Monday, April 23, 2012


We come into this world head first and go out feet first; in between, it is all a matter of balance.
~ Paul Boese

Paul Boese, a Dutch botanist of little repute but a great source for quotes (thanks Google), expressed a universal principle that is always relevant in style.  I expounded on it in a previous post as it applies to color, but it's just as important in choosing pieces that combine with each other.

Look at the example above.  Ripped jean shorts ("Jorts", if you like - though I only use that term when meant derogatively) with a heather gray blazer + crisp white button-down?  If you had told me without showing me you would have heard me snort some retort about jorts.  (sorry)

But as you can see above, it works.  And the key is in the scarf.  There's a hint of "business neck-tie" combining deliciously with the playful flair of the color, weight, and pattern.  The super-casual shorts on bottom is provided a counter point on top.  (The cut of the blouse - particularly those collar points - are subtly important as well.)  Balance.

How about men's style?  Let's consider one of the most abused high/low trends of the past several years:  pairing suits with sneakers. 

Done carefully, it can work beautifully.

Bam.  The playful punch of the shirt and tie (the hat helps, too) means that those socks and sneakers are not out of place.  Balance.  Another example:

Bam, works.  The horizontal-striped cardigan helps break the inherent formality of the suit, while the pocket square offers the casual counterpoint to the sneakers.  Balance.

But what about this one?

Here's one I would argue doesn't work.  While I love the elements, there's a lack of balance.  The feel of the top half is button-downed prep.  The tie is cleanly knotted, the pocket square is a clean flatly-folded square.  The belt looks like a finely braided brown leather.  Yes, the sleeves are a bit rolled up, but that's not enough for the SHOCKING PURE WHITE CANVAS SNEAKERS.  Sorry for the caps, but that's how my eyes feel when I see those shoes anchoring this ensemble.  Cover the shoes and the outfit is beautiful.  It's not a disaster by any means.  But as it is, it is unbalanced.

(I chose the above example because everything else works except for the balance.  There are no shortage of suit+sneaker disasters that you can find if so desired.  Rule of thumb:  don't wear Air Force Ones with a suit.  Just don't.)

Just to show you that I'm not hating on this collection, here's an example from the same:

Beautiful.  (Check out the link, there are a lot of wonderful looks.)

Successfully pulling off the high-low act is a bit of a tightrope.  Always keep your balance.

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