Fashion is a Mirror

F​ashion is physical, fashion sense is mental, and fashion expression is spiritual. I have been accused before of reading into things too deeply. To a person that has zero interest in fashion, this can be obnoxious. I can be obnoxious. However, I would argue that anything in this life can be studied in depth. This in depth study will always reveal things to us beyond the readily apparent. Therefore, I am not upset about people not being super into fashion or argueing that everyone needs to think about fashion as much as I do. But, we should all study the things in our lives that affect or interest us. This is how we learn and grow. 

N​ow, this is not a philosophy blog. So, back to the fashion. What you wear tells the viewer stuff about you that might not be intentional. For example, when you see someone in baggy sweats and a hoodie out in public, one might assume that person is a lazy slob. When you see someone in a short skirt and heels, one might assume they are a slut. We might not know that person or ever see them again, but we make that snap judgement that throws a human being, made up of a complex combination of a soul, mind, and body, into a fairly small box. That one judgement or assumption leads to others, and they all begin before we even talk to that person. We have really demonized this very innate human reaction in modern society, because we have “evolved” to the point where we think that our feelings are paramount and need to be prioritized above all. I believe this goes against our biology as humans. That is why it is such a losing battle to make this social justice movement of speaking politically correct all the time the first priority of existing as a human in the modern age. Now, this is not to say that these snap judgements are okay, but that they are somewhat unavoidable. When we experience these snap judgements, I think it would be far more beneficial to recognize them and understand that my feelings about someone’s look are not facts. No matter how many times you have been “right about people” in the past, we should not let these snap judgements decide how we treat someone either. We are to go through life acting out of love and living at peace with all people, as the Good Book says. We, of course, will not always do this, because we are flawed. We have to be willing to accept the consequences for our actions or words that come from these snap judgements. 

N​ow that I have told you all how to react to other people’s fashion choices, let us talk about your fashion choices. I have mentioned before that when I say “successful personal style”, I am talking about a style that effectively communicates our goals or priorities with our appearance and life in general. To do this, we can not turn off our brains when making choices about our garments. I can not even count how many times I have helped someone pick out something to wear and either they are not able to explain why they want to wear something, or they are not willing to admit why they want to wear something. I try to help people through this by asking questions and encouraging them get to the bottom of why they want to wear something or what they want to achieve with whatever they are trying to pick out. In college, it was hard not to try to just be as hot as you possibly could, because it honestly felt like a competition of who can be the most desireable. This greedy aspiration is so empty and superficial though, because that would be the reason for what we wore. If we were honest with what our goal was, it was to find a person we had a genuine connection with. Therefore, our choices did not get us any closer to our goal. We would dress all hot and sexy and get a lot of attention fueled by sex and desire, but be left with emptiness after we recieved the affirmation or attention. That is why it is important to find where our reasons and goals intersect, so that we are working in one direction. I speak about this from personal experience with my own fashion choices and spending time with others discussing their fashion choices. 

T​his look is really just a collection of things I like. The jacket is a thrift store find from the Tower Grove neighborhood of St Louis. I love that it has quilting details, because of my obsession with all things old lady. The corduroy details just send it over the top as a must-have coat, and it is so warm and cozy. The sweater is as interesting. It has a wide neck that does not seem like it is meant to go off the shoulder, but does allow you to wear it in a few different ways. I was drawn to it in a thrift store in Aspen, Colorado last summer. I was just out exploring the small mountain community in between matches for the grass volleyball tournament that I was there for. So, it also holds that fond memory for me. The green corduroy pants are another thrift store find as well as the belt. I really have just gotten used to being pretty free with my choices on what I take off the rack. They are usually founded in what I like about fashion most, and that’s having fun with it.

xoxo ADAM

Edited by: Rachel Kater Photos by: Moriah Roberts

High Risk=High Fashion

I am a huge advocate of taking risks when it comes to fashion. It is what makes it such an interesting and expressive art form. Which is why, a common piece of advice I give is to not take fashion too seriously. This week, I just want to empower you guys to have fun with your fashion choices. Push the limits on what you think you can pull off. Go for that look you have always wanted to rock, but never did because fear stifled your creativity. 

I, myself, have always tried (emphasis on TRIED) to stomp fearlessly down the catwalk of life in the most fabulous outfits I can think of, but I would be telling a bold faced lie if I were to say my looks have never flopped. Now, this “be you and don’t care what people think” attitude is preached out to us from all sides today in the states. This attitude truly can be helpful in gaining some confidence, when used to a certain degree. However, the elite of our society are on a huge “everyone is perfect just as they are and anyone who does not think so is wrong ” kick. This is a message that contradicts itself. If everyone is perfect the way that they are, then their preferences, likes, and dislikes are as well. I just know this to be false. We are flawed creatures, and trying to live in delusion of that fact is not “fierce” or “confident”. It is just delusional. Now, let us not go crazy and say that you can not be appreciated or confident in yourself because of your flaws. Confidence is rooted in truth. That is why people are the most confident about the things that they know the most about. Whether religion, profession, intelligence, identity, athletic ability, or fashion; the more you learn the truth about something, the more confident you will be.

All this to say, it is important to take responsibility for what you do. That applies to everything in life, and in fashion, it looks like making conscious choices and backing them with reasons. Hindsight is 2020, and we need to be able to look back at a style moment and be able to admit if we were misguided and wrong about putting together a look. I do believe this will happen less often if we make every choice about what we put on with conscious reasons in mind for what our goals were with the ensemble in question. Now, there will always be differing opinions on what is cute or appropriate. That is when we have to be ready to make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to love our style. There is 100% nothing wrong with that. Also, if we make purposeful decisions about our style, there is less room for interpretation on what we are going for if we do it well. The best way to start clearly communicating what we are going for when dressing is to practice and experiment. To improve we must fail, and to fail we must try new things. This, like many of the other concepts I talk about, applies to more than just fashion. But, let us keep it focused on fashion for the purpose of this blog post.

