How to Wear a Jacket with Shorts

how to wear a jacket and shorts how to wear a jacket with shorts styleforum

 

In late spring and early summer (or really, most of summer), I often find myself wearing a light jacket with shorts as a nod to the vagaries of the weather. In spring, this has the obvious benefit of keeping you warm during the chilly morning and evening hours, and over the summer I find that a light jacket offers welcome relief from the sun – as long as I’m not moving around too much. I’ve mentioned the summer jacket in the recent past, but it’s worth repeating that the right cut and fabric can be very comfortable, even in the hotter months.

Some of you may remember that I spoke briefly about San Francisco’s Evan Kinori, and his are just the type of jackets that are perfect for this purpose. Based on traditional chore jackets, but in a more interesting cut and more interesting fabric. Currently, the 3-pocket jacket is available in a hemp canvas, which sounds just about right for warmer temperatures. Feel free to roll the sleeves if you get too warm.

I also recently mentioned gurkha trousers in passing, and these shorts from Beams+ are kind of like the less intense version of the repro model of gurkha shorts (you can find them at What Price Glory), which should make them a bit easier to wear. I like greens and tans (and blues and browns, of course) for spring, when everything has a bit of that earthy, soily smell to it.

You’ll want to layer, of course, and something like this linen camp-collar shirt is ideal for when the sun finally comes out, as well as a pleasantly charming alternative to your standard linen button down. Camp collars always make me think of vacations, since you’re obligated to wear them unbuttoned. Of course, if it’s cool in the morning you’ll want something to keep your neck warm, and these patchwork print scarves from Drake’s are really handsome and perfect for spring.

Finally, Dyptique’s “Tam Dao” has got to be one of the easiest-wearing and most accessible “good scents” (those are heavy scare quotes) available, and frankly, it smells fantastic. It’s warm and woodsy without being overpowering, and doesn’t veer into Too Manly territory.

Confessions of a Footwear Aficionado: Saint Crispin’s Shoes

I’ll admit it: I didn’t get what people saw in shoes.

Who looks at shoes? I thought.  The first thing people see is your face, then what surrounds it.  End of story.  For me, it was all about the suit.  Shoes were just an afterthought.

When I first joined Styleforum ten years ago and scrolled through page after page of inspiring photos of menswear, I was baffled at all the shoes.  Closeups, lovingly framed with mystical bokeh, as if prepped for their senior portrait. My feelings were ambivalent; I couldn’t help but be impressed at the intricate craftsmanship apparent in the pictures, but at the same time I couldn’t fathom the amount of interest in something that covers such a small percentage of your body.

Hardy Aimes famously said, “It is totally impossible to be well-dressed in cheap shoes,” which may sound like class bullying but is, in fact, true.  And finally, I bought my first new pair of shoes over $200, feeling somewhat ashamed at the expenditure.  Regular, utilitarian, basic black captoes from the Allen Edmonds store on Sutter Street.  Truth be told, I wasn’t incredibly enamored with them; they were nondescript and certainly heavier than the other two pairs of shoes I had in my closet.  However, I was struck at how comfortable they were.  Almost immediately I became a new convert and started preaching the gospel of shoes.  I could wear these for hours, I remember saying a million times to anyone that would listen.  

 Gradually my perceptions changed and I began to see shoes differently.  Was I misdirecting my attention?  Out of curiosity I started looking down more.  I was learning that shoes can say a lot about the wearer.  Then it dawned on me one day, while looking at my wife’s closet, and realizing the obvious, that shoes are kind of a big deal.  These pavement-hitters that envelop our foot in for practical protection can also be works of art unto themselves.  If not careful, one can be easily entranced by a shoe’s sweeping curves, beveled waists, and intricate stitching.  

Nowadays, my closet dwarfs my wife’s, and shoes make up a sizable part of it.  My favorites are from Saint Crispin’s, a company based out of Romania, where shoes are made passionately following the time-honored way, using only their hands or hand-powered tools.  I mean, just look at this video, and pretend to hide your awe of the craft.  The amount of hours making one pair of shoes rival that of a bespoke suit.  Leather is clicked (cut), then hand-stained, skived, glued, and sewn, before being put on the shoe last and hammered into submission.  A distinguishing characteristic of Saint Crispin’s that is usually noticed first are the dozens of wooden pegs in the waist.  These serve to provide lightweight sturdiness and a solid foundation to the shoe, unlike a heavier metal shank that may be used in other brands. Hard counters are present in the arches, something generally not seen with other makers.  These, together with the pegs, make up the backbone of the shoes’ legendary foot support.  

