Barns Courtney: A Vibe

Alright, so something y’all have got to understand before I continue writing this little blog post is that I am o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with Barns Courtney. If you haven’t heard of him, do yourself a favor and open Pinterest, type in his name and spend the next three hours fawning over pictures of him.

You done? Good. Let’s continue.

Barns Courtney has the most beautiful punk-rocker face I’ve ever seen, but since he’s British his version of rebellion would be leading a protest and throwing Molotov cocktails at the Parliament building (which I will do with him, because how could I not). Most of the pictures I’ve seen of him can be separated into two different “camps” of sorts.

To understand these different aesthetics, there needs to be a basic understanding of his albums and the tones/meanings of each. His first album is “Attractions of Youth” and was released in September of 2017. Featuring hit singles “Glitter and Gold” and “Fire” , this album boasts the sort of grungy, rock-ish vibe that initially attracted me to him and his music. “Glitter and Gold” is the first single that he’s released, and it’s the one that put him on the map, so to speak. After a series of singles he released his second album “404”, boasting a substantially different sound and aesthetic than his previous work. “404” was released in September of 2019, sounding a bit more like early Harry Styles, with a softer sounds and a generally more uplifting feel. With the singles “You and I” and “99” Courtney crafts a soundscape that’s much more light and airy while still dealing with some emotionally heavy topics and themes.

Okay, so I assume you’ve done your due diligence and listened to both albums (preferably till your family or housemates tell you to turn it off ‘cuz it’s driving them insane). That being done, I recommend you to go back to Pinterest and look up more pictures of him. Eventually you’d find the one that I’m going to attach below.

This blog up to this point has been writing about themes that can be influential in the way that we – men and women – move through the world. Eventually I wanted to get to a point where I could begin to talk about how fashion and style influences those thoughts and emotions. I wasn’t sure how to get into this discussion, but I was talking with a good, good friend about my beautiful boy Courtney, and he sent me this picture:

Photo taken from a shoot used in an interview with Clash Magazine for the “Attitudes of Youth” album cycle

Well, now I had something to write about. I took one look at that image and began thinking about outfits that combined the colors in the picture (white, black, pink, grey) and other colors that aren’t present (i.e. brown, teal, mustard yellow, maroon, etc.). Since this is meant to be a fashion blog, this particular post is going to be about some pieces that can be pulled together to complete a “Glitter and Gold”, Barns Courtney vibe. I’m going to be working with two different outfits, one quite faithful to the above picture, the other with some different colors.

The Jacket: The most striking part of the picture above is the jacket that Courtney wears. A modern cut with slimmer arms, torso and stitching details along the shoulders, arms and elbows, this jacket adds the “grunge” to the overall outfit. I’m partial to jackets that are neutral colors (i.e. grey, black, white and brown) and I feel like any of the above mentioned colors would help pull things together nicely.

Moto-style jackets have a much higher cut than most people realize, resting above the hips and hugging the torso quite tightly. I’ve seen them styled with simple shirts underneath (adding a pop of color) or with a soft, pastel hoodie to add some bulk around the neck and chest. For this particular look it might be tempting to go for a jacket that is heavily embellished (i.e. lots of patches, paint or styling details). Because this look is clean and modern looking, we’re going to steer away from that type of over the top styling.

Another note: don’t be afraid to drop some serious coin on a nice jacket. Chances are it will last at least as long as you do, and will continue to look good the entire time. Just do your research.

  • Buck Mason Bruiser Moto Jacket: Simply put: this jacket is a classic. It’s got the cut that people are looking for in a stripped down, simplified silhouette, showcasing the craftsmanship to an unfathomable degree. Slim through the waist and arms, silver accents on the zippers and buttons on the lapels, this jacket screams “I’m going to burn down the establishment, and you’ll support me ‘cuz I’ll look damn good doing it”.
  • Todd Snyder Japanese Stretch Selvedge Denim Jacket: “But Nathaniel, you handsome devil, you told me that we’re building outfits around the picture and he’s wearing leather, not denim”. I mean yeah, that’s kind of the point of a style blog. The clothes themselves aren’t that important, but the way that you pull them together into a “look” is. This jacket fits the criteria perfectly, striking a soft, delicate balance between looking classy and rugged. The reason I love this jacket is that it isn’t “fancy” aside from the material. It’s slim, classic and truly identifiable for what it is: the cleanest denim jacket in the bar.

The Shirt: So the second part of the outfit (if we’re working our way down from the top, which we are), is the shirt that he’s wearing underneath the jacket. From what I can tell of the photo it appears to be a simple button-up shirt, with all the buttons undone and flowing free from underneath the zipper of the jacket. It’s a simple way to add dimension and depth to an outfit without adding too much weight, so for this section I’ve chosen to show off two incredibly simple shirts which could be swapped out to fit either outfit.

The material that we’re working with is chambray, similar in composition to denim (woven out of cotton), but the way that they put it together is different. Chambray is woven in a plain weave (making it softer, lighter while still staying strong), while denim is woven in a twill weave (making it much more stiff and rugged). Let’s be honest, no one would wear a shirt made out of pant-style denim. That would just suck. I’ve also chosen chambray because it tends to be less expensive than a full-blown denim shirt, and it’s easier to find in various washes to avoid the “Canadian Tuxedo” look.

  • Everlane Slim Fit Japanese Oxford: While the model on the website is wearing it buttoned up, this shirt deserves to be unbuttoned and let to fly. It’s made with exceptional care, showcased in the subtle detail that is only revealed when you get closer. Sitting in a nice slim fit that isn’t too tight, it works perfectly for the look that we’re trying to achieve.
  • Nordstrom Winderdale Chambray Shirt: What I love most about this shirt is that I don’t have to take more than 10 steps in my room to find it. I’ve had this piece in my particular wardrobe for about 6 months and it comes out for just about every opportunity I can explain away. It’s light, breathable and still holds up to being used as an outerwear shirt when I’m working in the garage or doing a cold-morning climbing session at my local climbing gym. Pick it in a light blue wash (because yes, you can wear it with a dark-wash jean).

