“A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.”
If ever given the choice to overdress or underdress, I always choose to overdress. Any one who knows me knows that I like to dress well, and I guess there’s an origin story behind that—
When my grandmother first moved to this country, she and my grandfather tried to run a fruit stand to make a living. When that failed, she became a seamstress in a sweatshop. Eventually, she made her way to become a tailor at Federated, which is the parent company of Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, and Bloomingdale’s. This means that growing up, I was given every little bit of style advice I could ever want. Of course, me being a kid, I didn’t listen to a bit of it. To this day, even though I’ve grown up quite a bit, and my tastes have matured, I can confidently say that my grandmother is not only more stylish, but way cooler than I ever was, or ever will be (evidence will be posted at a later date).
Believe it or not, I don’t dress to impress anyone. I don’t do it to show off to men, I don’t do it to catch a woman’s eye, I simply do it for myself. Your style is the first thing that 95% of people will see about you. Light travels faster than sound, so they’ll see you long before they can hear a thing you say, and like it or not prejudices, good and bad, are formed on those impressions. But like I said, I couldn’t give less of a damn about those impressions.
For me, the clothes I wear are my armor. Whether it’s a sweatshirt and jeans or an ivory dinner jacket, it’s all the same. My style projects who I am, my style gives me confidence, and confidence gives me the ability to get through my day. When we step out into the world, we’re immediately assaulted by a million things. It may sound strange, but what I wear helps me filter those sensations. If I’m not in the mood to be social, you’ll see me in charcoal, cut slim and severe. A dinner date? Every hue of navy blue you can find, in an eminently touchable textile, with just a touch of daring. If you procure items that are well tailored, fit right, and are made from good materials, you can make them work in any infinite number ways.
Most of all though, a man’s style must be utilitarian. So much of what has lasted in menswear are military adaptations (the bomber jacket, the chukka boot, the trenchcoat) or simply holdovers from other forms of labor (the brogue, a surgeon’s cuff). I try to remember that every morning. As much as it’s a uniform for the day, it’s also a statement of being. Being mindful of the image that I put out into the world, and more importantly what I can do to shape that world. I don’t believe that the clothes make the man, but I do believe that the clothes can lend a man confidence.
And that, is the armor I need to face the day.