Now, comes the part of the show where I tear down the curtain to give you guys a glimpse into some of the failures that have brought me to the point I am at with my personal style. We will begin with the duct tape… So, when I first started showing real interest in fashion around age thirteen; I was infatuated with duct tape. It was colorful, and could be used in so many ways. If you do not know where this is going… yes, I started making accessories for myself out of duct tape. I did not keep any of my creations, sadly, for a show and tell moment. So, I will try to paint a picture. I created neon blue and green wallets, baby blue wristbands, neon orange and pink sandals, all different colors of bow ties, and slip on shoes. Honestly, I think Toms stole my idea for their famous slipper-like shoe; I had those all in duct tape baby! It was a moment, and it honestly helped nurture my creativity in working with unconventional material to make a conventional item. However, it lasted a little too long; I would say. And, yes, this picture was taken at my 15th birthday party. I was doing this in high school, y’all! I think my parents made the right call in homeschooling me, because I can only imagine how bad the bullying would have been in school compared to the bullying I received already within my sheltered, homeschooled life. Now, like I said, fashion does not have to be taken super seriously. But, duct tape accessories, especially at the caliber I was creating, are not cute on anyone except the four-foot, eight-inches of loud, bubbly, hamster-like magic that I was when I was thirteen. I held onto that style journey a little too long. I learned a lot from this, though. I learned how to construct things, which would later help me in design school. I learned that not all color combinations are fabulous (especially in neon), and that while some of my ideas about style were good, they could be executed better. 

Another example that stands out to me, is my more recent obsession with crop tops and short shorts. This one is a little more raw, because this goes all the way up to current day Adam’s fashion choices. I love a cropped top and will defend a cute, cropped look probably until the day I die, but there are times where it works and times where it does not. The main reason I think this is one of my fashion faux pas along my style journey, is because of my reasons for wearing my crop tops and short shorts at times. I started wearing cropped looks in college; a time when I had a new found freedom and was trying to see where I fit into the world. This led to some questionable fashion moments to say the least. Some people really hated the idea of men wearing crop tops simply because in some minds, it is a strictly female garment. To which I like to remind people that cropped sweaters, vests, and shirts were worn by lots of men in the 80’s disco era. So, know more than just the last decade of trends before you come for someone else’s style, or of course you can always keep your mouth shut. The same can be said for heels, but that is another story for another time. Now, the other reason that I got backlash for my crop tops and short shorts was for the issue of modesty. This is the reason that gives validity to times I would consider a few looks unsuccessful. I come from a conservative family that holds modesty as a high priority, when it comes to dressing, because of our belief in the Bible. I am easily the one in my family that has tested the boundaries of modesty. And to this day, what I would consider to be modest is not what others that hold similar beliefs to me consider modest. During my time in college, I definitely wore things that were provocative and what I would consider immodest if I were to look objectively at myself. Those times are when I would consider my style to be unsuccessful, because it did not represent me as a person. It was more about throwing it in someone’s face who had called me out. So, this taught me the lesson that it is not always what you wear but how you wear it, which can be just as important as what you actually physically put on. 

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These photographs made me think of taking risks, because the pants are my own unique design and construction. And, they were part of my senior collection. They are a little snug on me, but as a concept I love the simplicity of them. The two quirky elements of the exposed buttons for the fly and the patch pockets that straddle the side seams add a little bit of flare. This sweater was a risk, because I once thought this color was the ugliest color I had ever seen. That perspective changed in my color theory class in college when I realized how complex this color was. This was because of the colors that you have to mix to make it, and how it can then be easily paired with so many other colors. I pair it with this vintage L.L. Bean Coat (you guessed it, thrift store find), because the yellow that is only one part of this complex color pairs nicely with the red in the coat. This works because these colors are analogous. The brown corduroy cuffs on the coat somehow match the sweater as well, because they contain a similar orange in the color mixture of the sweater. 

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TAKE A RISK! If it works beautifully, you have one more tool in your fashion tool belt. If it does not work, find out why, then add that to your rolodex of knowledge about your personal style. 

xoxo ADAM

How to Find Your Aesthetic

I wanted to start this blog, because I love fashion and love talking to people about it. There are many reasons for loving fashion: self expression, creative outlet, and its effect on culture and relationships. Sometimes, I forget one other reason, and when I spend a lot of time around the “fashion community”, I think we collectively forget it as well. That reason is that fashion is fun! Or atleast, it should be. If you spend any time around people that take part in any of the creative arts, then you have probably heard the term, “Aesthetic.” If you are a regular in fashion circles, you might even be annoyed with its overuse. Or, maybe you hear it as an outsider and wonder, “What the heck is everyone talking about?” Well, this blog is for fashion experts and novices alike. So, let’s break it down. 

“Aesthetic” has several different definitions depending on the context in which it is being used. In fashion, when we talk about someone’s aesthetic, we are talking about their use of silhouette, color, texture, weight, structure, pattern, and other fashion elements in their personal style. All of these choices to include or exclude these elements, or use them in different combinations, are choices regarding our aesthetic. When going about building an aesthetic, you can be as rigid or inclusive as you wish. Now a successful aesthetic, I believe, takes conscious decisions made from a clear set of priorities. What are you wanting to accomplish with your style? Answering this question is where you need to start if you are trying to find your path through the forest of clothing brands, colors, trends, and etc. 

