Let’s examine some (seemingly) simple questions: When it comes to fashion and style, how does a cat guy express his cat-guy-ness? Is he obligated to show his cat side? If so, should he avoid making the impression that all cat guys are wack? What does “wack” even mean? Does any of this matter?
I contend that it does matter, and it’s probably important to many men who love cats. Why? In a recent column, I described the phenomenal qualities cat guys possess over mere mortal men, but I omitted one: The skilled cat guy probably dresses well and surrounds himself with interesting personal effects. Thus, it stands to reason he would ask, “What IS my style, and how should it convey cattitude?”
Ultimately, each cat man finds his own answer. Some lean toward elegant or subtle, while others opt for edgy and overt. Jackson Galaxy, for example, host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, mixes numerous sensibilities in his style, which could just as easily be described as “retro chic” as “futuristic philosopher.” Mike Bridavsky, Lil BUB’s “Dude,” often wears standard-issue jeans and T-shirt, but his rich, colorful tattoos and cool haircut and beard balance that for an air of understated confidence. Moshow, the rapper who advocates for cat adoption and education, works a colorful hip-hop look that includes multiple hats, hoodies, jewelry and some fabulous shoes — and sometimes his own cats. (Hi, Ravioli.)
Yet these men don’t overdo the cat quotient. Sure, Galaxy sometimes wears a Real Men Love Cats shirt, Mike B. often sports images of BUB, and Moshow surely keeps kitty bling in his jewelry case. But the cat items aren’t what leaves the impression. Rather, it’s overall presence, which includes cattitude. That, my friends, is style done right.
I take a similar approach. Of these cat guys, Jackson Galaxy is closest to my own style. (I feel confident saying that, considering I was mistaken for him about 100 times at a conference in 2012.) Like him, I mix retro Americana, punk pragmatism and, well, let’s call it “atypical.” On any given day I might wear a porkpie hat, blazer, bow tie and lug-sole wingtips or maybe a houndstooth flat cap, nylon flight jacket, Dickies shirt and Doc Martens boots. I have many 1950s-style lounge shirts. On occasion I wear a kilt and vest or a vintage tailcoat tuxedo. I love distinctive eyewear.
Yet I keep cattitude to a supporting role, mostly accessories. For example, for blazers I have a black lapel pin of a cat head, inside of which shines a chrome skull. I’ve seen (but missed the chance to buy) some very cool Victorian-looking cufflinks containing silhouetted cat busts. At CatCon 2017 I wore a leopard-print bow tie and matching socks. I’ve seen a gorgeous Felix the Cat watch in Art Deco style but couldn’t afford it at the time. Felix does make an appearance on one of my flight jackets: a reproduction of a vintage Navy squadron patch features Felix delivering a cartoon bomb.
In home décor I also aim for memorable but not ubiquitous. A downstairs room has three framed renditions of gorgeous Asian cat tattoos alongside a small ink drawing by artist Rob Reger, cat advocate and creator of Emily the Strange comics. In my office is a framed photograph of my gray tabby, Thomas, as well as a pastel drawing of a cat wearing a suit who looks like Thomas’ Wall Street doppelganger. Nearby are two letter-size color drawings of Lil BUB commemorating CatCon 2015 and 2016. I have a Kit-Cat clock. I sometimes incorporate cats into my own visual artwork. A recent oil painting called Moonwalk features a cat and a tree in nighttime silhouette. The cat — who’s filled with stars — ascends the tree toward a bright yellow moon.
I have diverse and eclectic tastes, and I’ve long resisted letting any single element dominate my persona. Cats are among my many passions, so I make them a distinct part of my self-expression but not the only part.
Thumbnail: Photography ©seyitali | Getty Images.
Keith Bowers is a career journalist who has covered pets, the arts, law, politics, business and crime. He is a visual artist in oil painting, sculpture and photography and has been the emcee for CatCon for three years. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon, with his wife, Daphne, and one cat, a brown tabby named Thomas.
Editor’s note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you!
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