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On Zoot Suits, Baggies, Stacy Adams & 125th Street

 
 
 
 
 















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Monday, December 15, 2008

On Zoot Suits, Baggies, Stacy Adams & 125th Street




Check the comments section of a post I did Sept. 19th 2007.
It was a post about GQ's Best-Dressed List. In the comments section I remarked that I voted for Morris Day.

I grew up in the early to mid 80's and Prince and The Time were a huge music and style influence (ask my sister).
When I see a gentleman like the the Deacon I shot in Harlem yesterday I don't see him as an "exotic" but as someone that brings up very fond memories of that time in my life.

The start of my style education was with those guys in The Time. Just because I never wore a Zoot Suit or Stacy Adams (I did have baggies - ask my sister, she might have pictures) doesn't mean that I wasn't heavily influenced by the concept. Again, and I hate to use the term, but it was a case of abstract inspiration.

These guys were all about style with a capital "S". Style for them was all about getting women, and as a teenage boy in Indianapolis that sounded pretty good to me. As a result, I never thought that fashion wasn't something most straight guys talked about. If I felt totally comfortable talking about clothes with my guy friends it's because it was so normal in the music I was listening to at the time. I'm sure that is a part of why I like Kanye now.

If you are embarrassed by the image I posted today or see no value (aesthetic or educational) then you really need to ask a few questions before you attack. This gentleman is as basic to my personal catalog of style as any old Italian gent that I have ever shot. I hold him no higher or lower on the style scale, he just is what he is and I accept it and delight in it.



I had a lot of fun finding these pictures for this post.
I always dreamed that one day I would be that guy standing behind Morris Day. No, not the white guy, the other guy with the red tie - Jesse Johnson.

Really, can you doubt that I would become The Sartorialist if this was the music I was listening to at 14 or 15.

None of my high school friends were surprised when they learned what I was doing now.

Look at those pocket squares!!


"The Walk", the style anthem for this whole look.


PS. Thank God I just missed that whole Cameo sensation.

Comments on "On Zoot Suits, Baggies, Stacy Adams & 125th Street"

 

Blogger Fashion_Loving_Stylist said ... (9:13 PM) : 

Absolutely FABULOUS!!

 

Blogger Bon Vivant said ... (9:15 PM) : 

Great entry!... i understand why u would be inspired - no matter how abstract one might find it.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:16 PM) : 

sart strikes back

 

Blogger J.A.F. said ... (9:21 PM) : 

Everybody walk yo body, Everybody walk!

 

Blogger mockumentary said ... (9:25 PM) : 

there is no shame in looking so fabulous. few can work that mustache though

 

Blogger Emily Wong said ... (9:45 PM) : 

wow. Influential indeed. I was born in the 90's, so it was Britney and Backstreet Boys for me!

Great post!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:47 PM) : 

I work in science. His coat - the length, the cut- just screams labcoat to me! >.< Otherwise it's scrumptious and fantastic and whimsical.

 

Blogger Alicia/InstantVintage said ... (9:51 PM) : 

Great retort, Sart. You shouldn't have to defend your work and eye on your blog, but I applaud you for this one.

Now I'm off to do the Bird.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:02 PM) : 

You feel you had to justify why you posted a pic?

 

OpenID letslivefast said ... (10:07 PM) : 

dear sart,

great great post- every single shot is inspiring. i really enjoyed reading this!


Forever Stylin'
-MJ

 

Blogger A23 said ... (10:09 PM) : 

It makes perfect sense.

Lately you have been busting paradigms and here is the pink icing.

The trim ladies are lovely to see, but I sure appreciate these little doses of reality.

Please keep it going.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:11 PM) : 

I love that you are putting this pic up, even though it's not suited for the most mainstream taste in men's fashion.

 

Blogger Chris Johnson said ... (10:16 PM) : 

Nice comeback! ;-)

 

Blogger Stephanie said ... (10:17 PM) : 

I grew up in the early to mid 80s also...I can relate!
I enjoyed this post very much, especially the visual references to Prince's unique and outrageous style. :-)

 

Blogger Anthony said ... (10:18 PM) : 

very well put.

 

Blogger -h of candid cool said ... (10:37 PM) : 

i like to read about the backstories behind your pictures. and i love when you bring up abstract inspiration because i know exactly what you mean by it.

this man you've taken a picture of, he's great. i really wish "the kids these days" would take a tip from this guy about dressing up and wearing something that makes you and in turn other people SMILE. if i saw this gentleman walk past me, his bright outlook would have brightened my day. :)

keep doing what you're doing, and as for the naysayers, well you cant please everyone!

 

Blogger Satsuma said ... (10:39 PM) : 

Inspiring for sure.
And, I mean-- you do kind of need some insanity before others can classy it up. That's just how it is.

 

Anonymous drew said ... (10:50 PM) : 

fantastic!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:55 PM) : 

I'm totally from that same era too.

 

Blogger Jose said ... (10:56 PM) : 

thank you so much for pointing out to the 50 or so people in the previous post whose only reference point for the image you posted originally was "pimp". maybe now that they have a better grasp of a small chip of style history they can work on ameliorating the disturbingly racist notions they inadvertently spurt from their fingertips.

 

Blogger dora w. said ... (11:01 PM) : 

haha, this is wonderful!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:05 PM) : 

I think I'm missing something here. When I first saw the pictures I wondered why it was accompanied by the pictures of The Time. I didn't think the outfit needed that much of a history lesson to validate it.