The nature of fashion is ever evolving. At the beginning of mankind, it was out of necessity/protection from our environment. As we progress through time as a species it has become symbolic, categorical, expressive, artistic, and a way to communicate with the people around us. All of this stuff is so extremely interesting to me. I love it, and there is no escaping it (Unless you are in some closed nudist colony LOL). In my journey down a very fashionable yellow-brick-road (If I do say so myself), I have picked up garments of all types. I do not like to put myself into boxes. I think trying to deny that each one of us is a unique, multifaceted being is to deny the reality of each of our existences. What I like to accomplish with my style is very broad and can sway with my mood, if I am being honest, but that is not very helpful for you. So, I will try to produce some succinct ideas. When it comes to silhouettes, I usually lean toward things that are broad at the shoulders, are cinched at the waist, and have sleek, tight lines down to the feet. Color is an element I have touched on already in my blog and is the element that most closely associated with my emotions of the day. Textures, I find to be delicious. This materializes in the form of my three-large-bin (and counting) collection of knit sweaters in my parents’ basement back home. I love structure at the shoulders and the waist with more variance moving towards the tips of my limbs. Patterns are personal because they are so subjective. I like incorporating patterns because of their uncanny ability to hold attention. All of these ideas play into my decisions when picking out what to put on for the day. 

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My goals with my style vary depending on the situation for which I dress and/or my mindset in that place in time. Commonly, I like to express my interests. I am very interested in the yin and yang of femininity and masculinity in our modern age, because one could not exist without the other. I like to represent both sides in my clothing choices. Sometimes, I am trying to grow in something or reinforce a character quality. Examples of this are: wearing colors and patterns to bring me joy, a shoulder-padded, double-breasted suit to feel powerful, or a short short with an oversized sweater to embrace my freedom. 

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These photos are of a look that includes some of my favorite garment types in my wardrobe. I love turtlenecks, crops, and high waisted pleated pants. Here, a structured denim jacket brings the look full circle. These are all thrift store finds, all the way down to the belt. Because my waist is small and I like pants to hit me at my natural waist, I often have to spend time in the women’s aisle for pants. Sometimes I have to make some fit adjustments to make it work, but it is really just about understanding your body and aesthetic to see the potential in a garment. Turtle necks will never be out of style in my opinion, and I love anything that accentuates my long slender neck. Orange is the complement of blue, so it really makes my eyes pop. The cropped length allows me to show off the belt and pleats in the trousers. The belt acts as a pop of contrast with a stark white and vintage gold hardware. It is something I love to add to an outfit that already has a lot of color, because if I do mix colors, I like to go all the way. The jean jacket is a modern, light wash with tailored structured lines that match the lines of the pleats in my pants. A denim or leather jacket is a wardrobe necessity. 

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When you are trying to find your own style aesthetic it helps to find other people that have a style that you admire. Grace Jones, Chanel, Harry Styles, my Mema, and my little sister are people that I am constantly pulling inspiration from. I do this by picking and choosing parts of each of their personal styles and applying them to what I like to highlight on my body or in my personality. You can also build your aesthetic from a time period you most identify with, other artistic media, or something as simple as a color combination. It can be as narrow or broad as you want it to be. If there are explainable reasons behind your fashion choices, that confidence to be decisive will show through and can be really infectious. It also never hurts to have people in your life whose opinion matters to you having a say in what you snatch off the rack.

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xoxo Adam
Photos by Moriah Roberts | Photo Edits by Trevor Brewster | Blog Editor Rachel Kater

A Letter Home: We Made the Final Four!

I​n the two weeks since my last letter home, we have played two matches. The first was a tough loss against Middelfart (I know, I know… one of the many funny jokes in English at the expense of the Danish language). The following game was the quarterfinal match where the winner would be going to the final four. I was not fully aware of the significance of the Danish Cup until we began to prepare for the match. It would be the club’s first time going to the final four of the Cup. The final four is a weekend where you play the semifinals and final and then have celebrations, banquets, or something like that. We traveled to Hvidovre, a club located in the Copenhagen area of Denmark. The club rented a bus and sold tickets to our fans to join us on the drive across Denmark. It was a fun experience and very cool to see the excitement on my Danish teammates’ and especially fans’ faces. 

This week we have two matches, Wednesday and Sunday, as we continue with our regular season league games. The club’s new found success in the Danish league is very cool to experience. Especially, because Nordenskov is such a small town competing on volleyball’s largest stage in Denmark. 

T​he last two weeks for me have been up and down. I experienced the first feelings of homesickness coupled with the newness of my life here in Denmark wearing off (which will always reveal things that may not be completely positive, as with any situation). Thankfully, the overarching feeling is that of gratitude. Gratitude that I am able to be over here doing something I have wanted to do since childhood. I am trying to make sure I take advantage of my down time between trainings and lifting. I have complained about not having time to do things that I wanted to all throughout college. So, I am determined to do them now that I have the time. I am calling them my daily disciplines. When I wake up I do a devotion on my fav app the YouVersion Bible, brain games on the Elevate app, and ten pushups. In the mid-day, when I have my down time between trainings I meditate, study either my discipleship lesson or my faith journal (Yes mom I still have never technically finished that… sorry), and create something. The meditation is a simple, ten minute session usually facilitated by the Calm app where I focus on my breathing and usually some sort of character trait. Discipleship, if you are not familiar, is a sort of Bible study that one goes through with a mentor where I study the reasons behind what the Bible teaches and, therefore, what I believe as a Christian. The creating portion of my day can be anything from writing for this blog, filming for my new IGTV series, sketching, or crocheting. Before I close my eyes to sleep, I practice my Danish on Duolingo, reflect on my day by writing in my journal, and go through my prayer list. 

