For a long time, I thought that I’d never have much in common with menswear guys. I don’t mean this in a bad way; I just mean that to my eyes, we just lead different lives. This wasn’t surprising, as an appreciation of menswear usually equates to a taste for luxury and “high culture”, two things which I didn’t really concern myself with…outside of the specific menswear details I required for self-actualization (which I don’t really consider to be luxurious anyway). I just wanted to live my regular life, enjoy my fun pop culture things, and look the way I wanted.
Of course, the more I continued in my menswear journey, the more I could meet people like me. There are many menswear enthusiasts who enjoy pop culture and the idea of dressing for fun (which most likely relates to their appreciation of pop culture). The menswear world wasn’t a monolith and I was definitely not a unicorn.
This brings me to Brett White, who is the focus of this blog post and the latest interviewee on the Style & Direction Podcast. He’s a pop culture reporter, producer, and podcaster who wears classic menswear (when not in Drag) while doing his thing, surrounded by an epic fandom collection; he even has a model of the Falcon underneath a coffee table in his office! He’s a huge fan of television, as many shows have played directly into the development of his personal style.
I can’t recall the first time we chatted (I’m sure we both reacted to the dumb menswear takes I occasionally post on my IG stories), but we were in more regular contact when he asked us a few questions about Fred Mertz’s style in I Love Lucy. I had never really watched the show, but it was a great opportunity…and the fact that Brett came up with the topic showed me that people can get into clothing through “just liking what they see” instead of being tied to tradition or workplace attire.
As I said before, Brett’s take on menswear is heavily inspired by his love of TV, specifically from the 1970s. No, this doesn’t mean crazy paisley disco collars but rather the intentional use of double-breasted suits, colorful knitwear, ties in block stripes and abstract patterns, funky glasses, and heavy use of the ascot and neckerchief. His inspired use of safari and field jackets feels authentically ripped out of the era when leisure jackets replaced suit jackets in the wardrobes of many men. You know, instead of looking like a typical #menswear guy or an IG socialite.
I specifically asked Brett about how he was able to pay this homage to his desired era so effectively and effortlessly. He said that he’s always had an eye for detail that most likely came from his past in art. Brett knew that to dress in the spirit of 70, he needed a specific type of collar and the right silhouette for his suit; just wearing any ‘ol shirt with a runaway collar would not cut it. I was so happy when I heard this since it was proof that people can see the expressive details of a look and seek them out when crafting a wardrobe.
He also has no problem signaling his fandom allegiances while wearing trad clothing. This can either come out through the intentional use of color throughout his outfit or by donning pieces of merch like a graphic tee or an enamel pin, moves no doubt adopted from his indie days. I really enjoy how Brett is able to look exactly the way he wants to while showing off everything he loves: menswear details, fandoms, and all.
The aspects of leaning into expression come into play further with Brett’s journey into Drag. It’s a new thing for Brett, though he maintains he considered classic menswear to be a form of Drag to begin with, at least for him. This is because the use of “traditionally masculine” attire (especially when it’s vintage or poised for vintage styling), is aligned with the idea that Drag can be about intentionally invoking gender roles through coded clothing. Speaking with Brett about this reveals an amazingly freeing view of menswear, as well as identity/presentation. It’s my hope that there is something in our discussion to glean for how you approach trad clothing!
This episode may just be one of the best interviews we’ve had so far! Brett is articulate, introspective (he remembers a lot about his journey), and passionate. It was incredibly fun to talk with someone who just loves picking apart looks that we see on TV (though I guess for me, its more about movies). That last part was pretty important as I’m prepping to do an episode about one of my favorite TV shows….
- 6:02 – Guest Introduction
- 11:09 – Brett’s Background with Pop Culture
- 23:16 – Incorporating Your Interests into Your Outfits
- 29:46 – Menswear Journey
- 46:23 – Details You Look For
- 52:13 – Knitwear Talk
- 54:07 – TV/Film Style
- 1:04:23 – Barb Hardly and Everything is Drag
- 1:21:33 – Rapid-Fire Questions
- 1:32:02 – Wrap-up
- Brett’s Instagram
- Barb Hardly’s IG and Youtube, where you can see herseries This Is The Army as well as Stop Dragging Your Hells, where she interviews other drag queens!
- Brett’s podcast Must Have Seen TV where he and a guest talk about an episode from a 20th century sitcom!
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The Podcast is produced by MJ.
Always a pleasure,
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