Ask you wife/girlfriend if she approves.
To which you might reply: "Well, I don't look like George
But, maybe you could if you wanted to?
If that is not a realistic option, I think that being dressed
well can add a certain gravitas and grandeur, even if you are
Another option. (Actually, this guy is in pretty good physical
shape. Better than Winston Churchill!)
OK, let's get started.
First: Get Inspired.
Clear Your Clutter with Feng
by Karen Kingston. It says most everything that
should be said about the beneficial effects of throwing out your
Buy Clear Your Clutter with
Feng Shui from Amazon.com
Second: Make some space.
Take every scrap of clothing you own, and put it in a big pile
on the floor. From this pile, pick out what you need for a week
or ten days. For example, if you have a certain work wardrobe,
then extract ten days' worth of clothing from that. Presumably,
the best ten days' worth -- your favorite and best clothing.
This might be three suits, or five pairs of pants if you don't
wear a suit, and ten shirts. Six or seven neckties. Everything
else goes in the disposal pile. For weekend/casual wear, extract
a few outfits, for warm and cool weather. There are only two
weekend days, so you really don't need much. Two pairs of casual
pants and one pair of shorts, and maybe five collared shirts, is
plenty. You might have one pair of "utility" pants for things
like yardwork and painting. Everything else goes in the disposal
pile. If you have exercise wear, such as jogging shorts, then
pick out as many shorts as you might use in a week, let's say
two or three, and junk the rest. Same for socks and underwear.
If you have sixty or seventy t-shirts, like most people, choose
about five or six and put the rest in the disposal pile. If you
wear suits, then pick your best three and the rest goes in the
disposal pile. Get rid of anything that is at the end of its
useful life. This includes socks with holes in the heel,
t-shirts that are getting thin and holey, dress shirts with
stained collars or worn elbows, pants that are developing holes,
Anything that you haven't worn in a year is a good candidate for
the disposal pile. However, also the things that you tend to
wear all the time should maybe go there too. Time to get out of
your rut. Wear something else.
At the end of this exercise, you should have all the clothing
you actually need, for various situations including formal,
work, casual and the like, and various seasons, but no extra.
If you find this is rather traumatic, make two piles. One is the
disposal pile, and one is the "I'll keep it for now but not in
regular rotation" pile. Take the "keep it for now" pile, pack it
in a cardboard box, and put it in your garage or attic. You will
probably end up with something like 50% in the disposal pile,
30% in the "keep it for now" pile, and 20% remaining for regular
If you are still having
difficulty with this:
Ask your female advisor to do it.
Just give her the instructions, leave the house, have a burrito,
and come back 30 minutes later. She'll have it all done.
For the disposal pile, you probably have all sorts of guilt
feelings about throwing away perfectly usable clothes. Give
these to Goodwill, or a local church or charity. Find someone
who can use them. Don't spend more than a couple days getting
rid of it. Get it out of your house and out of your mind.
You might find that this process is, first, a lot more difficult
than it seems it should be, and, also, a lot more
psychologically invigorating than you might think. You will
probably feel miserable when you're doing it, and feel great
once it's done.
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.
Third: Buy some new underwear.
Most everyone could use some new underwear, so just buy a
whole new set. This would be about ten days' worth. Don't get
the cheapie 6-pack from WalMart, but there's no need to be silly
about it either. Just something nice and respectable, that won't
offend your mistress. What, no mistress? You should treat your
wife at least as well as your mistress. Now junk all your old
underwear. In the trash, obviously. You might want to add socks
to this list, depending on their condition. It's not a bad idea
to replace all your underwear about once a year.
Fourth: Recruit your female
Have you noticed that women like to shop
together? This is not only to chit-chat, it helps a lot if you
have someone separate to critique your ideas. Sometimes a piece
of clothing will look good on a model or on a rack, but it won't
look good on you
It might not be the right style, or it's not age-appropriate, or
situation-appropriate, or it won't fit right or look good on
your body type. It might not go well with your hair or skin
color, or a dozen different things. Besides, you're doing this
for the first time, and naturally you need help, and you don't
want to look like a goof. Girls know when something looks good.
Normally, this would be your wife or girlfriend, but if you
don't have a wife or girlfriend handy, this is a good time to
maybe talk to that girl in the office who seems like she knows
about clothes, and ask her to help you out. You know the one I'm
talking about, right?
Fifth: Get a new hairstyle.
