Fashion and Style

18 Oct

My girlfriend has often—quite often—accused me of not dressing stylish and having no fashion sense. The reality is quite the opposite. My boots are from Italy, my jeans are not something you’ll find anywhere but in the most exclusive boutiques, the logos on my shirts are very limited editions, and my suits are absolutely haute couture made by some of the best designers in the business. Even some of my underwear is made of high-tech, micro-mesh, space-age fabric. The problem is that we read different magazines and I ride motorcycles.

My jeans are Kevlar lined. Some have hidden pockets for protective armor. My tee shirts include those with logos for defunct motorcycle magazines, historic rallies, and iconic dealerships while my denim shirts are embroidered with the names of magazines and companies for whom I’ve worked. I write product reviews and so am fortunate enough to obtain prototypes and first-runs of the newest riding gear – the best I keep and wear.

Fashion is a PR marketing device. I’m a professional writer and photographer and it’s my business to know these things. Fashion shifts to something else when the inventory ceases to sell. Style . . . well, that’s a slippery slope that depends upon where you happen to be standing. My high-viz yellow jacket is (finally) now in fashion – at least among touring riders – but puffed up with an electric jacket liner (quite fashionable north of the Mason-Dixon Line) and bulky black over-pants (with reflective cuffs and seam piping) I won’t dare lay claim to being stylish. My leathers are best material Gore-Tex has ever made—100% windproof, waterproof, age resistant, and UV reflective—and were designed by one of the foremost trendsetters (at least for motorcycle touring) in the U.S.A. They’re stylish, but not enough people are wearing them for these to be deemed “fashionable.” This will change.

The point is that fashion and style are not universal, even among bikers. Like a good joke it often comes down to timing and the audience. Colorful ballistic nylon–even when dripping wet—is fashionable at Americade. A week later and four hours farther east at Laconia what is judged to be fashionable is quite different, even when it rains. Protective body armor and full coverage is considered to by stylish at the former rally; tattoos and lots of skin at the later.

Fashion and style are strange bedfellows. Motorcycle gear is fashionable and H-D clothing and accessories pulls in a third of the motor company’s profits, but it’s style that allows a rider to identify the posers and hardcore bikers the “weekend warriors.” Like art and aesthetics, you know style when you see it. Whether that style is deemed fashionable or not is simply a matter of time and place.

No, my girlfriend doesn’t dress me funny . . . but she’d like to.

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