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If your wardrobe is too large, you end up looking worse.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by radicaldog, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    If it were anyone else, I would sum that up as contentless. Do you mean "lived in" as I described it earlier...as something left a bit unkempt, in the country and academic way. Or are you actually among those who assert that there is something functionally different in appearence in a jacket that is five years old than one that is one?
    Yes, I would assert that, assuming the clothes are not babied too much. It's not that hard to spot a crisp, new suit. But it's not so much about the state of an individual item as the state of the overall wardrobe. Sure, you might not be able to tell if I've worn a sportcoat five times or ten, but it will look much "newer" if paired with perfectly creased trou and barely creased shoes. There's such a thing as being too put together, and it's unseemly. Clothes needn't look worn out to look well loved -- they just need to have lost the sheen of newness and be worn indifferently.
    I don't, really. I like things to look nice and fit reasonably well. But I also mix tatty sportcoats from the '60s (one has a ripped-out pocket that's been crudely stitched) with trou I bought off B&S two weeks ago. I don't think anyone who saw me in that getup would accuse me of looking too crisp or too put together. Perhaps it's like what you've said about bespoke -- pictures don't capture all the full effect. Next time I post my suede chelseas, check out the state of 'em.
    Patina, perhaps, but the notion that clothes shouldn't look too new goes way, way back.
     
  2. Tarmac

    Tarmac Senior member

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    Most people outside SF think the same about 10 pairs for $300+ shoes.

    Sure, but shoes are a bit different, I have tons of shoes.

    Jeans can be worn everyday, and for years straight if necessary. And they only get better. Not the same for shoes.

    It's like a baseball player who has 10 uniforms and 10 gloves. The need for 10 uniforms is obvious. but 10 gloves??
     
  3. Parker

    Parker Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Perhaps I'll speed up and allow my appetite to run more free in the future, but I'm hoping that's never necessary.
    Does this mean you might venture beyond the OneShoe™? [​IMG]
     
  4. Dewey

    Dewey Senior member

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    Bottom-line: clothing hobbyism and style are not the same thing.
    For sure. You can practice an instrument every day and still play it terribly. You can play baseball every day and never be good at it. But there has to be a way to distinguish people who spend a lot of money on clothes, or people who have a lot of clothes, from people who are devoted to clothing. This last person is the dandy. Not all dandies have good style. Most dandies are men of pleasure--they also appreciate fine food, fine furniture, fine art, etc., fine material objects of all kinds. But not all men of pleasure are dandies. And not all dandies have style.
    The best way to fit in in Boston these days is not to wear tie, or even a jacket. Suits are right out unless you are in a niche industry. The best way to fit in most of those niche industries where one wears a jacket and tie is to arrive in both, and then take off one's jacket for most of the day. We're all hard at work, ya know. In other words, tailored clothing in daily life is largely dead.
    This is old news. If you want all the poors to think seriously about their clothing, make their clothing much, much more expensive. Prosperity in the US brought cheap clothing, and cheap clothing freed people from thinking about such material trivia. Boston of all places should display this.
    Rhetoric. On the one hand, the the pathetic internet watchers. On the other, those of us who are living gods. Which shall I pick? Thus, I shall ignore your real point.
    I tried to understand this but I failed.
    I disagree with the OP but I do think that it's weird to want to be the guy who is known to have a ton of clothes. There are some fellow students at my school who are obviously overly clothes-conscious to the point of looking fussy. I don't want to be like them. On the other hand, if a man is 40 or 50 years old and buys high-quality items of clothing somewhat regularly, he should have accumulated quite a bit over time.
    I think it's fine to be the guy who has a ton of clothes provided that you own that and wear those clothes with confidence. The guys that look fussy or damaged for their huge collection all have a kind of shame about it, and they don't take care of their clothes, and they waste your time hating themselves in your presence. That's what I've seen at least. And the guy that's 40 or 50 years old doesn't have to keep everything he's ever bought. There is something to be said for moderating the size of your wardrobe to fit the size of your storage space. I enjoy my shirts a whole lot more when they can be spaced out on the closet rail. And I will give away perfectly good shirts that get worn once or twice a year so I can enjoy a not-overcrowded closet every day of the year. Seriously the hoarding behavior has nothing to do with hobbyism. You don't need to be a pack-rat to have good collections.
     
