The Art of young manliness

Bryce Moerbeck, Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again: back to school, colder days, pumpkin spice lattes and Christmas decorations being put on display way too early. For us guys, that means the end of simpler times. It means the end of Bro-tank and board shorts weather. This means it’s time to send those coveted sandals and tanks to the back of the closet and replace them with something a little less … revealing. Fall is the reason why you have that section of your wardrobe way in the back, which you’ve probably forgotten even existed. Full of jackets, sweatshirts, long sleeves and flannels, it’s your saving grace this fall. This is your tag-team partner, your champion that will make or break the way you feel and look this season.

Now most of us guys don’t really recognize the value of style and the technique of layering. Most guys just say, “If it fits and is comfortable, I’m wearing it.”

To that I add: “Sandals and socks are comfortable, so let’s wear those.”

Yeah, right.

Spicing up your wintertime clothing choices, and in turn, your style, helps boost your self esteem and makes you a more visible and viable dating choice for that cute girl who sits at the lab table next to you in AP Chemistry. Y’know, the one whose perfume just melts right through your manly, stone-cold heart.

Winter style is fun because colder temperatures allow you to experiment with different varieties of clothing and accessories that can truly make you look dashing, even in the middle of a sleet storm. With California experiencing a record-long drought, there are numerous other clothing options that become open to us guys that would normally be impractical or even dangerous when introduced to rain. We will get to that, but there are a few ground rules that I should set up right away that this article is going to focus on: layering, choosing your clothing materials wisely and tailoring your wardrobe to a unique style.

Fall is the time for layering. Cooler temperatures warrant the practice, and it also speaks volumes about your perception of style if you show competence in the skill. One of the best parts about layering is that it is not some esoteric skill that’s gifted to a select few from the gods above; it’s a practice like anything else, be it playing an instrument or a sport. All it takes to master it is practice, practice, practice.

The first piece is quite simple: either a solid colored v-neck or crew neck tee shirt that fits you comfortably. “Comfortably” in this context means not too big and not too small, and covers your body but is also snug, to show off your assets. If you want to spice things up, swap the blank tee for a graphic tee with conservative print on it (Hint: tasteful retro graphic tees are very in-style this year).

The next piece can be a flannel or long-sleeve shirt. Obviously checking the weather is important to avoid overdressing, as afternoon temperatures are never as cool as the early morning. The flannel or long sleeve can be plaid or chambray, and preferably with a little extra room for air to get in between the layers, but not too much extra space, or else the fabric wrinkles and looks tacky.

The final piece is the most fun: your jacket. You can play it messy and simple with a black hoodie, but why would you want to do that? There are so many other options out there to experiment with. You want to be tasteful with your experimentation; nobody will enjoy a neon green peacoat, no matter how cool it looks to you. Some good toppers for your outfit at this time of year — while there’s still some heat later in the day — would be something along the lines of leather or denim jackets, or a dark corduroy fabric. They’re water resistant and awesome-looking and will keep you warm. They’re also easy to take off and carry around when the temperatures rise.

However, the most important part of layering is your attitude. You have to rock your outfit, no matter what you choose. If that leather jacket seems out of your comfort zone (I’m 5’6 and skinny — masculine is the last thing I would label myself as) bridge the gap with your attitude. Kick a garbage can, put on some aviators, walk with pep in your step — but dear God please don’t run. It’ll make that jacket and those dark denim jeans work so much better.

There are some options available to us due to the lack of rain. Suede is a classy alternative to canvas sneakers, and brands like Nike and Vans have dedicated lines that build shoes with much more quality material (Off The Wall, Stefan Janowski etc.). Brogues or saddle shoes — that use two or more different color materials, usually suede and canvas, or two different colors of suede — are also great fall choices in a natural tan or brown, and go well with jeans of any color. You can also experiment with suede on stylish low-cut boots, called chukkas, which are great for rolled-up chino pants or dark denim. However, suede is vulnerable and easily stained by rain and other liquids, which is why it is normally not a good fabric to wear during the rainy season.

Backtracking to an earlier point I made, attitude is everything when it comes to delivering a good style. Do you hate contacts and wear huge Steve Urkel glasses? Ditch the plaid long sleeves and throw on a simple plum or black t-shirt with some top-notch chino pants or jeans. Pair them off with some sick black leather or canvas shoes, and you got yourself a date, my man.

Think about what styles or clothing items you like on other people — friends, family, famous actors — or even on yourself. Do you like those sick aviators that Tom Cruise wore in “Top Gun”? Or maybe you like the look and bravado of a dressed-down James Bond navy blazer. Maybe you know that those pink shorts with the cloth belt you got at Tilly’s make you look real good. It’s high school man: you can step out of the box a little bit (live your style, love it). Try to walk into an outfit with an attitude that accompanies it.

Then you can work your outfits around how you feel each and every day. Get yourself armored up with style my friend; then slide right next to Ms. Chemistry into that lab stool that’s screaming your name.