First, let me just say that I have no particular issue with John Mayer. I mean, his music is fine, and his romantic exploits are whatever, and maybe there’s some big gossip on him that I’m missing — something that would change my opinion — but it seems like being angry at John Mayer makes about as much sense as being pissed off about a slightly overcast, 70 degree weather forecast. It’s neither bad or good. It’s adequate, middling, passable. John Mayer is the human embodiment of a list of synonyms for “mediocre.” I know, because I looked up synonyms for “mediocre” and couldn’t settle on just one (though shout-out to “indifferent” for being both a synonym of mediocre AND ALSO representing exactly how I feel about John Mayer).
Yet despite my aggressive Mayer ambivalence (“Mayerbivalence”), I couldn’t resist checking out GQ’s latest feature on the man himself, titled “John Mayer’s Greatest Fits.” Which is not about him throwing a listicle’s-worth of temper tantrums, le sigh. Instead, it’s about his clothing. Because… why? Is John Mayer known for fashion? Doesn’t he just wear, like, Supreme tees and jeans? (Checks header: Yes.) So how does a 41-year-old dude who dresses like that guy you regret dating your freshman year of college — the one who brought his acoustic guitar to other people’s parties — get a style spread in GQ? Two reasons:
1) He wrote it himself. And, I’m speculating here, but c’mon: he probably also pitched it himself when high one night and never expected them to say yes.
2) It’s GQ, a magazine that bills itself as “The Authority On Men” in its press kit, saying: “The only publication that speaks to all sides of the male equation, GQ is simply sharper and smarter.” And really, I’m probably just incapable of wrapping my cervix around the sharp/smart closet stylingz of John Mayer because I’m a woman, but surely their rationale is sound. Mayer is, after all, a man of the “male equation” persuasion.
But really, it doesn’t matter why GQ chose to publish this piece — all that matter is that they did. AND IT’S INCREDIBLE. It’s weird and pointless and (unintentionally?) hilarious. He does, apparently, wear more than just tee shirts — he’s got fashion cred! — and yet the piece is flaccid even in its ego-stroking, like someone lazily petting their own genitals because they can’t muster the energy to actually masturbate. And look — it’s a fun puff piece, not investigative journalism. The bar was low. All it needed to do was feature pictures of John Mayer, wearing his own clothes, and then blurbs where he muses about said clothing. And not only did it succeed on both those counts — it surpassed even my most snide fantasies for what it could possibly entail.
According to the intro, GQ let Mayer bring some of his own wacky wardrobe to their studio and threw him a lil photo shoot. And he looks like he had a blast! Which is great! I would have too! He strikes goofy poses, and there’s one shot where he has, like, a blanket flapping behind him like a cape, making me think they may have hauled out a wind machine. Mostly he’s got serious GAP-model vibes, which is fine — it lets the clothes take center stage.
On one level, nothing here is a surprise, really. Mayer’s got money, and he spends it on some fancy brands, but we’re not talking runway couture. He’s rocking, like, ripped cargo pants, and a high-waisted old man trousers, and a denim jumpsuit folded down into pants. Honestly, his clothes are both exactly what I’d expect, and somehow far more interesting than I anticipated, like when McDonald’s adds specialty “applewood smoked bacon” items to their menu. Though credit where credit’s due, he also has a bullet-pointed argument for the many uses of robes, and I support it whole-heartedly. I, too, am a fan of robes-as-daywear. Though it should also be noted that I work from home and can go for days at a time without going out in public, so I also consider pajamas to be daywear.
Uh. Moving on.
Come for the promise of fashion insights — stay for the bullshit philosophy! This article truly shines when John Mayer lets his dress-up act as a diving board into the absurd. The whole thing reads like it should be accompanied by a shirtless Matthew McConaughey playing bongos. Here are some of his finer musings, in case you need inspo for your next full-back tattoo:
“Those boots you see? They shine like that because they’ve been polished with the splashes of a thousand beers.”
“The more influences you can take in, and the finer you can chop up each one into tiny particles, the better you can re-form your own take on things. I see guitar playing that way. Don’t copy the objects—copy the atoms that make up the objects.”
“A thousand scuffs makes a new kind of smooth.”
“I like to write my name in Sharpie on the labels of pieces I know I’m going to have forever. It’s my way of telling myself to make sure to beat it up, because it’s staying with me for the whole ride. This one says MAYER on the label, like I might lose it at camp.”
(Did you catch out he reiterated his last name, in case we didn’t understand what writing your name on the labels of your clothes means? Bless.)
And this is the entire section #3 of this photo-essay, which I’m including verbatim because it’s perfection. Honestly, I’m just bummed it came so early on in the piece, because it would have been the best used as the stinger, allowing the entire purpose of the exercise to collapse like a house of cards into pointlessness.
“You shouldn’t let fashion hurt your feelings. If it does, that’s a good indicator you’re taking it way too seriously. Anybody, at any time, should be allowed to wear whatever they like. Whether it works or not will be for their future self to make peace with. God knows I have a very well-documented history of attempts. Take a hat, for example. Do you know how many hats you have to wear before you find the one that actually works? Wearing bad hats is the only path to a good hat. I’m still trying to fail. I’d like to lose on an outfit one out of every ten times. Means I’m trying. Or I’m not. Did you see how my point just crumbled before me? That’s what happens when you try to apply too much thought to fashion.”
Instead, this is how he closed out this thought experiment. And if I were a hater, I’d be duly chastised. But I’m not. I’m simply in awe.
The year 2019 is the year of coziness. Of waving your freak flag high. Ladies and gentlemen, the haters have revealed themselves to be ultimately ineffective. You are free to wear what you please, to sing what you like, and to see what else you can get away with. The only consequence of failure in fashion is that you shrug it off, have a laugh, dig up some more inspiration, and try again tomorrow.
My only slight quibble is that clearly, John Mayer has never had a fashion-failure that involved accidentally wearing a see-thru dress to his middle school graduation. Sure, we can all try again tomorrow. But some fashion failures linger, John.
Header Image Source: Getty Images