I believe that every man's style taps into male archetypes from our culture. Masculine archetypes have always fascinated me, from reading Iron John and King, Warrior, Magician, Lover to reading up on style tribes. Fashion designers frquently use them in their collections, most apparent is Ralph Lauren in his depiction of cowboys and frontiersmen in his collections. Fashion and style are about ideas, symbolic representations of who we are that tie into deeply intuitive sociopsychological understandings of the world that are imbued in everyone raised in a specific society and culture. This is important to remember when developing your own personal style, By tapping into these archetypes, you give your look power. It will tap into years of history and mythology that give meaning to your look for everyone who sees you. The understanding of these archetypes is what will cause people to have an understanding of who you are by a simple glance. While these archetypes can be manipulated to create costume, we will use them in our looks to increase their authenticity.
In my last post I said that I was inspired by my country upbringing, my experience as a cadet, and my passions for outdoors gear and racing cars. Whereas my look in recent years has been much more gentlemanly, this look seems to be far more fringe and rebellious, featuring masculinity prominently. But what of the archetypes?
Below, I am going to pick apart the various inspirations from my roots to attach them to archetypes that represent different understandings of masculinity.
To get started, the word I used above was rebellious, and I like that description. It fits with some of my young adulthood where I used to spend long nights hanging out on the fringe of town, playing with fast cars and staying up all night until we ate breakfast at whichever nearby greasy spoon was open 24 hours. So the first archetype for this look is the Rebel. The rebel can be presented in many ways and can be central to a lot of men's looks, but always with an understanding that the rebel goes against the grain of society, so he will do the unexpected, live unconventionally, and have little regard for traditional authority. From this we can gather that my look will be slightly unconventional perhaps, not fitting into any one box, and I will further delve into this in my next post. Beyond the rebel, I need to further identify how the inspiration from my roots will tie into masculine archetypes, or whether it will break them. I will be incorporating elements of my country upbringing into this look, and thinking of country rebels, I think of Cowboys. So my second archetype will be the Cowboy. This might be incorporated in plaids, western shirts, raw, tough denim, or occasionally cowboy boots, blended in such a way to work with the other archetypes I will draw from. Finally, I want to incorporate aspects of my experience with cadets and the outdoors into this look. Thinking on these two experiences, they have a lot in common, as I frequently went on survival weekends in cadets building my own shelter and sleeping out in the cold where temperatures could drop as low as -35 degrees Celsius. For me it was about adventure, about exploration. I think I have it then, the third archetype for this look will be the Explorer. When we think of the explorer, we think of the man who goes out onto the frontier to discover something new, who is restless, constantly discovering the world around him, and who is capable of surviving in the adverse conditions that he might meet on his travels. This might appear in this look by using very functional clothing that is well-suited for the environment in Canada where the temperatures can drop far beyond freezing. So my guide for this look will be those three arcchetypes: Rebel, Cowboy, Explorer. One question you might have is: Why three? When using archetypes to build your own look, you can certainly use as many as you want, anywhere from one on up. However, I find that two or three is the sweet spot where you can blend a more unique style that is not so complicated that it muddles it's inspiration beyond recognition. After all, recognition of archetypes in your look is an important part of using them because it ties you into the greater sociological story as your own self-made hero. I hope that seeing how I've added archetypes to my inspiration will make it easier for you to do in building your own look. In my next post, I will dig into the archetypes to match them with actual people, stories, or items that I can draw inspiration from, finishing the preparation for my look and helping to provide a rich source of existing media that I can look into for ideas of how to tie all of the aspects of my look together.
Thanks for reading!
- Mr. S