One of the more (in)famous Styleforum posters, Stanley van Buren is perhaps best-known for his over-the-top photography and dedication to the true art of the Styleforum WAYWT photo. Inspirations for his pictures have ranged from film noir to B-Movie action flicks, and in all cases, he and his wife have made a strong argument for both the usefulness of WAYWT and for the plumbing of its artistic depths. We asked him to talk a little bit about himself – which he did, grudgingly.
“Lookin like u jus smoked a blunt n ****** a **** up da **** while watchin Gone Wit Da Wind *** ****” –tcwalter07
Do you remember thumb comments? I remember thumb comments. The above quote was one that I received from the most well-known thumb commenter, tcwalter07, who may also be one of the best success stories of Styleforum’s streetwear & denim forum (though that came later). That quote was printed out and framed along with the photo it was referencing and the whole thing was given to me as a gift at Christmas in front of my family. There was some censoring of a couple letters here and there, and yet I’m pretty sure my parents were still able to work out what the words were. Hopefully it’s reproduced in all its glory here, since Jasper [Styleforum’s editor] specifically told me “No restrictions on content or anything,” words which I was intent on making him regret and so here we are.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a few years ago, Styleforum switched platforms and the new software had, for the first time, a ratings system for individual posts. One could give a post a “thumbs up” and then the post would show a count of the number of “thumbs” received. Similar to likes on any other social platform, but there was one wrinkle: before the “thumb” was submitted, there was a mandatory field that popped up asking for a comment to be added. There was a character limit, so the message had to be short, and it was possible to leave no comment at all but the option was always presented. For whatever reason, the members of the streetwear & denim forum were light years ahead in taking advantage of this feature. And, in particular, there was tcwalter07.
Around that time, I had a new girlfriend. She is now my wife. For a span of maybe 6 months to a year, we spent a considerable amount of effort to post photos almost entirely just to see what kind of comments we got in the thumbs section (and of course, in particular from tcwalter07). There was also Miran, but that’s another story. Yes, I was already into clothes. Yes, she was already into photography. But now we had found a way to combine the two interests and get some great entertainment out of the feedback from the forum. Shooting photos for styleforum was something we bonded over and had an absolute blast doing, and still do to this day.
It helped that I had already started to establish myself on the forums around that time. I had made the sensible decision, as any member of my generation would do when faced with a desire to gain some sense of style; I had subjected myself to trolls on the internet and let them ridicule me until by process of elimination I had arrived at a respectable wardrobe. I began the transition from a law student in baggy suits to some kind of respectable attorney, or at least, one whose clothes fit. So using that, and whatever else we could get our hands on, we told stories. Stories that involved plaid pants and vintage Fiats and explosions (I was specifically told to talk about the explosions). We took weekend trips out to Palm Springs or up the 395 and would always try to fit in a quick photo shoot if one of us had a good idea (which was and still usually is her).
At some point the “thumb comment” feature was turned off. There were several of us who were quite upset. Dozens, even. Then, everyone got used to being able to thumb a post in one click instead of two, so when, years later, the feature was brought back, most saw it as an inconvenient and unnecessary second click, and few took advantage of the option to leave a comment at that point. Few remembered how thumb comments had been used as an art form in the past. But my wife and me? We’re coming up on five years of marriage this December. We remember thumb comments.