Not A Menswear-Head, But Close Enough (With Silvia Zhang)

Silvia is living proof that you don’t gotta be a menswear-head to appreciate high waists and big leg openings.

I’ve always said that I find the same souls wherever I go. I’m not sure if I have some type of internal radar for these people or if it’s just sheer luck, but I’ve been quite fortunate to have made some amazing and close friendships. While we all have different backgrounds, there is a commonality that we can’t deny. We’re all nerds (whether inwardly or outwardly). We like to hang out. We all have our little hobbies that we hyperfixate on, to the point of obsession and perhaps extreme particular-ness. And perhaps most importantly, we don’t mind standing out, most likely because we already are bold in some form.

Silvia is no exception. We only met just this year through a chance post-flea market coffee (thanks Marco!), but as you can probably tell through multiple blog posts, she’s become a great friends that I love to see often. I also love photographing her.

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You might be surprised by her canonization on the blog. Silvia wears designer clothing, much of it a bit avant garde when compared to classic menswear. Despite that, I still feel a kinship with our styles; it’s similar to Marco. Obviously her style is a bit past Vague Menswear, but there is still something there that felt…familiar. As we found out in the podcast interview below (and certainly through the photos), Silvia’s style contains a lot of the basic ideas that come through in the blog. For example, the biggest thing she looks at is proportions, where she clearly likes high waisted wide legged trousers, in addition to big slouchy jackets. The only difference is that for her, its all about the “art” of the clothing— her style is not tied to the history of menswear or even formality.

The connection is something completely new to me, being much different than Spencer, MJ, Adam, or even Jason and John. It’s proof that you could approach [what I consider to be] tenets of my style outside of the typical menswear norms, making it different than streetwear’s adoption merger with menswear. Silvia and I definitely recognized the similar execution of our proportions. It’s like we had come to the same theory while working independently! My style is a bit cleaner and tends to involve tradition and a bit of subversion. For Silvia, it’s all about the clothes. I am not surprised that thanks to our friendship, I’ve gained a better appreciation for designer clothing (like Bode or at least the ideas of it), seeing more and more correlations to the clothing I already enjoy. It’s more than just approximating tailoring through different menswear garments, but actually focusing on how artful clothing can be connected to classic menswear.

That’s why I wanted her on the podcast. The pandemic has shown me that menswear is just a hobby, that it’s possible to enjoy it for the designs and aesthetics instead of purely for formality and tradition. The latter goes out the window once you start working from home, not to mention all the dress codes being casualized even at the highest of corporate institutions. Menswear guys seem to be left to wander in the dark when they enter the “no-context world”, but Silvia and I are here to tell you that enjoyment becomes the guiding light.

Silvia truly is the best candidate for this conversation about being into fashion for “enjoyment of making outfits” as she is seemingly free to wear whatever she wants. Her home is a like a virtual fashion sandbox, where she is able to put pieces together at will, all in service of her desired proportions and silhouette. She and her bond over this aspect of our hobby, as I have the same attitude thanks to my WFH status. The main difference is that I do wear my clothes out whereas she mainly remains at home (but that’s also just a lifestyle choice). As we discuss in the podcast, she has been pushing to wear them out especially as we’ve all hung out quite often after meeting. After all, we can’t emphasize the importance of friends!

It’s also important to note that Silvia is a cosmologist, which doesn’t have a dress code of sorts— provided that she is still able to perform her experiments and work on her telescope. This does come into conflict with her “avant garde” style, not only for practicality’s sake but socially; Silvia has remarked that STEM and academia tend to look down on people who are into aesthetics, which is reminds me a study where it says that being “attractive” can work against you if you work in a scientific field. I wonder which “menswear trauma” is worse: getting comments from other finance bros or from scientists. I feel like both environments are full of min-max, anti-decision fatigue/”high effort” people.

Despite all of that, she doesn’t feel the need to combine her work and her fashion; she’s accepted that she can wear what she truly likes when she’s off the clock or on weekends. I think that’s quite a mature way to look at life, as I tend to just wear what I wear without much regard to what she’s doing (though I don’t have any coworkers nor do I have to work with my hands).

Hanging out with Silvia has inspired many philosophical essays/podcasts over the past year, so it makes sense to have her on before we close out the year. I feel like she’s helped me lean into my look more and really get at the root of why I like what I like, even if we can’t put it into discernible terms. In other words, she is proof that taste and cool are personal and are ultimately able to be honed through a personal journey. It’s all about execution of the aesthetic you want, even if it just comes down to proportions and silhouette.

I’m very glad we had this chance to interview Silvia before she goes off to the South Pole for half a year. Let’s just hope she doesn’t run into a helicopter pursuing a lone sled dog.

Podcast Outline

  • 6:04 – Intro
  • 10:10 – Guest Intro
  • 12:52 – Silvia’s Fashion Journey
  • 25:39 – Buying Thought Process
  • 32:33 – Trial and Error
  • 44:53 – Versatility
  • 48:06 – Clothes and Context
  • 1:20:53 – Wrap-up
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On the pod, Silvia mentions how she liked each of these garments independently but assumed she could throw them together just because.
You can see a bit of her future style here with the higher rise jean as well as all the blue!
Getting closer…
It’s so cool how a lot of her fits focus on the silhouette of the trouser.
It may be a little exaggerated, but this is very close to what I like from menswear.
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Even the use of dresses and skirts has fun with proportions.
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Taken the first day I met her!
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Her work attire is much less dramatic but still contains her personality (unless she has to physically work on her experiments).
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She, like many my friends, has to tolerate my antics.
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Looks like she upgraded her jeans!
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Look at all that blue!
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From our Tiki night!
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I think this would count as a “Suit Alternative”
Love it. If she tucked it in, this would very pretty good for an Ethan Cosplay.
And yes, she does like suits!
She was on the hoodie + suit mixture before us!
Silvia’s style is a master class in drape.
She mentions how she wasn’t a fan of this outfit on the podcast, but there are still some great ideas here!
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You’ve gotta love how Silvia plays with color.
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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,

Ethan M. Wong

Big thank you to our top tier Patrons (the SaDCast Fanatics): Philip, Shane, Austin, Jarek, Henrik and John.

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