Sunday, February 28, 2010


Whenever you dress casually you clearly are not bound by many rules. In fact, you should do whatever you want to do within reason. Consider practicality and pleasure. Yet, do not forget to wear one thing that shouts!

If your like any of my non-African friends your asking me what I mean. Well, Africans are not as bound by the rules of color Westerners follow. Colors don't imply orientation or sex, they are just colors. We simply wear what we like and think nothing about color matching. We also will wear any colors together yet somehow there is a harmony there. We never really ponder the colors we just work on feeling. 'Feeling' is very important to any African art. Our artwork works on two principles that contrast each other artifice and the natural. Dressing is no different. Feeling is simply a sense of harmony that a work of art has in its entirety, taken as a whole. Things without feeling are not considered art. This idea only matters because Africans tend to use high contrast in works of art. For example, loud colors, busy patterns, and the use of realistic and abstract elements all in the same body of work. For those two cousins to get along feeling must be present. Keep this in mind as we explore shouting.

Shouting, literal translation from several East African tongues, refers to the element that contrasts the most. This shouting element can be as simple as a contrasting texture, a print, a color, or a change in formality, or informal element in a formal article. Africans naturally do this. We'll combine the traditional printed cloth with a odd coat and come up with an interesting looking odd coat. I for one, take a Kente cloth and have it sewn into a pocket square. The square's pattern shouts so loudly other Africans and the cognoscenti can spot it's origin. Shouting adds style and flare to your entire look. Italians seem to have something similar and they call it sprezzatura; from what I can gather it seems to be attached to the man doing it. It also is not exactly contrast but not doing something in the normal way. Many copy each other on purpose instead of developing out of the natural. Shouting is attached to the element, the article, or the contrasting aspect. Shouting also is never affected or forced it is developed naturally. An example of this is Ozwald Boateng. His entire line is all about shouting, ignore the cut and fabrics. His ability to style is principled in shouting. If you have a chance at looking at some of his looks you'll begin to see the common thread. Now, just like in real life shouting can be done to some one in the same room or clear across an estate; it is the same sartorially. Go light or sprinkle on the seasoning heavily. Boateng shouts until your ears bleed.

To drive in my point, let's move on to some examples of shouting and I'll guide you to a better understanding:

Funky socks shout.
These boots shout.
Purple blazers shout.
Patch pockets and turnback cuffs on a suit coat shout loudly!

Photo Credits: Hart Schaffner & Marx, Leffot blog, Perry Ellis, M Magazine, don't remember the first photos owner.