Clothing shows we care

Friday, June 2nd 2017
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Friend and author Bruce Boyer recently penned a startlingly ambitious piece on the importance of clothing, for US Catholic journal First Things. 

I have obtained permission to reproduce a section of it here. 

It argues that caring about the way we dress, with consideration of the people and events around us, is no less than necessary for an appreciation of life.

And further, that a society which does not will never be one capable of humility or equality. 

Whether you agree or not, it makes some powerful and eloquent arguments.

Dress up

By G. Bruce Boyer

In the early years of the nineteenth century there had been what fashion his­torians have called the “Great Masculine Renunciation” in Western male dress, as men turned their collective backs on all the silks and satins, buckled shoes and powdered wigs of court dress, and assumed the Victorian black worsted suit and cotton shirt of bourgeois middle-class business attire and propriety.

The theory, first popularized in 1930 by the psychologist J. C. Flügel, attempted to account for the radical shift that men made to more sober attire after 1800, and the shift is usually seen as an expression of the triumph of the middle class, ­enlarging democracy, and the Industrial Revolution.

A more ornate and chivalric ideal was replaced by the modest masculinity of a bourgeois gentleman in a democratic society. A gentleman’s clothes became more sober and standardized, his manners more reserved and proper. The very idea of a “gentleman” seems stuck in the nineteenth century.

At the end of the twentieth century, dress underwent another great change; call it the “Tailored Renunciation” or the “Casual Revolution.”

Underlying it is not the triumph of one class but rather the loss among all classes of a sense of occasion. 

By “occasion” I mean an event out of the ordinary, a function other than our daily lives, an experience for which we take special care and preparation, at which we act and speak and comport ourselves ­differently—events which could be called ritualistic in matters of ­propriety and appearance.

There used to be many of these events, social rituals that filled our non-working lives: weddings and funerals, going to church, restaurants, parties, and theaters.

Meeting important people of various stripes, people who had greater social standing than we did, was an occasion for our parents and grandparents to dress up, and that included going to the doctor’s office when you were sick, because the doctor was thought to be an important person worthy and deserving of that outward sign of respect.

Respect for the event and those in attendance was what made the occasion special.

It can now be said that this sort of an outward sign or almost any of the older outward signs of ritual are considered pure snobbery. After all, wasn’t the Edwardian Age the last time the really rich could hope to think that showing off their wealth in public display gave the poor a nice bit of entertainment and ray of sunshine in their drab lives? 

But then, if these outward signs are socially discouraged today, what makes an occasion special? And how do we know? Can an event be an occasion if there’s no attempt to outwardly manifest it? ­

Ritualized behavior of one sort or another may be considered an outward sign of our inward disposition. But how complete can this be if it is not expressed in our appearance? We need not agree with Nicolás Gómez-Dávila’s claim that evening dress is the first step toward civilization to think that something has gone amiss.

Is it possible to believe that when we now wear polo shirts, khakis, and hyper-designed athletic shoes to weddings, funerals, and graduations, it’s a sign that we have forgotten how to enjoy the events by which we measure life?

...Bruce concludes: 

Occasions are shared public realities, rituals in which we recognize something other than private expression.

C. S. Lewis thought about this idea of occasion in terms of solemnity.

For Lewis, solemnity is a public joyous propriety in which we humbly give up our private selves to the ritual: “The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility.” Wearing one’s Sunday best, as much as kneeling, was a visible sign of a humble heart. 

If Lewis is right that a sense of occasion encourages humility, we should not be surprised to find that a society that no longer wants to dress up also gives more leeway to the strong than it does support to the weak.

 

The full piece, available here, also includes a nice potted history of casualisation during the past century, and is worth a read.

Photograph: Myself and John Happ of Alden, shoes side by side. By Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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Joe Sharp

If we are to truly appreciate life we must stop exploiting others.

If we want equality and social justice captivity, slavery and theft must end.

All clothing manufacturers need to stop using animal body parts – skin, hair, bone, etc. – there are plenty of alternatives.

Peace always looks good.

Matt S

Joe, what kind of shoes do you wear when dressing up? It would be nice if there was a good alternative to leather shoes, but I have not found one. My style idol Roger Moore wore canvas shoes in his later years, but I think it was because he could walk more easily in them.

