During thanksgiving weekend of 2015, I had been moving in with a group of close friends into a new apartment. Nothing too impressive, just four walls between me, all of my clothes, and the outside world. I had a full head of hair at that point and wasn't exactly thrilled with the prospects of growing it out, having barely made it to the point where it could be tucked past my ear. I was already on the hunt for a new do when one of those friends suggested a radical change. I was never one for trends, especially when it came to my hair; I had kept it short all my life as to avoid any maintenance, I hadn't even thought about changing the color. But later that week in mid-December, I decided to do away with the man mane in lieu of something fresher and more inspired, and so started the year of the man bun.
Prior to adopting my modern top knot, I had dedicated myself to the journey of growing out long, flowy locks. I had maintained a rather vanilla approach to my non-apparel styling, which included most of my grooming standards. When the decision to do away with the traditional cut came, you might imagine that it was quite a drastic change, something that took sometime to get used to. The adaptation was relatively smooth, as my hair was short enough to just push back without looking ridiculous but still long enough to be put up. Not long thereafter, the length got to be too much and thus began the permanence of my man bun. It was almost scary at first, but after a few weeks it became second nature to bundle everything up into a neat little nub; I was hooked on the change.
My comfortability with the newness and differentiation gave me confidence in thinking outside the box in other aspects of my style. Again, vanilla was my flavor, and a rather mainstream and singular appearance as a refined gentleman was my comfort zone. A suit and tie was common place, jeans and a sport coat were my casual staple, and shorts and a polo as my typical day off/weekend fare. After going with the man bun though, I gradually found myself experimenting with new combinations of pieces, patterns, colors, and motifs that only months before I would have shied away from, even balked at. In retrospect, this might have been my favorite outcome of the whole experience, it really helped open my eyes (or at least get my hair out of the way) to much more of the fashion spectrum. And although I still had reservations towards certain trends, long-line shirts or wide-leg trousers to name a few, utilizing new layering techniques and adopting alternative outerwear options that had emerged early in the year laid the foundations for my stylistic approach from then, now, and the foreseeable future.
A week or so before my departure to The Big Apple for New York Men's Fashion Week, I received some unfortunate news from a now former employer (I will not mention any names, but the whole situation was LifSHITz-y). At the time a very traumatic and life-altering moment, but looking back now, I can faithfully say that it created opportunity for me. Freedom to find new fields and time to discover what my passions were, allowed me to focus on what mattered most to me, and gave me a chance to take stock of my own traits and abilities.
Cue the summer. Mid-July rolled around and I was fully in swing with the man bun life, with enough length and volume for something that actually had some substance to it. Just in time for the journey to New York City for the 2nd annual New York Men's Fashion Week. Thankfully I had enough time behind the wheel of some new styles so i could bring my "A" game to the big stage. People I had met with from the year prior were amazed at the transformation, how it completely changed my whole look. New friends applauded my juxtaposition of new wave hair and sartorial swagger, creating that much sought after contrast between trendy and traditional. Much to my delight, many notable publications(read: Vogue, GQ, Esquire, etc.) decided that me and my hairdo needed to be featured on their pages (Check the Press Page for more on that).
It's hard to sum up the experience in whole, but to try and use one word, gratifying was the best way to describe it; I felt a sense of belonging and welcome in a city that can seem very exclusive and shuttered, and forged relationships that I continue to nurture to this day. As usual, the trip to the city reinvigorated my passion and fueled my drive beyond belief, and if we're being honest, gave me some much needed sense of purpose after having such a rough experience prior to the trip.
For the lucky few, the words joband hunt haven't come up together since you first started applying to jobs out of school. For the rest of us who haven't had as smooth a path know how trying it is to go through the arduous, almost archaic process of courting potential employers. I will say that it gave me the occasional opportunity to elevate my style for interviews, but I was left wondering if my hair had any impact on hiring decisions. Was it a lasting impression that would help them recall who I was or did have a negative affect on their decision to hire me?
Truthfully, it didn't matter in the end. One of the most important aspects of self-confidence is having comfort in your own skin, and when in troubling times, that fact was was even more pivotal. Knowing that my man bun might not have been reserved or traditional didn't outweigh the fact that I found comfort in it's differentiation. No matter which position I was looking for (and believe me, there were many), hesitation and self-doubt were absent from the equation. A word on the job hunt: when you find something interesting out there, apply and then network the hell out of it until something comes of it.
A New Chapter
In the home stretch of 2016, a great thing happened, I finally landed a job after months of part-time retail and inconsistent gigs as a handyman. Not just any job either, I got The Job, the one I had been looking for since I graduated for Notre Dame. Retail professional turned engineer, the doors of aerospace had finally opened up to me and I couldn't have been more eager to join the party. Was I nervous? Yes, but I plunged headfirst and haven't looked back since, but just before the New Year arrived, one more change needed to be made. On December 30th, I did away with the man bun, a marker to the end of a year that was riddled with trials and tribulations, with the hope for better things to come.
I may not be handling chinos and polo shirts on a daily basis anymore, but I still have an intense passion for the world of menswear. Maybe I'll even find a way to love the genre even more now that I'm away from the front lines of retail. Either way, I look forward to releasing more quality content this year as I begin to settle down in the new position and bringing a new energy to Sparry Stylings! As we turn the page and start to write the story of 2017, it's important to look back at the progress we all have made this year and bring those successes and lessons into this year. Only time will tell where this one will lead us, so get yours started on the right foot. This is a clean slate, a fresh start. Happy New Year everyone, let's make it the most stylish one yet and as always, Be Dapper, Be Different.