After reading both this post and the comments from 2007, I'm still not much clearer on what kind of brouhaha you're expecting. The only thing that strikes me is that there are derivations of this style still being featured on the streets that rarely make your blog. But it is your blog so do your thing.

Oh, and "Style for them was all about getting women." I have to disagree there. These men were also in it for the pleasure of looking good in beautiful clothes. You can't take that away from them. Nice work.

 

Blogger jamo said ... (11:07 PM) : 

You go Sart! What I like most about the Sartorialist is that you have an expansive, yet tasteful, sensibility. This is a rare quality: You seem to get what is most essential about style whatever the individual manifestation. The Deacon is tight just as Peter in Milan or Giovanni in Paris is! To the casual or lazy eye these people a starkly different but to the Sartorialist they are kindred in their boldness, confidence, and panache. They all wear the clothes and not the other way around. I know I wouldn't look good in the deacon's suit but I sure am glad that he's rockin' it: he is the embodiment of joie-de-vive and the essence of style. Thank god there are still people in the world and New York with the moxy to rock some pink baggies in a zoot suit style!!! And I love that you see the connection with the uber-dapper Morris Day and the Tyme (love Jesse Johnson too!) Keep doing your thing, sart. You are something of a subtle visionary and a hell of photograher. Those who get, really get it!

Naptown71

 

Blogger Milt-fresh_best-dressed said ... (11:12 PM) : 

Man i've been sayin this all along!!! Now watch everybody trend hump because sart cosighned it!!!!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:15 PM) : 

Thanks for writing again Scott! When I started checking this blog two years ago it because I loved both your pictures and your commentary. Nice to see the personality is back. Hopefully to stay.

 

Blogger michelle said ... (11:18 PM) : 

What a wonderful post. I had no idea you're from Indianapolis; I am also. I keep trying to convince people that it's hipper than they think. Now I can brag that the Sartorialist is from there.

 

Blogger Emma said ... (11:19 PM) : 

i read some of the comments on the previous previous photo. people are getting too worked up over nothing. perhaps it's your own insecurity about race and color that you should evaluate and not sart's choice in photo subjects.

anyways, great photo. i would love to visit harlem!

 

Blogger SteveO6290 said ... (11:25 PM) : 

I can understand where you're coming from. It's great that you have your reasons for posting what you post and it's good to know that your photo choices come from somewhere inspiring for you.

 

Blogger bDub512 said ... (11:41 PM) : 

Malcolm Little wore a Zoot Suit. ...I'm just sayin'

 

Blogger f2images said ... (11:53 PM) : 

Love the guy in the pink suit on top....but my gut tells me a hat is missing!!

 

Blogger Rita said ... (12:01 AM) : 

Excellent post! Every time you explain how a particular something inspires you, I begin to see my own inspirations in a refreshed and definitely more appreciative way. It's great! :D

 

Anonymous truc said ... (12:09 AM) : 

i have read fashion magazines since i was nine years old. i am now 33, have spent most of my working life as a makeup artist, and am currently a photography student. the most frustrating time in my creative life was when i was working as beauty editor for an indie fashion publication. i quit after a year because i couldn't bear the constant posturing and preening of the staff which anointed only those who looked and acted like them as cool enough to be featured in the magazine. it felt like a strange replay of the type of fashion conformity i resisted in high school.

it was yves st laurent who said that fashion comes and goes but style is eternal. i have tried to keep this in mind as i continue my work, that style is by definition personal and unique and fashion is only one aspect of it. thank you sart, for showing style in all it's incarnations and permutations. my personal tastes may not always be parallel with those of whom you feature on your blog, but i look at every picture with interest anyway because i hope that i will always remain open to the ideas of others.

maybe the people who have been in such an uproar about what they see as an inappropriate or unattractive post should look within and see that snobbery and intolerance are some of the ugliest things one can wear.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:10 AM) : 

Who knew...

Morris Day & The Time were mere jesters in the court of Prince ;-) No amount of alcohol and drugs could ever seduce me to approve of boxy suits, slipper shoes, Jerry-curls or Morris Day! You lost me on this one Sir...

PLO

 

Anonymous nan said ... (12:12 AM) : 

Morris Day is an absolute GENIUS (waaaaaaayyy under-appreciated) and I'm thrilled to read that he's one of your style heroes -- what a delight.

 

Blogger Lady Happenstance said ... (12:14 AM) : 

"To the sounds of "Perdido" by Duke Ellington, EL PACHUCO emerges from the slit. HE adjusts his clothing, meticulously fussing with his collar, suspenders, cuffs. HE tends to his hair, combing back every strand into a long luxurious ducktail, with infinite loving pains. Then HE [...] pulls out his coat and hat. HE dons them. His fantastic costume is complete. It is a zoot suit."
- Luis Valdez

 

Blogger william said ... (12:19 AM) : 

This is unflattering in every possible way. The color, the fit, the lengthened jacket, the shoes. It's all bad; real bad.

I think it's wonderful to make a statement - especially with menswear - but you don't have to wear something so ostentatious and tacky to do so. It's also a bad idea to experiment with color and proportion when you aren't working with exceptionally beautiful garments.

