A Collected Interview: The Silentist
I’m a late-20s guy in Chicago working in government who has been a huge nerd his entire life. I go to comic book conventions, organized LAN parties, love martial arts and “gun-fu” films, play chess and board games (any Axis & Allies fans out there?) and will debate almost anything relating to science fiction. I’m a fairly decent cook and borrow heavily from both my Puerto Rican and Japanese side. I hand-coded my first website in middle school, which was about my customized Star Wars action figures. Nowadays, I just blog about my journey to find my own style and the things I find interesting along the way in a bit of an obsessive, perhaps nerdy, way.
ACG-What’s your definition of Style?
TS-“Style” is one of those words that you’d think would be easy to define, but it’s really hard when you think about it — kind of like the concept of “time”. There are types of style — just as there are measurements of time — but the word itself is somewhat meaningless as a noun without an associated adjective.
This is a roundabout way of saying that style can mean whatever you want it to mean, because you get to define it with the terms you surround it with. For me, having a sense of style has come to mean feeling comfortable and confident with what you’re wearing and carrying with you for the situation you’re in.
ACG-What inspires your Style?
TS-At first: “Mad Men”. I loved how sharp everyone looked, but didn’t know why. I first started really getting into the series while wanting to improve my style so I would look more professional at the office and not be mistaken for a young intern. In the process of reading about the era of the 1960s and goggling about the topic, I stumbled across the legion of menswear blogs that ranged from the trad/Ivy style, to classical style, to modern style, to work wear style. That flood of information resulted in some really erratic combinations for me.
So from being initially inspired by a TV show, the Internet and self-interest at work, I’ve scaled back and tried to focus on details that are a bit more unique. Right now I’m finding inspiration from my Japanese heritage. I love the various samurai crests, kimono fabrics and ukiyo-e artwork — even though I’m a complete novice when it comes to knowing anything about them.
ACG-The do’s and don’ts of Style/Fashion?
TS-Do something new; don’t be afraid to “fail”.
Do have a sense of formality, don’t forget to have fun.
Do take some pride in yourself; don’t give a damn about others who want to make you feel bad about it.
ACG-How does your style of dress reflect who you are to people?
TS-As previously mentioned, my style used to reflect that of a summer college intern, so the first step for me was to wear “grown-up” clothing. So, hopefully there’s a sense of professionalism to what I wear to work for those that see me in that environment. I try to wear a tie and jacket to work every day.
Still, I want to be rebellious in the government bureaucracy at work. I reflect that by going sockless in the summer, wearing some colorful combinations, and non-traditional elements — like white denim, red chinos or a pink shirt. I don’t ever want to be mistaken for a soulless cog-turner that begrudgingly throws on an ill-fitting suit, sport-dress hybrid shoes and a polyester tie.
What I want to reflect to people is that I intentionally picked each part of what I’m wearing, that I enjoy looking put together, and that I actually like and care enough to dress up.
ACG-What’s one thing you would take out of Fashion World and one thing you would add?
TS-I would take out Thom Browne’s shortened sleeves and add longer sleeves for purely selfish reasons.
ACG-Tips for up and coming Fashion/Style bloggers?
TS-1.) Care — If you don’t, then you’ll never update and put in the time.
2.) Be nice — The internet has enough anonymous jerks.
3.) Be original — You have to bring something new to the table.
ACG-What’s going to be big this fall season?
TS-I’m not much of a trend watcher, so I have no really good idea about what companies are trying to push or their buyers are betting will be huge.
Personally, the elements I’ve been slowly buying over the past months for the fall and keeping a look out for are cashmere ties and sport coats. Neither is particularly new, but after going tweed heavy last year, cashmere seemed like a good fall staple to start searching for on eBay.
ACG-What’s your dream job?
TS-I loved science fiction as a kid and have always wanted to be an astronaut. I was drawn to the adventure of it. I remember waking up in the morning to watch shuttle launches on TV. It felt like I was witnessing the future. Trips to the Adler Planetarium were always a blast for me. I was obsessed with the idea of zero gravity.
For now though, I think my dream job would be collaborating with friends to do something we’re both intensely passionate about — or even just working with people who share similar goals, aspirations and interests.
ACG-All time favorite item of clothing or shoe?
TS-I rarely wear it anymore, but I still have an old red Napster T-shirt from high school. It’s probably more than ten years old at this point, but despite multiple wardrobe purges, it’s managed to stick around for sentimental reasons. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t actually sold by Napster, but rather the punk-rock group The Offspring. While some bands (and music labels) were declaring war on the file-sharing service for music piracy, The Offspring decided to make bootleg T-shirts with the Napster logo and sell them on their website. I thought that was pretty amusing and as a fan of both the band and the service, I decided to buy it. Napster would be the beginning of my introduction to a lot of music and the gateway for other peer-to-peer networks that enabled my broke-ass college student life to be able to see a lot of films I would’ve never been exposed to otherwise. This flood of media allowed my friends and me to geek out to some really great stuff that we’d share with each other. That shirt’s a reminder of my earlier days on the Internet and nostalgia for a time when you didn’t have to worry about the RIAA, MPAA and the DMCA.
ACG-Who’s your style icon and why?
TS-Toshiro Mifune. Probably most known for his roles in Akira Kurosawa samurai films, but you have to check out his work in non-samurai films, too. His sternness and brash personality just looks so cool alongside any wardrobe he wears. You realize that his style is one that features his face and his body prominently, that allow his characters to come through and take the viewer into his performance. It’s often one of simplicity — even when he is playing a character of wealth.
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