In my college years I had privilege of visiting a real-life haberdasher. A friend had won the bespoke experience through a draw at his financial-something-or-other job, and asked me to come along to add a woman’s perspective.
Arriving at the midtown Manhattan penthouse, I was enchanted by the floor-to-ceiling mahogany closets stuffed with a rainbow of textiles draped on velveteen hangers. Samples of colourful silken lining awaited inside pull-out drawers, and all manner of buttons were meticulously arranged.
On that day, I realized two very important things: quality menswear is an art form and it’s just as fitting for feminine looks as it is our more masculine counterparts.
The place was a wonderland where clothes are still a true craft, and the lucky customers go home with wearable art.
Although it wasn’t me who was the lucky one, I still went home with inspiration and a relearning of fashion. Walking along the street past store displays with endless racks of clothes, it didn’t feel the same.
Is it worth it? Let me work it.
I love a billowing dress with frills and plunging necklines as much as the next glamour girl, but the haberdasher proved that it doesn’t always have to be energetic to be head turning.
Enter the “clean girl aesthetic.” It involves building a capsule closet with clothes that are both feminine and classic.
That is, if you choose the right pieces.
Choosing the right pieces should the goal for any wardrobe. But when it comes from borrowing from the boys, it takes a little tact.
I like to ask myself when I’m shopping: Is this a true garment, something that would deserve a spot in a mahogany closet? Or is it a cheap façade of taste and refinement; a knockoff in the grand scheme of being well-dressed?
The truth is that the endless turnover of trends is killing our pockets and our planet. Like all addictions, it can be hard to own up to and a behemoth to beat.
How can any true fashion-lover be completely prepared to swat away a sale? Where’s the fun in that?
Fast fashion may be a villain, but that’s not to say it’s all bad. We need a little villainy to further the plot. It helps keep things exciting. When it comes to fashion, the clothing villains give us a taste of what’s hot.
Trying out a trend is really like a downpayment on a longtime look. If it works, then upgrade it. If it doesn’t, move on.
One things’ for sure though–a selection of suits will never be out of style.
Piecing together a worthy wardrobe
Celebrity influence has already shown us that menswear is HOT. The Oscars gave us plenty of power suits, and I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow’s MET Gala gave us a few more inspiring tailorings. Although most of us are not shopping with bespoke designers and haute couture, we can still take note.
A reliable pair of jeans (better yet, slacks); a handsome sturdy jacket; comfortable, kick-ass shoes that go the distance and match everything; a flattering blouse that’s equally classic and entrancing. These are the articles of clothing that are worth the money. These items deserve a spot in the mahogany wardrobe of our dreams, not just a shot at a laundry basket.
Finding worthy trends
When we look at menswear, one thing is important–don’t be afraid to wear it a lot! That’s what it’s for.
A classic jacket instantly elevates any outfit. A comfortable and flattering pair of pants pairs perfectly with every blouse. Experiment with hair and accessories and you have an endlessly fresh look without buying another piece at all.
Anything you can do, I can do better
Visiting that New York haberdasher revealed to me just why men’s fashion is so classic and enduring. The very best suits are not only striking, but sturdy. They’re sleek, but still statement-making. There is a craft to it, a real artistry. And when it’s done well, it never ever goes out of style.
In this sense, taking a page from the boys’ playbook is key for a capsule closet. Getting these foundational pieces–pants, shirts, jackets, skirts–means you’ll always look sharp and have reliable pieces to build on when you want to add a splash of excitement.
The classic look is classic for a reason. This is fashion like the men do it. The trick, just as my friend knew, is adding a woman’s touch to top it all off.