Joe Sharp

Matt, there are limited options at the moment but Brave Gentleman is the best in terms of classic designs. There’s a start up called Vyom (not much online presence but they have an Instagram and Facebook page). Will’s Vegan Shoes has done a ‘Black label’ line that’s also pretty good. And, the oddly named Bourgeois Boheme do shoes that are sometimes a bit over designed but there are some more modest options. I got rid of all my wool, silk and leather – cotton and linen and some synthetic fabrics keep me comfortable all year round now. Watching Earthlings was enough to make me realise that I wanted to everything I could to “support the weak” and exploited.

Martin

Isn´t calfleather a by-product of the meat industrie? I don´t think they are reared and killed for the leather.

Joe Sharp

We should have a problem with being “reared and killed”, regardless of what bodies are being used for. Living beings should be free to live as they choose and not seen as property.

If it were our own children, family members or friends being exploited for flesh, secretions or skin, we might be more likely to disapprove of the industries that do this.

Mark

Joe i have moved quite tbe opposite way to you. Having had a skiing accident a few years ago were the man made fabric melted into my arm due to friction I do not now wear anything other than natural materials wool silk cotton and leather rather than petrochemical clothing.
Mark

Simon L

I agree 100%, cruelty free classic style though difficult is not impossible.

I would add Italian brand Opificio V for cruelty free footwear.

GJS

Completely right, we should refrain from using and abusing other sentient beings for any purpose whatsoever.

I just wish there was a better substitute for wool than cotton or linen, that would make it so much more convenient to dress ethically but this is probably just a matter of time and until then cotton and other fabrics will do.

Richard W

I’m not sure it’s all really about a loss of the sense of “occasion”. One can’t win people over by complaining about loss of standards. Where menswear is concerned, I think a number of things are going on:
1) Dressing up for “occasions” was the flipside of an otherwise drab life, whereas today every day is a great day, so to speak. In a way, you could think of casualisation as a celebration of the everyday. By not dressing up you also may imply that your life is great not just on those special days.
2) When every office worker wore a suit and a tie to work, the workforce was vastly predominantly male. The tie, in particular, references that male universe. Anthropologist David Graeber wrote a very readable piece about the tie some time ago. Perhaps by not wearing a tie, some men want to make a chivalrous statement about gender equality.
3) We’re at an awkward point in history where the traditional standards (suit and tie) are not yet completely phased out but unloved. All these men in grey ill-fitting suits, blue shirts and no tie just look awful. It can only mean that some kind of revolution is round the corner, in the same way that the “lounge suit” once ousted made formal garments obsolete.
4) I don’t have any numbers, but I don’t think people spend less on clothes in real terms today than previously, or have fewer of them. So people do care about how they look.
5) This is why I especially like those Permanent Style articles that frame their advice in terms of general considerations about patterns, texture, colour and so on. These hold whether it’s about suits, jackets, or cardigans.

David

Without going into too much detail, I think it has to do with a general unwillingness to subject oneself to rules and standards. We live in a narcissistic age, where everybody thinks they’re special and are encouraged to think this way, in addition to being used to instant gratification. Much like in art, which requires education, people reject the necessary steps of humble learning.

Anonymous

Simon the Idealogue, whipping his Army of Dandies into a frenzy so that they can wage war upon the drab and ill-fitted.

Elva

Oh dearie me, who tied your knickers in a knot?? I can’t imagine Simon whipping anyone. If anything, he encourages careful consideration of what anyone should wear, and how to get the most value for your hard-earned money, whatever your budget might be. Absolutely no frenzy involved. Are you projecting your own behaviour here? If so, perhaps you are on the wrong forum.

Nick Inkster

There was a time when clothing gave a very real indication of somebody’s wealth. and, perhaps, position in society

Today, it may or may not, but that means you may to draw a conclusion about somebody based on their clothes which could be wholly wrong.

Dress codes in, say, the Ritz, retain a “uniform” as a key to entry, but the guy wearing the right outfit may have saved all his pennies for a once in a lifetime experience, whereas the guy with the wrong outfit may see the cost of their restaurant as the small change from his dresser and be refused entry because he is not properly attired.

I know exactly what to wear for what, but I suspect increasingly more often than not people are less sure.

Some of the questions posed on this site over time suggest the latter point is ever more an issue.