 

Blogger ani said ... (12:35 AM) : 

I'm 35 (just turned 35 on sunday).
I remember Morris Day from Prince's Purple Rain movie. I was 11 when that came out.
I was a little too young to really respond to the clothes these guys all wore. I was moved more by the music.
But I'll never forget Morris Day's band mate holding that huge mirror while Morris performed. And how he would check himself in the mirror in the middle of his songs!!!
Someone needs to bring that back. I'd love to see a rapper do that in their live show, that would be hilarious!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:38 AM) : 

Awright, awright,awright...

Touche Mon Amie!
Point well taken. See you in the morning.


Really Not So Mad Man

 

Anonymous stacy di said ... (12:39 AM) : 

didn't think you needed to justify your post. but thanks for the trip down memory lane.

 

Blogger Rebeca said ... (12:42 AM) : 

I am addicted to your blog. But I had no idea what a real and authentic person you were until reading that retort. It makes reading your blog only sweeter. Peace and ...a little jungle love, oh-wee-oh-wee-oh!

 

Blogger Alice said ... (12:56 AM) : 

no need to defend yourself, sart. i think most of those who follow your blog know that you make your picks not simply based on what's "fashionable," but proportion, color, fabric, etc.

great work, as always

 

Blogger abby said ... (1:06 AM) : 

wow. what a post. and you're from indy? if it's true, it sure is nice to learn.

me, too. heading back soon for the holidays. :)

 

Blogger Lucius said ... (1:10 AM) : 

Well put, I think this should settle any issues nicely!

 

Anonymous J said ... (1:44 AM) : 

I love the zoot suit... can't you find time to give us more little tales to accompany the pics sart?

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:08 AM) : 

Hi Sart,

The great thing about your post today it is not what it says about style or clothes. It is the message that whatever we are, we should not deny where we are coming from - something easily forgotten in the fashion world.

I admire you more for this, Sart. Thank you.

 

Blogger jaffa said ... (2:25 AM) : 

Hey don't dis Cameo. There were some pretty fly, creative dressers back then. If you're nostalgic for this style, come to Detroit and see it on almost any given day.

 

Blogger AfricaLive said ... (3:00 AM) : 

Thank you for this personal story.

But, for me, in the face of the deacon I see my uncle, and not an abstract style genre I consumed from afar as a child...

My eyes focus on the face, not the clothes and I'm offended that I cannot see him clearly.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:03 AM) : 

I am a Black man who loves this blog but just doesn't buy it!
I am sorry, your photo, specifically in this particular forum, exotifies the subject. Your justification is understandable but perhaps better attention to the selection and imagery surrounding your models should be the message you take away from this.


I still respect you Scott. The graffiti background and the pimp suit were a faux-pas despite the best of intentions.

 

Blogger Travis said ... (3:04 AM) : 

this is a cool post, a cool context for your pink man, a cool mini style biography.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:21 AM) : 

How depressingly nasty the discussion was on one simple photograph of a man in spectacular clothing looking as if he was having fun dressing up. You've taken lots of photographs of people like him. I hope you keep doing so and aren't bullied for doing so just because it doesn't conform to some narrow-minded people's stereotype about what they think their particular social or ethnic group should look like.

So, simple answer, don't photograph black people in the range and variety you do, because if any of your photographs don't conform to some ideal laid down by self-proclaimed arbiters of black style, then to display them is racist. You are, after all, white.

While you are about it, you'd better play safe and don't photograph women, because that could possibly be sexist. You are, after all, a man. And, just to be sure, find out the sexual orientation of each subject, just in case you are exhibiting inadvertent homophobia. I assume you aren't gay, right?

It will almost be a relief to get back to the usual arguments about cigarettes, cuff lengths and Thom Browne.

Prejudice is everywhere, unfortunately.

Your story above is great, I identify with much of it - it's just a shame that you had to write it. And shame on those who made it necessary.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:41 AM) : 

Sart.,

I read this blog from across the pond, so it all seems very abstract to me. But you definitely have a point.

What I saw in your picture was yet another reminder of something I always see writ large everywhere when I come over: the power of popular culture pumping through the veins of American culture.

In Europe, and in particular in Italy (were I live), what is giving clothes some of their remarcable traction is something that still has a lot to do with aristocratic patronage.

Not so in the American street. Yes, you do get a bit of the 'natural aristocrat' (read monied elites) in East Cost cities (New York the cosmopolitan exception), but what really makes the day in the US is what you brilliantly underlined in this post.

A.ny

 

Blogger Janne said ... (4:04 AM) : 

All the way vogue!!

I so enjoyed this post :-)

 

Anonymous Look_Back_in_Embarrasment said ... (4:15 AM) : 

I grew up in the 80s as well and when I was a kid I was a huge fan of Prince, Morris Day, Vanity, et al., but I couldn't disagree more with the sentiments you've put forth here.

I think you are ignoring how this particular "look" is regarded by those of us in the Black community who aren't into dressing like pimps.

And really, does nostalgia justify your reveling in racially embarrassing imagery? If you'd grown up in the 40s/50s would it be okay for you to "delight" in Amos and Andy or Rochester routines? Would you just love saying, "Who dat?!" and not understand why blacks don't find you funny? Please spare me the argument that Mr. Day and his cadre are hearkening back to the days of Cab Calloway; and even if that were true, that in itself is an issue with definite racial underpinnings.

I'm happy that you have fond memories of the days during which you enjoyed this music; I do as well. However, as we grow up, we realize that some of the "childish things" of are youth are better left put down -- at least some of us do.

