The Art and Irony of Trendsetting: Featuring Crocs, Hawaiian Shirts, Voss Water, and WWJD Bracelets

Trends are only truly cool when they’re not quite cool yet.  And by the time they are in style, they’re pretty much going out of style.

Recognizing the hilariousness of how in many offices in America, it is standard that everyone dresses professionally Monday through Thursday, but on Friday, everyone goes casual with jeans and often t-shirts, at the beginning of the summer I decided to start making Thursday a “buffer” day for how I dress in the office, encouraging everyone else to participate.  How do you transition from khakis and dress shirts to jeans and t-shirts?  Hawaiian shirts.

They are button-down shirts with collars.  Perfect, tacky transition.  At first, only one other coworker would join me in Hawaiian Shirt Thursday.  But then, if for no other reason they felt like they were missing out on something cool, one by one, others began joining us.  By the end of the summer, I had half of the office on my side.  Some people dug through their closets to find the shirt; some actually went out and bought one.  And now, even in autumn, many of us are keeping the tradition going.

Of course, this isn’t the first trend I’ve started at work.  In an effort to make sure I was drinking enough water everyday, I went to Whole Foods and bought a glass Voss water bottle that I refill several times throughout the day.  At first, coworkers joked with me, “Isn’t it a little early in the day for vodka?”  By now though, several of them have privately approached me to ask where they could get a water bottle like that.  And sure enough, the glass Voss water bottle is no longer weird in my office, but instead it’s the norm.

But the irony with trendsetting is that by successfully coming up with an original and unpopular idea, it eventually becomes unoriginal and popular.  Prime example: Crocs.  For the last couple of years, I’ve looked on from a distance at the weird plastic rainbow colored Birkenstock rip-offs.  They were so trendy.  You’d see moms and their kids out at the mall, all wearing Crocs.  Even though I wanted some, I refused to buy them.  Because they were too cool at the time.

However, this week I came to a realization.  The Birkenstocks I have been wearing were given to me by my parents Christmas 1999.  I had already paid $35 five years ago to have them resoled.  It was time for me to either have them repaired again, or pay $110 for new ones.  Or… pay $30 for some brown Crocs.

To entertain the idea of buying Crocs, I checked around Cool Springs during my lunch breaks while riding my mountain bike instead of driving (another office trend I’ve been trying to start since April), but sure enough, I had trouble finding any Crocs for sale.  Eventually, some girls behind the counter at a Hallmark told me to check out the Croc stand across from Fossil in the mall.

Needless to say, with yesterday being Thursday, I wore my Hawaiian shirt, with Crocs, while drinking water from a Voss water bottle.  And boy was I cool.  Yet I wouldn’t have been caught wearing Crocs if they were still trendy.  The trend of wearing Crocs is over; which is why it was more difficult than I had imagined to find them.  I’m not saying that Crocs aren’t cool anymore; they’re just no longer a fad.

And so an important rule for a trendsetter is to not get involved in a trend that is overly popular.  But once a trend is over, then it’s “game on” to participate.  Some fads, after their prime, become an outdated, yet timeless classic.  Like Hawaiian shirts.  And Chuck Taylor’s.  And the wondrous Rubik’s Cube.  WWWD bracelets?  Not so much.


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Must Not Mustache: Young White Men Can’t Be Taken Seriously with a Mustache

Why do none of my friends have a mustache?  I’d say a lot of it has to do with the fact that most of my friends are within 5 years of my age, meaning that I don’t know any 24 to 34 year olds who are mustachioed.  The mustache could quite possibly be a dying tradition, with the exception of cops.

Recently I saw an independent movie called Margot at the Wedding, starring Nicole Kidman and Jewish comedian Jack Black.  For the first 30 minutes of the movie, Jack Black has a mustache.  During that time, he apologetically explains to everyone that he recently had a beard but while he was shaving it off he thought it would be funny to just keep a mustache.  But eventually he shaves it because he doesn’t feel like he can be taken seriously by anyone.

Good point.

Can a man under the age of, let’s say, 40 years old be taken seriously if he has a mustache?

Yes.  But there are definite rules to making it work:

1)     Be a cop, as previously mentioned.  It just sort of goes with the job.  In fact, I don’t think I could take a cop seriously UNLESS he has a mustache.

OR

2)     Be an African American man.  I’ve never seen an African American man who didn’t look good with a mustache.  Will Smith is the epitome.  In fact, I remember on the show Scrubs when Donald Faison shaved his mustache, it bothered me.  Heck, African American men can even pull off the even riskier goatee without exception.  (See Chris Rock and/or Darius Rucker.)

It’s no coincidence that in the sitcom My Name is Earl that Earl Hickey had a mustache.  He was a white guy under 40 who was a loveable idiot.  To enhance his character trait of being out of touch of social expectations, he had to have a mustache.

What’s really interesting is that in a recent study, it was discovered that mustachioed men earn 8% per more money that bearded men, and 4% more than clean shaven men.  Not only that, but men with mustaches are more likely to hired during a job interview.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/business/Study-More-Mustache–More-Money-63930997.html

So does that mean that I am being discriminated against by my own society?  A culture that refuses to take seriously white men with mustaches under 40?  Am I simply at a disadvantage until 11 years from now when I become of age?

I am missing out on a 4% to 8% salary increase over this.  Maybe it’s worth a shot to at least try.

(Looks to stage left, rubs chin for dramatic effect, then begins to plot a bad idea…)

Click here to see what happened next: Operation: Mustache (A Social Experiment)

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on mustaches, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one