Kev Fidler

Well I for one will own up, Nick and admit I am never certain what the “dress code” is. Apart from certain events and institutions in a broad sense of the word the main change in recent years has perhaps been the dropping of the term requirement; suits for work, tie wearing as examples. Not necessarily a bad thing (no brown in town and other nonsense) though the hordes of sportswear clad and the proliferation of so-called designer clothing is depressing. At least via a website like this you can get ideas about choices of attire as an alternative to the traditional requirements and dare I say it, hurrah for that. Just to be provocative if I turn up in a jacket and trousers when most are wearing suits, well so what if some care had gone into the choice and quality of make?

Anonymous

Some don’t like jokes it seems

Peter K

Onward brave worsted clad volunteers!

Once more into your breeches!

Anonymous

Exactly!

Anonymous

‘All the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All the superadded ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the heart owns, and the understanding ratifies, as necessary to cover the defects of our naked shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in our own estimation, are to be exploded as a ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated fashion.’ (Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’, 1791).

BespokeNYC

I like this sentiment; my father always says many of the most important moments in life are done in uniform, and I think there’s something nice about showing your respect for an occasion (be it joyous or solemn) with your clothing choice. I’d venture to say it’s even more than that though; clothing is an important social signifier insofar as it sends cues about the wearer to everybody else, but the mechanism works both ways. You may have read about the study in which a group of people performed better at the same cognitive task when they were told the white coat they were wearing was a doctor’s vs. another group who were told the coat was a painter’s. Clearly there’s no occasion here at all, and the item of clothing was the same in both cases, and yet the perception of the uniform was enough to change the way people think. Perhaps it’s fair to say that clothing can help define our mindset and our sense of purpose. A such, taking care over clothing can help put us in the right frame of mind for anything, be it a special occasion or not.

Darryl

Ritual and occasion act as the social glue that creates community cohesion. Such things have been vilified in recent decades as manifestations of social control, and their value lessened in this age of remote interaction. However their absence brings into focus the significance of their loss in enabling and enriching human togetherness and shared values. When we dress with intent and create a sense of occasion we also create a space which is outside the everyday, and that is ‘owned’ by all who participate – so important in a world dominated by corporate power.

Bradley Owen

My general rule is this: It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. These days, living in Los Angeles, this is not terribly difficult.

ben w

Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room; how much less must they fret at their convent’s narrow closet? And yet they may well be humble.

> Is it possible to believe that when we now wear polo shirts, khakis, and hyper-designed athletic shoes to weddings, funerals, and graduations, it’s a sign that we have forgotten how to enjoy the events by which we measure life?

Sure, but it’s possible to believe a whole lot. It’s also possible to believe any of the following:

– dressing out of the ordinary is one way to mark an event as out of the ordinary, but not necessary to mark an event as out of the ordinary;
– there are gradations even among hyper-designed athletic shoes; evening dress (or whatever) is not the only way even of marking an occasion as out of the ordinary in clothes;
– an event can be an occasion if there’s no attempt to outwardly manifest it, especially if you fix in advance the method of outward manifestation that’s of particular interest to you.

His definition of an “occasion” appears to be warmed-over Durkheim, and the coming together of many people outside ordinary temporality to renew society has no particular clothing-related requirements—except he’s defining an occasion specifically with respect to “matters of propriety and appearance”, which one might just think is stacking the deck for his argument—if the argument didn’t proceed by a series of rhetorical questions.—Or by non sequiturs: the antepenultimate paragraph of the piece itself begins by claiming (truly? maybe) that “clothes have always provided the most obvious indication of both dignity and definition” [1]. Ok. And wives have always been subsumed into their husbands’ persons. Age is not an argument.

[1] Exercise for the reader: consider this statement and the statement in the following paragraph that “The sense of occasion he opposes was always communal—accessible at once to low and high” in each other’s light. Is the problem that I can’t pick out which of the hoodie-clad dorks at the gallery is wealthy or important? Or is the problem that we’re all wearing hoodies rather than suits?

BONUS question: what reason have we to believe that the figure evoked in the antepenultimate paragraph *does* oppose “a sense of occasion”? I mean, you don’t put on cowboy boots in midtown Manhattan by *accident*!

Exercise 2: is the piece’s concern more with the fact that people don’t dress up for big important occasions, or that they don’t dress up to go to the office—the workaday world that’s the definitional opposite of an occasion?