  5. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    Yes, I would assert that, assuming the clothes are not babied too much. It's not that hard to spot a crisp, new suit. But it's not so much about the state of an individual item as the state of the overall wardrobe. Sure, you might not be able to tell if I've worn a sportcoat five times or ten, but it will look much "newer" if paired with perfectly creased trou and barely creased shoes. There's such a thing as being too put together, and it's unseemly. Clothes needn't look worn out to look well loved -- they just need to have lost the sheen of newness and be worn indifferently.

    I don't, really. I like things to look nice and fit reasonably well. But I also mix tatty sportcoats from the '60s (one has a ripped-out pocket that's been crudely stitched) with trou I bought off B&S two weeks ago. I don't think anyone who saw me in that getup would accuse me of looking too crisp or too put together.

    Perhaps it's like what you've said about bespoke -- pictures don't capture all the full effect. Next time I post my suede chelseas, check out the state of 'em.

    Patina, perhaps, but the notion that clothes shouldn't look too new goes way, way back.


    "Sheen of newness?" I think that is a fiction, made up on the Internet and gotten from books. One of the reasons why one pursues high quality cloth for the making of bespoke suits is to ensure the maximal preservation of its original form and appearence. There is less concern for this in RTW since very little of it is made with longevity as a premise.

    Let me show you pic with which my grandfather would have been comfortable:

    [​IMG]

    Notice the slight fraying at the shirt cuff.

    Unlike nearly everyone on this forum, I wear old stuff. That shirt above is probably twelve years old or older...as are nearly all my dress shirts. The suit is fifteen. The links? Maybe eighty years old. Also, unlike most on this forum who wear old stuff, the old stuff is (mostly) mine and not thrifted, stuff that I bought back in the day. Here's the suit again:

    [​IMG]

    I've used the version with George's head this time. Now, is that suit lived in or not? If my suit were fraying, rather than just my shirt cuff, or if it was not pressed, guess what? My grandfather would have hated it (and he would have hated it anyway because it is a European suit.) And my father? The shoes are not nearly shiny enough.

    I invite contrary opinions, but one of the reasons why you look great in nearly every photograph you post of yourself is precisely that everything is studied and chosen with thought. This is why on the rare occasions that someone doesn't like what you wear (e.g., Manton and your double patterning), you are able to explain why you decided to do something a certain way. That is thought devoted to clothing, not a dÃ[​IMG]gagÃ[​IMG] approach at all (please forgive me!)

    I am adament on this point for the following reason: this thread addresses something quite directly that I see (and I might be a minority of one) as the biggest problem common in WAYWRN. It is not garishness. It is not false economies and variety. It is the opposite.

    Not enough spent. Not enough depth. Not enough variety. A vocabularly of pronouns and adjectives with seldom a full sentence written.

    Modern male dress does not require further loosening. It requires tightening, winching, corsetting. A bit of pain.


    - B
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. radicaldog

    radicaldog Senior member

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    Vox (if I may),

    You made a number of sensible points. Yet even if we set aside the abstract argument from the versatility/number of garments it seems to me that the general point still stands. Crudely put, too large a wardrobe tends to cause (i) extreme neatness (mostly for lack of wear) and (ii) a studied appearance (mostly because people notice that you always wear different clothes), both of which are detrimental to elegance, other things being equal.

    Take the above picture and look at your briefcase. You have a number of wonderful briefcases. I particularly like the one in bridle with the wrap-around belts. But it's crying to be used and develop a patina, which won't happen anytime soon because you have so many other cases.
     
  7. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    Vox (if I may),

    You made a number of sensible points. Yet even if we set aside the abstract argument from the versatility/number of garments it seems to me that the general point still stands. Crudely put, too large a wardrobe tends to cause (i) extreme neatness (mostly for lack of wear) and (ii) a studied appearance (mostly because people notice that you always wear different clothes), both of which are detrimental to elegance, other things being equal.


    I find it hard to believe that the best dressers who post pictures here, even those who adopt the viewpoint that you describe as their public persona, actually succeed in not having people notice them.

    Who exemplifies what you describe more than mafoofan?

    Who is more public than mafoofan?

    Do you see what I mean?

