William Solniger’s post at Alternative Right, Dress Like a Reactionary, borrows heavily from an older article of mine, American Restorationary Fashion. According to statistical metrics, anecdotes, and my gut feeling, the Alternative Right web of subcultures is growing in America. Yet, a definitive look has yet to emerge. From what I’ve seen at recent gatherings and on Facebook, the only things we all seem to be reaching something of a consensus on are beards for the men and modest dresses or skirts for the women.
The obligatory disclaimers are necessary with an article on this topic. Style is no substitute for substance. Nobody’s prescribing a dress code. You’re not obligated to care about or think about this topic. If you’ve already got a look and aren’t open to suggestions, then I respect that. This topic does come up rather frequently in private informal conversations, yet very rarely in public. I suspect that a lot of other guys out there are understandably wary of broaching this topic, for fear of being accused of being vain, gay, or unfashionable.
Second Thoughts on Peacocking
After all the mockery I received for my ill-fated attempt to revive the fedora, I don’t blame them. In my defense, I had no way of knowing that a subculture of obnoxious left-wing Internet Atheist tumblr-types would go for pretty much the same look at pretty much the same time. I still stand behind the necessity of reviving the hat in the men’s wardrobe, and reviving hat etiquette in daily life, but I now believe something less ostentatious, like a flat cap, can accomplish that with more subtlety.
Solniger’s dapper and decidedly steampunk proposal borrows from what I proposed about “peacocking”, making a stark visual statement in opposition to the modern world. The problem is that White American men have become so sloppy and uniform in appearance that even fashion decisions which are decidedly moderate by historical standards strike the contemporary American as affected, flamboyant, and perhaps even “LARP”-y. Foreigners, minorities, and American women can “get away with” a wide range of stylistic choices that we simply can’t.
I would argue that this contemporary taboo against straight white men dressing to make an impression goes beyond mere subtlety and humility, and is symptomatic of our humiliated and castrated condition. We are to yield the spotlight to “women and people of color”, quietly toiling away in the background of American life. To don a fedora, tie a cravat, or check your pocket watch is to fall out of step with the craven conforming herd of obeisant white males, white males who will incessantly remind you that you’re doing it wrong.
The generally Western and specifically American habit of in-group shaming ensures that even the mildest failure to conform with their superficially non-conformist dress code will result in ritual scolding. Solniger borrows from myself and Jack Donovan in perceiving this as the first step in a process of defining a distinct identity. At some critical mass of men comporting themselves a certain way, that certain way becomes an identity marker rather than an idiosyncratic fashion preference. After all, how absurd would an Amishman appear to me if I hadn’t grown up around them and understood the reasons for their distinct appearance?
While I believe the situation is regrettable, our target audience is contemporary white males, white males who’ve been raised with the self-conscious and slob-conformist mindset. We’ve yet to overcome the first challenge, that of reaching some sort of agreement on what the peacocking look would be, much less the even greater challenge of compelling enough men to adopt the look that it manages to become an established indicator of identity.
Stealing Black Bloc from the Left
Our National Anarchist subculture is already freely adapting the anarchist “look”. Though, there’s more going on with dressing in solid black than fashion. Form follows function with a style that serves a coherent purpose in activism and agitation:
A black bloc is a tactic for protests and marches where individuals wear black clothing, scarves, sunglasses, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing and face-protecting items. The clothing is used to conceal marchers’ identities and hinder criminal prosecution, by making it difficult to distinguish between participants. It is also used to protect their faces and eyes from items such as pepper-spray which law enforcement often uses to stun. The tactic allows the group to appear as one large unified mass, and promotes solidarity.
A unique quality of black bloc is that it achieves peacocking by subtraction rather than addition. In completely stripping one’s appearance of vibrant colors and individual accoutrements, one achieves the Traditionalist aesthetic of sublimating one’s identity to the chosen collective. All we need to do to make black bloc our own is to select black flat caps, work shirts, and work boots instead of hoodies, skinny jeans, and sneakers. We are, after all, the street radicals who actually work for a living.
One recurring criticism of the black bloc tactic within Leftist circles is that a band of men all dressed the same looks and feels more “fascist” than “anarchist”. I agree, and I propose that we take ownership of the look. Leftists have a habit of stealing styles and symbols that rightfully belong to us. After all, Guy Fawkes was a Catholic Traditionalist radical who fought and died for principles and virtues we stand for. Yet, because they’re more nimble, they’ve hijacked that iconic martyr of the Radical Traditionalist right. It’s time for us to take back from their subcultures what belongs to us, and loot anything else of theirs that we can adapt to our advantage.
We in the identitarian and traditionalist communities which make up America’s youthful and radical right compensate for our relative lack of racial and olfactory diversity with a greater diversity of beliefs, values, and visions for the future. We also belong to a range of social classes and lifestyles. More academic or upper-class folks can wear black dress shirts and dress pants, and our factory workers can wear black jeans. Beards can range from carefully trimmed to wild and wooly. Those who feel that flat caps are affected can go with a black baseball cap, a black hoodie, or nothing at all. And one needn’t even wear all black. One thing about beginning with black is that even relatively minor accessories and accents stand out against the blank canvas.
I’m not attempting to dictate a style guideline, here. I’m merely participating in an ongoing conversation within our circles about matters of style. There are more important topics, to be sure. But as more and more of us are beginning to work and act together in real life, the question of what our nascent identity and subculture looks like will continue emerging. Perhaps some sort of look will organically emerge, or somebody else in this ongoing dialogue (perhaps Mr. Solniger) will strike a chord and instigate a trend. If so, I’ll do what I can to achieve the most important consideration in all of this: helping ensure that the appearance is associated with courage, discipline, honor, and sacrifice on behalf of family, folk, and faith.