I’d note regarding Simon’s summary that into the schema “It argues that caring about THING, with consideration of the people and events around us, is no less than necessary for an appreciation of life. And further, that a society which does not will never be one capable of humility or equality.” one can substitute nearly anything and have a decent shot at coming up with a decent argument. (The “anyone can play this game because the game has knowable rules” argument strikes me reasonably plausible when it comes to formal duds.) The relation to humility and equality, though, doesn’t come from the substituend; it comes from the consideration of others. And there’s a hidden premise: these things matter because at least some people still think they matter. If literally no one cared about clothes (because, say, we all wore nuns’ habits or artists’ smocks or cassocks or some one thing, universally), then it would *not* be possible to mark out an occasion by differentiation of habiliment. (The enforced sameness here is really just a device to compel inability to care.) Something would be lost in such a world—fashion, obviously, and the skills and tastes that go with it—but I see no reason in general, or in the linked piece, to think that any of the boons it links with clothing would go away.

p.s. the last time I tried to comment here it was, as far as I can tell, deleted, and that wasn’t even a testy or critical remark. I look forward to seeing this comment in a day’s time.

ben w

Apropos of the comment I made not an hour ago, not visible on this page at the moment for some reason (perhaps one really does have to agree, or at least agree that the article, which is 100% predictable, is eloquent and compelling?), I started wondering, what are some other occasions—beyond weddings, funerals, graduations, etc.—which we mark by special attire, attention to propriety and appearance, and all the rest of it? I did manage to come up with a few! Maybe someone can tell me if I’ve got the gist of what the article is on about:

– Mardi Gras in New Orleans
– Carnaval generally
– Burning Man in the Nevada desert
– the Folsom Street Fair (in which, to borrow a phrase from a recent New York Times article, people dress as “votaries in the church of Tom of Finland”)
– let’s face it, a night of clubbing is also like this

And yet I suspect that really, these are not the clothes or occasions that are of interest? It’s almost as if, hidden beneath this purportedly general argument, are some very specific beliefs about clothes.

Hard to say!

Anonymous

While we’re on the subject, I tried several times to post a comment asking about what could possibly be causing creases in the seat of my pants (made to measure and RTW). While I understand it’s a delicate matter and you might not be able to give a definite answer, still I think that, supposing you ran into this problem yourself, it could benefit others to learn about your experience and how your tailors dealt with it. Needless to say, I asked the guy who made my pants repeatedly and he couldn’t find a solution.

Anonymous

I just re-posted on the “tips about trousers” page

John

Hi Simon,
Thank you so much for publishing these excerpts from Bruce Boyer’s very thoughtful piece! This was an excellent idea, really!
Bruce Boyer, as always, reframes the conversation and moves it to its right place, where the stakes of choices related to clothing today are clearly defined at best.
But to be honest, I’m not even sure whether even regular PS readers are really aware of these stakes.
The huge tide towards casualness well depicted by Bruce Boyer in his piece is exactly what needs to be reversed.
The rational for such a task is not to be reduced to pure aesthetics, mind you. For this trend in menswear, as he noted, has far reaching consequences well beyond the realm of building one’s wardrobe; that is, beyond the mere options available for the kind of wardrobe one could find as suitable.
So any meaningful conversation about menswear today should – at least, from time to time – includes the related topics. Unfortunately, the current use of social media is still underperforming from such a perspective. Perhaps these new tools are not suited at all to such a cultural task.
Be that as it may, we would dismiss the relevance of the cultural issues at our own peril, I’m afraid.
The question I would like to see addressed is this: would the current picture become less gloomy, if we were to broaden the perspective and include what is happening in Asia into the picture? I have in mind what is going on in and around places such as The Armoury, Bryceland, Brio, etc.
My thanks to Bruce Boyer for this very thoughtful piece!
John

Anonymous

The fact that a few of the least likable individuals of the 20th century, or indeed any age, could be said to have had an overly developed sense of occasion (and exploited it politically) might also have something to do with it.

Viewed in this light, Lewis (at least as the author presents him) seems to have been mistaken, with all that entails for the betterment of society by way of better dress.

Anonymous

I agree with choice being made on conscientious grounds but to those who espouse the synthetic consider the enormous problem of oceanic plastics pollution (including microfibres). By 2020 approx. 20% of oil production will go into plastic production – all made worse by disposable consumerism of which the fashion industry is one of the worse perpetrators. Wool, cotton, leather and linen are far more sustainable. As for dress codes it is worth having a look at ‘Buttoned Up’ by Erynn Masa de Casanova – I don’t agree with her arguments but they do challenge perceptions about formality. One reason for an increasing move away from formal wear (or ‘tailoring’ as retail has it) is the generally poor quality of RTW suiting at a High St. level – therefore rendering it an unloved item of clothing. Until the 1980s most towns had tailors that would make quality suits for a reasonable sum. Regretably bespoke is now a luxury option unobtainable for many. Lastly there is the issue of societal habit; hats disappeared from view from 1963 (JFK), suits outside of work from the 80’s, blazers etc. are moving out of the weekend into Fridays. Pierre Cardin, the first couture designer to mass produce suits (the start of designer fashion), introduced a range of futuristic ‘space’ clothing sans ties in the 60’s –
perhaps we’re coming full circle.