    I agree that if you make you home in the pockets of, say, Europe where things are slower paced, you might affect the baggy look with great success. Can't be done in America...if it could be, I would probably be among the first to know since I come from the world of American tradition.

    Take the above picture and look at your briefcase. You have a number of wonderful briefcases. I particularly like the one in bridle with the wrap-around belts. But it's crying to be used and develop a patina, which won't happen anytime soon because you have so many other cases.

    Yes, but you think this way because you do not have a dynastic sensibility. For certain types of objects, it does not occur to me that I have to the one to personally "wear things in." And that case is, indeed, new...should one only buy things in their twenties, and then caccoon until death in a sartorial terrarium?

    I'm joking. That agree SAB case would look better if it were worn in...but you know, I'm starting and my son can continue. I think that is okay.

    You do know that is the essense of the old school, right? Father to son?


    - B
     
  8. Dewey

    Dewey Senior member

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    Can I add that leather goods and tailored clothing are very different things. Shoes and briefcases improve with age in ways that tailored clothing will never challenge. Let's not confuse these things.
     
  9. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    Can I add that leather goods and tailored clothing are very different things. Shoes and briefcases improve with age in ways that tailored clothing will never challenge. Let's not confuse these things.

    Hemingwayesque. I agree.


    - B
     
  10. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    Possible, yes--but desirable? I'm less sure. I think it's worth considering the notion that, ultimately, we each have a very little to say stylistically, and we each might be better off learning how to communicate a single message with increasing clarity and persuasiveness than trying to spread other messages. It's interesting that many of the men widely acknowledged to be amongst the world's best dressed appear to possess very narrow aesthetic preferences, as expressed in very eccentric, focused personal styles. Sure, we can look through any man's past to find dalliances and divergences, but, at the end, we still tend to know them for a particular look.

    My guess is that diversity and quantity can be excellent methods of experimentation, which may lead to a better end result, but the end result may be neither diverse nor great in quantity.

    I'd agree, but I'd point out that it is a very rare individual who can speak more than one language beautifully. I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time communicating in the one I was born with.


    You are the extreme version of this, and I think and have always said that I admire how dapper you are.

    But you know, I wouldn't recommend doing things your way as I would not recommend doing things my way. What I recommend that I think is common to both of us is to pursue your personal inclinations in how you dress, and do not subsume them to what others think you should do.

    - b
     
  11. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    Vox (if I may),

    You made a number of sensible points. Yet even if we set aside the abstract argument from the versatility/number of garments it seems to me that the general point still stands. Crudely put, too large a wardrobe tends to cause (i) extreme neatness (mostly for lack of wear) and (ii) a studied appearance (mostly because people notice that you always wear different clothes), both of which are detrimental to elegance, other things being equal.

    Take the above picture and look at your briefcase. You have a number of wonderful briefcases. I particularly like the one in bridle with the wrap-around belts. But it's crying to be used and develop a patina, which won't happen anytime soon because you have so many other cases.


    I get that you prefer the broken-in look. But to equate that as "more elegant" is nonsense. I'm not even certain that "elegance" is the correct term for what you are trying to express.
     
  12. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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  13. radicaldog

    radicaldog Senior member

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    I find it hard to believe that the best dressers who post pictures here, even those who adopt the viewpoint that you describe as their public persona, actually succeed in not having people notice them. Who exemplifies what you describe more than mafoofan? Who is more public than mafoofan? Do you see what I mean? I agree that if you make you home in the pockets of, say, Europe where things are slower paced, you might affect the baggy look with great success. Can't be done in America...if it could be, I would probably be among the first to know since I come from the world of American tradition.
    The problem with Mafoofan is that he arguably errs on the side of caution (or of OCD). People end up noticing that he has a clothing hobby because his clothes are all so similar. But if he threw in a bit more variety (not quantity) and perhaps lost the pocket square he'd be home free. I see the point about American crispness, so to speak. But that only goes to show that, in a way, Europe still has an edge in terms of style [​IMG] That sort of goes with the European stereotype that Americans all behave a bit too much like second hand car dealers: crisp shiny suits, big smiles and all.
    Yes, but you think this way because you do not have a dynastic sensibility. For certain types of objects, it does not occur to me that I have to the one to personally "wear things in." And that case is, indeed, new...should one only buy things in their twenties, and then caccoon until death in a sartorial terrarium? I'm joking. That agree SAB case would look better if it were worn in...but you know, I'm starting and my son can continue. I think that is okay. You do know that is the essense of the old school, right? Father to son?
    It is the essence of the old school, yes. And I do have that sensibility, which is probably why I've decided to not have kids, but that's a different story. It's also part of the old school sensibility to buy the best quality possible without however being wasteful. I suppose American sensibility could be slightly different on this point, though. I only lived in the States for a year, but it seems to me that Americans really like gorging on stuff. By contrast, think of the scene in The Queen in which Helen Mirren's Land Rover breaks down. Someone (Prince Philip?) suggests that they ought to get a new one, but HM replies: "Why, it is perfectly alright." Also think of the recent discussion here of Charles' patched-up shoes.
     
