on style and the reducing man

Fashion, said Oscar Wilde, is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.  In matters of style, Cay Grant believed that “All it takes are a few simple outfits. And there’s one secret – the simpler the better”. And, all due deference to Oscar, but it’s the latter philosophy to which I subscribe.

When I decided to look for a defining style, I knew that, at the core of it, it was going to be a matter or ruthless, unsentimental and unceasing reduction. New ideas and elements would come in – but that was largely in terms of accessories and completing pieces. The core, though – shoes dress and casual, Suits and jackets, Shirts business and casual, trousers business and casual, summer and winter casual wear, neckties, socks, underwear, T-shirts – every item needed to be subject to scrupulous and consistent audit.

The questions were simple:

1. Does it fit?

2. If not is it worth altering to fit?

3. If so can it be wearable inside 3 months?

4. Is it not specifically dated in one time of my life?

5. It is useful?

6. Is it not redundant?

7. It is reasonably made?

8. It is “quirky”, “ironic” or attention-seeking?

At the start, my clothes were taking up at least 2.8 cubic meters of storage space. Currently, I’m down to just over half of that (1.44m3).  There are still some target pieces that I need to obtain, but anything outside of that target range is on a strictly one comes in, one piece goes out basis.

A tight wardrobe imposes discipline on man. It imposes the exercise of principle and makes him accountable for the steadiness and consistency of his presentation. And what we are, we present – and a man, is amongst other kindred things, by his nature disciplined, principled, accountable, steady and consistent. Reflect these things in the wardrobe and the wardrobe will reflect these things in you.

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on style and Sartre

In 1945, Sartre famously claimed that existence precedes essence – which was a revolutionary concept at the time as it knocked the earlier conceit that the essential nature of something was more central to its being than its undeniable existence into an artfully cocked hat.

To a man interested in style and possibly Sartre, this is a liberating concept, as it places style as being – the great quest to fulfill the essentially uncompletable puzzle of human nature and then a lifestyle as nothingness, the state of mind in which every potential we have can be realized relative to our situation.

The short lesson for today – Style is the being, the frame of reference, for the nothingness which a lifestyle is intended to fill.  Muddle their priority at your peril.20180315_211213e