First of all, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year and I pray that 2013 is filled with prosperity and success, not only that but I also hope that you may learn life lessons this year which will contribute to your personal development. This is the first time I’ll be writing on The Smoking Jacket as myself… I decided to do this because I like a personal touch every now and then.
Now, here’s the question I’d like to ask: What makes a year, a “good/great/AH-MAZING year”?
I asked a couple people who tweeted stuff like “2012 was the best year yet!” and “2012 was my year, it was so amazing”…Why was 2012 so GREAT and what makes it a better year than 2011? A friend of mine said it was because she got married, another said it was because he got into a top university (which he was unable to attend) and others said the cliche “I found out who my real friends were” etc…
People are always looking at the year in a negative light because it didn’t go according to plan. Cut the negativity!
Person 1: It wasn’t a good year because December was terrible!
Is it a good year because it ended well? I ask this question because over and over I notice that people who have had a bad December, don’t necessarily refer to the year as a great year. These same people may have been saying it was an AMAZING year before December but because of a down period, they changed their minds. Was that down period so bad that it changes your feeling about the entire year? 11 months of happiness, more or less…is overruled by 1 month of …not-so happiness? I don’t think so…
Person 2: It wasn’t a good year because I didn’t really get to go anywhere.
The person who depends on outtings to determine a “good year” is a person who should be allowed to go out every day to realize that it’s not about going out. It may sound so cliche but it’s about the time you spend with friends and family. You could go out every single day and not spend quality time with quality people and that in my opinion would make the year worse. Furthermore… WHY does that determine whether or not you had a good year? Ok you didn’t go anywhere ..are you worse off because of your absence at Beach Bums/Top Floor/Uber etc…? How good the year was is really hinged on THAT? hehe, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Person 3: It wasn’t a good year because I lost a loved one…
I’ll try to say this without sounding cold or distant because I myself have experienced this loss. To look on things in a positive way… you lost a loved ONE. You didn’t lose your whole family, you didn’t lose all the people who matter to you. It’s a sad time, it’s a down period but use it as motivation to become closer to those around you and appreciate the people around you because you never know when they may go. The year may have been GREAT nonetheless… so call it what it is and don’t allow one down time to keep you down!
ME: It was a damn good year!
I considered my 2012 to be a great year because of what I went through. Not only did I lose family members, but I also lost friends and things didn’t go as well as I thought it would have…in THAT particular part of my life. However, I got closer to family, closer to friends, did things that made me happy, created new experiences, created The Smoking Jacket, started law school and so it was indeed a GREAT YEAR. A great year, because I can look back and say …it neva suh bad!
People who have been through ups and downs and learned real life lessons from the experiences they’ve had…haven’t they experienced a good year? Those people are starting 2013, wiser than they started 2012 and that seems to be more important to me than how many raves you went to, how many times you got drunk and how many girlfriends you ran through. At the end of the year what makes it good for me, is knowing that you have a closer family, it’s knowing that the great times you had are memorable and you have no regrets, it’s knowing that the mistakes you made will never be made again because you learned your lessons.
Come on guys, let’s stop doing this “I HATED THIS YEAR” thing because it wasn’t exactly what we thought it would have been. One year you may actually have a real CRAP year… Approach it with a fresh outlook and be open to new experiences which may very well change your life forever. So at the end of 2013, you’ll say …it surpassed all my expectations. Cheers to 2013!
On a Monday afternoon, The Smoking Jacket had a chat with the newest member of our Gentleman’s Club, Valón Thorpe. This laid back, statuesque fellow, clad in a blue and black OP shirt, black Levi Jeans and a pair of black Clarks Driver loafers sat with TSJ to share some of his style tips. In getting to know Valón, we realized that he’s what many refer to as an “old soul” who is pretty old fashioned in his perspective on male style. Old Fashioned because he is the epitome of simplicity with a gentleman’s style.
Sitting across from us, upright, cool and collected the 21 year old exuded such a quiet confidence that made him seem very relatable as he removed his Rayban aviators. This was a far cry from the perception we’ve garnered of him and the type of person we thought he would be. From the multiple photographs of him that saturate the nightlife scene online and the ‘famous’ face in Jamaican print and television we must say we expected someone more, well lets say, into themselves. However this was not the case, a complete 180 as from conception he spoke as if he knew us all our lives and laughed and made fun of his surroundings. It was almost like we were apart of his club, the inner circle of friends that he held dearly. We delved into conversation, as the interest of The Smoking Jacket grew, who is this guy?
