Los Angeles Times

TV Fashion: Jemaine Clement of 'Flight of the Conchords'


Music, as a career path, tends to make people dress weirdly. Elvis, M.C. Hammer and Bjork all made sartorial choices which left us scratching our heads. But today's musicians, even ones in television series like HBO's "Flight of the Conchords," are walking a runway of awkward dweebdom that looks like they've raided the closet of their hipster aunt circa 1973.

And struggling Conchord singer Jemaine Clement embraces the look wholeheartedly, right down to snug corduroy pants and snap-button shirts. And his "wings in flight" muttonchops don't exactly spell suave. Still, we love his style in spite of itself.

Of course, the excessively dweebish musician is a classic substructure that can be traced back to the likes of Buddy Holly and the Carpenters. Not that either of them were dweebs in their day, but rather that modern day dweebism has seemed to morph the two into a look that says "If it helped Zach Braff and Adam Brody each make out with Rachel Bilson it's good enough for me." And frankly, that reasoning alone seems worthwhile enough to pair a western shirt with mother of pearl snap buttons on top of skinny low-rise cords and a pair of Asics Tiger Mexicos.

But Jemaine's look is a simple case of pairing dominant retro pieces over normal, modern apparel for a look that is both quirky and approachable without being too moronic. And trust us, that's a thin line.

One of the essentials of this look is the retro-look T-shirt. Two-toned cotton Ts with or without artwork (http://store.cottonfactory.com) should be placed under a complimenting western style shirt which were huge in the early seventies thanks largely to the weird crossover of country music into mainstream (think Glen Campbell and John Denver). Vintage shirts or brand new work equally as well, but steer clear of embellished shirts with excessive stitching or bold yokes and cuffs. Dweebdom is effective only in its subtleties.

But can we stop with the shirt? Nope. Outerwear is what truly separates this look form the pack. A 1960s Pendelton sport coat for warmer climes or double-breasted peacoats fleece collars, lapels and linings when it gets chilly are perfect for pulling the nerd quotient to its maximum effect. MonsterVintage.com is a great resource for pulling this look together. It's literally one-stop shopping for dweebs and the people who dress them.

And while standard jeans are fine, vintage cords get you that much closer to Bilson. Paired with a wide leather belt that picks up the cues from your sneakers, the bottom half of Jemaine seems to say almost as much as his top half: only with less of an accent.

Sideburns optional.

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