Anonymous

To add some further history and sociology to the argument; the change in dress codes, espoused by Brummel etc. were, in many ways less to do with Victorian sensibilities and more to do with a reaction to the events in Revolutionary France. French fopishness was to be avoided (it being an outward sign of aristocratic means and hence a danger) and new, sober and more practical dress codes adopted across Europe. This sensibility was to develop through the 1800’s but Victorian drabness drew to a close in England under the influence of Edward V11. Elliot’s form of ritualized behaviour, whilst correct as being an aspect of sublimation of personal identity is also a reflection of power and heirachy. The modern suit has its origins in military dress and is thus an identification of status and power. As we move to ‘flat heirachies’ the requirement to display power lessens. The tie signified a non- manual worker, the bow tie senior management, the unbuttoned shirt is now the modern signifier of homogeneous status (Guardian ‘Top Button Issue’ May 2017) . I absolutely agree with the decline of the ‘event’ but as recreation is democratised dressing up for dinner holds less importance. Then of course there is the baby-boomer driven quest for eternal youth. It is not uncommon to now see a denim clad man of 60 next to a Tweed wearing youth (albeit sized too small…). As with others I dislike the casualisation of dress codes but wonder how to reintroduce without bringing back the social hierachies that formalised them….

Philip

Fascinating. Thanks for highlighting that Simon.

There is a widespread fallacy that if we dress down, especially in professional settings, that other people will become more comfortable with us. In my profession, medicine, I believe that the opposite is the case.

When I was a medical student back in the 1990s, a dark suited obstetrician told us about the importance of dressing professionally. He recounted that when he was a registrar he hated wearing a shirt/tie/jacket and decided that when he was a consultant himself he would wear jeans and a T-shirt. He was sure this would relax his patients and enable them to relate to him more easily. When he became a consultant he led his ward round dressed in jeans and T-shirt. To his chagrin, when he spoke to his patients and asked them a question, they would invariably address their response to his registrar who was still dressed professionally. Go figure as the Americans say!

I’m now a GP (family physician). I’ve always found that dressing well (but not in a stupid, Pitti-peacock way) actually helps my relationships with patients. In my opinion, it demonstrates that I respect them and take them seriously. Boyer writes:

Meeting important people of various stripes, people who had greater social standing than we did, was an occasion for our parents and grandparents to dress up, and that included going to the doctor’s office when you were sick, because the doctor was thought to be an important person worthy and deserving of that outward sign of respect. Respect for the event and those in attendance was what made the occasion special.

I think the opposite also holds. My patients are important and deserving of that outward sign of respect. Would you really want to be given a terminal diagnosis from someone dressed for a day at the beach? Interestingly, I locum regularly in one of the most deprived seaside towns in England and I’ve never found patients to be put off by my dress. And, given that Michael Balint suggested that “the doctor is the drug”, I think dressing well makes my placebo effect much more powerful!

Thanks again Simon – I appreciate the blog.

Daz

I always enjoy reading this blog, even though I couldn’t afford the clothes. I love to the intelligent reviews and coherent philosophy behind the writing. Well done Simon.

This Boyer piece is not up to the usual standard.

Menswear has steadily become more casual for more than a century. The morning suit is a casualisation of the frock coat, the lounge suit is a casualisation of a dress coat. Sports coat and pants will eventually become the casualised worsted wool suit – which will become restricted to formal wear. It didn’t go to hell in a hand basket in the sixty’s.

I think PS has been about a man dressing well today – dressing with sprezzatura and sensitivity to one’s surroundings. Boyer is grumbling about the lack of morning suits at a beach wedding.

At the risk of going too off topic- I think more of the world’s problems are caused by old men grimly holding on to an imagined past than are caused by young men not upholding the standard of their elders.