From the outset, Valón made it clear to us that four years ago, he wasn’t fashion forward at all, coupled with a slight chuckle. He leaned in, with an elbow rested a little above his knee and engaged us with gesticulating hands and a friendly demeanor. He told us that with a little age he then realized the importance of being properly attired. He looked around at his Jamaican counterparts and dejected their concept of what was fashionable and decided that he “just didn’t want to look like anyone else”. In so doing, he has flourished into a true menswear maven catching the attention of many a persons, tween fan clubs and eventually us at the smoking jacket. We wanted to know his secret.
We began the interview asking why he was always so “dressed up” as some people might say, because as immaculately attired as he was, he really stood out as he was coming from classes and not an event, looking around everyone was in T-shirt and jeans, and then you had him in what could have been ‘going out’ clothes. He expounded on his personal rule/ guide to not wear T-shirts out, unless the occasion calls for you to be extremely dressed down. He noted however that sometimes T shirts are indeed appropriate for an occasion and so if it suits the occasion, he will wear it. A lover of simple button ups with details, he ensured to tell us “Don’t buy pieces that are memorable, buy stuff that you can wear over and over and people won’t notice when you pair them differently. I like plain pieces. They’re easy to dress up”. We went on to ask where he got his idea from to button the top button of his shirt and have his chain on the outside, he responded light heartedly saying he doesn’t have a chest to show, but actually answered by saying there isn’t a real meaning behind it, its just a look he’s into now. One, which he says, he will probably regret two years from now. He also mentioned that at the end of the day, the MOST important thing for him when wearing his clothes is the fit: “I believe that you can wear anything and look good as long as the fit is right, because the fit makes the clothes look good on you and in someway you feel good in the clothes, making you seem more confident. You walk with more conviction and you stand taller.”
An avid reader of GQ Magazine (buys a copy every month), he also shared with us that he gets his “inspiration” from magazines and blogs such as GQ and tumblr respectively. He reads Details as well as Esquire, and says he’s been paying more attention to men’s style manuals. However, something, which stood out to us when speaking to Valón, was that he said ”I’m very simple you know, I’m not fussy at all, I just want to look well put together”. With that said, he shared with us another tip which is to wear plain pieces, ALWAYS wear the same colour belt and shoes, a basic rule. Invest in a good pair of shades, and more importantly, a good watch. Furthermore, he added that he owns two watches, gold and silver. Why? “I don’t like mixing jewelry. If I’m wearing gold… I’m wearing gold. The same for silver.”
Valón shared an interesting piece of his personal style with us. He only wears loafers. You may think, “Oh that’s fine” but then it got pretty interesting when he said “I buy the same pair of black loafers every year. I own five right now of the same brand and style. My oldest one I wear to school, the others I wear on the road and to the club and the newest one I wear to special events; when they get old, I throw it away and buy the SAME pair…I also have a couple pairs of different style brown loafers. I’ve been trying to step outside the realms of black and brown but I don’t know why colored shoes intimidate me’. He went on to add that he doesn’t wear sneakers out because in his opinion they were made to be worn at the gym. He made sure to tell us though that “that’s my style, I don’t do it, but that’s just me, that’s how I feel comfortable.” We also asked him about sandals and he replied laughing “Toes and heels should only make an appearance in the sand at the beach or at home”.
An old soul indeed, we realized that Valón is all about simplicity in style. He shared some more with us in our one on one session.
TSJ: Do you have any grooming tips for our male readers?
Valón: Well…I go to the barber every other week. I think that every male, especially the true Africans like myself should always have a line up.
TSJ: What are your favourite brands?
Valón: Well I’m young and unemployed so I cant afford my favorite brands. But for now wear a lot of H & M, Hollister, Express, Calvin Klein, Levis, Vans, Topman, Zara, 21 Men.
TSJ: What advice can you give to guys who find clothes in Jamaica to be extremely expensive, the guy on a budget?
Valón: Ok, if you’re on a budget, buy SIMPLE pieces that serve as a canvas for your outfits. You can start off with a white and black button up as well as black and grey fitted jeans and as you go along, buy pieces that are simple but will contribute something different to your wardrobe. If you buy simple pieces: 1. People won’t notice when you’re wearing it over, 2. You can wear them with almost anything. Additionally, you can save to buy stuff because the quality things usually last you longer…and quality threads look better. After you’ve got your foundation, you can move into the statement stuff; like the loud blazers etc.
We’d like to thank Valon for sharing with us!
"His clothes fit him so ill, and constrain him so much, that he seems rather their prisoner than their proprietor"