Wearables Have A Style Problem

Wearables Have A Style Problem

I love gadgets. Love them. I would get around all day wearing Google Glass on my face, a fitness gadget on each wrist and a phablet in my pocket to tie it all together, provided it didn’t get me punched in the face. This morning while suiting up for Melbourne Cup festivities, I ran into a problem: I found that none of my wearables were up to the job of blending in with a suit. And that got me thinking.

In my opinion, the two best-looking wearables on the market right now come from Motorola and Jawbone. Namely, the Moto 360 with its grey leather band and sleek silver watch face, and the Jawbone UP24 in beautiful pink (don’t judge me, readers).

Today’s outfit is a beautiful navy blue suit tailored to my measurements by the geniuses at Institchu (we’ll be reviewing them soon). I don’t imagine that I’m the only geek suiting up for Horse Day, and as a result, I’m probably not the only person to discover that even the most beautiful wearable has no place on a suit that grown-ups wear.

The Moto 360, despite being the best-looking Android Wear watch on the market right now, is still too thick, too chunky and far too nerdy to wear on your wrist when you’re busy getting all fancy. When you’re wearing a nice shirt, be it fitted with French cuffs or a simple button, you’re meant to layer. That is: your watch is meant to subtly peek out from inside your cuffed shirt sleeve, and that sleeve is meant to poke out about an inch further than your jacket or blazer reaches. Normal analogue watches don’t have the burden of memory, lithium batteries or other such components to worry about, and as a result they’re able to be low profile on the wrist and blend into a fancy suit or a casual outfit with no problems.

A smartwatch or other wearable, however, does have these things to worry about. You’ve got a large, bright screen, a battery, memory and CPU components and a touchscreen to worry about, which means that even the most handsome of smartwatches is still too big to slide elegantly into your shirt sleeve. As a result, you’re left with a goppingly ugly smartwatch hanging out of your sleeve if you do choose to wear it.

And that’s the problem with wearables that manufacturers still haven’t been able to solve: wearables can’t be ugly.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are allowed to be ugly and formless, simply because they live in a pocket or a bag all day. They’re not meant to be seen all goddamn day, whereas wearables are. So this is a note on style to Motorola, LG, Google, Apple, Samsung and anyone else who dares to make something meant to be worn: form ought to follow function in the case of wearables. Always.

What’s your favourite wearable, and can it be worn on a fancy day/night out?

Images by Campbell Simpson