Zachary Jobe is currently in charge of how the brand is presented in the Western Hemisphere, and travels quarterly to various locations to offer their wares to shoe aficionados like myself.  I wanted to repair a pair I purchased off of the Buy and Sell section of the forum, and got a chance to hear a little more about the company.

“The Americas are a bit different from Europe,” he explains.  “There, due in part to simple geography and proximity, we have a larger network of stockists.  While we are maintaining relationships with our stockists here in the Americas and judiciously seeking to expand that network, it also made sense to make ourselves available to private clients.”

And so he comes, several times a year, filled with appointments with people from a variety of backgrounds.  Most of the lasts fit fine on me, but not everybody.  While I was ogling and snapping pictures of different makeups Zach had on display in his hotel suite, Justin, who works in real estate, came in for a made-to-measure fitting.  “The aesthetic is phenomenal, but because of fit issues, I’m limited in what shoes I can comfortably wear.  Here I can pay a one-time charge for a personal last, and get all my shoes for the same price as ready-to-wear.  That opened up a whole new set of options I never previously had.”  Justin came in wearing a trial shoe, something that Saint Crispin’s does for every client that gets a personal last.  Made a little less stiff, the trial shoe helps the customer get an idea of how the final shoe will fit, while allowing room to make minor adjustments if necessary.

“I had been looking at other options,” he relates, “but the ability to have my own last made, and get all future purchases made in that last, prompted me to make an appointment the last time Zach was in town.  And their style.  There are so many options.  It was really hard to order just one pair.”  Justin had been to trunk shows from other makers in the past, but he was impressed with Zach’s attention to fit.  “Others would just put me in a trial shoe, but Zach got out a tape measure and wrote down notes.  This gave me the confidence that this first pair would fit perfectly.  Even this trial pair is better than any other shoe I had ever owned before, and I’ve been walking in them all morning.  I can’t imagine how the final shoe will look and feel.”

Those two words – look and feel – succinctly encapsulate what draws the shoe aficionado.  Achieving perfection may cost dearly, but at the end of the day, your feet will thank you, and you can go to sleep knowing that your outfit was complete, feet shod admirably. 


Below is a slideshow showcasing some of Saint Crispin’s offerings. If you’d like to read more about Saint Crispin’s, head over to the St. Crispin’s Appreciation Thread

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2 Heat-Beating Casual Spring Styles for 2017

If you watch the runways, spring fashion always looks like a treat: beautiful, lightweight overcoats, interesting layering, and all kinds of colors. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, the reality is that summer is a slog. Every spring, I struggle with the conflicting emotions of looking forward to warmer weather and dreading the inevitable heat. It’s made worse by my inability to wear anything but shorts when the temperature nears 80, and my ingrained fear that I look like an overgrown child when wearing said shorts.

Of course, if you work in an office building, you probably have the added complication of air conditioning, which often means that while indoors you need to wear a parka over your warm-weather clothing if you don’t want to succumb to exposure. I haven’t managed to entirely solve this problem, and I suspect that anyone who does is lying. Even so, there are a few things I’ve managed to work out for myself, style-wise, that make the heat tolerable. I’m not saying that they’ll convince you that a 100-degree day is “pleasant,” but they may at least offer a starting point for your non-suited style when you don’t want to wear running shorts and a gym tank top.

  1. Light, slouchy cardigans and shirt-weight jackets

    This one sounds counterintuitive, but if you live in a place with a lot of sun, a light outer layer (especially if it has a collar) can help both to block the sun and cool you down. It also solves the pocket-problem: with multiple sets of keys, EDC’s, vegetable-tanned leather wallets, phones the size of paperbacks, and whatever else, if you’re not carrying a bag you’re probably going to need pockets. I’ve amassed a small collection of pieces like this. My three most-worn items, however, are a linen shopcoat from Blue Blue Japan, a shirt-weight printed blazer from ts(s), and a denim noragi from Epaulet. All three offer the perfect compromise of warmth for the occasional chilly morning or air conditioning unit while being relaxed and light enough that being outdoors won’t melt you.

