It’s probably narcissistic for me to say that everyone looked great, right?
On the night of my birthday dinner (on my actual birthday on a Wednesday), I told Marco that I liked his outfit. He was wearing a leopard print popover, nylon shirts, sport socks, and boots. It all made him look a bit school boy/rugged prep, though done in his own Vague Menswear way. I told him as such and Marco said that this was all intentional. He knew that our hangouts never have a specific dress code but he likes giving himself a theme of sorts to provide parameters on his outfits; my birthday was a good excuse to lean into the menswear mindset.
Our conversation lead to the group to developing the theme for my birthday party (which was the next weekend, since I was set to go to a wedding that upcoming Saturday): it was going to be a Dress Like Ethan Party. I’m not surprised it started with Marco, who famously loves to have themed parties. His own birthday in the previous month was themed “Angels and Devils” where I was the lone angel surrounded by gothy devils.
Now despite the novelty of themed parties, I get a little uncomfortable in dictating how people dress. With all my essays about authenticity , I like to be on the side of individuality and comfort instead of arbitrarily adhering to a dress code, especially when not everyone shares the same passion in clothing. I’ve had numerous conversations in my DMs where menswear enthusiasts explain how their non-menswear friends have gotten uncomfortable with their own choice in clothing. Thankfully my friends don’t give a shit what I wear since we’re all standing out in some way already. They know that I dress like this for personal fun and they know that I won’t ask them to change. Its a sign of respect that we don’t make a dress code for our hangs.
That’s why I haven’t had a themed party in years; I know not everyone has the desire to dress in classic menswear! The last time I did it was when I had a Gatsby theme for my 18th. While everyone had fun, I definitely had a small feeling that they would’ve just rather had a regular party. That’s why I’ve had just had style-agnostic hangs ever since, outside of a few events where we all democratically agree to set a theme or dress code (like this “fancy” dinner). I did wear a blazer and white trousers on my last birthday, but it was not an indication of formality. Everyone just showed up as they are in whatever they felt comfortable with.
Anyway, those same thoughts rang in my head during that birthday dinner. Was this going to be too much? Was it going to be too silly like my 18th? Were people going to actually enjoy it? To my surprise, my closest friends at this dinner were all for it. They even started to discuss which type of Ethan to do: going out, rugged prep, milsurp, Esquire Man, etc. Since everyone at the dinner was in agreement, we ended up sending an follow up to the other friends who were planning on going, a majority of which were vocal about their excitement to partake in the theme. I made sure to remind the invitees (mainly my high school and gaming pals who are not into menswear) that the theme was optional and that this was not a formal event, but a few still wanted to try their best!
Their enthusiasm is definitely a testament to the qualities of the amazing friends I’ve made in my post-college years, though I’m sure the outfits they were going to make were also a way to tease me for my clothing quirks and habits. “Don’t forget to have bad posture” was a popular message in various group chats. Perhaps the charm here is that my friends now all tend to dress up in some way everyday; giving ourselves a theme for our existing wardrobe is actually welcomed.
I was now immensely excited for this party. Initially, I didn’t really have anything else planned. It was going to be the same as last year: I was going to use my mom’s apartment while she was doing her summer traveling to host gathering of my friends (of all circles) to drink, eat, and maybe play a few rounds of Smash Bros. The theme now gave it some extra pizzazz. You could feel the energy in the group chats. It certainly was a distraction from the fact that I am now twenty seven AKA the true start of my late twenties.
And boy let me tell you, was the party fun. I used to loathe house parties for their fratty/popular connotations, but I’ve come to realize that when you have friends who share your energy, it really is great to bring them all together. You’ll definitely see that in the snapshots, but let’s get into the outfits.
You might be wondering why I’m not wearing a tie. First off, fuck you I don’t wear ties all the time. But seriously, I typically wear ties during the week. Weekends and special occasions are usually a way for me to do other takes on menswear; weekdays are when I’m in my default mode, which leans on Esquire Man and ivy. Plus I knew I wanted to throw people, as some might have expected me to wear a tie.
However, readers who know me best will know that this is still peak Ethan. The outfit uses sawtooth shirt in rayon, which makes it a close cousin of the sportshirts I typically wear. It’s tucked into freshly thrifted charcoal trousers that a cut nice and big; a thin vintage belt helps keep my waist snatched. Of course the real Ethan moves are the jaunty scarf (a beautiful jacquard silk), the severely unbuttoned shirt, and the use of wearing black tailoring. It’s a great Going Out look that fits the slouchy and a bit sexy vibe I wanted to have at my birthday party.
Up next is everyone’s interpretations of Ethan Attire. And man, everyone killed it! Some were references to outfits I’ve done before while others certainly had the mindset down; the latter gave me inspiration, so they might retroactively be canonized once I replicate the fit my way. To be clear, everyone is already stylish on their own, but it is fun to see them channel “Ethan” through their existing closet. While fashion is a form of cosplay (or at least Cinematic Dressing), I like that all of the looks are actual outfits rather than pastiche. I’m glad that my friends understand my approach to clothing, though they are the target audience of the blog after all.
I am tickled that no one attempted to bring back Old Ethan, either in his dandy period accurate attire or with the use of skinny fast fashion suits.
Now enjoy all the silly photos from the evening, taken from my DSLR and my little point and shoot camera. You’ll note that there is actually more people here than last year; again I need to shout out my amazing friends, a few of which I actually met this year. I definitely think that my birthday parties are meant to celebrate the people who made the past year such a great time. This party was one of the best experiences in my life so far and I think you’ll be able to tell from the pics.
Hard to believe that I never used to drink until very recently!
Anyway, having great friends lead me to have the great idea to do my own version of senior cords, the coveted vintage garment full of signatures and illustrations traditionally done by graduates. I’ll elaborate on that in a future episode, but just know that this party was immortalized on a pair of thrifted RL cords.
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