Garath W. Henry

Archive for the ‘Social Style’ Category

Research shows that avoiding logos = success.

In Design, Social Style on August 10, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Today the fashion/style blog Put This On posted a link to a very short, but interesting, New York Times Article about how visible logos affect a customer’s buying habits. 

From the article:

Rather than rely on obvious logos, expensive products use more discreet markers, such as distinctive design or detailing. High-end consumers prefer markers of status that are not decipherable by the mainstream. These signal group identity only to others with the connoisseurship to recognize their insider standing.

Another interesting point the article made was that many people / groups of people will wear very logo heavy clothing to show that they have “made it”, while “high class” people who have “made it” don’t want to show off their success in such obvious ways, such as the material, cut, or stitching of their clothing. 

Example of clothing which communicates wealth with out logos:

Image via: Put This On

I teach high school students, and many of my students often wear very (IMHO ugly as sin) logo intensive clothing.  I’m looking forward to sharing this information with them.


Mad Men: Season 4 Episode 1 “Public Relations”

In Social Style on August 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I believe that AMC’s Mad Men is currently the best show on TV.  After watching the season four premiere episode titled “Public Relations” I thought it would be fun to do a post on each episode of this season.  So here goes…

WARNING SPOILERS!!!!  If you have not watched the episode yet PLEASE don’t read further! You have been warned.

I’m going to be commenting on two things that I saw in this episode.  The moral of the episode and fashion.

The Moral of the Episode:

This episode opens up with the Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) sitting in an interview with a reporter from Advertising Age.  Draper is being being aloof, telling the reporter that he’s from the Midwest and was raised to believe that it was not polite (vain) to talk about one’s self.  In short Draper sort of stonewalls the reporter, forcing him to make assumptions, and fill in blanks on his own.  The result is a non-hostile article which can’t be seen as an attack, but is not very flattering either.

Draper’s partners at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, & Pryce are furious.  We see both Roger Sterling (played by John Slattery) and Bert Cooper (played by Robert Morse) pull Draper behind closed doors to tell him that he screwed up.  The Englishmen Layne Pryce (played by Jared Harris), makes it clear that he is also less than pleased in a far more subtle way, via body language and by not saying anything about it.

Draper Does not really see the problem.  It’s his job to manipulate people’s perceptions, and he does that well.  He helps his customers sells their products, he wants the focus on his behavior, not on himself .

The other partners remind Draper that their agency is a product, and Draper is a named partner in that product.  Thus selling himself is in effect selling the agency and its ability.

This reminds me of all the talk I hear about personal branding now-a-days.  How a person is a product, and to be successful a person needs to market themselves as such (1).

Anyway, Draper does not buy it at first.  But as the episode goes on and SCD&P start to lose business he changes his tune.  At the end of the episode Draper gets another interview, this time with the Wall Street Journal, and he goes at selling himself the same way he goes about selling products.

I believe the Moral, or the point, of this Episode is: You are what you do.

Draper is an Ad Man, he dresses things up so that they will be easy to sell to customers.

The interesting realization in this episode is that it shows that Draper is a human being, a person.  But Draper has became a product, a commodity to be bought and sold. Draper is a commodity (something that can be used to) that sells other commodities.

Fashion Lessons:

It really seems to me that the male fashion of the late 1950s and early 1960s is making a come back (perhaps Mad Men is part of the reason for this).   Thus I believe every professional male should be taking notes as he watches Mad Men.  I’m personally a big fan of Roger Sterling’s style (2).

There is lots of great fashion lessons to be noticed in the first episode of this season, but rather than reinvent the wheel I’m just going to point you over to an amazing post about the fashion in this episode over at the Esquire blog on Men’s Fashion which states…

It comes down to style, which in the end is the biggest (if not only) thing you men will want to take away from the boys of Sterling/Cooper/Draper/Pryce…

Here’s the lesson: Rather than buying twenty affordable things this fall, find a few nice things that last. An epic overcoat. A gorgeous gray suit. Wear them often and make them signatures. Start seeing your shopping habit as opportunities to invest in your character’s wardrobe. (We’re pretty sure we’ve seen that jacket on Peter Campbell since about the day he got made Head of Accounts.)

