Uptown Bourgeois is an arts, news, and culture blog created by New York-based freelance writer Jefferey Spivey. UB explores universal themes through a black, queer lens. 

A History of Fashion

Sampling fashion's past to inform today's looks.

It's widely believed that all things in fashion come around for at least a second spin.  And while modern day style is often exciting, there's something truly inspiring about looking back to the past for new ideas.  One afternoon, I was Googling images of black style icons and came across a series of photos from LIFE magazine that featured the street gangs of Watts back in the 1960s.  Watts is an LA neighborhood rather infamously known for a series of riots that took place at the beginning of the 60s.  Many of these gang members went on to join various groups within the Civil Rights Movement.  But regardless of their purpose or extracurricular activities, it was clear that these gents did everything with great style.

Looking back at these photos isn't just a window into the past.  With a little retouching, this could easily be today, and I'm so excited to pull cues from all of these looks to energize my fall wardrobe.  In this look, I was particularly inspired by the simplicity of many of the looks.  Everything I'm wearing is solid: black, white, and gray.  But instead of being boring, this look comes to life through the fit and styling of each individual piece.  The tee is cut slim, the cardigan has both buttons and zippers for a modern touch, and the pants are cuffed and creased.  A simple black shoe finishes things off.  Style on the streets of Watts was all about easygoing masculinity and the sum of the parts.

Similar to my views of today's men's fashion, the real style icons of yesteryear were the real guys.  You don't have to look to celebrity for new ideas.  Look at how the real people dressed.  Those are the ones who really drove it home.

Photography by SahedPhotography.com

Cardigan, Pants, Socks: Banana Republic//Tee: Threadsmiths//Shoes: Cole Haan

The LIFE magazine shot that inspired this shoot...

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