We also stream on Twitch and upload the highlights to Youtube.
The Podcast is produced by MJ.
Always a pleasure,
Big thank you to our top tier Patrons (the SaDCast Fanatics): Philip, Shane, Austin, Audrey, Jarek, and Henrik.