Extending The Concept Album To The Closet

Extending The Concept Album To The Closet

I'm back...this time live from the Coachella Valley POST Rolling Stones, whose concert was last night and was, easily, one of the best experiences I've ever had, musical or otherwise. First, allow me to set the scene: this was my view while writing this post:

Why don't I live here again?

Why don't I live here again?

Back to the Stones. Here's a quick recap. Mick wore sequins (and changed a few times)!!!! They played Gimme Shelter!!!! They opened with Start Me Up!!!! They covered Come Together by The Beatles (wondering about their style?) which was the physical manifestation of the peak universal alignment that is this concert. 

Before we resume regularly scheduled programming around here, I wanted to dedicate the third and final of these Rock and Roll posts to ask a question inspired by my beloved Pink Floyd (who are being represented at this desert extravaganza by Roger Waters, closing out the weekend tomorrow night). Whereas the Beatles and The Rolling Stones were incredibly public figures, comfortable with being front and center, Pink Floyd are atypical for global rock stars: they've always preferred to keep a low profile and let their music speak on their behalf. Roger Waters has basically been wearing the same thing on stage since the 1970s: a pair of high-waisted jeans or black pants and a black t-shirt. Gilmour for the last decade only wears black jeans and a black t-shirt on stage. 

Here are the guys (Waters on the left, Gilmour on the right) at a rare reunion from May 2011. I call this look black on black on black on black. They didn't coordinate this- it's just how they dress. Photo: Muddy_Roger via last.fm. 

Here are the guys (Waters on the left, Gilmour on the right) at a rare reunion from May 2011. I call this look black on black on black on black. They didn't coordinate this- it's just how they dress. Photo: Muddy_Roger via last.fm. 

It goes without saying that a post about their approach to fashion would be brief: their music does the talking, so their clothes don't have to. So I wanted to find another, more interesting, way to apply a lesson that I have learned from Pink Floyd to our inquiries in style around here. That's when I started thinking about Pink Floyd's mastery of the concept album, and how an understanding of those principles could be applied to the closet (ok, bear with me, I promise this will connect).

First, what is a concept album? Well, it's an album comprised of individual songs that are tied together cohesively with a unifying concept or theme. The sum (the album) ends up being many times greater than the parts (the individual songs) in the same way that a painting is many times more powerful than a single brush stroke. Notable Pink Floyd albums, like The Dark Side of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall, were all meticulously designed like this: to use individual songs to tell a complete story that takes you through many dimensions of some part of the human experience. 

Thinking about my wardrobe, I see a parallel between the kind of music I listen to and the kind of closet I'm trying to build. Really, I'm working to build a concept closet: one that tells a story about me that is more impactful than any single item I wear. And in the same way a concept album is about more than just the music, a concept closet has to be about more than just the clothes. Anyway, isn't meaning beyond the clothes what makes for really good personal style? A concept closet above all, has the wearer, not the clothes, at its core. 

The Dark Side of the Moon came out in 1973 and if you ask me, the philosophical contents of that album are more relevant today than ever, proving that good concepts; authentic concepts, last. So when it comes to my closet, I'm learning from The Floyd. I'll pass on the one-hit-wonders and the catchy pop songs that I can't get out of my head for a day or two, but are then utterly forgettable a short time later. Instead, I'll invest in understanding what I want to say with my clothes so that I can choose clothes that I look back at in forty years and think: I felt like myself wearing that, and I'd still like to wear it today. 

 

 

The feature image is Pink Floyd's classic album cover for The Dark Side of the Moon. The cover was designed by Storm Thorgerson, who famously designed a number of the band's most memorable album covers. Notably, in keeping with Pink Floyd's low profile modus operandi the album cover included neither the band's name nor the name of the album.

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