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The Basics of Skatewear

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Avid sneakerhead and streetwear enthusiast, Ian has been experimenting with style so you don't have to.

What is Skatewear?

Skatewear is exactly how it sounds. It is a type of skate style, or at least what people think when they think of a skater in pop culture. The skater subculture doesn't really have a uniform "dress", but there is an idea as to what they may dress like. This article will break down the essentials of skatewear, as well as other things important to catching the "skater" look.

A focus on comfort and utility

Comfort and utility are universal in skate culture. These dudes move around a lot, so super fitted shirts and skinny jeans don't work well with this vibe. If you thought throwing on some Old Skools with your super skinny jeans and a thrasher tee would help you look like a skater, you're wrong. So what does constitute as "skate" style?

Skate style is notable for baggy, comfortable fits with durable materials and good construction. Chinos, jeans with good construction, and old oversized tees are good starting points to building your look. Not only will you be comfortable with all these, but you'll have some stuff that'll last you a while. Considering the movement, falls, and work a skater goes through in a month they need clothes that will last them a while. When you go for this style, remember to try and keep utility and comfort in mind. Go for the durable, comfortable items as opposed to your ripped jeans and forever 21 band tees.

Baggy jeans, baggy sweatshirt, and the skate shoes. This is my contribution.

Baggy jeans, baggy sweatshirt, and the skate shoes. This is my contribution.

Skate brands usually release lookbooks with their products and that's a great place to find inspo. Carhartt WIP, Gosha Rubichinsky, and even Dickies release solid lookbooks

Skate brands usually release lookbooks with their products and that's a great place to find inspo. Carhartt WIP, Gosha Rubichinsky, and even Dickies release solid lookbooks

Shoes

Shoes for skatewear are pretty simple. You should wear skate shoes. There are a wide range of skate shoes beyond Vans though. Nike, Adidas, Etnies, Emerica, and even Converse make good skate shoes that fit the skater aesthetic people strive for. Again, these are built for utility. Durability and comfort are the goals with these shoes, so not every pair is gonna look pretty. If you've ever seen a pair of Osiris D3s, you know what I mean.

If skate shoes aren't too much your thing, there are other things people have skated in that aren't historically skate shoes. The most popular example being the Air Jordan 1. When Jordan 1s came out, skaters loved them and it became one of the most skated shoes of the late 80s and 90s. Of course, there are others that easily come to mind in this category as well. The Adidas Superstar, Fila Original Fitness, and the Adidas Samba are also notable shoes that skaters wore through the 80s and 90s. Of course, due to their popularity as skate shoes most of these shoes now have skater inspired models. But if you're not into the aesthetic of certain skate shoes, you don't always have to settle for some Vans.

The infamous Osiris D3. Probably the ugliest skate shoe from the subculture. But ASAP Rocky made a shoe inspired by this, and 2019 is the year of the ugly sneaker. You might as well get these I guess.

The infamous Osiris D3. Probably the ugliest skate shoe from the subculture. But ASAP Rocky made a shoe inspired by this, and 2019 is the year of the ugly sneaker. You might as well get these I guess.

And you've probably seen these. With the rubber shell and all leather construction, no wonder people liked to skate these. The Adidas Superstars even got an Alexander Wang makeover, so maybe they're a little adept at skating.

And you've probably seen these. With the rubber shell and all leather construction, no wonder people liked to skate these. The Adidas Superstars even got an Alexander Wang makeover, so maybe they're a little adept at skating.

Pants and bottoms

Pants are one of the defining characteristics of this style, and thankfully they're also the most versatile part of the outfit. Pants and shorts can be a pretty wild variation depending on the weather, the skater, and the region. There's the obvious jeans and chinos, but for colder days breaking out some nice BDU pants or baggy sweatpants also looks really good with the skater look. For hotter days, taking some work shorts also works really well. In essence, go wild with your choice of bottoms. Just keep in mind to keep it baggy and comfy.

Bottoms are also the most essential part of a skater's wardobe. Skaters will fall, a lot, and leg protection is one of the most important aspects of dressing. Some notable brands for good pants are Dickies and Carhartt, since they're the most widely available and well known. But any decent workwear brand works. This includes Levi's, Wrangler, Duluth Trading Co., and many others. Just keep your choice durable and comfortable.

I regret getting rid of these pants, but the wide leg and heavyweight cotton worked really well with this style.

I regret getting rid of these pants, but the wide leg and heavyweight cotton worked really well with this style.

Literally everyone makes sweatpants. Get what works best for you. Just please, please god don't get joggers.

Literally everyone makes sweatpants. Get what works best for you. Just please, please god don't get joggers.

Tops

Tops are where you can come out the most. Why? They also have a whole ton of variety, and you can get any type of top from thrift shops. Tops are also fun to experiment with, from finding different fits to different brands, and trying different graphics into your outfits. These shirts look best baggy and worn, since it works best with the overall aesthetic.

tee shirts and long sleeve tees are a good start, since you can find them anywhere and spend as much as you want. A few brands that are worth looking into are Carhartt, Adidas, and other known current streetwear brands. Vintage tees and such are also really good at looking into. Keep it comfortable and durable, and you should do pretty well.

Another notable part of the tops are sweatshirts and hoodies. Hoodies are especially important to this style, due to their comfort and the hood itself. There are, of course, hundreds of brands that make hoodies and stuff. Since hoodies started as workwear staples, workwear brands still make them best. Another brand is Champion, since their sweatshirts and hoodies are classic. Due to the versatility of hoodies and sweatshirts, as well as their protection from falls, the elements, and the cold, they're pretty well liked in skate culture.

Skate style can be simple, or pretty complex. While layering is cool and all, keeping it simple with a tee and some pants with a beanie also works

Skate style can be simple, or pretty complex. While layering is cool and all, keeping it simple with a tee and some pants with a beanie also works

Accessories

Finally, we reach accessories. Unfortunately, this is gonna be a pretty sparse section. Accessorizing isn't a fundamental part of the skate aesthetic, but it can definitely add to the look and feel of an outfit

Jewelry isn't essential, but keeping it minimal and clean is a good way to integrate it into skate themed outfits. One idea is a simple wallet chain, just put on there to add some flare to pants. Another idea is a bead bracelet, just to add something to the outfit without being intrusive

Another good addition is hats. Hats are where you can be more creative. While baseball hats and beanies are pretty popular, bucket hats can also be worn with varying degrees of success in an outfit. Personally though, I think a beanie is the best way to add something to a simple outfit.

I told you a bucket hat could work.

I told you a bucket hat could work.

Carhartt beanies are good staples. They come in basically any color you want, and they look good too. Plus they're pretty comfortable and warm.

Carhartt beanies are good staples. They come in basically any color you want, and they look good too. Plus they're pretty comfortable and warm.

Conclusion

Skatewear is not that hard to pull off. By keeping it comfortable, utilitarian, and workable, you can incorporate a diverse and fun style into how you dress. Skatewear can be a variety of things, from athleisure to simple street fashion. It's tons of fun to wear and even more fun to talk about.

© 2019 Ian Barron