How many times a day do you hear the word ‘strategy’? Strategic thinking, with its goals, challenges and tactics has become the mainstay of modern work – because it works. So why don’t we apply the same processes to level-up other elements of our lives, specifically how we dress? But how? Well, it’s actually just a simple 1, 2, 3.
Number one; let’s think about what we all want from our wardrobes – our goals, if you will. We all want to be comfortable, that’s a given. But what else? We probably want to look sophisticated, intelligent maybe? We want clothes that won’t fall apart after three wears. We want to look modern, but not a slave to fashion. We don’t want to have to think too much, so we want pieces that go together easily. Looking like we’ve tried too hard is a definite no-no. But also, (and let’s be honest here) it’s not the worst thing in the world to get noticed once in a while. Sound a bit like you? Great, let's get into number two, the challenges. What's standing in our way?
Quite a lot. Whether you feel it or not, there’s a lot of social and cultural baggage weighing you down, conspiring to keep your sartorial-self stuck in the ‘same old, same old’.
The big question is: will I look stupid? Show me any man, from your average 9-to-5 Joe to a flouncy Pitti peacock, and I promise you, at some point they’ve sweated in front of a mirror. Jigging about, tugging at the hem, convincingly themselves the sleeves are too short by waving their arms in the air like they’re trying to land a plane. Men are terrified of looking stupid. Utterly fearful that someone, somewhere will be sniggering behind their back.
As we get older, the brazen confidence of youth is eroded by responsibility (being a grown-up will do that to you). Our solipsistic-self retreats and the uproarious pleasure of dressing for ourselves is quietly forgotten. But the sensations that dressing well bring are valuable: the positivity; the quiet confidence; the feeling that you’re presenting your best self. There’s a real energy to it, remember?
"The sensations that dressing well bring are valuable: the positivity; the quiet confidence; the feeling that you’re presenting your best self."
Opening a package from you is always pure clothing heaven. I get taken straight back to my grandmother’s workstation with all her fabrics and the sewing chest stuffed with thread and needles. I’ve always been aware of the brand’s distinctive smell and if I think about my most recent items, I can definitely break it down in a scientific sense. Starting with the Vega Mac – I got a faint wisp of sandalwood molecule polysantol and then a soft white wood with milky undertone from the buttons. The SNJP Matsumoto hoodie had a slightly sweet rose with a coating of gentle musk.
It can be tough to get that feeling back. Many men (perhaps guys you know?) remain determinedly naive when it comes to menswear. It’s the lowest-hanging source of humour to point at someone who chooses to be a little different, because it’s far easier to laugh at others than address your own shortcomings, right?
For some, risking this crucible of ridicule is scary. But don’t forget, such barbs are frequently born of confusion, jealousy and quite possibly a deep-seated inferiority complex. Who cares if the pencil-legged office boys take issue with your hem width? They all look the same because they lack imagination and watch too much reality TV. So what if your father makes a quip about your shirt? He’s a thousand years old and dresses like a poacher. You can handle it. It’s not selfish, or preening, or emasculating to think about how you want to dress. It’s actually the coolest thing you can do. And no, you won’t look stupid.
So, we’ve arrived at number three, our tactics. We know what we want, we’ve dealt with the challenges, let’s solutionise this bad boy.
The skinny-thing (be it jeans, shirts, or truncated jackets) is done. Let that sink in. If you’re serious about your goals; sophistication, intelligence, modernity. Get onboard with the idea that the skinny silhouette delivers none of those things. Today, you need to think about volume. Looser trousers, more voluminous jackets.
The first thing you’ll notice is the comfort factor. You won’t feel all trussed up like the last turkey in the shop. You’ll be able to move easier and feel air against your body. You’ll feel better, in every sense. It’s a mental hurdle though. Switching from years of slim shapes to fuller ones may initially feel weird. But flick that devil of doubt from your shoulder. Doesn’t suit you? Says who?
"Believe in the positivity of change, recognise that menswear is moving forward, trust that you deserve to be part of it."
Why not start slow with the Studio Nicholson Voli Pant. It offers a comfortable billow around the thigh, reducing to a tapered ankle. In a similar vein, the Bill Pant, a straighter leg keeps things easy, offering just a shade more room and a neat silhouette. When you’re ready, you might even want to try the Sorte Pant: big, bold, incredibly hardwearing and the ultimate in laid-back comfort. Whichever your choice, this is a turn-up free zone. Let your hemlines hang loose – it’s a fresher move right now.
Layering is our next tactic. But let’s be clear about what we mean by layering. We’re not yawning on about wearing a shirt, sweater and coat here. Layering can and should be inventive, it’s an opportunity to be creative: combining pieces in new and interesting ways; finding that perfect balance between practicality and style.
Naturally, the pieces have to be right. Think about the opportunities afforded by the Teo vest, Romer coat or Mamata overshirt. The vest can obviously be worn between the shirt and the coat. But what about under the shirt, or (for the more daring) over the coat? And what about throwing a Hirc rollback into the mix? The permutations are endless.
As you start to build your modular wardrobe, remember the benefits of combining different textures. Sure, you’ll want some robust cottons in there, but you’ll really start to elevate interest by blending in some knobbly bouclé wool, soft lamb leather or double-faced merino, and for that technical touch try the Sion jacket in chemical-free water repellent cotton-polyamide.
Tailoring also has its place in this modular thinking. Especially when you consider the Conde jacket, which is designed with layering in mind. It’s a thoroughly modern approach to the two-button, roomy and a little slouchy. Try it over the soft collared Lak knit or the Keble shirt for a comfortable and elegant subversion of formality. There you have it. The strategic approach to dressing well. Follow your instincts, be brave and enjoy yourself.