I think that once you hit a certain point in your tenure as a veteran Styleforum Member, it becomes perversely easy to lose sight of what attracted you to clothing, style, and fashion in the first place. This is something I’ve noticed on all corners of the forum, from our Should I or Shouldn’t I threads, to the Wedding Style thread, to the Sales Alert thread – and, well, basically every corner of our little community.
What I mean, specifically, is that members forget about the brands and styles that they like because they’re overwhelmed by the quality/value proposition and, to an extent, brand name as well. People start thinking “Why would I buy X, when Y is a better value?” when really we ought to be thinking “Why do I want this in the first place?”
There’s no right answer, of course. That said, I’d argue that the most right answer is that you love it. There are many reasons we end up loving clothes – design, construction, and the materials used are just some of the features that draw us to particular garments. However, there are also plenty of more subjective reasons to buy or covet a piece of clothing, and they’re no less valid.
For example, you may discover a character in a movie that you admire, and you may be attracted to their wardrobe – both because of how it looks, as well as what it represents. Similarly, you may find that a garment you’ve seen reminds you of your favorite book, or your favorite song, whether by description or due to a reason you can’t quite put into words – yes, I speak from experience. And sometimes, the garment you’re immediately smitten with isn’t – *gasp* – the best value on the market. Maybe it’s some cheap thing you walked past in the mall. Maybe it’s an obscenely expensive experimental knit. My point is that it doesn’t matter: somehow, men have managed to demonize buying what we like in favor of buying garments that we can point to as objectively good or utilitarian, as though we’re still trying to pretend our interest in clothing is different and more fulfilling than other people’s (read: women). It’s too simple. It doesn’t show how worldly we are. We could be doing better.
That – looking purely at the “quality” (intangible at the best of times), “value” (more or less completely invented), and “utility” (nonsensical) of your clothing – is a great way to end up with a wardrobe full of garments that do nothing for you. The same goes for garments you think you should be wearing, either because they’re ‘basics that every man should own’ or things you’ve seen on cool Instagram accounts that nevertheless don’t inspire an emotional response other than the animal urge to find the item in question and click ‘buy.’
I once had an elderly British soccer coach who used to tell his players that they ought to be running around at half-mast all game, just because they were so goddamn excited to be out on the field. Notwithstanding potential injury, it’s a not-terrible metaphor for how you ought to feel when building a wardrobe. Maybe a take a minute to stop researching the ins and outs of every purchase. Maybe let yourself like the things you like, for no other reason than that you like them. That shirt you like doesn’t have to be hand-made by arthritic Italian men in order to have value. Your shoes don’t have to be the pinnacle of construction in order to be wearable or worthy of your love. It doesn’t matter if you could have gotten a different thing that’s better for less money. It doesn’t even matter if you’re treating your wardrobe solely as a tool for social interactions.
What matters is that enjoy your clothing – and more specifically, what matters is that you give a garment value through your enjoyment of it.
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