 

Blogger Petulia said ... (5:03 AM) : 

Great Post! I completely agree. Sometimes we forget that style can be fun and colorful. thanks for reminding us

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:23 AM) : 

refreshing!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:01 AM) : 

Sartorialist, I am the original black guy that complained about a pattern I saw in your shots of gawdy black men (after I praised the site and told you I'm a fan). I believe your updated post regarding your background and I think that helps. Thanks.

What I don't understand is why you censor so much in the comments. You deleted my original comment, so naturally it appears as though your updated post is a self revelation/clarification rather than a thoughtful response to a devoted site visitor. This is my fifth time commenting on your site, I have never used profanity, hurled an insult, or made any out of bounds statements, (I LOVE this site!) but my comments almost always get deleted unless they are 1)glowingly positive, 2)almost completely innocuous.

As a fellow New Yorker I would think you'd appreciate fashion discourse (all my other comments were focused on fashion critique, not culture). So, Sartorialist, why even have comments if you only allow positive ones to stay posted??
-Carl

(note: I don't have a Blogger account, so my post is tagged anonymous)

 

Blogger Chillionaire said ... (6:21 AM) : 

Morris Day is the definition of cool!

 

Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (6:32 AM) : 

Carl
I allow plenty of negative comments on my blog - especially when they are critical of me. However i can only judge on a by-case basis what comments I post about the subjects i shoot. If you send me the comments you made that were not approved I can tell you why i was uncomfortable with them.

It is a very difficult to have a respectable discussion on the internet - I am not saying i am perfect but i think we are still doing a great job at honest respectful dialog on some important issues.

 

Anonymous cairogirl said ... (6:38 AM) : 

purple rain, pink is in...love the colors

 

Blogger máni said ... (6:39 AM) : 

what a nice post. and i appreciate your personal confessions a lot! <3 máni.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:50 AM) : 

It's always a joy to be reminded of our beginnings, isn't it? Wonderful! I love this post - it me laugh and almost cry! Bravissimo!

 

Blogger Vintage Me New You said ... (7:31 AM) : 

such a beautiful post and what an example...good job once again:)

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:50 AM) : 

I loved Morris Day and the Time and also Prince...I always thought they were the pinnacle of 80's music and fashion...they took their cues from no one and made the rules up as they went along. Genius sparks genius sparks genius and so on...the story of our fantastic society. You people that like to criticize a man for what he wears almost unabashedly should look at yourselves and wonder why you did not retail something like this and market it...these zoot styles are very popular and you would have been very rich by now if you had been on the forefront of this sensation. Pat yourself on the back...you genuises! I applaud your aplomb and unwavering, inflexible eye for style. Watch out for that cliff and quit being followers.

 

Blogger Karmander said ... (9:16 AM) : 

Loved this post. So insightful and vaguely educational :). I love to see a man with a sense of himself. Now, I'm not saying I'm in love with the look itself, but I can totally respect it. This man is aware and shirking "the Man's" rules. Good for him! and i genuinely love his tie! Personally, I grew up inspired by Kirk Cobain and Eddie Vedder, so I tend to gravitate towards Alexander Wang and Rick Owens. Nostalgia is a huge part of one's personal style.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:30 AM) : 

love what you wrote, but for me PRINCE was tops...

 

OpenID d-money said ... (10:14 AM) : 

BRAVO. sart i don't get into every aesthetic you put up, but because of your keen eye, i never dismiss your photos out of hand. keep doing what you're doing.

 

Anonymous designgod said ... (10:25 AM) : 

Hey Sart. Thanks for taking time out to address my comments from yesterday and thanks for this post. I now see where you're coming from with this and I respect your point of view. You were inspired by yesterday's image. I take it all back (well, most of it...except for the cupping pants part). I love you dude and this is my FAVORITE blog. And I'm gonna keep my eyes open for the GQ article.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:28 AM) : 

Carl's post is intact--right there with the original photo.

 

Blogger MsSvelteNY said ... (11:53 AM) : 

Sart,

I'm torn that you responded yet glad you did. Love it even more. Everyone slept on Jesse. Not me.

During that time, I dated a DJ from Chicago and was stuck in the middle of nowhere and often went to MN to see these guys. My relationship with my BF @ the time consisted of fights over what his idea of style was vs. mine. NY vs. Chi-town Sounded much like the arguments in this blog. I told him he looked like a pimp and he coveted International Male. *shivering @ the flashback* Just so you know - it wasn't a black or white thing back then. It was a music thing. Everyone wore these suits out there.

I think you've hit a hyper-sensitive nerve with this picture. One that I embarassingly chuckle @ because there is a fine line between a pimp and a man of the cloth. The stereotype of them being loud dressers with forked tongues lives on after all these years. (Creflo Dollar? Benny Hinn? - can I hop a ride on your private plane or borrow one of those suits? Hell... Bishop Don Juan???? HELLLO)

Ultimately, I don't want you to edit. I don't want you to change the way you do your thang. It is your POV that we come here for. I love the back story even more for that. It's also a reminder to me what people take away as their first impression by what you wear. I'm glad that you mentioned that he was a deacon WAY after the panties got bunched. It gave the post an honest thread of comments.

Thanks to J.A.F. for reminding me of wearing "pink on the 3rd Sunday"... We often wore colors to celebrate holidays in church. It's been awhile Sart.

Best.

Back to the sketch pad.