    There are a few brands offering pieces like these, and it shouldn’t be surprising that many of my favorites hail from Japan. Visvim’s perennial noragi is an obvious example, but I really like what ts(s) is offering for this spring, including this great cardigan. Another good bet is Blue Blue Japan, which is showing off such beauties as this reversible jacket. Stephan Schneider also often has lightweight shirt-jackets for the spring season, which are quite nice but a bit more akin to actual outerwear than what I tend to favor.


    The other perfect summer option is the Bill Cunningham special, the French chore jacket. If you’re not going to go the vintage route (try Etsy), look at brands such as Vetra and Carrier Company rather than fashion-forward names, as the relaxed cut will be more comfortable in the heat.
  2. Loose, cropped (or rolled) trousers

    I know that in an era when trousers and jeans are still skin-tight, “relaxed” sometimes means nothing more than “you can almost move in them.” But I’m specifically talking about loose pants, pants that mostly don’t touch you except at the waist, and which swish about when you walk. Admittedly, these are still rare, and are often found at brands who excel in wide-legged repro gear (think navy coveralls, and that sort of thing). However, there are plenty of options that won’t make you look like a deck hand.

    The first of those is, nonetheless, naval-inspired. The 4-pocket “overpant” style (so called because its ancestor, the 4-pocket navy pant, was worn over your other pants for extra warmth) has been appearing in more and more stores. I’m currently wearing two different pairs, both of which have proven acceptable for the summer heat. The first is from Evan Kinori, and is a pattern he regularly releases. For this spring, there’s a linen-cotton denim model, which can be worn a size (or two) up for added breeziness. Kinori also makes a lightweight field shirt/jacket, which I don’t own but can recommend after seeing it in person.

    The second is a pair of Shockoe Atelier’s 4-pocket trousers in their “Como” denim, which are much more jean-like, but look great when rolled or cuffed to the ankle. There are a couple of sizes left, so you may be in luck. Of course, to go along with your noragi, it only makes sense to try something like these Blue Blue Japan wide pants. I’m wearing a similar style in the photo below, and they really are ideal for summer.
    2 must have styles for spring 2017
    With all of these styles, I like to wear either chunky, chukka-type shoes or low-profile sneakers. Think simple canvas Vans or other plimsolls, although I’d guess that a loafer or slip-on would look great as well. That said, if you’re after something less similar to the jeans you’ve been wearing all winter, I’d recommend one of two types of trouser:

    1. Loose, lightweight navy trousers
      Either let them puddle atop your shoes or crop them at the ankle – or do both. Navy offers a nice respite from the current trend of black-trouser-white-Common-Projects look, and lends itself better to brown footwear. I don’t find this particularly exciting, but if you’re after simple, navy trousers are simple.
    2. Gurkha trousers
      Forum member @TTO has often shown these off in our WAYWT thread, and without saying too much, I think they look great with both casual and tailored clothing. I’ve seen these styled really well when they’ve been hemmed to an ankle length, and the shape is, I think, easier to pull off than you may realized. Off the top of my head, you can find them at What Price Glory.

      2 must have styles for spring 2017

      @TTO in Gurkha trousers

Hopefully, this helps to alleviate at least some of the tedium of looking through your closet when summer hits and thinking “I can’t wear any of this, I guess I’ll wear hiking shorts again.” If you have other summertime favorites, feel free to share them below.

Submit your work to All Styles Considered!

all styles considered issue #2 issue 2

Submit your work to All Styles Considered, Styleforum’s community-driven arts magazine!

What is it?

All Styles Considered is a printed magazine made up of submissions from the Styleforum community, which are then sequenced, edited, designed, and printed by our team. Our first issue was themed ‘place,’ and all copies sold out in a few days.

Who Are We?

We’re a weird mix of honest and upfront, sentimental, serious, tongue-in-cheek and playful. Hopefully there’s something for everyone.

What’s the theme?