Fit, color, quality — this is not rocket science, gentlemen. Also, us women are extremely tactile. Think about how the fabrics you’re wearing feel on the skin. (We do this for you all the time.) Women are lecherous, too, so buy clothing that accentuates your assets. A few key investments can really transform you from a boy into a man. But most of all, women love a mystery. You look at the guys at the new agency so far this season, and still, they never let their clothes overpower their presence. Because nice clothes serve as a hint of what’s beneath and within. Which, in your case, is hopefully a finer character than Don Draper.

The only thing I want to add to what the post over at Esquire has said (better than I could ever say it) is that I loved Don Draper’s black overcoat.  I can’t find a good picture of it, and due to the dark scenes in the episode it was often difficult to see, but mark my words it is a damn nice coat!


(1) My own personal thoughts on this change as time goes on… Sometimes I’m repulsed by the idea that of people (human beings) being seen as a product to be “consumed” on a marketplace.  Other times I think it is the natural extension of corporate personhood shifting back on its self and become personal corporatehood.  Always fun to think about.

(2) As noted here.

Words of Wisdom: Merlin Mann, via Kung Fu Grippie.

In Quote, Social Style on July 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Via: macinate's photostream

I’m a huge fan of the work of Merlin Mann (of 43 Folders & You Look Nice Today Fame) on so men levels.  Today I read a post from one of his blogs called Kung Fu Grippie, and I thought “HOT SHIT AND HAPPY DAMN!  That is a great way to explain something that is soooo complex…”

This is what I saw:


So, Tim Kazurinsky does an improv scene in a workshop led by Del Close. Del tells him to do the scene as an ogre. Kazurinsky’s stuck:

[Kazurinsky] said, “Damnit, Del, I just don’t have it in me to be an ogre.”

And Del said, “Damnit, do you think ogres are born? Ogres think they’ve been hurt worse than anybody else. So you don’t play the hatred. You play the hurt.”

And I just sat there and thought, “Oh, my God, I think I’ve just learned something about life.”

So great on so many levels.

Seriously.  How awesome is that? 

It is really what I was talking about here when I wrote about how I think people should respond to rude behavior with class and style.  Mr. Mann’s example is a really great way to illustrate what I was attempting to get at.

Words of Wisdom: Ryan Holiday via

In Quote, Social Style on July 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

via: Ed Yourdon's photostream

Today I was going through some of RSS feeds that I read, and I happened onto a post by Ryan Holiday about rudeness.   The post states…

Try not to get upset by people’s rudeness. Notice: how it never seems to come from someone who has ‘earned’ the right to be rude. In other words, this attitude (or stupidity) has not served them well. It has held them back and punished them. So you pity it, place it properly in context with the costs, or pretend not to care but don’t feel resentment if you can help it. Because they’ve borne more of the burden than you.

I believe there is lots of wisdom in this short but eloquent post.

I’d like to add my own thoughts to this.

(1) Anyone can be rude.  It is part of living in an open society that values free speech.

(2) Anyone can be rude to someone who was rude to them first.

(3) It takes some real class, and dare I say style, to be kind to someone who is rude.

I’m not saying that people should just look the other way whenever someone is rude.  There comes a point when you need to take a stand absurd and inappropriate behavior.

The trick is to take that stand in such a way that you respect the dignity of the rude person while letting them know that you disapprove of, and will not stand for, their rude behavior.  Doing that is showing that you have grace, tact, class, and style.

Put Another Way:

We teach by example all the time.  Even when we don’t intend to do so.

If we stoop to a level of rudeness (even as a response to rudeness) we teach something.

If we elevate our behavior by respecting the dignity of someone who has behaved in a way which is rude we teach a very different something.

One is clearly better.