A​ll these things are an attempt to better myself as a person holistically. In a time of extreme connectivity, through the skewed lens of social media and other technology, it seems like it is “trending” to have a skin care, meditation, reading, creative, sleep, work, and hobby routines. This makes us think having all those things as part of our day is possible or absolutely vital. Which then leads to a lot of over exhausted and insecure people that feel like they can not keep up. I am very prone to this, because I love the idea of doing these things everyday and having a steady upward slope of growth. As I have gotten older, I am more and more aware of my idealism causing negative emotions to cloud my otherwise extremely blessed life. All this to say, that I love having this goal to do these disciplines everyday, but I am continually reminding myself it is not the end of the world if I miss one or two every now and then. I have had one day, since I started doing this specific list of daily disciplines about a month or so ago, where I did not do one of the things on the list all day. That is just real life and that is okay. Life is not a straight line, in fact, usually it is all tangled up like spaghetti. 

T​hat is about all I have for you guys on what I am up to over here in Denmark. Sorry I do not have a lot of pictures for this letter home! Thank you so much for following my new chapter in life! I hope these posts allow you all to see into my life in a helpful way. My next episode on my IGTV series will be up on my Instagram this Sunday! I will be going over the Color Me Confident post and answering some of your questions.

Xoxo Adam

Go With Your Gut!

Let me paint a picture for you. You are in your favorite store. You are in front of a rack of clothes. All colors and styles hang on the rack in front of you. The shiny, stainless steel of the metal rack reflects the soft, white light coming from the fluorescent bulbs above. There are so many options. The full rainbow is represented, but you can’t wear green because it brings out the redness from your breakout. And you can’t wear yellow because it washes you out. And, do not even get started on purple… because that is just not your color. “Okay”, you say to yourself, “let’s not think about color yet. Let’s find a style and fit that works and would be cute. Peplum tops are cute because they hide my “problem area”, but they also make me look kind of like a cupcake. What about oversized tops? Those are in right now, right? But, how do I wear it without looking like I am just a homeless person in a bed sheet? Why don’t I have tiny Ariana Grande features, or the beautiful broad shoulders of a runway model?”

Have you found yourself having this internal dialogue, only to ferociously wreak havoc on your self esteem? And then, of course, an adorably dressed, peppy sales associate asks you if you need any help finding anything. Which then begs the question, “Are you not capable of picking out clothes for yourself like a normal adult person?” There is nothing wrong with these thoughts. The thoughts we have while going through life are often out of our control. What is in our control is the effect those thoughts have on our view of ourselves and the world. How much influence should these thoughts have on the decisions we make about our personal style?

It is a cliche saying, but truly the best accessory is a smile. The key to having a successful personal style is confidence. Now to break this down is somewhat subjective. Because, to have “success” in style could mean a variety of things. The beauty of it is that you set your own goals when deciding what you want to achieve with what you wear. What you wear can provide information on your identity, profession, personality, interests, and even character. It depends on the viewer, however, and you can’t always please everyone or make everyone understand what you are trying to present about yourself. So, I would say that success can be defined as just reaching a winning percentage. Meaning, over half of the people that interact with your style walk away with an understanding of you as a person. It is also so important to accept that anything involving humans is not simple. It is always complex. We are the sum of our parts, not just what people choose to see or what we choose to present to them. So, I believe it to be so paramount that we go about style always with a hint of irreverence. We should never take our style, what others think of our style, or their style too seriously. It is just clothes, not the essence of life. It is merely a reflection and representation of it.

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All this to say, go with your gut! The photos I have attached to this post are of a look that represents just that for me. The overalls are a thrift store find from a back alley of the streets of Paris. If I were to look at these overalls solely through the lens of my double-bachelor-degreed, fashion-business and design eye, I would say; “The hem is too wide and not long enough for me, it needs to be fitted around my waist, and have a deeper crotch seam.” But, when I saw them on the rack in that small side street/alleyway in Paris, I grabbed them right away to purchase. I went with my gut, because my gut said, “Wow those are so freaking cute.” Literally nothing else came into play in this decision for my personal style. I am not saying that all fashion decisions need to be this way, but I think part of your wardrobe should be designated for these pure love pieces. The T-shirt is a thrift store find from St Charles, MO. The university town I called home for four years right outside St. Louis. I saw it on the rack and immediately thought of the character from the hit TV show, New Girl, Winston Bishop. If you have not seen the show, stop reading this and go binge it on Netflix. Winston wears a lot of bird shirts kind of inexplicably on the show, and I find it to be such a funny, random bit. Any way, I would put this shirt in the somewhat ironic style category of Napoleon dynamite that inspired hipsters everywhere. The belt is a thrift store find as well from a thrift store that I can not place in my mind, but I am notorious for grabbing any sort of woven belt that is in good condition. They remind of all the homeschool moms of my childhood, and I love a nod to where I came from when dressing myself. To finish this off in a succinct way, because I get way to chatty when discussing fashion. Go with your gut when you have that initial “that is so freaking cute” reaction to a garment. It truly can have a positive impact on your mood and overall well being.

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Xoxo Adam

Edited by: Rachel Kater

Letter Home: From My Danish Home

I​ have been here, in Denmark, for about a month and a half now. I was expecting there to be a culture shock and a very slow adjustment to getting even remotely comfortable. It has proven to be quite the opposite. From the moment I walked into my home here, I have been welcomed with open arms. I was picked up from the train station at Bramming, a town close to Nordenskov, by my coach (an Australian) and two of my teammates (an American and an Australian). Nordonskov is a town of about 700 people. So by town, I really mean, an intersection with a grocery store/gas station, thrift store, hair salon, and grill. surrounding this is a cluster of homes that make up the town. There is a small school as well, just across the street. Our house is big. It contains five bedrooms on the first floor, one bathroom, kitchen, living room, and laundry. Our coach has his own apartment on the second floor of our house. The driveway wraps around the side of the house where our cars are parked. We get three sponsored cars for the six of us. It is a comfortable set up. We are sponsored by several businesses in the area, and the staff has been so kind and accommodating with anything I have needed while settling in here. 

