Fresh style insights, tips and commentary by Michelle Tea, Michael Braithwaite, Leo Plass, Page McBee and Carrie Leilam Love.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Garden Parties & Other Formalities

Lilac seersucker from Billy Reid

I love formalities. It's kind of weird. It's possible that my infatuation with socially structured occasions is directly connected to the aesthetic nature of my Libra moon. Or it could just be that my trans-y body combines forces with my natural sense of rebellion to create a relentless Gastby-esque desire to move among glamorous Old Hollywood types who produce calling cards and always arrive with perfect housewarming gifts. I am an outsider with a tailor and incredible Italian shoes.

Maybe, upon further consideration, I am a fag in fag's clothing.

Either way, I love social occasions that many people bemoan: fancy weddings, ceremonies of any sort, formal cocktail parties that are not ironic. Is there pomp and circumstance? I'M SO INTO IT.

Garden party outfits are a particular fantasy ensemble of mine, likely because summer in San Francisco consists of fog/WARM SUN COLD AIR/fog fog/WARM/fog/FREEZING. Tailored shorts and wingtips? Never. Get your layer on or go home. But I don't give a shit. I will wear this Italian man's outfit, captured on the Satorialist, if only in my heart:

Speaking of, my new favorite thing is the knit bow tie. When done well, it's just the right balance of whimsical and meaningful. I deeply covet this one, from Band of Outsiders:

Here I commence projecting my hopes and dreams onto you. Are you going to a slightly casual beach wedding? On a boat? You're so lucky! Here's my question: why are you not wearing this outfit from Band of Outsiders?

Or, I don't know, what about this outfit from Billy Reid? It's summer! Get some wingtips and a glass of your champagne and you're golden!

It's the details that get me. Material changes, shoes can make an outfit pop, but ultimately it's the no belt or the yellow stripes that make all the difference. It's summertime! You're on a rusted out boat. Wish I was there.

Michael von Braithwaite and I recently attended a wedding in real summer outside of my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. I realized, sitting next to her, that the last ingredient in summer formality success is your date's style. Luckily, she's both beautiful and stylish. As evidence, these details:


Relatedly, summer formal wear is meant to be serious fun. For full-fledged whimsy, check out this gorgeous photo from the series by Sophia Wallace on her blog, This Beautiful Fight.

These are outfits for croquet on an estate with a bunch of glamorous, wealthy artists. My kind of party!

When it comes down to it, the (semi/summer) formal is not about the buttons or the cuff links. It's about a social agreement regarding classiness. It's about people getting together to really honor something--a birthday, a graduation, a wedding, whatever--and doing it in their straight up dress up clothes. And--in summer--it's about the warmth and wildness that that comes with the weather. It's the shrugging off the wool of winter for the knit ties and the white pants.

It's about really getting together and doing it, whatever it is, and looking like a million bucks in the meantime because life is short and you're living it.