 

Blogger Lami said ... (12:02 PM) : 

wow, maybe because I am a little older than your average reader, but I'm surprised at the comment about "putting away childish things"...how can you think about style and not keep the past in mind...such as woooo!...I refer to the magnificent Little Richard because I have repeatedly lectured my children after viewing Taco Bell commercials...listen to this hook in these Beatles songs, they "borrowed" that from him...shown them pictures of Patti Smith, whose influence goes on and on...true originals are rare and wonderful and provide us with inspiration...an original may be viewed as brave or foolhardy...their spirit is what sets them apart...this is what I delight in through your blog...

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:09 PM) : 

True style is a manifestation of self. It is inner-driven, immune to trends and the opinions of others. As a person with true style ages, one of life's small pleasures is referencing personal past in one's current mode of dress. That might be done by throwing a cherished fifty-year-old jacket over a dress just off the rack, by choosing a battered and beloved purse over the current "it bag", by donning a hat that's older than half the population. Such pieces speak to one's history, and to one's soul. They are as integral as memories, and often, their manifestation.
I don't know if the deacon's outfit is new; I suspect it's not. I'd like to think that he awoke on a lovely Sunday in Advent, his mind on other such Sundays in his past, and on this day he wanted to keep those memories close. What better way to do it than with clothing treasured in his youth and treasured still?
Did the deacon give any thought to the idea that other's might disapprove of his appearance? I sincerely doubt that. Examine his face closely. You won't see a buffoon, or an embarrassment. What you see is his soul shining through. And what a charming soul it is.
Bravo, Deacon.

Blu at 70

 

Anonymous Niki said ... (12:27 PM) : 

All of you who are attacking the Sart need to get over yourselves. There's nothing in the original photograph that suggests to me that the he is even a latent racist. I don't think any of you have referred to him as that but I see the hints, it's really disgusting. As much as I hate having to identify my 'race' to lend some credibility to my post, I am indeed a black woman. I don't see where some of you even got the idea that the Sart was glorifying, maybe even mocking, pimp culture. That's just some silly idea you perpetrated in your minds, I just don't see the point really. Get out of that 'the white man is against us' mentality. It'll never serve you any good.

Sart: You just keep doing what you're doing...your talent knows no bounds. I found the photo refreshing(I haven't seen that in while, you should do this more :]) and it shows that you are in no way one-dimensional. Keep it pimpin, playa. *wink*

 

Blogger Forsyth said ... (12:30 PM) : 

Righteous.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:46 PM) : 

I adore you Sart. Thanks for your response to the earlier post. You are truly an amazing artist and you inspire me more and more each day. Please never put down your camera...
xoxo Nubiankwen

 

Blogger monique said ... (12:56 PM) : 

I saw them open for Prince at the Santa Monica Civic, which is about 3'X3'. And I, being 5'4', agile and bold enough to do it, was able to worm my way through a throbbing crowd up to the very front of the stage.

Prince, The Time, The Clash and The Selector were all over my dorm walls. Music and style were inseparable then. Now everyone's got a stylist and yet, oddly, weirdly, very few have style.

WHAT TIME IS IT? Well, it's time to dig and be dug in return....

Thanks, Sart. It wasn't necessary but it was a pleasure. I dig you, man.

And as for the black folks embarrassed by these particular images because of the "pimpish" or "coonish" aspects-- Are white folks embarrassed by those numbskulls in the Thom Brown suits? Do they want to hide when a redneck wearing a confederate flag on his cowboy hat, with his bear belly peaking out over his Lee jeans shows up? Are these images any better?

HIstory is history. We can't (and shouldn't) forget it but we can look forward and not search for nuances of racism in every aspect of American (or world) culture. Sometimes it is there, no doubt, but pointing at it when it doesn't exist undermines the efforts for those times when it really does exist and when it matters to speak up.... this ain't one of those times, my dear.

As I've said before, we do not owe a toll for how other people in our race behave or dress. I, personally, am not going down that way.

 

Anonymous Hans Wichert said ... (1:38 PM) : 

Thanks for that! Wonderful!

You surely should add an article about Kid Creole & The Coconuts. August Darnell had some decent wardrobe back in the 80s!

 

Blogger The Boot said ... (1:40 PM) : 

I hear you, Sart. From your thoughts on finding inspiration to your love of The Time. Amen!

 

Blogger jamo said ... (2:11 PM) : 

Had to Post Again:

I too am addicted to your site and I think you have done wonderful job of simply photographing stylish people(many of whom are everyday people!)who possess (that most tragically underrated quality in these times) verve/saviore faire! You find these stylish and unique individuals from a breathtaking range of backgrounds and perpsectives. The freshness of what you do constantly reveals how stiff and myopic most sitff, predictible and just plain boring most fashion magazines really are (anyone peeked at Details lately!)Yes I am African-American (also from Indy, now on the West Coast, went to IU, also a straight cat posessed with an exceptional sartorialistic bent, so I can definitely relate to your story)- and feel that in no other place have I seen such a beautiful and fresh array of images of all kinds of people, regardless of race, class or profession-- including plenty of diversity of black folks as well. in fact, by focusing on their style and self-cultivated beauty you manage to, if only of a moment, make the other things irrelevant or at least positively less so. I don't think that you have done this out of guilt or obligation; you simply have a gift for noticing the beauty and magic in people who have already found it in themselves and reveal it thorugh their personal style. I am glad that your images promote such discussion and healthy debate but I truly hope that you continue to let you asthetic eye be your guide and that you "brush off" out those who judge by shallow, narrow "fashion rules" ("the jacket must be cut this length, blah, blah, blah...") or identity politics ("you should only show 'dignified images' of certain people blah, blah, blah"). Stylish people break, redefine and rewrite the rules everyday by having the nerve to do what feels right to them!! Imagine that. Like I said in a previous post: Those of us who get it, really get it! So don't change.

