I don’t know about where you come from but around these parts it’s becoming increasingly difficult to walk down certain streets and not question the possibility that you may, in fact, be living in an early twentieth century mining town or New York City during the prohibition era. It’s kind of hard to articulate, so why don’t I just provide you with a couple of visuals. Here is a picture of Mulberry Street on the Lower East Side circa 1900:
However, if you were to remove the wagon and all of the ladies from this photo and then tell me that it was taken yesterday on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, I would totally believe you. Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Feast your eyes on this beauty:
This is happening today! I see it everywhere and while I don’t mean to disparage anyone who has chosen to embrace this particular form of fashion, I definitely have some questions. Starting with, who were these guys five years ago?
Certain forms of hipsterdom have remained pretty consistent ever since Vice Magazine came along and made trying really hard to look like you don’t care if you’re cool, cool. We’ve all seen what we know to be typical hipsters. They have skinny jeans and t-shirts and like a scarf maybe, some non-prescription black rimmed glasses and usually a hat of some sort, a fedora? I don’t really know what they’re called but you know what I mean. However, there have been off-shoots over the years. Particularly what’s happening now with men dressing as though we’re all living in one giant episode of Boardwalk Empire. But seeing as this is a somewhat recent development, I’m curious as to who these guys were even half a decade ago? I mean it’s not like Scott from the IT department or Dave from human resources just decided to start coming to work with waxed facial hair, a bow tie and suspenders. These dudes were definitely some form of hipster before they became, what in some cases look like, newspaper delivery boys from the great depression.
You think I’m kidding! I’m not. There are bars in parts of Manhattan where I’m convinced I’m being served by characters in a musical and at any moment patrons may kick over chairs and start performing lindy hops on long tables. My best guess is that the men we see dressing like this today are the ones we saw dressing like Rockabillies ten to fifteen years ago. Remember when that was a thing? Everyone was taking swing dancing lessons and doing their hair like Kenickie from Grease?
Seeing as the trend appears to embrace regression, it’s not surprising that I’m even starting to see people taking it a step further by wearing clothes and styling facial hair as if we’re still living during the Industrial Revolution. Need an example? I’m glad you asked. This is a picture of Daniel Day Lewis in the movie There Will Be Blood:
And THIS is a picture of how men are dressing today:
I’m not even saying it’s a bad look. Admittedly, it’s pretty sexy, given you’re actually an oil tycoon from the mid 1800s. However the aesthetic tends to lose its luster when you accompany it by playing Candy Crush on your iPhone.
As far as where it comes from though, I’m going to have to assume that the prevalence of this look is due to the rise in speak easy type bars like Please Don’t Tell and Raines Law Room where even though drinking has been perfectly legal for almost a century, people still insist on imbibing in underground establishments, hidden away in allies and tucked under hot dog shops. (No joke, to get into PDT you have to enter though a fucking phone booth in a corner of Crif Dogs.)
It wasn’t long before barber shops hopped on the trend, with many of them built out to look like late 19th century drug stores, advertising “colic reliefs” and “health tonics” in old-timey lettering as well as offering hot and cold towel wet shaves like you might treat yourself to after having just gotten back from the war…in Germany that is.
And I’m not knocking them. Really. I think most of these places are beautiful and I’m a lover of the look and feel of the time period they’re emulating, it’s just that the employees have to walk around in the world you know, today, after they get off work.
And they do.
Looking like this:
I want to know what’s going to happen in ten years? I mean just how far back is this thing going to go? Part of me thinks it would be awesome to see people going straight Colonial and wearing what Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt did in Interview With A Vampire. Can you imagine meeting Tinder dates who showed up dressed like this?
I would die.
So while I’m in no way suggesting that any of you dudes curb your personal preferences or adjust the manner in which you see fit to express yourselves, I’m hoping you’ll excuse my double-takes or long stares as we pass each other on Metropolitan Avenue. It’s not that I find what you’re wearing in poor taste, I’m simply accustomed to a more modern look.
Like the guys who are dressed as longshoremen in Greenpoint.
Yes. This is happening.