1 September 2012

What Do I Want?



My clothing currently fits smartly onto a single rail. There is room for more, lots more. But where to start? Rather than rushing out to buy everything that caught my eye, I made the decision to go as slowly as possible. And when I thought I was going as slowly as I could, I made myself go even slower. The idea is to better understand how I relate to clothing and how I choose to dress. It is a journey of discovery, and as with most journeys, you have to start with only what you can carry on your own back. As it stands, I do not necessarily need any more clothing, indeed I have learnt that I can live quite comfortably within an extreme absence of choice (wear one while you wash the other). However that knowledge has been an interesting self-realization rather than an intended goal. The aim is as ever to have a small but well-curated wardrobe of pieces I truly love. Spend more, buy less, but before you even reach that stage - think, think, think. The more I think about a garment before purchase (fit, construction, functionality, versatility, etc.), the less I have to consider after, knowing that I have my bases covered and being then freer to dress by feeling rather than some overly cerebral process.

Whenever I go out window shopping or people watching I will inevitably come home with a list of garments I am interested in, and so I then make the decision to go and try them on and explore the various options that specific colour or cut or fabric choice of garment offers. But how do I figure out what pieces I would like to wear on a day-to-day basis, rather than relying on that relatively arbitrary list of pieces that caught my eye? The answer is quite simple, and a process I go through every six months. Every morning for a month, before I get dressed in the morning, I write down every single piece I would like to be wearing for my outfit that day - everything from which underwear to which colour of shoelaces I would like. Price is no object, scarcity of garment is no object, design of garment is no object. It can be as fantastical or decadent or colourful as your heart desires. The only rule is that it must be practical and appropriate for what you have to do that day (so no writing down a couture lace dress for a day working in the garden or what have you).

In ice cream parlours where they have hundreds of flavours on offer the two flavours that sell most are vanilla and chocolate. Given all the world to chose from and humans will by nature tend to go with what they already know. We like the illusion of choice more than actually having to make a choice because it allows us to feel like we are in control. And so I found that with the entirety of dress and fashion to choose from, the garments that number most over that month at the start of each season are in actuality quite basic in nature. And those garments are what I would consider to be personal staples. Fashion magazines and websites seem to offer no end of garments that you need to buy for this season as a staple, but the truth of the matter is that only you know what you want to wear most. These building blocks are where I decided to start rebuilding my wardrobe. Yet in reality even the most deceptively simple of garments is actually a complex list of considerations and choices.

I have had on my list for almost a year a white longsleeve t-shirt. It is hardly something most people think too long about - you can find them everywhere and to suit whichever budget. However I have not yet bought one because I have yet to find one that meets my requirements. It is not that I am looking for an overly specific cut or length or fit, but rather I am trying to find the one that moves me the most and that feels just right. As it is I actually have two options in consideration, and no doubt will find additional options the more I search. But the reason I did not simply snap one up as and when I first wanted one is because I want to make sure what I buy is right for me. Most people will no doubt say that this is over-thinking the issue, or indecision at its extreme, but as yet I have not felt compelled to immediately go out and buy one, so I think it is fine to ruminate over the issue a little longer. It would be nice to buy one, but I do not feel like I need one right away, and I like it that way.

Anyhow, I thought I would share part of my list as it currently stands. These are the pieces I would like to wear that I do not yet own. Some have been there for two months, some have been there for two years. I thought in the future it could actually be rather interesting to share an inventory of everything in my wardrobe at the turn of each fashion season to see how things progress, but for now these are the pieces I have on my to-buy list. I have written down next to each a rough idea of the details I am after, however as ever, if I find a piece that feels right but does not quite tick all the boxes, I would rather go with that feeling. I was also tempted to write down the actual pieces and designers in consideration for each, but thought that would be a touch too much. However I am sure regular readers can guess the two designers who top the list (hint: I named my kitten after one).

Originally this list was ordered by which garments were listed most often over the course of the month, and also obviously included garments I already own. As such I decided to leave only those I do not yet own, and tried to group by type rather than frequency.

