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What to do when the person you love HATES what yr rocking -- and when SAUCE DIFFERENTIALS threaten friendships!
Jawns — they can bring us together, and they can tear us apart !
We recently heard from several readers asking about what to do when a garment threatens the happiness of a friendship and/or romance, either ‘cause it’s so wack or ‘cause it’s so fire…
So we decided to fortify the bonds of love & camaraderie across Spy Nation with a very special “JAWNS ‘N’ RELATIONSHIPS” edition of the sletter.
Cop a Fibonacci Nights tee and Spy Ranch cap in our Blackbird Spystore…
Let’s get to these delicate matters of the heart:
1. @renewedscope asked a wise & nuanced question about how to react when a sick jawn comes between 2 good friends with a pronounced sauce-differential between them —
“How do you handle homie jawn-lifting activities, whereby a good homie with less of an eye or care for clothing asks what the item you’re wearing is, with intent to purchase? It’s happened to me a handful of times, causing a (likely petty) frustration. Am I needlessly gatekeeping? Should I learn that we’re all on our own journeys through this crazy world, and that this behavior doesn’t implicate me? Is this just a compliment I’m taking poorly? And do my feelings of frustration stem from a programmed, individualistic understanding that what makes people unique is material goods, rather than the more important things?”
What @renewedscope is invoking in this thoughtful and self-aware Q are the many ethical vectors of homie-on-homie swagger jacking. Who in this scenario is truly perpetrating? The artless swagger-jacker? The resentful swag-hoarder? Both?
Let’s set aside any variables relating to the broader power dynamics / grievances that can roil below the surface of a friendship, and focus instead on the act of swagger-jacking in a vacuum.
What pops into my big beautiful brain off rip is “D.I.S.S. Mindset,” which holds that you should Disrespect Imitators Stealing Swag and tell ‘em to get off yr d*mn d*ck (in the gender-neutral sense of the phrase)…
But is swag really a finite resource that can be “jacked” ? Especially when it’s an otherwise good friend doing the putative jacking ??
It feels incorrect and uncharitable to say simply “yes,” but it feels strange to say simply “no,” too — because even though there’s some obvious pettiness animating D.I.S.S. Mindset, there’s also something virtuous about it, because the artless swagger-jacker wants to take a shortcut to sauce rather than “put in the work” themselves at the JAWN STOVETOP…
And on the “road of life,” taking shortcuts past opportunities for personal enrichment ultimately serves no one’s best interests baby!
HOWEVER, the 2nd thing that pops into my brain is “C.O.A.C.H.E.S. Mindset,” a beautiful & blessed way of living which holds that we should Chill Out and Celebrate Homies Enjoying Success…
This is the mindset you inhabit when you see a member of yr team thrive and prosper in a way that could inspire jealousy or resentment on yr part, but instead of indulging those small emotions you get on your magnanimous coach s**t by feeling PRIDE in their victory AND realizing that, what’s more, you are entitled to some credit for yr friend’s W…
C.O.A.C.H.E.S. Mindset first came to me in the context of cycling: There’s a cool climb in the East Bay Hills called Tunnel Road, and a buddy and I have a friendly competition about who can do it faster. Currently yr boy “Speedy Spyplane” is the title-holder, but big bro has eclipsed me in strength & speed so I suspect it’s only a matter of time till he snatches the d*mn trophy.
If and when he succeeds, however, rather than feel dejection & bitterness I’ll feel happy for him AND what’s more I’ll share the glow of his triumph because in some small but undeniable way “he couldn’t have done it without me”!!
That’s C.O.A.C.H.E.S. Mindset, and one of the tightest things about it is that it doesn’t require some grand sacrifice of ego on your part — rather, it transforms the individualized ego wound into a collectivized ego balm.
So how do we reconcile D.I.S.S. Mindset with C.O.A.C.H.E.S. Mindset??
The way forward here is to think about the classic adage of “giving someone a fish so they can eat for a day” vs. “teaching them to fish so they can eat for a lifetime.”
The swagger jacker in the D.I.S.S. scenario is stealing a prized fish from the Mach 3+ gourmet kitchen you’ve carefully built — and, very likely, they’re gonna chef it up so ineptly that it tastes MIDS or worse, rocking the swagger-jacked garment in an otherwise Mach -6 fit and bricking the s**t UNPALATABLY…
In the C.O.A.C.H.E.S. scenario, though, you’re the fishing coach AND also the COOKBOOK AUTHOR, helping yr less jawn-fluent homie learn how to nourish him-/herself and, with time, how to WHIP UP THEIR OWN SIGNATURE SAUCE…
So YES, you should give them the ID on the piece, but you can also tell them WHY u think it’s fire, ask them what they like about it, extrapolate from there into dope qualities that are currently absent and present in their own wardrobe, start building their own distinct sauce foundation, etc., etc.