P.S.
Thank for your thoughtful response to the heat you took over this one but you really don't need to explain-- your images and personal notes say it all. We love what you're doing, man!!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:18 PM) : 

I am solidified as a fan forever. The whole point of your blog is to celebrate fashion in its environment. Love the entire post.

There is a gentleman who hands out the Metro paper at top of the 34th street and 6th Ave. subway stop who wear gold hi-tops. I love how they hit my line of vision as I'm ascending those stairs in the morning.

Like James Brown said, "Hit me!"

 

Blogger Miriam Parkman said ... (3:30 PM) : 

Well spoken!
Style is always what you feel most yourself in. "Fashion" nowadays really bores me, but style is always interesting, no matter if it's my taste or not.
I love the pink man in his zoot suit, and I love that you cheer for all kinds of styles.
(even though I mostly save all your pictures with people in swing-era outfits.. my favourite style!)

 

Blogger de Vereaux said ... (3:46 PM) : 

When I saw the picture of the gentleman on 125th, I decided not to look at the comments, because I felt people would come out saying that's not fashion or thats ugly. People in this section said you did not have to comment on your choice; but I think you did. I believe that you are held in high regard by other people who blog and those who visit your site. You have become a eye for ALL THATS FASHION. Of course not every style is for everybody. IT takes nerve and deaf ear to those who rock whatever they well please and feel comfortable in. I thank you for highlighting styles from Harlem to Moscow, Rio to London and all points in between.

 

Blogger Mike Z. said ... (3:56 PM) : 

Props. Your blog to me represents personal expression by people through the way they present their person. You don't have to agree with every fashion choice but saying it doesn't belong is absurd. If someone is expressing himself or herself, it belongs.

keep on sart-ing.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:11 PM) : 

I love your site, check it all the time and largely ignore the comments that people leave.

However, I was intrigued by your interesting 'retort' to read the comments on the original posting and was very saddened by what I saw.

For me, I love to use the site as a kind of 'sketchbook' (as acknowledged by your accolade as a 'design influence'), but not because I'm a designer (I'm a product developer so do use this site for work ideas too) but as insiration for the way people put clothes together and the interesting little details which I can translate to my own wardrobe.

In this way, it frustrates me that everyone seems to be missing the point and looking too much into the image itself and its connotations rooted in the past, rather than how this could be interpreted for a contemporary future.

I agree with whoever said that this might encourage guys to wear more pink - as a girl, I'm looking at his pants and thinking how hot it would be to wear a skinny jean in this colour, perhaps with a little zip down the side.

Also, I like the juxtaposition of checks with the bold plain colour and the double layering of the jackets. How about a black fitted jacket with a double collar, the inside one in black/white check and maybe a matching turn-back cuff? That's just a really small example of the way I'm sure you inspire many others including myself.

Thanks for being a continual source of inspiration in every way - from reading the comments my mind is now also buzzing on the way we interpret images based on our pre-conceived perceptions of 'self'!

Keep up the good work, I'm a big fan!

Cheers,

Amy

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:12 PM) : 

I was Anon @ 11:05. I had not read the comments for the previous day before I made my comments. I now understand the need to give this selection some back story.

I also see that my comments mirror the others who wonder why, with few exceptions (many of them well-known people), black men are not featured as stylish in a modern sense or in accord with your current sense of style on your blog. As I said in my original post, it's your blog so that's your choice to make. But thinking that people would not notice or comment on it seems unrealistic.

Putting it all together I think you are being reactionary in discounting the criticisms. Your appreciation of old school black entertainers doesn't trump the thoughts and feeling of the black commenters who question choices in this regard. And as I mentioned before, your description of The Time's style as "all about getting women" shows that you may have a limited view of how black men make their sartorial decisions.

I hope that rather than feeling defensive or attacked, you can try to understand where these criticisms are coming from.

 

Blogger GoodBuy/ByeGirl said ... (4:39 PM) : 

I am a white girl who loved The Time, Morris Day and Kid Creole and I IMMEDIATELY thought of them and the others out there who embodied that style - even to a degree, OutKast - when I saw the photo of the gentleman in the pink suit. It's funny that you thought the same thing when you saw the fellow, and I'm sorry you felt you had to explain it to those people out there whose sensitivities don't let them enjoy a simple photo anymore.

Rock on Sart, and big congrats on DKNY. Don't let the haters hold you down.

(p.s. How on earth did anyone miss Cameo during the 80s?? That red codpiece!!! LOL)

 

Blogger baawm said ... (6:53 PM) : 

....i've been privately enjoying your work since I stumbled across the fantastic man piece on you and in common with quite a few other posts, I really don't think you need to justify your work. Style is all about individuality and nothing else (even when it's tribal) and like music, there really should be no good or bad but we can't all like the same things.
Once in a while though I'm absolutely thrilled when an artist explains their thinking and it confirms your suspicions. You have a keen eye sir and your Morris Day blog just confirms that your heart is from the right place (the street). If I saw this guy in Harlem I'd give him a style smile. Congrats on the DKNY gig.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:18 PM) : 

@Anon 4:12: No, sir, your "feelings" are not as important as Sart's. This is *HIS* blog. We come here to look at his vision, not to hear yours. Start your own blog if you feel that offended by Sart's choices.

