Last week a friend commented on my blue silk Hermès tie. It is a navy three-fold decorated with a faint pattern of little Hs: very practical, very versatile, a perennial favourite. Having had it for a few years, I was surprised that it drew comment. It is neither the newest nor the most luxurious accessory I own and I have therefore long since ceased to think about it.
But there was a period when I saved up for weeks to buy it. It was in my mind both the epitome of style and of investment. It would be a luxury that could be worn every day.
Its versatility has certainly been proved, but it no longer seems like a luxury. I am in the fortunate position now that such items seem like friends rather than treasures, the result of slow but steady accumulation of bespoke clothes and handmade accessories.
So the comment led to me to the refection that it is worth being patient with wardrobe building. Invest in the pieces that you think are worth it and, as long as the next purchase comes before you wear the old one out, you will gradually create a great collection.
Suits can be particularly frustrating in this regard. Although they’re expensive, it can feel like you are wearing through the trousers faster than they are replaced, let alone upgraded. Trust me, things will get easier. Particularly because upgrading an item usually means increasing its longevity, meaning greater overlap between pieces and quicker accumulation.
Shoes are more satisfying. Looked after well, they will last years and years. No more than two good pairs a year are required to start building a great collection. And some accessories, certainly jewellery, will never wear out. An investment in a good watch, for example.
It seemed like an age before I had enough bespoke shirts to wear one every day. Now I feel like I need to remind myself daily of the privilege of wearing them. Be patient with your investments and the luxurious will gradually become ordinary. It’s a much nicer feeling than it sounds.
This is perhaps the best advice I’ve ever read on a website. Young people should read it on their knees in a cold room,the better to understand and retain the wisdom therein.
The landscape of these modern times is overwhelmed with frenetic consumption, constant compromises and astonishing mediocrity.
As a woung Frenchman struggling to find honest craftsmen for sartorial purposes, this blog represents one of the last refuges where quality and durability prevail. It remains a constant pleasure to read you Mr. Crompton.
Etienne, an assiduous reader from Bordeaux, France.
You write eloquently about the wardrobe-building process. Every word is true. I believe it takes 6 – 10 years to a acquire the right elements, and then the fun begins by moving the parts around and pleasing the eye with interplay of pieces.
Building a wardrobe is like building an art collection: A satisfying, but never-ending work in progress.
It’s a joy to see a 20 year-old shirt working in a fresh way in combination with a new acquisition. (Other pieces become “de-acquisitioned” in museum terminology.)
As for shoes: They are objects of art, with the added dimension of requiring wearability and serviceability. I do collect them… (several pair never worn– vintage shoes that are still pristine, existing only to be admired.) Conversely, those that are put to work earn their patina.
(Per your recent posts.)
Thanks for writing so beautifully about the process!
Very sound advice, as always, Simon
I am curious: is it all the graphic sketch is drawn by yourself? All seems quite nice.
Ah, one more: from your opinon, what’s the best porportion for a suit/blazer? I mean the ratio between upper body and legs.
As always, a very thoughtful and interesting post.
The sketch is from a piece of Hermes advertising.
And on the question of jacket/trousers proportion, there are a few guidelines I know of. One is that the jacket should be half the height from your shoulders to your shoes. Another that you should be able to curl your fingers around the hem of the jacket. And finally that the jacket should fall to the middle joint of your thumb.
Obviously these are all in relation to different parts of the body and depend on the relative length of your arms etc. But consider them all and you’ll have a decent idea.
Very good advice indeed!
I have learned from my parents that spending extra on quality timeless items builds an impressive wardrobe…and in the long-run it’s cheaper than “buying and replacing” cheap inferior quality items…
P.S. if possible always order 2 pairs of trousers from the tailor…it will increase the life-span of the “suit”
Josh from Seoul
I’m 25 years old and I own only two Hermès ties, but oddly enough, the pattern in that illustration was my second acquisition. I love it to bits, but I know exactly what you mean: the more “special” things you have, the more the “specialness” of each individual item seems to be diminished.
Great advice for a (semi-) young person just starting to grow in this area.
Thanks Simon for the great posts. I am just starting to build a wardrobe myself. Over the years, I accumulated 5 OTR suits which all fit ok, and I had 2 pairs of decent shoes. This year, I added an EG and a Saint Crispins. My wife gasped at my credit card bill at the end of the year, but I assured her that this will save money in the long run. Next up, I will try for my first bespoke suit by the end of this year. After that, my goal is really to get 1 pair of shoes and 1 suit per year with as much of my pocket money I can save, rather than go for quantity at this point.
Hope I’ll accumulate some pieces that will last over the next years…
Anyway, my question (after my long intro) is this. The 5 OTR suits are Black (solid), light grey (solid), navy (solid), blue (solid/kind of like a bird eye), and grey chalk stripe.
What would you suggest as the next suit? Grey (solid – not light grey) or Navy pin/chalk stripe?
It sounds like you have most of your bases covered. It depends on when and where you wear your suits, but perhaps try something like flannel, a cashmere jacket, or linen?
Not sure if this comment belongs here, but I have only begun to appreciate my investments since I have run out of disposable income. For example, a pair of Viberg shoes / a Drakes suit / Alden dress shoes / Iron Heart N1 Deck Jacket / Tudor watch / Good Art Hollywood silver bracelet, Inis Meáin sweater, etc etc – once I couldn’t make these kinds of purchases anymore, having these old / newish friends in the stable gives comfort and reliability.
Definitely a nice place for it David, and appreciate the comment. It’s lovely to hear about how such things are ageing with people, it encourages everyone else too
That actually could become part of future pop ups? “How great things age”, but in person? Instagram is full of new and shiny shots, but very rare is to see clothes actually worn, years later.
I kind of knew there wont be anything my size, but thats why i came for last week of pop up.
P.s. that green fox tweed jacket was so nice!
Nice idea Martins, yes.