  • Long coat: black, thin wool or heavy cotton, half- or fully lined, buttoned front, folded collar, two side pockets, interior pockets, no epaulettes or distracting detailing 
  • Casual jacket: black or grey, wool or cotton, short length, two side pockets, interior pockets, zip front 
  • Suit: wool, black, baggy, notch lapels 
  • Casual blazer: wool or boiled wool, black or navy, loose fit 
  • Waistcoat: black or grey, wool or cotton, multiple pockets, full length (has to reach top of trousers, preferably covering waistband)
  • Black trousers: wool gabardine, high waisted, baggy cut, long inseam for rolling up 
  • Grey trousers: wool, double pleated front, tapered leg, flap back pockets
  • Sweatpants: black, heavy jersey or fleeced jersey, drop crotch, elasticated waist, four pockets 
  • Shirt: cotton, black, clean cut, breast pocket 
  • Shirt: cotton, pale grey, soft collar, straight cut, box pleat back
  • Smock shirt: cotton, off-white, collarless, half button, pullover 
  • Longsleeve t-shirt: cotton, white, crewneck, baggy cut, sleeves reaching halfway down hands 
  • Henley longsleeve undershirt: cotton, off-white, vintage reproduction, fitted, horn buttons 
  • Shortsleeve t-shirt: cotton, navy blue, crewneck, roomy cut
  • Cardigan: lambswool, maroon, roomy cut, elbow patches, two front pockets, horn buttons
  • Sweater: mohair mix or angora mix, black or maroon, crewneck, oversize
  • Belt: black, leather, dull silver buckle, 1.5" width
  • Belt: black, canvas, silver or black d-ring
  • Braces: dark grey or maroon boxcloth, leather detailing, for buttoned trousers
  • Hat: black, wide brim, felted wool
  • Leather gloves: black, fitted
  • Derby shoes: black, matte leather, laced, rounded toe, plain design, stacked leather or hardwearing rubber sole
  • High top trainers: black, leather, laced, flat sole


xxxx

9 comments:

  1. Amazing. I'm trying to do something similar rather than buying things on impulse I later regret . These days I would much prefer to save up to buy something from Margaret Howell, which involves identifying the item I want, going to the shop and trying it on, then saving up for it. Its a lot more special if I've had to plan and go without something else in order to have it.

    Blah to disposable consumerism - unethical and unsustainable.

    Your blog is my favourite clothing blog on the internet. Please don't stop - I've learnt a lot from reading your posts.

    Peter

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  2. Amazing. I'm trying to do something similar rather than buying things on impulse I later regret . These days I would much prefer to save up to buy something from Margaret Howell, which involves identifying the item I want, going to the shop and trying it on, then saving up for it. Its a lot more special if I've had to plan and go without something else in order to have it.

    Blah to disposable consumerism - unethical and unsustainable.

    Your blog is my favourite clothing blog on the internet. Please don't stop - I've learnt a lot from reading your posts.

    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  3. I learn a lot from your blog too.MUST continue! New post bring me a happy morning :D And love your tumblr as well.

    I wish I can buy clothing from my favorite brand more often.Buying new clothing is big motivation to work for me!

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  4. I love what you're doing regarding your clothing choices, thinking each morning and recording how you feel at that current moment.
    I wish everyone put as much thought into their identity through clothing as you have been (myself included).

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  5. In the end the slower approach means you probably value each piece much much more.

    I'm going to assume your kitten is named Yohji, which is quite a cute name for a fluffy pet actually.

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  6. i love this system! i'm not a huge shopper but i still have a lot of clothes, most of which i dont really wear and some of which i wear without really feeling totally comfortable in them. i think i've been slowly refining my "look" so a lot of my clothing is irrelevant to who i am or how i feel i want to express myself. just taking the time to think about the pieces you need and want is a luxury and an exercise in learning more about yourself, separating yourself from outside influences (trends) and focusing on your essence.
    one habit that i need to stop is picking up clothes at thrift stores and altering them (i'm an amateur seamstress so it's good exercise) because while it might just be me practicing, it's also me cluttering my wardrobe with unnecessary pieces. we'll see how well i do this fall.

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  7. this takes such a sheer amount of dedication, is this time it must be pretty rare to find someone doing this. esp at your age. keep up documenting for us

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  8. I love the clothes. They are unisex. They just give me the idea on how to have beautiful combinations in casual day dresses. Now I won’t be thinking too much of what’s gonna wear tomorrow...You are so organized^^

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