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Why do you dress the way you do?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Holdfast, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    Mar 10, 2006
    Or, your Men's Clothing philosophy/objective.

    We have lots of threads about what we wear, what others wear, where to buy it, what has traditionally been worn in the past. There have been few historically that ask a much more fundamental question: what do you actually want from your clothes/outfits?

    This is a topic I happen to be quite interested in for various reasons, and I think has a lot of potential depth (and utility in terms of refining how we dress), but let's keep things simple and straightforward to start with:

    Why do you dress the way you do?

    For me:

    • To appear superficially vaguely consistent with the form of dress traditionally associated with my job and (more generally, if inaccurately) lifestyle/habits
    • To use the content of that dress to somewhat subvert the sobriety of the form, deliberately reducing its formality/social meaning a bit
    • The ultimate objective of the above two points is that I hope how I dress reinforces how I prefer to interact with others, rather than conflicting with it.
    • In other ways, I want how I dress to make my life easier, not harder. This effect only operates on the margins of life (obviously other factors have a much bigger difference), but I don't believe it is zero.

    A secondary aim is simply to idly amuse myself on a pseudo-intellectual, faux-creative level playing around with colour and pattern (my version of finger-painting, if you like). It's all ridiculous in a way, of course, but so are many enjoyable things.

    What about you?

  2. porcelain monkey

    porcelain monkey Senior member

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    Jul 13, 2008
    Well put, and I have to say I agree with just about all of what you said, Holdfast.

    Keeping this to tailored clothing / business wear, which I wear about three days a week, my general philosophy is that everything should be appropriate, but some items should be unexpected.

    I work in marketing for the financial services field. It's a conservative field and I wear pretty conventional suits. They may not be of higher quality than many of my peers, but I know they are better fitting and much more thought is put into the tailoring. I wear brown shoes much more often than others and I've never seen anyone else wear dress boots. My ties are generally half an inch narrower than my colleagues and I will mix in wool (in winter) and cotton and linen ( in summer) much more often. I like colorful watchstraps as opposed to the metal ones most others wear.

  3. JensenH

    JensenH Senior member

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    Aug 13, 2009
    Between Berserkeley and Freaksco
    Professional necessity

    Personal gratification

    Appreciation for finer things in life

    Vanity :embar:
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012

  4. Harold falcon

    Harold falcon Senior member

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    Dec 6, 2009
    NE PA
    1. In a professional environment (attorney) it is important to dress appropriately to impart a sufficient level of competence and professionalism.

    2. As I work in a smaller community it is likely I will run into other colleagues, clients, or Judges in my time off. Appropriate dress at all times is thus required.

    3. It makes me feel better about myself.

    4. Being appropriately dressed also shows other people who I deal with in non-professional circles that I respect their time and attention. I know how I feel when I meet with a client who is wearing shorts and a beer company branded t-shirt, and I would not want to convey those same feelings to anyone else.

    5. I have had far more success with women while I was wearing a tie than I have when I wore something from T-Shirt Hell.com.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012

  5. Pliny

    Pliny Senior member

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    Oct 26, 2009
    Good question, even if it's more of an SF pre-2009 or AAAC kinda discussion.

    I don't need to dress particularly well for work or otherwise so it's not that.

    For me it's a bit of art and a bit of play; a bit of Freudian fetishization and transference- and a visceral thing for shiny new stuff.
    And my Dad was a bit of a dandy.

  6. DerekS

    DerekS Guyliner

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    Sep 17, 2010
    vanity. pretty much it for me. I like to feel well dressed. Whether anyone at my office or people that meet me agree or not....

  7. EFV

    EFV Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Apr 8, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Used to be for work (banking). Now I don't really have to (changed line of work completely), but I really feel most comfortable in the stuff I wear. My fiancée likes it as well, and that's a big bonus.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012

  8. Pawz

    Pawz Senior member

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    Dec 11, 2009
    *taps your shoulder*
    I'll say it: I'm not a particularly confident person; I'm autistic and self-conscious.

    Fortunately, I've learned that most people know nothing about clothes - this working to my advantage in that I know something they don't (*and can prove it via my dress). This gives me a sense of pride and confidence when in public.

    Personality-wise, I'm too tense to allow myself to wear a T-shirt and jeans most of the time. **I cannot relax enough to wear such things (together) for extended periods (though there was a time when I didn't care) - I'm just not a loose, casual person (anymore).

    I like that when I'm 'dressed up', I'm less likely to be approached by someone I don't know (one's clothing gives signals to strangers; I like to think my dress serves as a warning). I'm eccentric and unsocial for a reason; please let me have it.

