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If you had to start over tomorrow...

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by voxsartoria, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    A. Harris had a thread back in the spring in the S&D forum that asked:

    If you had to start over tomorrow, building a casual wardrobe completely from scratch, what would your foundation purchases be? Be as specific as possible - brands, models, fabrics etc., and preferably stuff that is currently available at retail. Link pics if you can.

    So, inspired by that thread, I ask the same question of the individuals in this forum.

    In my case, a combination of age, resources, and lifelong clotheshorsery has produced many a failure. If I started over again, this is what I would change (again, these address my weaknesses; yours might be very different):

    1. Exchange quality for quantity at an earlier age. Ten bespoke suits. Not thirty RTW and MTM. Ten bespoke pairs of shoes. Not sixty RTW. And so on. A dude who is actually doing this, whether you like his style or not, is mafoofan.

    I see no reason to change my bespoke tailor. So, my future improvements would be to settle on a shirtmaker who will make me happy (I'm thinking Lauwers, Matuozzo, or...Kabbaz) and one or two shoemakers (I'm thinking Cleverley and Fosters).

    Let the pelting with rocks and stones begin...

    2. Try to look away from bargains and sales. Yes, bargains are great. But they are not as great as you think. A discerning eye and brand education can help, but so can restraint and the knowledge that paying full price for exactly what you want can save you from discounts that will leave you wanting. So much of the buying behavior discussed in these forums revolves around bargain hunting. I feel, though, this doesn't necessarily lead to good results.

    So, what would you do differently if you were starting over?


    - B
     
  2. Hard2Fit

    Hard2Fit Well-Known Member

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  3. MilanoStyle

    MilanoStyle Well-Known Member

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    Not wasting so much money on expansive tailored items at an early age! Stuffs that I bought even 3 years ago don't even fit that well anymore. :-(
     
  4. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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    I would get all my spring/summer suits with belted trousers. I do that now, but I still have several older servicable tropicals that have brace trousers, and I can't stand braces in the heat.

    I would cut no corners on shoes.
     
  5. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    I would get all my spring/summer suits with belted trousers. I do that now, but I still have several older servicable tropicals that have brace trousers, and I can't stand braces in the heat.

    Side tabs don't work for you? I just can't see putting belt loops on bespoke trousers.

    If I needed extra winching, I would go to a Daks waist before belt loops.

    I would cut no corners on shoes.

    That's become my belief as well.


    - B
     
  6. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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    Side tabs don't work for you? I just can't see putting belt loops on bespoke trousers.- B

    A) They don't work for me. Belts work much less well than suspenders, but much better than side tabs.

    B) I have come to dislike the way they look on me. I like having some leather -- whether brace tabs or a belt -- in the mid-section to pic up the shoe color.
     
  7. Douglas

    Douglas Well-Known Member

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    I'd have gotten on StyleForum a lot earlier for my indoctrination.
     
  8. JeffsWood

    JeffsWood Well-Known Member

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    Well, in some ways I am currently “starting over”. After losing a significant amount of weight, I had to do a complete wardrobe overhaul.
    Even starting fresh, I am still making mistakes, I bought one suit that if I went back in time I wouldn’t buy again. But overall I would buy more pieces off the rack or MTM. I have done a few bespoke items and the uncertainty of the process just does sit well with me. I am easy enough to it, so off the rack works well for me with just a tweak or two and MTM of established makers works well for me.

    I would also buy in a one to one ratio between “smart” purchases and “passion“ purchases. IE solid navy suit – is smart to buy, get lots of wear etc. a brown plaid suit – gets me excited and I could buy just items like this, but not all that versatile.
    Shirts - I would settle on one MTM maker and pick 12 shirts – again, half that are simple staples items and half that are a bit more “exciting” (this is what I have done)

    Ties – I would still purchase them on a whim

    Socks – no wild socks for me, I would stick with a decent socks with standard patterns
    Belts – buy about 6 to match up with shoes

    Shoes – I would still have a few lesser shoes like Allen Edmonds, but would focus in on a small collection of high end shoes.

    Overall less items, but spend about the same money.
     
  9. nostrings

    nostrings Well-Known Member

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    I would have avoided 'substitutions' from the beginning. Buying a cheaper knockoff in an attempt to fill the same void has never been satisfying. And, I've often ended up buying the real thing in the end anyway.
     
  10. grimslade

    grimslade Well-Known Member

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    It's a good question. In broad outlines, I agree with Bill. I would buy less, but buy better, and try to avoid the false economy of the "deal." That said, I've made poor decisions paying full freight too.

    Of course, this kind of trade-off is easier to justify when one is well-enough outfitted to afford the luxury of time and patience. So it's a bit of a catch-22. If I really had to start over, I'd feel some of the same constraints of urgency that led to mistakes the first time.
     
  11. 0b5cur1ty

    0b5cur1ty Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting question... I suspect my answer will be like most others: Fewer items of better quality.

    As much as possible good MTM (particularly shirts) instead of OTR. More suits instead of millions of pairs of not-quite trousers I hardly ever wear. More classic/conservative (relatively speaking) shoes.
     