The T-Shirt: Ok, so I can’t see anything of the shirt that he’s supposedly wearing underneath all of that other stuff. Even when I went to the article which used these shots his shirt was mysteriously obscured from view. His personal style seems to be quite minimalist (at least for this shoot) so I’m going to assume that it’s either a white or black shirt without any sort of adornment. Sorry for the language, but that’s boring as hell. I’m not saying that the shirt should be something over the top (in fact, I’m saying quite the opposite), but it should draw the eye to the center of mass i.e. your chest.

The shirt that we’re looking for is going to be classy, slim fit (indicating that it fits tighter across the chest and stomach area) and has a pop of color to add some dimension to the outfit.

  • Topman Scotty Longline Slim Fit T-Shirt: What I love about this shirt is actually the longer hem at the bottom, and the rolled cuffs that come on the shirt without having to work any fancy cuffing magic. Since we’re following the shoot I’m going to recommend the soft pink option offered online, though realistically any of the colors offered would be suitable. Before you ask, yes pink will still look good on your skin.
  • Goodlife Scallop Crewneck T-Shirt: When thinking about the second outfit that we’re building, I was attempting to think of something that would compliment the white, blue and grey that we’re going to be working with for the rest of the outfit. This shirt stood out to me as bright as the sun (and indeed it is) for the exact reason I outlined above. It draws the eyes towards the center, while the little amount of visible texture is enough to keep the attention planted firmly on you.

The Pants: The big one. The section that most people might have a problem with. I was thinking about writing a blog about the way that men’s pants should fit, but I don’t have enough experience fitting men to tell people how they should buy their pants. I know my preferences, I know what looks good on me and I know what looks good on the majority of people, but if they aren’t comfortable with it, then it will never look like it’s supposed to.

What can I say about pants? Well, I’m incredibly preferential to slim fit. The way that it hugs the thigh, the way that it slims down the legs to the shoes creates a silhouette that exudes a confidence that is tangible. An outfit that makes someone look slim makes them look powerful, even if they don’t have a powerful build.

  • Levi’s 512 Slim Taper Fit Men’s Jeans: These are another staple that every man should have in his wardrobe somewhere. Preferably in a couple different washes (I have four pairs, two of which I’ve had for 2+ years). The slim taper fit on the pant takes the slim fit (slim through the thighs, looser below the knees) and carries it further, carrying the silhouette all the way through the leg down to the cuff. It creates a stylish, clean look that can work for any outfit, but specifically helps balance out the bulk added by the leather jacket mentioned above. Get a pair in black and a pair in dark blue to start (the most common colors). To be quite honest, that’s the only jean you need for either of these outfits. I’m sure I could come up with a million different combinations, but Levi’s carries the weight of their reputation with every stitch. For a grungy, battle-worn look, I’m willing to bet they’re the only brand that will stand up and keep you looking good – and for the love of all that is holy, learn how to cuff your pants.

The Footwear: Another touchy subject. What he’s wearing in these press shoots isn’t obvious, but I’m willing to bed that Courtney’s grungy aesthetic didn’t stop below the knees. His shoes would have to be hard-wearing and classic. Nothing too serious and nothing too informal either. Like I said before with the pants, it’s hard to tell people what to wear when it comes to shoes and brands and the options I’m offering are only examples, but they should hold up just fine for the aspiring grunge garage-band or late-night bar crawl.

  • 1460 Greasy Leather Lace Up: Built on a foundation laid before it by it’s founders in 1901 as a work shoe brand, Doc Martens still stand strong on soles that won’t slip and slide in all but the worst conditions. The reason I chose this specific pair is that the leather face on the outside of the shoes looks dusty, like it’s already seen some action. That isn’t the case – obviously – but you’ll have the chance to add your own few steps into their story the second you lace them up for a good ‘ol fashioned romp in the mosh pit.
  • Chuck Taylor All Star White: While Doc Martens might have the boot industry covered with our friends over the pond, Converse have been tearing up asphalt since 1917, till Chuck Taylor became a Converse shoe salesman in 1921 (birthing the all-iconic Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star). Go to any high school, college campus, concert venue or coffee shop and Converse exist in abundance, competing fiercely with Vans to be the dominant shoe type in nearly every social situation. I chose the all-white option simply because it ties in nicely with the white denim jacket and adds an overall “polished” look to the outfit as a whole.

Photoshoot Look: Buck Mason Bruiser Moto Jacket, Everlane Slim Fit Japanese Oxford, Topman Scotty Longline Slim Fit T-Shirt, Levi’s 512 Slim Taper Fit Men’s Jeans, 1460 Greasy Leather Lace Up

“Glitter and Gold”: Todd Snyder Japanese Stretch Selvedge Denim Jacket, Nordstrom Winderdale Chambray Shirt, Goodlife Scallop Crewneck T-Shirt, Levi’s 512 Slim Taper Fit Men’s Jeans, Chuck Taylor All Star White

The goal with this blog post wasn’t necessarily to tell people exactly what to wear, but more how to tie those individual pieces together (which are probably things most people already have in their closets) into a comprehensive and workable outfit that looks at home whether it’s in a bar sipping a nice cold Guinness or in a coffee shop sipping mocha and reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”.

“I am flesh and I am bone. Arise like glitter and gold. I’ve got fire in my soul. Rise up like glitter and gold.”

– Barns Courtney, Glitter and Gold

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