The two main things standing in the way of me jumping right on the court was getting my work visa and FIVB player transfer. We thought it would take about a month to get all of that paperwork done and approved. Which would have me cleared right as we went into our winter break, so I would not be able to compete in a match until after the new year when we come back from winter break. That gives me about a month of training with the team and then a two week vacation for the holidays. Which, to me, seemed like a nice time for easing back into training and getting used to the community I was entering. I had not trained to be competing on a team in 8 months, and I did not really have a good idea of what the weight room, practice gym, and game gym was going to be like. I would consider myself fairly good at maintaining a somewhat healthy lifestyle even when I am not training, at least physically, but you never know how a coach or team expects things to be done. Somehow, the paperwork came back from the government regarding my visa and work permit much sooner than expected, and I was able to suit up for the last three games before our winter break. I substituted in to serve in the first two matches and set the last two sets of the third. 

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I​t was clear when I was brought on that my role in coming in was to provide support to the team. They have a solid starting lineup and bench, but felt they needed to deepen the talent in the setting position. I am not expected to see much court time; which provides me with the opportunity to get a feel for international environment and the team without a lot of pressure. The season started in August for them, so I was entering the team at about the halfway point of the season. 

The transition was fairly easy for being in a completely new environment halfway across the globe. The people at the club have been so kind and accommodating in helping me set up my lodging, banking, food, and etc. The volleyball level is fairly similar to where I was at in college at the states, but there are definitely differences in the style of play and overall energy that goes into the sport. They say that Americans are loud and over the top, which may be true (LOL); and the difference is definitely felt on the court. Since the seasons are long here in Europe, the pace of the training here highly prioritizes not burning out and making sure we are tracking the amount of times we jump, lift, and train. So, I did not feel a shock or huge increase in activity. Plus, since my job is to play volleyball, the rest of the day is up to me. I am able to work in lots of rest, writing, watching netflix, reading, and practicing my Danish. The Danish language is proving to be, honestly, difficult to learn, and I already have proven to not be great at picking up language. My Spanish 101 grade from high school would prove this fact. I am enjoying giving it my best, though. 

The second week that I was here, my fellow American teammate took me to the city of Aarhus on the east side of Jutland. It is only about an hour drive from our home on the west side of the peninsula. We went to the art museum there that houses the famous sculpture, BOY. It also has a circular walkway on the walk encased in rainbow tinted glass. It was a BLAST! I will include some photographs of our adventure here:

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Me in the Rainbow walkway overlooking Aarhus from the Art Museum
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Ramen Noodles from Aarhus Street Food
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Houses in Aarhus
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Rainbow Walkway with Will
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Rainbow Walkway
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Sculpture where Aarhus meets the water
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BOY with Will

We had a few house guests for the holidays (Australians that are over here for volleyball as well). We had several big meals, opened presents, and enjoyed the fireworks on New Years Eve. Sadly, we could not practice the Danish tradition of singing and dancing around the Christmas tree; because our Christmas tree didn’t have a stand and had to lean agains the wall in the corner of the living room. We were very taken care of by our sponsors, who provided us with the funds for our holiday feasts. 

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Almost all the Aussies and I
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The sweater I received in our Secret Santa gift exchange.
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Emil and I (Danish teammate)
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Our gingerbread house.

I​ have done a little exploring beyond Aarhus: seeing the famous “Men at Sea” sculptures facing the North Sea in Espberg, thrift shopping in the small towns that surround us, and traveling with the team. We were able to take a trip to Berlin to train with the German Youth National U20 team for a couple days. While we were in Berlin, we were able to see the CEV 2020 Tokyo Olympic Qualifier Final between France and Germany at the Recycle Volley Stadium. We, of course, had some schnitzel while we were in Germany. 

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Scrimmage With German U20 National Team
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“Men at Sea”
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CEV 2020 Tokyo Qualifier Final
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Scrimmage with Germna U20 National Team

J​ust this last week I was given my coaching assignment in the club, per my contract. I will be coaching the second women’s volleyball team while I am here, which is gonna be a lot of fun. Especially, since it is the perfect time to practice and get tips on my Danish. The only other weird thing about living here is the measurements. I have no understanding of how tall I am, how much I weigh, how far away something is, or how much of an ingredient to add to a recipe until I get out my google conversion application out. 

XOXO Adam 

P.S. I will try to be better about taking photos to give a visual in these letters. But, in my defense, it is always overcast and/or raining here. So, the lighting is not ideal.

Edited by: Rachel Kater

Color Me Confident

I​ have always found it interesting how much of the color black one sees at fashion shows, the place where fashion as art is supposed to be most celebrated. And yet, so many of the attendees are wearing black. Why? Because that is fashionable? Chic? Classic? It was even a requirement at Lindenwood Fashion Shows for the students to wear all black. While there is some truth to the fact that black can promote a classic and chic vibe, I do believe we could all check our motivations for colors that we wear. If we are wearing black to appear intimidating, might we be struggling with feelings of inferiority? If we are wearing black to fit in, maybe we are battling some insecurity? I am not passing judgements, just making observations about what I see, so I can better understand what drives humans’ choices on what kind of clothes they put on their body, including me. I love the idea of the motivation of our personal style being expressive, representative, and aspirational. It is not that what you wear is priority number one, because that should never be the case, but being purposeful with our style that is the most attractive quality when approached honestly.