The theme of Issue 2 is: “softness.” Think of cozy knits, think of gentle moments and kind things, think of lilting songs and misty mornings, think of spider webs and a kid giving you a thank you note they made themselves. Think of songs that feel like soundtracks to a dream, photos that almost have a texture you could sink into, that part of Stand By Me where the older protagonist erases the line ‘I’ve never had as good friends as the ones I had when I was 10’ (might have mangled that one), think of that episode of the Simpsons where Homer explains how his love for Maggie drove him back to the soul-crushing job at the Plant, think of how soft puppies are.

That’s what we’re getting at here – cool stuff that isn’t gritty or hardcore and brutal, but is gentle and important and essential.

What will we accept?

We accept every type of submission:

– Writing

– Photography

– Illustration

– Music

– Video

– Graphics

– Painting

– Food related content

Note: If you send us image submissions, please make sure that they are at least 2500px on the long edge (or around 8″ printed at 300dpi). If people want to be considered for two-page spreads, we need 4k+ images.

How do I submit?

To submit, please send an email with your submission to allstylesconsidered@gmail.com – submissions close 1st of April, 2017, Australia time.

That means you have a little under two weeks to submit your content to All Styles Considered, Issue 2. ASC2 will be available for purchase via Styleforum.

Subscribe to the All Styles Considered thread to stay up-to-date!


Still not convinced? Check out issue #1 now!

The Glorious Flannel Suit

I was eighteen when I saw a flannel suit for the first time, in a $.99 thrift store in a mini mall in Escondido.

It was a double-breasted grey-blue, with a cobalt and ice overcheck.  I was both awestruck and enamored: the fabric was soft, like my favorite sweatshirt that had been washed a million times, and yet here it was cut in Superman’s mold.  Could this be the culmination of the brightest minds in the history of textiles?  Did I finally find a comfortable suit?  Was this the ultimate endpoint in menswear?

Turns out, it was.  And still is.

Flannel didn’t always have ties with fine livery – the New York Times reports its usage as material for lowly chonies.  A little weird, maybe, but now that I think about it, I can’t imagine a more comfy fabric swathed around my loins. Unclickable encyclopedic history claims flannel was being used as far back as the 16th century, and many records point to Wales as the fabric’s birthplace, where it enjoyed a thriving woolen industry.  However, British mills were the ones to spearhead factories with machinery for the carding and spinning of wool.  Documents reveal that as early as 1620 a mill in Wellington by the name of Were and Co. was in business, trading flannel and other cloth to both sides of the English Civil War of 1642-1651.  Later, that company changed its name to Fox Brothers and Company.

Operating continuously since 1772, Fox Brothers is probably the most famous producer of flannel.  Douglas Cordeaux, who serves as Managing Director of the company, describes flannel as the stuff of true connoisseurs.  “Every contemporary menswear wardrobe needs a heavy flannel,” he says.  “It’s a collector’s cloth, for someone who has done their research.”  

Which is true: most of the “flannel” suits sold in department stores are rubbish, made with wimpy weight wool that bears little resemblance to the real deal.  “Classic weight is 12/13 ounces,” says Cordeaux.  “Although we have the Grand Cru of flannel coming in at a substantial 18/19 ounces, proper British cloth.  People often just write it off as too heavy, but actually when it’s cut well with the right balance, it drapes well and is really wearable.  Bespoke suits in this weight are elegant, relevant, and age beautifully.”

Douglas is speaking of woolen flannel, the soft, cozy, fuzzy stuff immortalized by glamorous screen actors and well-known politicians.  Images of Winston Churchill in his navy chalkstripes, the Prince of Wales in his namesake check, Fred Astaire dancing in his light trousers, and Cary Grant in the classic grey suit; all are Fox flannels.  Of the latter, Douglas notes that this is a singular shade.  “’The West of England grey flannel has a particular color, a dulled down warm vintage grey.  Instantly recognizable.”  

Flannel is also known for its “mottled” look, accomplished by using various color threads during the milling process.  This gives flannel a depth unseen in other fabrics, an alluring three-dimensional melange of hue.  This can be seen on worsted flannel, but is especially distinct on the old school woolen stuff, which is a unique fabric unto itself.  The process of making woolen fabric begins with carding, combing the wool in two directions at once with stiff brushes.  Unlike worsted fabric, where long fibers are lined up parallel to create a smooth weave, woolen fabric utilizes short fibers, resulting in a napped, fuzzy cloth – a perfect start for flannel.  Fox’s specific method, however, remains a secret.  “I’d rather keep quiet on our milling process,” Douglas deflects when asked.  “Although eight hours, soft water and a piece of wood play a part.”

