The Selvedge Yard is a site mainly known for it’s (hopefully) interesting, tasteful & nostalgic takes on the arts, culture & style, told through iconic imagery and epic tales of days gone by. Most followers don’t think of TSY as a “fashion” or “menswear” site, and rightly so. If you’ve learned a thing or two about style there, it was more than likely “caught, not taught”.
So let’s just do it. You know, talk style. I’ve been in menswear a while, I feel up for it. So without further ado, here’s what I got. Discipline.
Somewhere crickets are chirping.
Top 5 Revelations
Right off, discipline sounds restraining, right? No. It’s power. Discipline, to me, is setting a vision or a goal, and fastidiously measuring and executing against it, with the desired end result always in mind.
Last year it became even clearer to me, in really all aspects of life, the importance of discipline.
Here’s how it applies to style, in five easy pieces—
Know Thy Self.
Know your body well. Do you have a long torso, stubby legs, round face, pale complexion? This kind of information is power. You need to use it to play to your strengths, and minimize your shortcomings. A lot of those rules about shirt collar types for specific face shapes, and what colors look best on certain complexions may sound lame, but damn if most of them don’t hold true.
If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Fit is King.
Too many times I’ve bought a shirt, trouser, or jacket that I loved, knowing that the fit wasn’t quite right. Think again. If you don’t plan on taking it to the tailors anytime soon, just walk away. Most likely it won’t happen, and you’ll never wear it, or worse— look like a schlep when you do. Baggy shirts and trousers aren’t more comfortable— but they do make you look bigger. Trust me, try a better fitting, tailored shirt or trouser— you’ll feel better, look sharper, and the volume of compliments will surprise you.
Don’t gild the lily.
Let me unpack that. The foundation of menswear can generally be broken down into 3 simple building blocks— Fit. Fabric. Details. You generally don’t want to screw with all 3 on any item you plan to wear. Classic clothing, like a white Brooks Brothers button down is very pure— you know what to expect. It’s safe, reliable. All 3 elements are proven, and familiar. It’s your comfort food of clothing. Trim down the fit, or add grosgrain to the placket— you’ve got a great “classic with a twist.” Do both, and it’s definitely more “designer.” Do both, and change the fabric to silk shantung— you’ve got a disaster. You’ve gilded the lily, which was naturally beautiful. Killed it. An overly simple example perhaps, but you get the gist.
Clean it up. Clear it out.
You don’t need 5 Barbour jackets, 9 chambray vintage work shirts and 50 pairs of jeans. Stop buying more of the same stuff you already have, and don’t need. I’m speaking from experience here. Pay it forward; give it to someone who can use it— like the coat drive. And think of the money you’ll save every year on not just initial purchases, but also on dry cleaning, etc. And the space…
Take care of your stuff, and it will take care of you.
Buy quality over quantity. Get cedar shoetrees for your Aldens, and keep them shined. Know how to brush your suits and have them steamed & pressed regularly. Properly clean and store your seasonal wardrobe in the off-season. Or keep shopping at Old Navy the rest of your life.
The choice is yours.
The Selvedge Yard
Jon Patrick is creator of The Selvedge Yard— a site that chronicles the history of artistry, anarchy, alchemy and authenticity. He is also VP of product for J. Hilburn— a custom menswear company based in Dallas, TX.