Like most people, I​ love trying to understand or make sense of the things that interest me. My interest in fashion took me to a liberal arts university, Lindenwood University St. Charles. My four years at Lindenwood began with the basics of art and fashion. We took studio art courses that delved into the subjects of color, structure, sketching, and fabrication. One of my favorite classes was color theory. We had a teacher who took the subject very seriously… and who wouldn’t want to play with color for 3 hours twice a week? We used mediums such as paint, collage, pencil, markers, and Color Aid (which was very expensive for some reason, and of course, we had to pay for it out of pocket). So many people made fun of me when I told them I had to do my Color Theory homework as I would just be sitting there cutting out shapes from color swatches. However, the class was very interesting, and color plays a huge role in our lives. Most of us see the world in color. Color makes up what we cannot see in light. Science is even learning the importance of the color of light that we are exposed to with the popularization of infrared saunas and blue light blocking eye wear. So, studying color and understanding each color’s impact and relation on what it comes into contact with is something you could study in depth for a long time. For the purpose of this blog post, however, I will be applying a fairly rudimentary knowledge of colors and their relationship to each other, through the lens of fashion.

I​ go through phases of obsessions with colors, and I like the idea of learning something from each phase of life to be able to carry with you as you continue on. This makes my personal style and preferences involving color ever-evolving. As I have gotten older, I have noticed a shift in my preference of or “favorite” colors. High school me loved cool blue tones and black, while adult me has moved to the warmer end of the rainbow. I truly enjoying the warmth and serenity of yellows, oranges, and browns. I really do not know why that is yet. I like to try new things, because it teaches you to grow, so maybe it just stems from that. A sense of adventure is paramount to a style that has a magnetic pull. When choosing what colors to wear, you want to think about a few things. First, understand your natural biological colors. Eye, skin, and hair color all will have a relationship with whatever color you choose to wear. Most people who enjoy fashion have a color they think they look best in. Usually that is because that color is complimentary to one of their distinguishing biological colors: eyes, hair, and skin. For example many red heads really pop in the color green, because red is green’s compliment on the color wheel. This does not always mean that all people with natural red hair look great in green. If you experiment with dyeing your hair, tanning, or color contacts that will change the nature of the color palette you are working with. Perhaps the most complex of the biological colors you are given is skin color. Our skin tones are neutrals or nudes which are made up of a variety of colors. Which makes browns and greys some of the most complex of color mixtures. If you have ever tried your hand at painting, just think about what color the water is in the cup where you rinse your used brushes. It is usually some type of grey or brown (if you have used more than 3 different colors). Skin tones commonly have red, green, blue, and yellow undertones. You might not be able to distinguish these undertones from the overtone of your skin color whether you are fair, tanned, or dark. When you put a color on that skin, however, those undertones can be accentuated or reduced depending on the undertone and its relation to the color of the garment on the color wheel. Colors that are directly across from each other are complimentary. These colors make each other pop and appear more saturated. While colors that are next to each other are analogous. These colors are what we usually pair together when we want something to “match”. Below, I have the basic color wheel that gives a visual for what I am talking about, and some photos of how I like to use color in my personal style.

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T​hese photos are a mix of the cool blue tones from my younger years with the warm, joyful yellow of my current style. This jacket is “vintage” Nautica (I am putting vintage in quotes, because it really was not made long ago at all) from the time when the brand was at its peak. The acid wash denim is a creation of some mom or teen’s first try at pants, I am sure. When I got them at the thrift store they fell right off me and had an odd excess of fabric in the front crotch area. Some minor adjustments to the crotch seam and some new elastic in the waist band made them just for me. That’s the thing I love most about thrifting clothes. An interior decorator on a house hunting show may say a room has “good bones,” referring to the potential of the space with some adjustments and upgrades. This applies to clothes too. With some basic sewing skills, and an active imagination, used garments can become new treasures. The beautifully patterned button up was a thrift store find from this summer’s obsession for these classic button ups reminiscent of the seventies era in men’s wear. The belt and the choker are the only parts of this look that are not thrifted. The choker, inlaid with tiny crosses, was from a time I was randomly shopping with a friend in Charming Charlies and they were giving away free necklaces. The belt is from my high school days of working at Old Navy. It is one of the only things left over from that time in my style evolution (thank goodness). LOL.

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A Letter Home: 30 Hours of Travel

Dear Family and Friends Back Home,

I woke up at 4am on Sunday, November 17th to head to the airport with the biggest suitcase they sell at the department store, a normal carry on, and my little black backpack that ended up weighing as much as my carry on (due to my MacBook from 2007 that weighs 5lbs)… LOL. I edited down my wardrobe the best I could to a “sensible” travel size.  Apparently, it would be expensive to ship 4 XL bins of sweaters halfway across the globe. Oh well. Both of my parents accompanied me to the airport, and I was just feeling so excited. I had dreamed of playing volleyball overseas, professionally, since I was at least 12 years old. It felt like it all fell into place, in a special way, and I am just so thankful for that. I had a flight to Charlotte, NC with a short hour-long layover, and was then off to Boston, MA. The most unfortunate part of my travel was an 8 hour layover in Boston before I flew to London. This was only my second time out of the country, and to do it alone with an itinerary that included 4 planes and 2 trains made me very nervous to say the least. I hate the idea of not understanding things correctly and missing things when it comes to plane and train tickets, therefore I am always a little tense when traveling. So, I was just strolling through the airport in Charlotte with an hour until I boarded for Boston, and I realized I was supposed to print off my train ticket for when I arrived in Copenhagen. I had forgotten to do it, so I started scouring the Charlotte airport for somewhere that might have printing capabilities. I stopped at this store that was like a mini hotel where you rent a little bunk room by the hour for long layovers and such. The women kind of gave me a look when I asked if they let people print things there, and then said,” I guess if you email it to me I can print it right here.” She did not even charge me. (I do not know if that is pretty normal, but it felt like an undeserved kindness.) 