Whatever the recipe, it makes something you have to wear something you want to wear. And that is why flannel is the best fabric for a suit.

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Clothing and Memory: What Makes a Garment Special?

Can you think of a piece of clothing or an accessory that has a special place in your memory? Oftentimes, we consider clothing as one part of the various paraphernalia that fills our lives and we don’t give it much importance. The truth is – and I’m not proclaiming groundbreaking news – life is filled with lots of small things. 

There may be events that mark major changes and phases in our existence – an educational degree, a new job, the loss of a loved one, a marriage, a child – and any other smaller occurrence is inevitably located “before” or “after” such events. However, I think of these moments as if they were painted in black and white, and that they acquire vividness only after we color them with those small things that we so often neglect.

Clothing and Memory

My graduation day

The day of my graduation wouldn’t be such a sweet memory if I didn’t fill my mind with the smell of the beautiful flowers my parents handed me when I finished defending my thesis; one of the first memories I have after moving to the United States is the burst of flavor of the glaze coating my very first yeast donut; when I think of my last trip to Florence, I remember with a shiver of pleasure the feeling of raindrops running over my lips and down my neck when a shower surprised me.

Clothing falls into this category of apparently trivial details that give color to our lives and make memory a comfortable (and sometimes dreadful) place to be.

Perhaps the most influential piece of clothing I owned was a simple white shirt that my mom bought me when I was about 17. It was the first “professional” item to appear in my closet, and it was really nothing special or great quality. On the contrary, it started to show wear quite soon, and I had to ask my grandmother multiple times to mend it and reattach the buttons that kept coming undone. However, I never felt the need to purchase another white shirt, and this one served its purpose and went through many stages of my life: castings during my years of modeling, job interviews, opera concerts. I even wore it the day of my graduation, and the familiar feeling of that dreadful poly-blend on my skin soothed my spirit and hid the tumult of the heart underneath.

Clothing and Memory

In Florence during Pitti91

The last time I wore it was at Pitti Uomo in January, to the great disappointment of my husband, who tried to persuade me to buy a new, better quality shirt to bring to Florence.

I finally threw it away shortly after, and replaced it with a sartorial shirt I found during the sales in Turin.

Some pieces of clothing are like people: you run into them and think they are nothing special or relevant at all, but they end up being there when you’re most in need, or inspiring you when you least expect it. My shirt had finally exhausted its purpose, and shuffled off its mortal coil along with zillions of other white shirts. I like to think that in the afterlife they’re as immaculate and pristine as they were when first handed to their owners. 

I’m going to ask you again: can you think of a piece of clothing or an accessory that has given color to your life?

@AriannaReggio

Why You Should Repair Your Clothing

It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle. You see something on Styleforum (or anywhere else), you think “I must have that, this purchase will make my life complete,” and not long after you’ve bought it there’s another must-have on the horizon. Eventually, you have more clothing in your closet than you can possibly wear. At that point, you either embrace it, or you start downsizing.

What happens to the favorites, though? If you’re lucky, you eventually land on garments that you keep returning to, and they turn into something special. At this point, we’ve all heard the raw denim marketing pitch: that it molds to your body, that you write the story of your life into the fades of the denim. That’s all fine and good – clothing holds memories the same way that scars do, albeit less painfully, and far be it from me to take the romance out of your favorite pair of jeans.

One problem we run into when we’re surrounded by so much newness is that it’s hard to be content with what we have. Not taking the time to enjoy your clothing has several effects, one of which is that your clothes don’t get worn before you give them away or try to flip them. Used clothing, regardless of brand or trend, has a magic that new clothing doesn’t. It’s not just denim – the worn spots on the elbows of a jacket, a frayed cuff or collar; all of this is enticing in a way that proves the wearer is real, is human.

Personal style changes over time. There’s no point denying that, and I don’t know why you’d want to. However, part of personal style comes from combining garments in interesting ways, and in developing a look that suits you. Just because your favorite shirt – the one you wore to death – doesn’t really go with your newer interests, doesn’t mean you can’t say the hell with it and wear it anyway. So, when I say that you should patch your torn shirt instead of throwing it away, it has the twin benefits of bringing you more use out of a piece you love and adding a personal touch to a garment that makes it 100% your own.