  12. mmkn

    mmkn Well-Known Member

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    So, what would you do differently if you were starting over?
    - B


    Great question, B., easy to answer in hindsight.

    1 - Hone early a healthy habit of eating and exercising - so weight and physical form stay the same.

    2 - Learn from women (like Carole Jackson) how to emotionally respond to colors in clothes.

    3 - Quickly find my comfortable style, my "uniform" (e.g., Mr. Armani and his navy body hugging t-shirts, blue jeans, and white tennis shoes when being casual).

    4 - Decide early whether tailored RTW clothes fit sufficiently well. If not, just get the basics and save for the best bespoke possible.

    5 - Distinct between fact and marketing in the clothing world.

    6 - Fight the urges to buy and have variety that come so easily from the predatory and snarky world that is fashion publishing.

    - M
     
  13. bmulford

    bmulford Well-Known Member

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    Presuming I had the exact same amount of money to spend, and started from scratch:


    1) Barba ties in heavy silk and cashmeres. I'd stay clear of the low/mid end ties that get collected from sales.

    2) I'd continue having bespoke pants/shirts made. The value / utility is superior to MTM or RTW, even from those with the fancy labels.

    3) Sartorio Napoli or Bespoke for suits. The quality/cost ratio with SN has is superb (especially on discount). Bespoke trumps all if comparing quality/cost to RTW.

    4) No Allen Edmonds shoes. Today my choice would be supply my shoe closet with the best Martegani's and Vass across a range of color's/styles. However, I haven't received my bespoke shoes yet - so that answer may totally change if the Cleverly's turn out well.

    5) Less quantity of watches in exchange for a few spectacular pieces.

    6) Same as #5 for briefcases

    7) All OTC dress socks

    8) Heavier emphasis on seasonal clothing and less on "all-season". Just because the temperature is relatively consistent here, doesn't mean I need to dress like it.

    9) BlueRay instead of HDDVD, and would buy a higher capacity AV receiver unit.
     
  14. Kas

    Kas Well-Known Member

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    The first item would definitely be a bespoke navy blazer.
     
  15. edmorel

    edmorel Well-Known Member

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    A. Harris had a thread back in the spring in the S&D forum that asked:



    So, inspired by that thread, I ask the same question of the individuals in this forum.

    In my case, a combination of age, resources, and lifelong clotheshorsery has produced many a failure. If I started over again, this is what I would change (again, these address my weaknesses; yours might be very different):

    1. Exchange quality for quantity at an earlier age. Ten bespoke suits. Not thirty RTW and MTM. Ten bespoke pairs of shoes. Not sixty RTW. And so on. A dude who is actually doing this, whether you like his style or not, is mafoofan.

    I see no reason to change my bespoke tailor. So, my future improvements would be to settle on a shirtmaker who will make me happy (I'm thinking Lauwers, Matuozzo, or...Kabbaz) and one or two shoemakers (I'm thinking Cleverley and Fosters).

    Let the pelting with rocks and stones begin...

    2. Try to look away from bargains and sales. Yes, bargains are great. But they are not as great as you think. A discerning eye and brand education can help, but so can restraint and the knowledge that paying full price for exactly what you want can save you from discounts that will leave you wanting. So much of the buying behavior discussed in these forums revolves around bargain hunting. I feel, though, this doesn't necessarily lead to good results.

    So, what would you do differently if you were starting over?


    - B



    I'm actually "doing" number 2 now. I think the progression for a lot of people when they first get on starts with learning about these brands, participating in sales of stuff that you may not need only because it is a good product at a good price and then getting to a point where you are only interested in what you "need" and price becomes less an issue.
     
  16. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    I'm actually "doing" number 2 now. I think the progression for a lot of people when they first get on starts with learning about these brands, participating in sales of stuff that you may not need only because it is a good product at a good price and then getting to a point where you are only interested in what you "need" and price becomes less an issue.

    Well, you have a good point there. There are only two ways to learn about clothes: watching people around you and wearing things yourself.

    Unfortunately, the former is difficult or unhelpful these days. There simply are not enough well dressed men anymore, and few boys can look to their fathers as examples.

    This only leaves personal experimentation...and, dare I say it...the interwebs.

    So, Eddie: keep those bargains coming.


    - B
     
  17. R-H

    R-H Well-Known Member

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    I started building my business wardrobe a year ago.

    What I would change:

    1) Quality of quantity
    2) Never buy something because of a sale/low price
    3) More conservative classic clothing, less flashy items
     
  18. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    I am sure many, or even most of you, have read the classic 1960 George Frazier article in Esquire called, "The Art of Wearing Clothes." (If not, you can click the link). Among other things, one of the postcripts to the article has Astaire's great quotation about throwing his new suits against a wall.

    Here's the section that discusses Tony Biddle's wardrobe that provides some food for thought:

    === quoted section begins ===

    On the elegant face of things, one would probably imagine that "Tony" Biddle has closet upon closet of clothes. Actually, this Main Line Philadelphian, whose father was the epic figure about whom the play The Happiest Millionaire was written and whom himself was one of the most extraordinary participants in the Second World War, has so sparse a wardrobe that Lord Byron, for one, and Lieutenant General Rafael Trujillo, Jr., for another, would feel that it amounted to not having a stitch to their names.

