A Letter from the Editor
For centuries, one of clothing’s most important purposes was to establish an individual’s place within society. Men and women of status went to great lengths presenting themselves as such, donning identifiably fashionable (and identifiably expensive) adornments of all kinds. From golden jewelry, signifying amassed wealth, to white gloves, demonstrating freedom from physical labor, fashion has had a longstanding relationship with societal division.
Thankfully, we enjoy a much more democratic attitude toward dress these days — one that favors personal expression over social stratification. Most of us, I think, have much purer motives when it comes to style. Today, hopefully, we dress not to display wealth and prestige with vanity. Rather, we dress to express our self and personage with honesty.
One of the most recent manifestations of this “setting apart” occurred in what I’ll refer to as the “Age of Accessories”. In the mid aughts, as the modern menswear movement gained steam, we suddenly felt the need to set ourselves apart from the quickly broadening pack of our style-conscious peers. So, with little warning, men began emerging from their domains with increasingly outlandish displays of ornamentation, each attempting to one-up the man before him (and catch the eye of that street photographer across the way). Like a crowd of effete trendies from art college, everyday dudes became connoisseurs of coordination overnight. The result was a portentous mashup of colorful watch straps, paisley scarves, newsboy caps, tie clips, and zany socks parading across every major street in every major city en masse.
The value of this trend was that it finally gave men an obvious way to break out from what had become a “uniform”. Accessories were an easy (and relatively inexpensive) way to be different. The great downfall of its rapid rise was that it got out of control rather quickly. We went a bit 37-pieces-of-flair there for a time, adding items to our personage with no rhyme, reason, or consideration of their use or value.
The fallout of that now bygone era is that the word “accessories” conjures up some bad memories. The pendulum has since swung far in the other direction, as it often does, toward more minimal expressions of style. Which is great, but we’ve potentially lost some respect for how great accessories can really be. And what they really are. They shouldn’t be emblems with which to declare oneself rebellious, nor to assert some conspicuous cloud of “cool”. Rather, accessories should do one of two things (ideally, both): perform a unique function and/or provide personal delight. Nothing more and nothing less. While accessories are, by definition, not essential to getting by, they can be absolutely essential to going the extra mile.
Right now, on my desk, I’m writing under the glow of a bronze task lamp. It’s beautiful. But it’s also functional, keeping my eyes from straining on my monitor during these dreadfully dark, early spring mornings. Next to it sits a miniature set of cast clay houses on a hill (a piece of crooked river rock). It serves no functional purpose. But it’s a gift from my wife that delights my inner child, provides a momentary respite when it catches my eye, and reminds me to pick up flowers on my way home. Underneath the desk, on the floor, stands my daily carryall, inside of which I’ve stowed a spare magazine to read with my afternoon coffee and croissant, a few charging cables, my headphones, a writing tablet, and moisturizer (dry hands be damned). If I were to leave any of these items behind, I would do just fine. But since when have we settled for “just fine”?
In this issue, we highlight a few of those non-essential yet invaluable items and ideas that we recommend carrying, wearing, and using through your daily rituals. As the season turns, layers are shed, and life is getting streamlined, consider them as your daily items of inspiration. As accessories of function. As adjuncts of delight.
Just don’t call them pieces of flair.
Ian Deming, Editor-in-Chief