This will probably make me sound naÃ¯ve, or a klutz, or both. Â But, what the hell...the only stupid questions are those we don't ask, right? Â I'm a relative newcomer to the world of what you might call 'better' clothing. I guess I took my early cues from my father the engineer, who, bless his pragmatic heart, wore an alarming amount of polyester to the office and wouldn't know a hand-picked lapel or an English spread collar if it sucker-punched him in a dark alley and lifted his wallet. Â Up through about a year ago, my closet featured mostly ragged T-shirts, gym shorts, and hiking boots. Â My best 'dress' shirts were from Stafford, and my lone pair of black Florsheim lace-ups, purchased in 1986, were coming apart at the well-worn soles--I'd never even heard of a shoe tree. Â I've gradually been replacing all this with better-made stuff, though not to the level of some here. Â It's been fun, even if I do have that sinking realization that the pursuit of fashion is a never-ending spiral of acquisition and desire. But from my new marginally-hip vantage point, I'm realizing that one big advantage to my previous state of unfashion was total freedom from worry. Â Salad dressing on the Dockers? Grab a new pair for $25. Â Unsightly sweat stain on a T-shirt? Â Run another 10K race and pick up a new one for free. Â Scuffs? Ha. On running shoes??? Â To the well-dressed man, however, the world suddenly seems a vicious and foreboding place. Â The sharp protrusions of tables, chairs, and door-handles lash out at defenseless trouser buttons and pleats. Â Barbaric hordes of stones, curbs, overhanging baseboard heaters, luggage wheels, brake pedals, and other ankle-high perils menace the unwary Alden calfskin oxford, while the bespoke shirt and woven-silk tie cringe before airborne mud droplets, pigeons, grimy weatherstripping on car doors, and that careless beer-sloshing guy at the crowded, trendy bar downtown. Maybe all this really says is that I'm a somewhat clumsy and sloppy individual who doesn't watch where he's walking. Â I don't know. Â I just read with incredulity about how y'all have this or that pair of $1K bespoke Smith-Smythe-Tewksbury handgrade shoes you've worn to the office or the courtroom for 15 years, which still look like new shoes today. Â Mine seem to pick up one or two deep gouges just driving to a damn wedding. Â I now know how to dress nicely--I'm just leery of doing anything involving motion or interaction with people and objects once I've successfully done so. If the ultimate fashion goal is "unconscious elegance," I've a very long way to go indeed. So when I read of the various exploits of my fellow fashionistas on this board, I wonder: is this an issue you're conscious of every moment when you wear nice things? Â Do you replace/repair/dryclean your fine clothing constantly to keep up with the inevitable damage? Or is everyone here just far more graceful and circumspect than I? Â Adam C.
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3/14/04 at 7:37am