Part of the learning process will likely involve imitation and theft on yr friend’s behalf, but that’s an acceptable kind of swagger-jacking as long as it’s part of the process of them learning NOT to bite you.
In this way you can be a C.O.A.C.H. and you can D.I.S.S. a swag-klepto homie — all in the name of the team.
CRUCIAL CAVEAT — if you barge into my comments / DMs on Instagram asking for an “ID on the pants??” or another jawn I’m wearing and you are not in Cla$$ified Spy Nation then CHECK YRSELF, doggy, that’s protected intel and YOU DON’T HAVE THE $ECURITY CLEARANCE !! 😜
Blackbird Spyplane is a 100% reader-supported spiritual triumph. Join our Cla$$ified Inner $anctum if you haven’t.
2. What about when a JAWN comes between you & bae, on some “trouble in paradise” s**t?? Several readers grappled with this conundrum …
“What do you do when you love to wear something but your partner hates it?” asked @andrewlee7000 (and, in different words, @zeekhammers). Meanwhile, @humanrepeller came at the same quagmire from the opposite direction, asking for “ways to ~subtly encourage~ a loved 1 to drop a sartorial habit you find repulsive?” (this might well be referring to non-romantic love but I think the answer below still applies…)
On one hand, you always want to remain open to input, whether the input is bae telling you “those pants are hideous” or whether the input is a pair of new pants yr significant other is wearing that YOU think are hideous.
In both cases, a disagreement between partners about a divisive jawn is a test of trust & an opportunity for mutual growth … You can come out of the disagreement increasing their swag, and/or they can increase yrs!
Unless yr a swaggy retiree, you don’t want yr personal style to be frozen in time — walled off from the rejuvenating, ever-shifting winds of fresh swag in its own malnourished “herb garden.” A CHALLENGE from a Mach 3+ loved one can help keep yr s**t alive and popping…
Conversely, you would be a heartless sociopath to let someone you care about leave the crib looking STRAIGHT GARBAGGIO, so if you think a jawn is that noxious then you owe it to them to say so… just entertain the possibility that you’re wrong, and that they know something you don’t!
This openness connects to my belief in the liberatory, unsettling power of “Ugly Genius” jawns — clothing that strikes you as physically nauseating in precise proportion, you discover, to how paradigm-shiftingly cool it is.
Erin and I both take big swings clothingwise now & then, so there are any number of times when I cop a jawn Erin doesn’t like, and vice versa. My default practice in these cases, honed over MANY YEARS, is to tell her, “Ma, cards on the table, I am not feeling this jawn — maybe I lack the Mach 7+ vision required to f**k with it at the moment, so I will keep my ears, eyes and heart open and try, with time, to see in it the dopeness you are currently seeing.”
That’s just the open-minded student-of-life s**t any true jawnz enthusiast needs, lest they become terminally washed. With time, I may decide she was right. She may decide I was right. I may find my low opinion of the jawn unchanged and, in the spirit of open communication, I might let her know as much — if you do this, though, keep in mind that feelings can get hurt very easily in this arena, so make clear that you are not talking about bae’s TASTE or ABILITY to pull off a jawn, i.e. keep the critique focused on the jawn & jawn only.
BTW if I think a piece in question does not flatter Erin, because of its shape or its color, etc., that’s a separate issue from whether I think the jawn is in itself wack, and it’s just “good partner” s**t to let her know I think so, politely & in concrete language … I would only want her to do the same with the situation reversed!
Here’s the thing though—
SOME people believe that jawns are the window into the soul and institute “red flags” accordingly, i.e. “I can’t be with someone who thinks [TRASH MOVIE / WACK NOVEL / DTC-BRAND JAWN] is fire.”
That’s fine — it’s just that not everyone gives a f**k about clothes and what they signify as deeply as the typical member of Spy Nation might. So you may ALSO very reasonably decide that your relationship with a NON-POPPING-JAWNZ ROCKER is blissful in every way except that they have less-than-Mach-3 taste / different taste from yours, and since they are otherwise hot and lovely you can just let them cook. 🧑🍳🧑🍳🧑🍳
And — since we’ve returned to the METAPHORICAL STOVETOP — maybe, with time and patience, you can get on yr C.O.A.C.H.E.S. s**t and nudge bae in a saucier direction ; )
🌀 Our “Master Jawn Index” — a running guide to earth’s greatest under-the-radar pieces and designers — is here.
🌀 Our recommendation-rich SpyTalk Chat Room is here.
🌀 The gem-stuffed Blackbird SpyMall is here.