  14. Tarmac

    Tarmac Senior member

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    Vox 1 Radicaldawg 0
     
  15. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I also know that I've had very little time to develop my taste.

    You will hopefully have plenty of time to develop your taste, though whether taste develops when one wears only one style of shoe is a question that only time will answer. :)
     
  16. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    You guys are missing some of the major points here, though I am enjoying the discussion.
     
  17. radicaldog

    radicaldog Senior member

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    I am enjoying your comments very much. Forgive me, but I'll address the other ones in a post above tomorrow, but the excerpted segment above makes me nostalgic. Like you, I grew up with live in help until, oh, about just before my teens. My father had a valet, whom we shared. Everything was laid out every morning...I guess that would epitomize not thinking about clothes...unlike the Wodehouse fantasy, however, I'm afraid the valet was terrorized by my father. More recently, we just moved to a new home and it is the first time I can recall having a laundry in the house since I was a child. From freshman year in college until about a year ago, a service would take all our laundry and deliver it...cleaned and pressed...the next day. That's about 26 years of that. I now miss the prefolded underwear. We moved to be more "green" btw. On our roof? Plants. Oh: and in college, all shirts had to be starched. Collar and body. Anything else looked quite stupid. So, you can see there are various norms. - B
    Thank you. Just to clarify: I was born in 1980, and I know about my grandparents' domestic arrangements from pictures and family banter. My parents only ever had hourly paid cleaners and nannies (who weren't very good cooks, alas) -- sic transit gloria mundi. I now live alone (in the UK) and struggle to find a proper cleaner, partly because I haven't really settled at all. When I was an undergrad in Italy I used to take all my washing up to the cleaners about once a week. Here it just doesn't feel right to do that -- not sure why (the British middle class is a strange social phenomenon). Anyway, your reminiscences are quite illuminating, in a good way. I suppose one's past experiences can go a long way in terms of explaining and legitimising one's style choices, and your look now makes more sense to me. What I mean is that if people know you and your story, then your way of dress will look much more natural, and better for it. So yes, there are various norms.
     
  18. Fuuma

    Fuuma Senior member

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    You guys are missing some of the major points here, though I am enjoying the discussion.

    You can't put lipstick on a pig?
     
  19. rob

    rob Senior member

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    I'm certainly not in the sartorial league of the posters here, but I think one point is being overlooked: the joy in wearing fine things. That can be both wonderful and frivolous. I just don't have a problem with Vox and how he wears his large wardrobe. He's got a great attitude and it shows.

    Actually, while I love Foo's clothing, his one and only one way is the only way to go attitude irks since it takes the joy out of the whole enterprise. I like to see what he wears but I want to look away once he talks about it. Mr. Sam's photo of Foo would be more complete, in Foo's perfect world, if his towering poster looked down upon a nation dressed exactly as he does. I don't sense that with Vox.

    Vox wears A&S ex-pat, Napoli, Brioni and even SD stuff and, if we could see his face, he would be smiling all the while. If we all spend too much time on this, shouldn't we at least be happy about it.
     
  20. radicaldog

    radicaldog Senior member

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    I get that you prefer the broken-in look. But to equate that as "more elegant" is nonsense. I'm not even certain that "elegance" is the correct term for what you are trying to express.

    The idea I'm trying to express is this: it is inelegant to get a new 4x4 just because your trusty old Land Rover has broken down. Repair it. It is inelegant in the same sense in which restraint is the most impressive form of power, as Thucydides said.
     

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