Styleforum is no stranger to threadbare elbows and patched denim, and for good reason. Well-worn clothing encourages you to take a little bit of your past along with you as you enter each new chapter in your life. Patches, stitches, and repairs – it all adds to the personality of the garment, and it’s a fine reminder of where you came from.

Of course, everything dies, and that includes clothing. Eventually, you’ll come to the end of a garment’s life, and no amount of darning will be able to save it. That’s when you lay it out, thank it for its service, and let it retire honorably. Unless you don’t want to do that, in which case you end up with something like this:

My mother purchased this shirt from Banana Republic at some point in the early 80’s, and she wore it and washed it until the fabric turned see through. Then she wore it more. Eventually, it started ripping – everywhere. The hems unraveled. The collar isn’t much of a collar anymore. Every seam has, at some point, come undone. At last, the entire back of the shirt started to give way in a spiderweb of tattered fabric. She retired it, until I insisted a couple of years back that it could be saved. Which it more or less has been, thanks to endless patching, darning, and stitching. Now it’s an heirloom, a work of art that’s spanned two generations and almost four decades.

The next time you think about throwing out an old garment, think instead about what you stand to gain from repairing it: not just a functional piece of clothing, but a testament to life, and proof that you lived one.

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The Secret to Wearing Workwear

Not many clothes can truthfully claim humble beginnings.  The clichéd axiom “dress for the job you want” advocates climbing the sartorial ladder to echelons of the socially elite and powerful.  Tastemakers historically have taken queues from the aristocracy, presenting their livery as the pinnacle of style toward which all should progress.

And then we have workwear.

Despite its rather general designation, workwear is the apparel of specifically the field, shop, or construction worker.  It is a relatively new term for a style that has been around for over 100 years, when men and women needed practical, utilitarian clothing that could withstand the rigors of manual labor in harsh environments.  Over the years, individual pieces of workwear would enjoy the limelight of mainstream popularity.  Observe the awesomeness:

The sad thing about appropriation is that, when placed out of its setting, an article of clothing can appear awkward and forced.  Oftentimes, the earnest adoption of bits and pieces of a “look” comes out contrived.  These pictures don’t showcase laborers, farmers, or lumberjacks.  There is no “authenticity” in these outfits at all.

What, then, of the wholesale wardrobe adoption of a subculture?  This, in effect, is the “workwear” trend. Fok, Styleforum’s owner, can go into greater detail and history, but the interest in “heritage brands” making workwear started in the early aughts, hit its stride in 2008,  and even ten years later shows no signs of fading away.  As recently as three months ago, GQ noted that “construction core” clothing was one of the more noteworthy trends of 2016.  Back in workwear’s heyday, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Kiya Babzani as saying: “You never look stupid in workwear.  It’s easier to swallow a whole outfit because it’s classic and simple.  Some trends get a little costumey.  Not this one.”  There is truth to these words; and yet I’d argue that the trend can, in fact, be taken too far.  

What makes the basics of the workwear “trend” so easy to adopt is that they always look good together.  Jeans go great with boots and flannel shirts.  There is nothing difficult to master, and the changes in denim and leather over time only make them look better, thus ensuring the longevity of the garment as well as the style.  Additionally, workwear as a broad style has been around continuously for so long and adopted by so many other communities (skaters, punks, hiphop artists – to name a few) that these items have ceased having exclusive attachment to the blue collar worker.  In fact, you will probably sooner see them on an “digital community expert” or “full-stack developer” than on an actual laborer, the irony of which is not lost on laborers (believe me, I know – I am one).

However, it can get a little costumey.  How?  Workwear is not menswear; you don’t want to look like you dressed up.  These clothes look best when they’re a bit disheveled.  Think denim with time-worn fades and boots with battle scars.  Don’t obsess about the perfect cuff on your jeans.  Don’t sweat it if you get a little dirt (or spill a latte) on your henley.  And don’t even think about cutting holes in your jeans; you gotta earn those the hard way.  No one’s going to believe that those perfectly horizontal rips on the thighs of your jeggings happened on the jobsite, poseur.

