Yes ma, the fit is an exquisite multi-origin blend
How to combine multivarious jawnz, plus the best denim shirts & more "unbeatable recon" (no disrespect to single-origin slappers)
Welcome to Blackbird Spyplane, where you might find us posted up in some spectacular hilltop Sea Ranch architecture backlit & rocking a sick French-made drop-shoulder button-up that fits like a MF lab coat baby 👨🔬
Today we’re opening up our dossier of “Personal Spyplane” questions — compelling queries about life, love and the jawn sciences submitted by YOU, the beautiful and blessed members of Spy Nation — and we’re answering them profoundly.
— Jonah & Erin
Reader @fergs_the_werd asked us to contemplate “the art of blending multiple ‘themes’ within an outfit, i.e. loafers, mesh shorts, gorpy top.”
This question offers a great path into the nebulous issue of personal style itself. Let’s start with two of the biggest interconnected risks when it comes to the intra-fit “thematic blending” this reader is describing:
A. Your outfit points in so many different directions at once, or speaks in so many far-flung idioms, that you look severely confused, deranged, and/or oblivious — walking around none the wiser amid a cacophony of perplexing and unpleasant collisions, like you are a “fit-bricking Mr. Magoo.” And/or,
B. You have concocted a monstrosity of a fit so ungainly & unholy that it did the metaphorical equivalent of viciously attacking you, escaping your laboratory, and wreaking havoc on the populace, so that now everyone who sees you pities you but also feels contempt toward you, on some classic literary “this MF tried to play god … but wound up playing him/her/themself” s**t. Not the wave.
AND YET — thematic blending is highly worth attempting all the same, if you ask us.
Erin and I often observe that some of our most inspired outfits are the ones we throw on when we have to run a spur-of-the-moment morning errand in the neighborhood, and it’s a little brisk out, so we mix whatever unpremeditated lamping-at-home clothes we already had on with some layers grabbed quickly from the closet and the shoes that are nearest the door / easiest to get on — proceeding, as we go, with close to zero forethought and functionally zero sense of audience.
Call this the “polyglot spontaneous-errand fit” — it’s the diametric opposite of dressing “straight out the lookbook,” which is where you essentially peep a store or designer’s styling and slavishly re-create it head to toe. Yes, a gifted designer’s clothes tend to go great together, but if you wear a bunch of them at once (which I do all the time) it’s nice to inject a few other elements and accents into the mix that you added to the equation yourself.
The “polyglot spontaneous errand fit” is a different, more playfully ambitious approach than just “running out for a coffee in sweats.” Rather than hitting the streets looking like a slob in some pajamas, you have expended some ingenuity on yr ensemble, creating unlikely juxtapositions quickly, shooting from the hip (and rolling out with just the right amount of a slob’s IDGAF mindset.)
In this exact state I’ve found myself wearing, like, cream Super Birki clogs, blue socks, baggy beige ripstop hiking shorts, a dusty-eggplant-colored sweatshirt, and a roasted & toasted vintage satin Mets Starter jacket as I run a package over to the post office real quick. It might not be a total slam-dunk fit, but it glows with unshackled creative magic and an attractive aura of wabi-sabi freespiritedness, unburdened by too much conscious intention.
The “polyglot spontaneous errand fit” can be best understood as an Oblique Strategies-style creative exercise for letting your Right Brain rip. To achieve truly popping “personal style” while doing intra-outfit thematic blending, though, your Left Brain needs to do its d*mn thing, too: Much like a great DJ plotting the precise sequence of a masterful genre-jumbling set, you too are working intuitively AND analytically at once to find and suture the deeper semiotic harmonies and mathematical complements beneath all kinds of seeming dissonances. You don’t have to be able to articulate these harmonies, just to detect them.
Of course, you might be a great “jawnz DJ” who prefers to keep your set narrow, digging deep into one “jawnz genre” rather than roaming wide. In that case, the “multi-origin blend” approach isn’t for you — which is fine, sick personal style is achievable other ways. But no DJ, no matter how innately gifted, starts out great: Absorb influences, note unlikely affinities, attempt cross-pollinations, maybe allow a bit of liberating randomness in, and learn from yr wins & yr mistakes alike.
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@cheesinchuck asks: “denim/western shirts — go vintage, buy new? Always keen on the BBSP perspective.”
All things being equal? Vintage, hands-down. I’m not sure any garment recommends itself to secondhand copping as readily & exquisitely as a denim shirt, and there are untold well-made gems floating around out there on the cheap / cheapish. For instance: