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— Jonah & Erin
Ayyy, welcome to the plane.
REAL QUICK —
James Coward is one of the coolest independent clothing lines going. A trio out of Vancouver, each season they put out a tight clutch of pieces — clean-lined, utilitarian-vibed, “elevated” yet un-precious, well-wearing, roomy, dare we say sumptuous!! — cut from lovely fabrics in limited quantities. The result has been a string of “instant grails” since they launched in ~2016.
So we’re stoked that 🚨 in a Spyplane Exclusive 🚨 here in the newsletter this Thursday, May 18, they’re dropping a new version of their snap-front unisex short-sleeve Sundown shirt for SS23.
It’s cut in Vancouver from a very sick rumpled Belgian linen in 2 botanical garment-dyed variants — James Coward’s first natural-dye pieces ever — plus optical white.
For several days our Cla$$ified-Tier Spyfriends will be the only people on earth to be able to cop these bangers, and they aren’t making many of them, so don’t sleep on Thursday’s plane!
NOW — We got a great Personal Spyplane question the other day about what you should do when it feels like all your clothes are… wrong:
“How do you regrow your style? Everything I put together right now doesn’t feel like me!” — @keatlate
2 routes out of this rut spring to mind.
First there’s the transfigurative power of “Rearrange Your Furniture Freshly (R.Y.F.F.)” Mindset.
There’s probably mad peer-reviewed scientific journal articles about how, as you settle into unchanging routines over time, your neurons trace and re-trace the same synaptic pathways (??), while other parts of your brain go on “standby mode” and/or start to atrophy. If the scientific journals don’t say this, they should, because it just makes sense.
There’s a corollary when it comes to the literal pathways we take through the furniture in our homes. You know this if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Ugh I hate my d*mn cribbo and everything in it,” but then taken a step back, framed that s**t with your thumbs & forefingers like an auteur, and shifted a couch from one side of a room to another, swapped out the papercord chair in here for that bouclé-upholstered joint in there, moved this plant stand into that corner, etc….
Suddenly the geometry of your environment is different, new synaptic (??) pathways take crackling form and your neurons groove upon them happily. Walking through a nicely, creatively reconfigured room, not only will you newly admire banging furniture that you’d stopped noticing in any active way but ALSO if you’ve been working on an unrelated creative problem you’ll probably find yourself devising “dope solutions” because of the way your brain is buzzing.
“That’s true, Blackbird Spyplane,” you’re probably saying. “But how do I apply R.Y.F.F. Mindset to jawns? Wear the sleeves of shirts on my legs and pretend they’re pants??”
That’s a humorous image, king! You’re right that you do want to find a way to jostle yourself free from those well-worn synaptic grooves, bypassing / tricking your conscious mind and allowing yourself to see things in liberatingly novel ways. One “trick” along those lines is to get S.Y.C.K. with it and dress from the cuffs out — a brilliant layering method we outlined the other day.
Another powerful technique — one that’s yielded consistently pleasing results for both me and Erin — is to do what she described in the Concorde Great Shorts Report as going “Exquisite Corpse” mode. The Exquisite Corpse is where several people collaborate on a single drawing but — by folding over the paper to hide everyone’s contributions — no participant sees what anybody else has drawn till it’s done. The resulting figure is typically a “mongrel” vision that a single mind (and single hand) beholden to a conscious authorial intention would have trouble replicating.
In a similar way, some of the dopest fits I’ve ever put together were the result of my scatterbrained a** rushing to run some errand where no one was going to be looking at me. What’s crucial here is A) the time crunch and B) the lack of social pressure. Freed from my “outfit rulebook superego” I tend to put a bunch of pieces together that I never would have mixed otherwise — and sometimes they’re ridiculous and unworkable and funny, but other times they slap!
So if you’re at a standstill with your clothes, try and R.Y.F.F. on them “exquisitely” — either by dressing quickly in low-stakes contexts (e.g. hurrying to get to the post office before it closes)… OR if you wanted to get “Sol LeWitt with the Fit,” why not assign a bunch of your clothes different numbers, then have a random-number generator assemble novel outfits for you?? Sometimes, yes, the results will be ridiculous, unworkable and funny. Sometimes, we promise, they will slap.
And in both instances you’ll be carving new pathways that you can follow up & outta that “sauce rut” you’re in.
Blackbird Spyplane is 100% reader-supported, so we keep some of our best things & perks behind the paywall. Join the Cla$$ified Recon tier if you haven’t. — Jonah & Erin
REAL QUICK — For more extreme cases, there’s what we’ll call Toss Your Furniture Fully (T.Y.F.F.) Mindset.
Erin and I called many NYC apartments home over many years, and we schlepped a motley assortment of furniture with us from spot to spot.
I’m talking about a ROGUE’S GALLERY of parental bequeathals, salvaged sidewalk finds, flea-market discoveries, and low-charm CB2- and IKEA-type “it’ll get the job done without breaking the bank” workhorses. Our last place was the small garden apartment of a brownstone, and while the back room got okay light, the front — where most of this furniture lived — was dim. Between the low light and the dulling effects of overfamiliarity, after a while we had an instinctive sense that we liked our furniture but in truth we’d long stopped seeing it.
When we moved to Oakland, this furniture arrived on a truck several weeks after us. And when we re-confronted it in the bright California sunshine — no longer the two twentysomethings we’d been when we accumulated most of it — we knew that ~90% of it had to go. The “scales fell” from our big beautiful eyes. This s**t was looking ROUGH. We’d changed but the furniture hadn’t. So we set about replacing it with pieces that we actually researched, found beautiful, actively desired and hunted down — tricking out the new cribbo with more intention, and a more-developed sense of taste, than we’d ever done before.
Many (most) Mach 3+ clothes rockers are engaged in a kind of long-term, incremental, piecemeal wardrobe overhaul. Sort of like the Parable of Theseus’s Ship — about the ontological question of whether or not a ship whose every original component is replaced over time is still the same ship it was when it was first built — except with dope slappers instead of wooden boards.
But sometimes there might come pivotal junctures (typically but not exclusively when you are younger and figuring more s**t out) when the scales will fall from your eyes and you will know that nothing short of a bottom-up wardrobe overhaul is necessary, so that yr clothes can align more fully with your sense of who you are and what you like. Not a wasteful, error-prone, impulsive overhaul, but rather one pursued with the benefit of time, research and reference to a more-enduring, more-honed sense of taste. (We wrote about this kind of exploration & honing when we tackled the question of “finding your personal style” here.)
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But how do you effectively TYFF? I'm at a point where I want to do that but it just seems easier and cheaper to keep looking for jawns and adding them to my wardrobe instead of starting from scratch
Ship of Theseus? Somebody's been doing the Sunday Times crossword!