I made it to Boston, and the 8 hour layover began. My flight that evening was the only one by that airline all day. So, I could not check my bag and get into the airport for about five hours. Trying to find a way to store my stuff somewhere and explore a little bit of Boston seemed like an overwhelming assignment. So, I just lounged in the front ticketing part of the airport for five hours. Like I mentioned before, I am a very nervous traveler especially when doing so alone. Any attempt at curling up to take a nap on the dirty airport floor was foiled by panic that someone took one of my bags. I have my father to thank for this paranoia, as does now the (I am sure) nice lady that happened to walk too close while I was attempting one of these naps only to be confronted by me jerking awake to an upright position, hand clenched and eyes wild. 

As soon as they are setting up the ticketing counter for my airline I am in line. As I get up to the counter to check my bags, my understanding of my bag situation was 40kg for my checked bag, 10kg for my carry on, and a personal item up until this point. Apparently, the personal item AND the carry on were supposed to equal 10 kg… combined. Because of my lovely, vintage 15in MacBook Pro that weighs about 5kg by itself (LOL), I was royally screwed. The airline attendant tells me it will be $200 to check my carry on at the counter. Thinking I had no other option, I slowly start to pull out my credit card. As I am handing it to the airline worker, he pauses saying,”$200 is a lot of money.” He continues to say that he will let me take them both on for no additional cost, this once. I almost jumped over the counter to give him a hug, honestly. Praise the Lord! 

I got french fries and salad, and then sat at my terminal downloading episodes on Netflix for the flight. This was the biggest plane I have ever been on, and there were so many people lining up to board. Luckily, I knew I had a window seat, but I was not looking forward to this overnight flight across the ocean sitting up. The blessings just kept on pouring over me, because somehow, I ended up with a whole row to myself; the only one on the whole flight, that I saw. I got to sleep, watch movies, and eat all reclined across the three seats I had to myself. Praise the Lord! Our flight got in a little late to London, and I had to sprint through the airport. Since I had a connecting flight, I did not have to go through customs. But, I did have to choose which terminal to enter. Thankfully, I chose correctly.  For the first time in my life I heard, “Last call for passengers going to Copenhagen.” I am always very punctual for travel like this, mainly because it makes me nervous. But, this time, I was nowhere near my gate! I was already sweating from the choice of which terminal to enter, not to mention the fact that I was wearing so many layers to maximize the amount of clothes I was able to bring with me… LOL. But, off I go in a full sprint through the London airport. I make it to my gate just in time, and I am the second to last person to board the plane. 

I make it to Copenhagen in the late morning on November 18th. The weather is dreary and the air cold. Looking out the window of the train and seeing the green fields, islands, and bridges of this little northern kingdom was unreal. If you are unfamiliar with Denmark, it is made up of the Jutland Peninsula, which points north on the northern edge of the continent, and an archipelago of about 500 islands. Copenhagen is on the largest, eastern most island. My little, new home of Nordenskov is near the western coast of the peninsula. I took 2 trains to get from Copenhagen to the closest station to Nordenskov. I nervously asked almost every person in my train car if I was on the right train, when I was supposed to get off, and if the Danish I heard coming over the speaker pertained to me. LOL. So much so that when that when my stop was up next almost everyone in the car turned to me and said, “The next stop is Bramming, that’s where you get off.” It was like I could feel all their worried eyes watching me lug my suitcases off the train and onto the podium thinking,” That poor American has no clue what is going on.” My coach and some teammates were there waiting for me to take me to a big house in quaint, little Nordenskov to settle into my home for the next 6 months.

I am so thankful to my heavenly Father for all the blessings I received in this terribly long travel day, and that the Danish people are very kind and helpful. I, to this day, have only experienced one person that was unable to communicate with me in English. I have been welcomed into the country with open arms, and it feels good. I am writing this officially one month in on my stay here in Denmark, and I am very excited for what these next 5 months have in store. 

God Bless,

Adam James Brewster

Brown is REALLY the New Black

I have never been a fan of brown shades. In my mind, they were all just a “wanna-be” Black. My senior year in fashion school changed a lot of significant things about me, but one of the more subtle changes was my perception of the color brown. This new discovery may be a huge stretch or just down right unrelatable, but indulge me here. The color brown is all around us. It is seen in skin tones, hair colors, eye colors, and even in something as basic as dirt. We see it in all its variations every day. For me, brown represented a dull indefinability. My hair was brown, my freckles were brown, and my huge birthmark on my right arm…. all brown. To me this color was what I was given to work with at birth. I don’t really know where this thought comes from, but it became a symbol of what I would be if I didn’t achieve anything. I started with brown so I could not finish with brown, right? While struggling to accept what I was given, what drew me to fashion was what they are constantly selling in fashion magazines: reinvention, elite status, an escape from your reality. To me, a basic brown was the antithesis of these characteristics.

I grew up one of seven kids in Kansas City, Missouri. I looked so much like my siblings I was often referred to as simply, ”the little Brewster” or “little Brinks” (my oldest brother). I remember very much disliking my freckles. It is not that my self-esteem was ever low, but I just thought that I would be so much better looking if I wasn’t covered in dots. Of course, other kids’ comments like, “is that dirt on your face” and other chiding remarks about freckles don’t make a kid think too fondly of these spots. This perception of freckles, and partially the color brown, changed one day when I was complaining about my freckles to my mom. I wasn’t asking for anything too crazy, just that I basically wished they were not on my face. But then something happened that would change that wish. At that time, while I was in high school, I was working at Old Navy. I had a customer that was exactly what you probably think of when you think about your friends’ moms. A brown, wavy bob with those mom bangs. (No shade, I love all the mommas out there, but we all can picture this haircut, right?) I scanned in all her items, placed them in the bag, and handed it to her with a, “Have a great night.” This was nothing different than the usual interaction. As she was leaving, she paused with her hand resting on the glass door to exit the store. She then turned to me and said, “You know those freckles are kisses from your angels, right?” Hearing this, I was honestly kind of shocked at this random event in the otherwise monotony that plagues the life of retail workers everywhere. I told her I had not always liked them. She responded with an understanding smile and nod saying,” Well you should!” She then made her way out the door. I do not know who that woman was, but from that moment on I decided my freckles were bomb and a sign of how much I was loved. One could say I am reading into this moment or being dramatic, but moments like that do not happen often. Moments when you experience a profound shift in perspective are few and far between. I am so thankful for whoever that woman was, and for her willingness to speak into my life that night. I am also thankful for a God who knew what I was wrestling with, and who cared enough about me to cause our paths to meet.