Thanks,

David

Simon,
To digress to good effect.
Isn’t it time you did a piece on the very welcome work jacket / smock revival ?
I recently bought a sublime piece from A&S and think they are a great way of animating what can otherwise be quite pedestrian summer/ casual wardrobes.
They bring out my inner Jason King.
Drakes are also quite onto this welcome evolution.
Perhaps there is scope for PS to design the perfect work jacket albeit I think A&S, with guidance from the late, great AA G have got perilously close.

Lucas

Yes, our modern day societies (mostly Western) are becoming increasingly fragmented, so the ‘common’ occasion, and its rules, are shared by fewer people. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people don’t get dressed up; just that they dress up in different ways.

So while I think much is lost in a too fragmented a society I can’t agree with the conclusion that a suit and tie is the answer. A general premise would be that to mark an occasion you dress differently than you normally would. Fashion, broadly speaking, is always in flux. In a 1,000 years we might only wear t-shirts. The red is for work and the blue is for weddings. And a that time everyone will be really well-dressed, because everyone is in agreement of what to wear and when.

The issue is not about a lack of style, but a lack of shared values. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on the values.

Naz

Hi,
nice topic and interesting hypothesis. I wonder how the argument would stack against the perception that successful executives, especially in IT, are increasingly less keen in suiting up.
See the interesting Economist article on the subjects, also open-ended in its conclusion: Suitable Disruption:
“When everyone wears a T-shirt to lectures and board meetings, how do you tell who is truly innovative and who is just posing?

john

Oh, if only I could write like Mr Boyer. From what I read he is 100% spot on, as he so often is. I would like to add a couple of points into the mix if I may? The first concerns the military in the male life which in terms of clothing may well have been under considered. With a sadly depleted armed forces at the moment the majority of your readers will have been born into homes where no male had served. It was only in the early 1960’s when conscription ended in the UK. I remember being shown how to bull shoes, crease trousers so you could spin a sixpence off them and how shirts had to be cleaned and ironed just …so. We also had to take pride in our appearance (otherwise we never got off the base!) and that has stayed with me this past thirty years. The army certainly helped me develop my style and it has stayed with me. Now you may call this conservative and indeed it probably is but today if you want to stand out (I really don’t) all you have to do is wear a shirt and tie. Add to that a decent cut suit and a pair of well made shoes and you will be distinctive to say the least. Which is very sad.
Final point is about dressing well and appropriately. I think as long as you dress as well as you can for an occasion your host will see you have made an effort and showing respect by making an effort is all that is really required. So I wouldn’t have a problem if someone turned up at a party in blazer and chinos where everyone else was in suits if the blazer was clean and pressed, the tie matched the outfit and the shoes were clean. An effort had been made and that is what counts. Where I would draw the line and I think quite rightly is where you specify a form of dress for an event (black tie being the obvious one) and someone turns up inappropriately attired. If you don’t want to wear what I have requested fine – but don’t turn up and expect to be admitted. That would be the ultimate in not respecting your host and explains why I never attend fancy dress parties!

Simon S

I think I agree. Dressing for the occasion, but maintain style when it’s not an occasion.

My first uniform (navy) was made for me by Gieves 30-odd years ago. As a junior officer it made me feel special, but also helped me understand the responsibility I was taking on.

This isn’t terribly PC, but I hunt. And so my ‘uniform’ was made for me for that occasion. The moment I put it on, the adrenaline kicks in – I know I am on for a terrifying experience.

My gear for Royal Ascot cost me a fortune (particularly the silk topper), but I would feel naked wearing anything else.

And in the office, I wear a tie, I wear a bespoke suit, I wear good, polished, shoes. This isn’t about me asserting masculinity, its about showing respect for those I work with. The ‘rules’ in my office are that dress is semi-casual – I choose not to obey them.

There is a slightly ritualistic element to some of this. But I believe that (to misquote), clothes maketh the man. They make me feel good, demonstrate respect for those I am with, and can be either conformist, or not. I also choose to support skilled, dedicated people who care about what they do – be it tie making, suiting, or shoes. When I grew up my clothes came from Oxfam. They don’t anymore.

shem

hi simon, I hand wash all my clothes with some detergent in a tub. I realise over the years that I all my white t-shirts tend to have bright spots form on them and it is unsightly, leading me to toss them out. However, this recently happened to my armoury t shirt made by real mccoy’s which is rather costly. I have tried washing the spot to no avail. I tried looking over the internet but there seems to be little info on this. Have you encountered this before, what could be some reasons for this and how can i remedy this?