Since the day fashion became ornamental instead of functional the war has been waged. The gruesome duel between function and appearance has been raging in the closets of individuals for eons. Many argue that clothes are meant to keep you warm and looks are secondary, if important at all. The counter argument is usually the typical “pain is beauty” line spoken by the woman walking on 6” stilettos and squeezing into a skirt that is so tight, breathing becomes laborious. Neither extreme holds the answer in my mind. There must be a middle ground that can be comfortable and fashionable at the same time.
I will be the first to admit sweatpants do have their time and place and there is undoubtedly no feeling like a soft, warm, beat up hoodie on a brisk day. In fact as I sit here in my apartment I am adorned in both while writing this article. They are the comfort food of a man’s closet and it would be unrealistic for me to rant on and on encouraging our readers to go burn your sweats. It’s not happening. Still, like comfort food, it isn’t appropriate for every occasion. Just think, if you were having important guests over for dinner, would you toss them a box of Twinkies and a coke? No. Well, at least I hope not; if so, keep reading Eleven; we will get through this together. Like the cream filled snacks, sweats or beat up dingy clothes are to be used at home when nobody is looking. There is no need to wear a dumpy outfit to class or work when it take the same amount of effort to throw on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a blazer and go. Denim that fits correctly can be as comfortable as most sweats. If you still aren’t convinced, there are great alternatives to the hoodie. Many designers have come out with high quality casual wear or even gym clothes. There is nothing wrong with taking an American classic like a sweatshirt and tweaking it to make it a seamless part of your everyday wardrobe. A cashmere zip-up can be paired with a pair of jeans and a button down and look casual without looking sloppy. Or making it a graphic print in an unexpected color to pair with slim fit stacked denim. Companies like Freshjive, and BillWillie pride themselves on making quality garments that have a relaxed and casual aesthetic while maintaining that edge and flair that makes people look twice. They have fine details that are produced with precision that can be looked at with appreciation instead of disgust. Some of their products can cost over a thousand dollars but are made with the same hand crafted diligence as a suit maker. Marc Jacobs has taken to the extreme and done hoodies and cotton fleece sweatpant’esque garments in his fall runway collection showing that casual can be taken seriously.
Function does not only address how soft the fabric feels, or how warm it keeps the wearer; An issue being addressed lately is the environmental impact products have when being manufactured. Many forward thinkers have been making a serious effort to become more environmentally aware and have created a huge effort to “go green”. Unfortunately, many clothing manufacturers that have been making organic clothing tend to market more toward the granola hippie conservationists rather than the everyday style conscious individual. In the midst of this natural fiber revolution there are a select few companies with the mainstream “green guy” in mind. Labels like Loomstate and Edun are creating lines that are modern and sophisticated while sticking to an organic foundation. This keeps the functional aspect that the environmentalists seek, while appealing to a wide variety of consumers. Who says clothing with a conscious has to be clothing without a sense of aesthetic pride? While the clothing is substantially more expensive then most retailers (averaging about $100 per garment) I would much rather pay for good looking organic clothes then spend the same amount on clothes that look like burlap feedbags. Many of the companies have achieved this in really non-conventional ways. Instead of compromising the quality or aesthetics of the garments, some manufacturers sought out alternative routes to increase the eco-friendly nature of the brand. This includes everything from using hybrid vehicles to transport goods, to recycling fibers to create new fabric to work with. One way I choose to add some “green” to my closet is to buy vintage and second hand items. By incorporating items from past eras and giving them a new life and purpose, I not only save myself money, but I also reduce my environmental footprint.
Next time you go shopping, think about an alternative unique “green option” that will work flawlessly with the style conscious man’s wardrobe. It can be comfortable and stylish as long as you take the time to do your research and find a designer that agrees with your lifestyle. “GREEN” IS THE NEW BLACK.
By: Eric White- Style