    *yes, I'm humbly aware I'm not an expert, but nor am I new to clothes. I do have some knowledge and I use it! Most of what I know has come from this site and the magazine (Details) that brought me here. In the real world, I'm fairly confident that I'm dressed better than most of the persons whom I'll be in the presence of. Here, I am not, which is why you haven't seen me post pictures on the What are You Wearing thread and likely never will.

    **I still buy and sometimes wear T-shirts (and other like) when the mood strikes - it's just very rare. There exist street clothes I'd love to have and use.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012

  9. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Apr 21, 2005
    First and foremost, my tweeds and sweaters and flannels are really cozy. Shorts in winter? No thanks. The practical nature of a seasonal approach to clothes is very appealing.

    Second is family influence. My grandfather was a remarkably dapper man, and from a young age I admired how elegantly and effortlessly he presented himself. I aspire to that.

    Beyond that, I really dig the styles I wear.

    Finally, I'm pretty lazy. My stuff will take me most places, and I don't need to spend much time thinking about it in the morning.

  10. LynahFaithful

    LynahFaithful Senior member

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    Aug 5, 2009
    I work in Higher Education and can dress any way I want, including jeans if I am so inclined. I vary my dress from suits to polos and khakis, (typically I won't dress in jeans) always with quality shoes (Alden, EG, St Crispin, bespoke), depending on whether I have meetings that might suggest more professional dress or whether I will be heads down at my desk working on financial issues and/or policy and reporting. Most of the time it really comes down to how I feel and how I want to present myself. I like the variety and choices that I can make and it is all personal choice.

  11. Metlin

    Metlin Senior member

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    Feb 25, 2008

    I could not have put it better!

  12. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    Jun 1, 2011
    Washington, DC
    I am a professor as well. As a young professor, part of my decision to wear tailored clothing is that it grants me something of an appearance of professionalism and authority that differentiates me from the graduate students, who are approximately my age. On days that I teach I wear a tie as well for this reason.

    But that's really secondary to having an appreciation of beautiful things and vanity. I do make some concessions to conform to the atmosphere around me - I'd rather wear a tie every time I left the house, wear black tie to the theater, wear 3 pc suits to work, etc....but as it is I generally just tread towards the upper range of formality of whatever context I'm in. When I moved from San Diego to DC this elevated considerably...In San Diego just wearing shoes with laces makes you "dressed up".

  13. Sonny58

    Sonny58 Senior member

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    Aug 21, 2009
    Houston, TX
    Because I don't know any better. :embar:
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012

  14. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    Sep 28, 2004
    greater chicago
    hmmmm, this is actually a quesiton that I have been wrestling with quite a bit lately, on a practical basis I am thinking through purchasing new clothing,and there is a fundemental, pilosophical issue about how I want to dress that needs to be addressed.

    there are a few things that motivate the way I like to dress -

    1. I like to present a certain image to the world.
    2. I like to control my enviroment - by keeping control over my wardrobe, I can control my chaos
    3. I like to be comfortable, like Doc said- I like to have weather appropriate clothing
    4. I like nice things, I like the, relative, luxury of nice clothes.

    I started working with much older people when I was pretty young, and I dressed in suits to cover my age or blend in with people who were much older than I was. then, for most of my life I was the guy in a suit, or at least a blazer, when others were more casually dressed.

    now, while I would like to dress in a suit every day, I know that that really would draw attention to myself, and stand out. and that isn't my intention.

    my leanings, now, are to build a very good casual wardrobe that is equal in size, more or less, to my suit wardrobe, so that I might be better dressed than many people I encounter, it won't be to the extent that it makes anyone uncomfortable or draws too much attention to myself.


  15. CodPiece

    CodPiece Senior member

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    Jul 11, 2011
    A very interesting question and one that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately.
    I've been interested in dressing well since I worked in fine hotels during my early twenties. I love possessing the somewhat esoteric knowledge that comes with being well-dressed, although a novice. I love the self-expression that comes from combining textures and color, and just feel great when everything falls into place.

    Sadly, my work environment doesn't support jacket-and-tie, and my wife doesn't appreciate any form of peacocking. She thinks linen pants and pocket squares look feminine. She dressed our infant daughter in blacks and navy (not goth, just dark)...

    Because I'm in the creative field, I'm beginning to explore colored STF jeans, maybe some interestingly patterned knits and shirts, beautiful shoes and boots. Knit ties with cardigans, OCBD with tweed and jeans, that sort of thing.

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