Monday, November 25, 2013

Dive Back In

After taking a look through my closet, I felt inspired to do a post on the value of doing just that. More specifically, the value of looking back through the things you tossed aside as useless just a few seasons (or years) ago. Especially for those of us relatively new to the game, you'd be surprised how many things you thought were 'uncool' a year ago that could fit your wardrobe perfectly now. This goes doubly for those of us recently out of school, as we grow from campus clothes to business wear, clothes that were too formal or fuddy-duddy to wear at a tailgate might be perfect for the office.

Here are a few examples from my own closet:

Adidas Indoor Soccer Shoes:
Sorry, I'm not sure what the actual name of these shoes is (I'm sure I could find it pretty easily, but it's besides the point). I actually got these back in high school at the very tail end of my soccer playing days. In the rapid-fire changing ways of teen style, I was suddenly off the athletic wagon and onto the streetwear wagon, and I think these shoes got one wear before they got thrown in the back of my closet. Then, last time I went to visit my parents, I was digging around for something or other in my old room and came across these beauties. With today's aesthetic of a slim, sharp sneaker to go with a pair of Chinos (I could even see these with a summer suit), along with some bright-but-not-obtrusive (and pretty American) colors, I threw these shoes right back into my rotation, and a week hasn't gone by that these haven't gotten at least a little bit of wear.

In general, I struggled for a while before I found the right fit of dress/chino pants for myself. When I was in the very early stages of my sartorial reinvention, I only got it half right. I went slim right off the bat, but was so reluctant to give up the 'pooling at the ankles' or 'stacked' look that I was comfortable with in college. As a result, some trousers with the perfect minimal break were unduly retired as 'too short.' When my girlfriend and I moved this fall, I came across a pile of these, and was surprised at how wonderfully some of these pants actually did fit, now that I know exactly how they should fit. Boom, 2-3 more pairs of pants, back in the pot.

Tailoring! It's Real!
Even as I dove into my style education, I was slow on the uptake when it came to alterations and tailoring. It's just something I'd never done before. Not only was I lacking in the kind of confidence that can only come from experience, I was intimidated by the whole process (especially the oft-lacking pricing structures....big pet peeve of mine is not knowing what I'm spending way before I commit to spending it). Now that I've dabbled and experimented, I'm again amazed by how many great pieces of clothing I have that I was ready to toss in the 'Goodwill' pile just because the trouser legs were a bit long, or the body of the shirt a bit wide. Now, I have a pile of old clothing, and I try to take one piece in each paycheck for an alteration. This way, in a few months I'll have a completely refreshed wardrobe without having to buy a single brand-new piece (although I'm sure I will anyway, because that's what style bloggers do).

My final suggestion is to take one last look at anything you're getting rid of and consider how you could repurpose it into something else to get just a bit more use out of it. I'm not full of life-hacks to give you here, but I can tell you that you probably don't have to worry about buying another pocket square for the rest of your life. A widely touted trick is to take an old tie (or steal one from your dad), maybe one that's too wide, or has a tear or stain near an end, or is otherwise unusable but largely in good shape. Chop off the ends as you see fit, fold that bad boy up, and voila, instant pocket square. I've recently started doing this with my shirts as well. I have a bunch of old shirts from high school that have great patterns but have ugly branding (ahem, American Eagle) or I have outgrown to the point that no alterations can help. Instead of tossing them, I'm destroying them! Ha, well, I'm cutting a square out of the back of each one. At some point, I'll learn how to use a sewing machine and 'hem' the edges (or whatever you would call it in this case), but in the meantime I simply utilize a fold that keeps the edges hidden. Just like that, I've cleared out a bunch of unused shirts and expanded my pocket square collection exponentially at the same time.

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