It saddens me that despite Sart's lovely response here, there are still some people who won't be pleased. What do you want him to do, only photograph dour-looking black people in gray Italian suits?

Get over yourselves. Once you become more comfortable with who you are, you'll be better able to appreciate the full range of other peoples' personalities and sartorial choices. I'm African-American too, so I understand where all this insecurity is coming from, but speaking from personal experience I have to say you'll be much happier when you let it go. It's not hurting anyone but you.

 

Blogger Shaina said ... (7:52 PM) : 

Aaaaaawww :3 Memories are the best!

 

Blogger Fly Girl said ... (7:53 PM) : 

Whoo boy. I never thought style and what's behind it, would strike such a nerve. I grew up the 80s too and I loved Jesse's style as well. I'm from Chicago and I do think Midwestern style tends to have a specific flavor that might not be comprehendable to everybody. As an African American,I never saw any offense in the rosy-clothed deacon and now I get why his image spoke to you so much. I love the diversity of styles and influences on this site. Keep doing what you're doing. The deep and ultra-sensitive discussions are a good sign that you're touching on images that have not been addressed in our society enough.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:34 PM) : 

"The graffiti background and the pimp suit were a faux-pas despite the best of intentions." - Um, hello, first of all, why do you think it's a "pimp suit"? When I saw that picture, the word pimp was nowhere in MY mind. I thought "40's zoot suit, great color, handsome man." It's a picture of a Deacon in Harlem. It's a real man, in a real suit, in a real place in NYC. No one is perpetuating anything other than real life and real style. If you are seeing some other kind of message here, then maybe you need to look inward. Also according to wiki: "The oversized suit was an extravagant personal style and a declaration of freedom and auto-determination, although many people still consider it a rebellious garment of the era." and "The Zoot Suit first gained popularity in Harlem jazz culture in the late 1930s where they were initially called "drapes"."

"black men are not featured as stylish in a modern sense or in accord with your current sense of style on your blog" - Um, hello? Have you been reading this blog for only the last two days or something? You best better go back to the beginning and look at all the hot modern stylish black men on this blog. Within minutes of looking through this blog I found 8 pics of fabulous looking black men that I was completely drooling over.

Anyway, Sart, that picture of Morris on his toes, reminds me of your post about Cary Grant vs. Fred Astaire. I'm not at all surprised that Morris is tops on your list.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:46 PM) : 

Anon @ 7:18. You equate the criticisms of this post with people being uncomfortable with themselves. I do not. This photograph doesn't embarrass me at all, neither do the men in my life who dress this way (the Steve Harvey Collection, holla!). I think black men are beautiful in almost every instance, including this one.

I appreciate that not all of the African-Americans responding to these posts have the same ideas about what they see. I'm not ashamed that you don't question this selection, and no one needs to "get over themselves" if they do. I also know that black people don't need anyone's stamp of approval to be considered stylish. I'm just commenting on a blog that I happen to enjoy.

Anon @ 8:34, you're right, stylish black men (Sart-wise) are featured here, I even have a favorite. But I did say "with few exceptions..."

 

Blogger Ann Regentin said ... (10:05 PM) : 

It only just now occurred to me to wonder whether Sart has ever photographed a disabled person at all. I had honestly never considered it.

Sometimes we need to set aside our desire for diversity and accept things as they are, including the perspective of the man behind the camera. If we want our own perspective there, then we need to pick up the camera ourselves.

I looked at the original photo and saw jazz, not pimp. I also saw visibility for someone who is supposed to be seen and not heard, like a black man in the 30s and 40s.. Then again, I'm a disabled woman who just got back from a jazz concert. Context is king.

 

Blogger moira said ... (10:29 PM) : 

Thank you so much for this. I was really inspired by this blog and though I am too young to remember those times, it is posts like these that keep me coming back to your blog

and I never thought that your previous blog was out of place. It was a total eye-catcher & out of your usual photographs and clearly it wasn't there to offend, but to inspire. and you did your work well. =)

 

Anonymous brandon said ... (11:04 PM) : 

a bit too 'costumey" to me -- proportions seem a bit strange on some of the outfits, but do respect the use of color.

 

Blogger Eyeliah @ stylesymmetry.com said ... (12:17 AM) : 

My hubby does the Morris Day shimmy so well!

 

Blogger William said ... (12:37 AM) : 

I know why you said that you were not trying to "exoticize" the guy.

Cause I have to tell tourists every Sunday in Harlem to get that daggone camera outta my face:) and I'm just a guy going to church, like the other guy...actually I have to wake up 2 hours early just to go to my church now.

I appreciate your explanation and know why you made it.

-William

 

Anonymous Geoffrey said ... (11:21 AM) : 

Cameo was IT! Shout to Larry Blackmon in Atlanta

 

Blogger Couture de Papier said ... (8:29 PM) : 

I remember seeing this movie in 80's loved it..I loved the group Vanity 66 (Prince's girlfriends group..she was in the movie briefly?)remember their song?"suck it to the bone" at clubs? anyone remember them? I cannot believe I use to wear black bras and garters down the street in daylight!