With this back-story in mind, we are stepping back to this past year while I was completing my degree, in Fashion. For my senior year, we were assigned to create a collection from start to finish with full creative liberty on concept, category, and execution. While considering options for my concept, I felt I had gotten distracted by the things that drew me to fashion in the first place: escapism and elitism. Those were the things that drew me into fashion, but I knew those things drew me in because of something I was missing in myself. That missing piece was harmony. I wanted that escape, because I could not make sense of myself. When looking around at the other men surrounding me, they all seemed to have an understanding that was unspoken. Things like: how to greet each other (“Bro hugs,” which to this day I don’t understand), how to talk to each other, and more importantly what to talk about, just seemed to flow naturally. I have little to no interest in video games, football, and beer, which can make it tough to make connections when around a lot of guys my age. I did not understand why I seemed to not get masculinity. Over the course of the year, I dove into this and all the other parts of my identity. I found that I seemed to be sitting in the puddle of mud in a tug-of-war between the two extremes of identity that everyone else so easily found themselves on one side. I came to the conclusion that I over-corrected in fashion, and that is not what I wanted, because it was not sincere. I had been trying to find myself on the extreme/liberal side of high fashion, an edgy in-your-face fashion that seemed to alienate most people, but I am not there. That is not truly where I stand. My identity pulled me another way, because I genuinely want to connect with people on both sides. So, I came to the conclusion that I was somewhere in the middle. For me, that meant accepting myself for who I really was. And, that brought me back to brown. This became part of my color story for my senior collection, ADAM. 

This got very personal, which I was not really planning on. But isn’t that what style is about? Your style is your style for a reason, and that reason is personal for each person. So, with that in mind, let’s end with some actual styling and fashion advice. Brown can be very versatile and soothing. I realized this when I spent some time in Arizona with my then girlfriend. In Arizona, everything is a neutral. And, if there is a color, it is muted. Now I am not being a visionary by any means with expanding my wardrobe to include more browns and neutrals. The Kardashians and many others have brought a whole new luxury and beauty to browns and nudes. Working brown into your wardrobe gives you an approachability and warmth that you simply do not get with black. So my advice is: go to your local thrift store. Instead of pushing past the browns, tans, and beiges take a closer look at them. Your whole new outfit might just be in the same spot on the ROYGBIV rack. Here are some looks that take brown to a whole new level and honestly bring me so much aesthetic joy that I never thought I would be getting from the color of poop. 😜

Brown Business ManIMG_7680All of the pieces in these shots are thrift store finds except the khaki denim, which was a Target or JCPenney find, I can’t remember. The sweater layered with the cardigan under the over alls makes for the warmest, most comfortable outfit for the winter. Accessorizing it with the red/brown woven belt and combat boots send this 50 shades of brown look over the top and not in a bad way like the movie. LOL. Finding pieces that make a statement in a subtle way like this beige cardigan with these incredible leather buttons are pieces that can really put your personal style on a whole new level. The Beauty is in the details. The second look has all the pieces I actually enjoy from menswear. A shoulder padded double breasted suit with a classic dress shirt underneath but of course oversized. Because I like keeping my proportions big and broad on top and tight to the body going down. And again the beauty is in the details. Wearing a choker with a dress shirt gives this classic work the edge that makes it my personal style. And don’t be afraid to reuse accessories! Same belt and boots for both looks.

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Adam James Brewster

P.S. Thank you so much to my great friend Moriah Roberts for taking these photos, my brother Trevor Brewster for editing them for me, and Rachel Kater for helping edit this post. (Hit up their socials, if you’d like) This was so fun to put together, and I hope to have more coming soon.

Packing Up My Life As a Fashion Fanatic

With my recent move over seas to finish out the volleyball season in the Danish League… I had to pack up my life in a checked bag, carry on, and personal item. This can be a real predicament when you are the clothes hoarder, that I am. I enlisted the help of my sister Molly who has made the trip overseas for volleyball seasons, and just brought t-shirts and gym clothes. She cracked the whip, and I had to remove several things… but it needed to happen… I’m fine… everything’s fine. So here is how my list ended up:
15 socks
15 underwear
10 gym shirts
10 gym shorts
3 sweats
4 jeans
1 slack
2 cotton shorts
5 shirts
4 collared shirts
4 sweaters
2 boots
1 Court shoes
1 Tennis shoes
1 Sandals
2 belts
1 scarf
1 tie
1 knee pads
2 hats
2 coats
A handful of jewelry
Everything I packed (for the most part) can be mismatched and paired together. There are A lot of neutral bottoms and tops with a few statement tops. The gym clothes can be thrown away after my season here. I have a puffy warm athletic coat and a cute vintage L.L. Bean coat. So I am able to have a style outside the gym but stay practical and within my weight restrictions for my bags. The rest are pieces that I thoroughly enjoy or have some special meaning to me. (Cause I am a ways from home and I know that I am going to get sentimental) Personal style is all about expression, feeling comfortable in your own skin, and highlighting what makes you special. We will see how long it takes me to be stressed about how little I have to wear. We will have to see what Denmarks Thrift store game is like, as well.
A post about my travels across the ocean and settling in to my life here in Denmark will be coming soon.