Coat: Yohji Yamamoto (both)
T-Shirt: Issey Miyake (both)
Trousers: Yohji Yamamoto (linen first, cotton second)
Shoes: Converse (both)
I am interested in the way clothes make me feel. Don’t get me wrong, how the clothes look is not less important, but it is for me secondary to how they make me feel. When I talk about feeling, I mean that both physically and emotionally. Clothes are designed to be worn, they are incomplete without a human body beneath allowing them to realise their full form and movement, but where fashion is concerned, they are also made to hopefully evoke an emotion in the wearer. All design, whether functional or not, is a method of expression, and that expression is about giving form to a feeling. Whether we write, sing or paint, it is simply about sharing a feeling with the world. These expressions are at their most successful and meaningful when they touch someone with whom that feeling resonates. Where fashion is concerned it divides those who create with those who copy (or to put it in rather dramatic terms, those searching for depth and those concerned only with the surface). To take an example of the moment, it is the divide between a designer like Rick Owens and a designer like Virgil Abloh (yeah I said it).
But of course dress is a visual medium, and there is an inconsolable disparity between what we think our dress conveys and what others perceive. How does this idea of feeling translate visually? Well I thought it would be interesting to try and explain it through a specific example – in this case a plain cotton long sleeve Issey Miyake t-shirt. I stopped dressing in front of a mirror over a year ago because I wanted to understand the idea of feeling without being so immediately distracted by the visuality of the garments. Of course that is not to say that I ignore how the clothes look – far from it. You put the work in before you purchase the garment, trying on garment after garment, not just to find that feeling you are looking for, but also to see what best fits and suits. This knowledge is indispensable when dressing, because you remember the way the garment fits, but more importantly, how it feels in that instance. Thus it is a combination of memory, both episodic and sensory.
So, the Issey Miyake t-shirt. The first Issey Miyake t-shirt I bought was the white version in a Size 4 (Large). In European sizing I am actually a Size 46 (Small), but being six foot, I usually wear a Size 3 in Yohji. I went up to a Size 4, because the length was shorter than most Yohji t-shirts, and I needed that extra length for my height. I tried it on and it felt right - it felt comfortable. People say you should trust your gut reaction, and I think that is definitely the case where clothes are concerned. If someone else has to convince you something looks good on you, it probably is not worth it. That is not to say it never will be, but perhaps at that moment you should look elsewhere first. Of course you can move outside your comfort zone, and that is actually very informative and worthwhile, but even then, you can usually trust your gut. If it feels right, and it fits how you want, go for it.
When it comes to the black Issey Miyake t-shirt, I actually went for a Size 6 (XX-Large). Thankfully I have the height for it, but I found it remarkable that going two sizes up from my previous version still felt perfectly natural (I wore the white t-shirt when I was shopping for the black, just so I could compare size and feel). Yes it is baggier, yes it is longer, but I actually enjoy the fit more than the white version. Perhaps it is the warmer weather, but I prefer something looser and with that extra sleeve length. A lengthened sleeve actually has a particular psychological resonance with me - it creates an instant feeling of security. A longer sleeve was pretty much the deciding factor for buying Ann Demeulemeester shirts. I have difficulty finding shirts with sleeves long enough for me anyway, but Ann's shirts have sleeves that just feel right when I wear them. And therein is something important that I think is hard to really explain - something just clicks, and it feels right. Saying that, I think that if I can continue to look for that feeling, then perhaps I can come to a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding it. In the case of this t-shirt there are four points: the lower neckline, the longer sleeves, the roomier body, and that feeling of comfort.
The most immediate reaction I had to the Issey Miyake t-shirt? If in doubt, size up. Call it the Yohji effect.