 

Anonymous jak on my friend's computer said ... (6:25 AM) : 

And really, does nostalgia justify your reveling in racially embarrassing imagery?

yeah, this.

 

Anonymous nelsonbridge said ... (1:08 PM) : 

I regret to say there is a cameo record in my collection.

 

Blogger That Girl Ang said ... (2:11 PM) : 

THANK YOU! I can truly appreciate.. becasue it just IS... PERIOD! LOL

 

Blogger creative cookie said ... (7:22 PM) : 

This totally caught me off guard. Makes me think of childhood Easter Sundays.

 

Blogger johnnie said ... (12:41 AM) : 

Yeah, thank goodness that Cameo codpiece thing never caught on. Really.

 

Blogger johnnie said ... (12:43 AM) : 

Incidentally, I am a Cameo fan.

 

Anonymous AC said ... (4:52 PM) : 

Morris Day, what a baller. He made Prince look like garbage...

 

Blogger Jovon Higgins said ... (7:38 PM) : 

Great comment...I am so glad that you clarified the purpose behind posting this era or style of dress...I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable about some of the comments! Well Done!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:05 PM) : 

bless you for this post. you are so keen!

 

Blogger Caroline said ... (6:18 AM) : 

You didn't need to explain yourself. Your blog is about style and those who are interested in it appreciate all facets of the subject matter.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:36 PM) : 

All that's missing is a Raspberry Beret. . .

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:56 PM) : 

these clothes ain't for everybody, only the sexy people
I love this stuff.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:10 PM) : 

I too came of age during the Purple Rain era (high school/college) and remember loving Prince and all his people: Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, The Time, The Family, The Revolution, etc.

I haven't read the comments on the other post but I SO love you for putting this post up. I have been a fan of your blog for a LONG time and respect you because you show beauty and style in so many different communities. As a black woman (yes, another one in your corner, lol) I've always enjoyed your Harlem pics as well as your other pics featuring people of color. Actually, I just love your pics period!

Thank you for continuing to share your art.

 

Blogger David Reeves said ... (10:40 PM) : 

This look is very different to my idea of tailoring I shouldn't like it but I think it's fantastic.

There has to be a place for it, really creative

 

Blogger emily said ... (2:29 AM) : 

C, O-O, L...
I'm just,
Cool!

You missed Cameo?!
They were around for 20 yrs!

 

Blogger Paris & Pascual said ... (1:56 PM) : 

i love this post! i grew up listening to prince and so i can relate. i think this era was full of sex appeal and dressing to a tee. these guys put in just as much effort as women and maybe even more. you can tell they definitely dressed to impress the ladies....and themselves! love it!

 

Blogger monstergirlee said ... (11:36 PM) : 

Ah the Time. I grew up in Mpls at the beginning of the reign of Prince, and Morris Day and the Time were big too.

btw - I went to high school with Paul Peterson - the white guy in The Time.

 

Anonymous Viajero said ... (1:10 PM) : 

Morris Day? Ok, somewhat interesting 80s style. But Stacy Adams? Pure crap.

 

Blogger Bsquared said ... (1:28 PM) : 

I'm an 80's baby and I love the honesty in this post. Thanks much for sharing, you have actually just inspired me to write something on my own blog.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:28 PM) : 

Dear Sart,

In a business where so much credence is given to identifying what is in bad taste, passe, or poorly chosen, you're the rare bastion of consideration and delight in the good that style does. I love your keen attention to experimentation and your openness to influences, past and present, that others might brush aside. Few "style kings" who have the--whatever, social cachet or tastemaking influence--that you do remain so unjudgmental and appreciative of the personality and care behind the people you shoot. Your photos are of fascinating individuals, not clotheshorses, and you treat them accordingly (and remind us to as well). Thank you.

 

Anonymous Ian said ... (10:34 AM) : 

Good Look

 

Blogger k. irène said ... (8:28 PM) : 

One of the most human bits of fashion writing I have read in awhile and I certainly didn't expect to see it here...or at all (no offense, truly). Kudos from a fellow 40+ year old who was deeply influenced by the goings on of Morris Day and The Time!

 

Blogger thebubbreport said ... (10:26 AM) : 

WORD UP!

I love this post, and I love the gentleman clad in the pink. I LOVE Morris Day (oh, but that "how's the family" line in Purple Rain was so mean!).

Style blogs that only post the expected bore me to tears. I love the purple flavor that came out of Minneapolis in the 80s.

SIDE NOTE: I remember not being allowed to see "Purple Rain" b/c it was almost rated X. It seems like a Disney film by today's standards! We watched it at my friend who had the coolest mom's house.

becky

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:11 AM) : 

Oh this guy is FANTASTIC

 

Anonymous Nikelle said ... (2:20 AM) : 

This man seems pleasant.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:08 AM) : 

A true zoot suit should create more of a "v-shape" impression overall; wider shoulders, a deeper gorge (not so many buttons), a more fitted waist, and trouser legs that taper at the bottom.

And, as someone said, the hat is missing. A fitting style would be a wide-brimmed tando with a contrast grosgrain ribbon band and edge binding, in colors that coordinate with the suit.

Peak lapels, a large pocket square, a genuine flower boutonniere, and two-tone spectator shoes would be some other authentic period touches.

I'm just sayin'.....

 

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