    [section deleted]

    Even in its entirety, Biddle's wardrobe seems, by contrast, almost monastic. It includes seven so-called business suits"”two double- and one single-breasted navy-blue serge; one double- and one single-breasted dark-blue pin-stripe flannel; one single-breasted charcoal-grey flannel. (They were made by either H. Harris of New York, who charges $225 and up for a two-piece suit, or E. Tautz of London who charges, as to do most topnotch British tailors, almost a quarter less. All have skeleton alpaca linings and the sleeves have three buttons and open buttonholes. The single-breasteds have three-button, notched-lapel jackets.) For formal daytime wear, Biddle has a charcoal-grey cheviot cutaway, a single-breasted white waistcoat, and black trousers with broad white stripes. (With these, he wears a black silk ascot and a wide wing collar.) For semiformal daytime occasions, he has a charcoal-grey single-breasted cheviot sack coat and trousers, in either black or Cambridge grey, with broad white stripes. Besides a ready-made Aquascutum raincoat, Biddle owns three outer coats"”a double-breasted blue chinchilla ($175 from Tautz), a single-breasted light drab covert cloth ($225, H. Harris), and a double-breasted polo coat with white bone buttons ($325, Harris). He has, in addition to a tweed cap, four hats, all of them purchased at Lock's in London too many years ago for him to recall exactly what they cost. One is a high-silk, one an opera hat, and the other two homburgs"”one black and one green. For formal evening wear, Biddle has tails ($175, Tautz), a double-breasted dinner coat with satin shawl lapels ($150, Tautz), and, for warm weather, two single-breasted, shawl-collared white gabardine dinner coats ($98 each, Tautz). His evening shirts, with which he wears a conventionally-shaped bow tie, have pleats, roll collars, and are made for him by Dudley G. Eldridge of New York at $28 each.

    Biddle's sports clothes include three tweed jackets ($160 each, Harris), three pairs of charcoal-grey flannel slacks, and a half-dozen button-down shirts made by Eldridge out of silk that he, Biddle, bought in Spain. His shoes, of which he has three pairs of black for daytime wear and one patent leather and one calfskin for evening wear, were made by Paulsen & Stone of London, who also made for him, for sports wear, a pair of black moccasins, a pair of black loafers, and two pairs of white canvas shoes with brown leather toes and rubber soles (which he wears with either prewar white flannels or an ancient double-breasted light-grey sharkskin suit). Biddle's neck-band shirts, which are either starched dickey bosoms (elongated so that the bosoms extend below the middle button of his jacket) or semi-starched pleated bosoms, have white cuffs and bodies of either grey or light blue. They cost $26 each and are made by Eldridge, who also makes his stiff white collars ($3 each) and his ties ($7.50 each), which run to solid black silks and discreet shepherd checks and are shaped so as to make a knot small enough to fit neatly into a hard collar. His underwear is ready-made and comes from Jacob Reed's.

    [section deleted]

    Like all men with innate clothes sense, Biddle eschews such abominations as ankle-length socks, matching tie-and-handkerchief sets, huge cuff links, conspicuous tie clasps, and, most hideous of all, cellophane hat covers. Indeed, well-dressed men, almost without exception, are interested in something novel in clothing, only when it is both as attractive and functional as, say the duffer coat, which proved its value to the Royal Navy in the Second World War.

    Naturally, Biddle's coat sleeves are not only uncreased, but also of such length as to permit a fraction-of-an-inch of his shirt cuff to show"”as, similarly, the neck of his jacket is cut so that the back of his shirt collar is exposed. As for the width of his trousers and coat lapels, it is determined, not by the extreme narrowness that is something of a rage these days, but by, respectively, the length of his foot and the breadth of his shoulders. He selects, in short, clothes that become him. For anyone who is not as "clean favored and imperially slim . . . and admirably schooled in every grace" as Biddle is, the Biddle style of dress would be preposterous. Few things are more precarious than the indiscriminate aping of another man's wardrobe.

    == quoted section ends===

    - B
     
  19. Doc4

    Doc4 Well-Known Member

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    My closet is filled (as are many of yours, no doubt) with many "learnign curve" purchases which, in hindsight, I would not have purchased. But almost all of them are not so attrocious that I would throw them out before their time.

    Basicaly, the mistakes I wish I could correct amount to changes in the "fewer and better" category. I think that could fit across the board. Of course, I can't wind back time, so I'm stuck with my closet of regrets ... but hopefully now I can move forward with a better understanding and a better overall plan for my wardrobe, so things improve.

    Fewer!

    Better!

    Good, better, best!
    Never let it rest!
    'till your good is your better,
    and your better is your best!
     
  20. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    My closet is filled (as are many of yours, no doubt) with many "learnign curve" purchases which, in hindsight, I would not have purchased. But almost all of them are not so attrocious that I would throw them out before their time.

    I think variety can be the enemy of looking your best...at least, that is what I find for myself when it comes to tailored clothing.


    - B
     

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