I’ve gathered you all here today to tell you about real style, about true style. This is my appreciation post, my speech at my fashion anonymous meeting, my ode to style – I love it and I like to think that it loves me too.
Firstly, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, my name’s Tolkien but my friends call me “Tolks”. I turned 32 yesterday. Thanks, I appreciate it. My life, my life, my life…in the sunshine… I’m the velour don. I’m velouriscious, I’m “Tolk velour”. You’ll likely see me walking down the street with a purple velour tracksuit on, bouncing a baby blue basketball, bucket hat on and my chain jangling. No, I’m not a wannabe rapper but yes, I raise my hand to the air in praise of the stylistic virtuoso’s of yesteryear. I don’t love everything from 30 years ago but I do appreciate real style, real panache, there are things that were just done right and I want to see if we can do it better. My friends see me and ask “Did you steal the carpet from the workings mens club?” and I say, “Na it’s my new velour tracksuit and I love it.” You see, I wasn’t born this way, I inherited it. I can remember the moment I first tried on a velour T-shirt and felt the comfort, the soft yet protected feeling, the weight, after that moment I never looked back. Sometimes people just want a cotton T-shirt, right? I understand that, that’s what everyone thinks they want, that’s the norm. I can no longer appreciate that, I can no longer feel it. I want it in velour and I want my body to subconsciously enjoy the warmth and tactile soft feel of it brushing on my skin. Even when I forget that I’m wearing it, it still feels great. I want even the most basic of garments I wear to be the best of what I want. Why wouldn’t you?
I work in an art gallery off the main street, the doors are locked, the air conditioning up high. I stand out front occasionally, bouncing my ball, just waiting, waiting for me to feel anything other than content. I live in a happy triumvirate of clothing, art and happiness. Sometimes my friends drop by and we take the hanging ping pong table down. Whoever loses gets the drinks, even though the fridge is within touching distance. That hanging piece of art just became a games table. It has layers to its awesomeness and that always makes me smile.
Style generally is important, that means both the way you dress but also the way you think. Clothing, for me, hasn’t got to be expensive. It hasn’t got to come from a fashion house. But, damn, it’s gotta be different. Different doesn’t come with a price tag, different comes with a style, a flavour, a point of view. It’s in my DNA to be different, I didn’t learn it. I just know it. But at the same time, I nod to the guys doing something similar, the guys just letting it be, the guys with the bucket hat or the guys with the velour T. I appreciate you bro.
I look around, surveying the outside and am in awe of the individuality but at the same time, I sigh at the conformity. I’ve seen variations of the dogs-tooth check jacket, houndstooth check trousers, pied de poule checked hat. It’s all the same…literally. You know what isn’t the same? Butterfly check, that’s something different. And I know when I wear it out next, no one else is gonna look like me. It is a signifier of originality that is important to me. I’m here and I’m repping Tolkstown.
It isn’t just my clothes that I need the extra appreciation for, I frequently get asked why I buy vinyl as well as CDs and mp3. I’m multi-formatted like that. I can’t deny there is no clearer interpretation of a sound than direct to my ear from the source itself or failing that a digital copy of that moment in time. But, I just love the bump and scratch on a vinyl, I love the raw sound, it feels true and as intended. On a micro level, every vinyl, every format and every sound is unique, individual and we can find in it whatever we need. No one press is like the one before it. The weight of the big disc felt in your hands as you flip it between your palms, glaring down between the grooves looking for that tune, hidden, nondescript. Put it down to play, gently. Place the needle, hit the button. These are moments you can’t find anywhere else.
I stare, for hours at a painting, continuing an ongoing dialogue with myself on why this is simply the best painting ever. I love the inspection, the thought, the detail. The momentary confusion and the endless questions. When I put on my clothes I view myself as a blank canvas that is screaming out “art here please”! Ultimately and whatever I do, my masterpiece always starts and ends with velour. Tolks Out.