Why is workwear so enduringly popular?  Is it because besides the suit, it’s one of the few looks that has been around for over a century?  Perhaps. Perhaps it’s a backlash against fast-fashion, against a closet full of disposables.  Or maybe it’s the sentimentality associated with faded pictures of mythical icons of the past.  Whatever the reason, it’s a look that is easy to wear.  

Just put on your clothes, wear ‘em to death, throw them in the wash when they stink, and repeat.  That’s it. 

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How to Enjoy your Clothing

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.

Bullshit.

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.

 

My First Good Suit was a Zegna Suit

I bought my first good suit in the spring of 1999, on the way back to school from rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park.  It was a suit by Ermenegildo Zegna, a brand that, as a grad student, planted romantic notions in my brain.

Back then, a few grad school friends and I used to go out to Joshua Tree to rock climb on weekends.  Several of them were pretty good, but I remain terrible to this day.  So, while the highlight of the weekend for them might have been to finish a few good 5.10 rocks, mine always came after all that climbing, when I’d get back into the car and doze until we hit the stores (yes,  we mixed rock climbing with shopping).

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During my second year of grad school, I decided that I’d buy a “good suit.” This could have been because I’d gotten the deluded idea that I might become a management consultant, or because a lot of my friends were getting married – but mostly, I wanted an excuse to get a good suit, just so that I could own one. And after one of those rock climbing trips, I walked into the Ermenegildo Zegna store and made that dream a reality.

This was in the days before Styleforum, so while shopping I had to rely on the recommendations of sales associate, how the suit felt, and the shop mirror to make my purchase. The suit I chose looked great on the rack, and it also had a great, cool, supple, hand. I didn’t know much about cloth back in 1999, but it really did feel great to touch. It also made my fairly nondescript frame look sharp and lean, which most young men will tell you is a great feeling.

And there I was, a man with a good suit.  First time in my life. And like many of the men in my generation, it was a worsted grey Ermenegildo Zegna beauty. I still remember how it felt to put it on and look at myself. All that romance, all that Italian ineffability – well, I was wearing it.

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I never did get into management consulting, but I did wear the suit to many weddings, and then for job interviews after that.  It was my first grown up suit.  I bought it with money I earned, and it  was the one of the first things of value that I’d purchased for myself. It made me feel like an adult.

I wore that suit for an average of three weddings a summer for the next three years, in addition to some New Year’s parties and the occasional awkward reception. I felt more comfortable in it each time. It taught me that you don’t really own a suit until you’ve worn it a half-dozen times, and to this day, whenever I buy a new piece of clothing I wear it around the house for at least a week before I wear it out.  That experience is also the basis for the only pivotal piece of advice I give to everyone who asks me about clothing:  “If you feel comfortable in your clothes, people can sense that you feel comfortable in your skin, and that is the seed of style.”

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Of course, I’m far from the only person who knows this – but I am at least among good company. Robert DeNiro is one of the two faces of Zegna’s new Defining Moments campaign, and his is a face I grew up with and followed from Godfather II and Raging Bull all the way up until the recent The Intern. McCaul Lombardi, a Hollywood newcomer, is DeNiro’s co-star in the new Zegna campaign, the focus of which is to connect with its customers and hear the stories – or the Defining Moments – that we have to share. Because, as you can no doubt guess by now, clothing can operate just as Proust’s madeleines; transporting us back to a defining moment in time. For me, one of the defining moments not just of my young life – but of my adult life, my professional life, my life as a co-owner of Styleforum – came with the purchase of that first Zegna suit.

Clothing is such a personal part of our lives, and I’m looking forward to reading the other stories that Zegna’s customers submit. I’d encourage you to do so as well – not only because it will give you the excuse to relive your own defining moment, but also because once a month you’ll have the chance to win a made-to-measure Zegna experience. If you do, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way I did when I bought my first good suit – and I’m sure it’s a memory that will stay with you.

I brought that suit out of my closet and tried it on again in while I was preparing to write this essay, and it didn’t fit the 42 year old me as well as it had the 24 year old me. But as soon as I put it on, there I was, asleep in the back of the car after a day of rock climbing, dreaming of my first nice suit.

And man, did it still feel nice to the touch.


Share your own Defining Moment on the Ermenegildo Zegna website by clicking the banner below, and be entered to win a Zegna made-to-measure experience.

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