The Case for Continuity
There’s something to be said for clothes that align with a situation or a location. Looking at a sportcoat and thinking This really puts me in the mood for dinner in Florence, can be a great feeling. But I have too many clothes for too many niche developments. If I want to stroll on slightly rainy day October morning in Vermont then I have just the barn coat! Too often the perfect coat waits patiently in the closet for the perfect situation which comes, say, once a year.
What about something more universal? What about something that works perfectly well most of the time? What about something that’s worn in and well-loved, something that’s truly yours? That appeals to me more and more.
It’s funny how much travel can teach us about dressing. This starts when we’re packing and we have to analyze our needs and balance them within the constraints of a suitcase. Then a cold front arrives and we’re forced to wear the same thing every day. This turns out to be a blessing. Now we learn that the flannel suit, one week in, is a war horse.
I was thinking about all of this as I rediscovered a linen suit that I ended up wearing each day I was in Italy a few years ago. Once I crossed over and embraced its perpetual wrinkled state, the suit became much less precious, much more a uniform and much more personal. That wouldn’t have happened in New York. Without the necessity I just wouldn’t have committed like that.
It’s also a reminder that I respond when people wear a coat (or shoes or a bag—usually something that can be worn or carried every day) that they clearly adore. Their evident love overruns any imperfections. Go forth in your destroyed desert boots, re-waxed Barbours, patched tweed and faded chore jackets. When you find something you care about keep it close, wear it well and don’t let it go.
The travel part is so true. I used to be a horrible packer — stuff *anything and everything* we may need into the suitcase! — but I spent a month away from home last year and realized I reached for the same five or six items throughout the week. I’m away for a month again and fit everything into two small bags. Well, except for one superfluous item — a linen sport coat, go figure.
Ahh! Linen and seersucker don't fear the wrinkles. Although - while not proud of it, I know this from experience - don't sleep in it.