It doesn't have to be particularly complicated. Just something
different than what you have, especially if it has been the same
for a long time. If you part on the side, then part in the
middle. Try going shorter or longer. Maybe facial hair? Or, get
rid of the facial hair? Dump the comb-over and embrace the bald?
Look at some pictures in magazines for ideas. The main thing is
to shake up your style, and get out of your rut.
Sixth: Start replacing your
Pick one certain situation that you will begin
to replace. Let's take casual wear. This is your weekend stuff.
First, consider the situation that you will be using it in. The
weekend, and a certain season (spring/summer or fall/winter).
Begin to consider the options you have within this category. I
would draw a hard line and say: no shorts, of any sort, unless
used specifically for beachwear or athletic activities. For now,
no t-shirts or polo shirts. Jeans are passable but try to get
ones with a certain style. Try to get some pants that are not
jeans. Don't repeat yourself, and get, for example, six
virtually indistinguishable pairs of "cargo pants." Get
something with stripes. Get something in linen. Get something in
wool. Maybe courduroy.
Now you have a specific objective. A certain season, a certain
activity (casual weekend wear), a certain environment (the place
you live), a certain age (yours), maybe a certain social set,
and so forth. What would be appropriate and fun within this
context? Start doing some research.
This is Trussardi
creative director Milan Vokmirovic.
Anyway, that's the general
idea. It's not really that complicated. With very little
effort, you can make huge leaps compared to the typical
mentioned that maybe I have too many jeans-y themes here.
Certainly, upgrading our casual dress to a 1950s standard is
a fine idea.
Teenage party, Briarcliff, NY, 1956.
I hear that Paul Stuart is a perennial reference for
tasteful WASP-y clothing.
Let me suggest that this will have a much bigger positive
effect on your overall lifestyle, with far less cost and
effort, than your present "guy hobby" involving machinery of
some sort. Ask your wife if she would rather have you dress
like David Beckham, or instead have a really great home
theater, motorcycle, high-end amp upgrade, boat,
wide-aperture tele zoom, or cat-back exhaust. For most
women, this is like asking: "Would you like this huge pile
of gold taller than your head, or a chocolate chip cookie?"
"'Cat-back exhaust?' I hope you aren't talking about your
Isn't there something
I could interest you in hmmmm?"
Translation for girls:
fumes from your car engine are carried to the rear of
the car via the exhaust system. This consists of three
parts, the "header" (a pipe), the "catalytic converter"
(a gizmo that reduces pollution), and the part that
comes after the catalytic convertor, the "cat-back
exhaust" (a pipe).
"So we're talking about a pipe? Doesn't that already
come with the car?"
Yes, but it's better if you replace the regular pipe
with a slightly larger one. This can increase maximum
horsepower by about 2%, which you never use during
"That seems kind of stupid, even for a guy."
Replacing the "cat-back" also makes the pipe that's
visible, in the rear, look a little different, and it
subtly changes the "exhaust note," or the sound the car
makes when it's running.
"Now I think I understand."
Yes, this is men's fashion, circa 2011, in the decrepit
final years of Heroic Materialism.
13, 2009: Life Without Cars: 2009 Edition
You really don't have to buy very much. It doesn't have to be
particularly expensive either. I would think about getting one
complete outfit -- pants, shirt/sweater, shoes, socks, belt,
etc. -- that go together, and create one coherent image. This
way, you won't pick things out willy nilly that don't match.
Maybe all from the same brand to start, as these usually match
well. Make sure it is appropriate for what you actually do.
Don't buy clubwear or resort wear if you don't go to clubs or
resorts. Don't be hasty about it. It might take a full day at
the mall to put it all together. You want to leave a lot of time
to allow the various options and combinations to percolate in
your brain. Bring your female advisor. Try everything on, and
show it to her. She will say things like "that's fine -- if you
were 26," or "you look like a senior citizen," or "skinny jeans
are not your thing," or "so, are we going to Hawaii soon?" or
"let's make a rule -- no pleated pants." Or, she will get a
surprised look on her face like, "wow, who's the new guy?" This
is a sign of success. Next week, buy one more complete outfit.
That might be all you need for this year. Go shopping again at
the season change (fall or spring), and get two more complete
outfits. Repeat next year. That's it. After three or four years,
you will have a lot of quality stuff.
As you get new items, start disposing of your old stuff. After
you wear the new stuff a few times, the old stuff will seem very
dreary. Don't buy new stuff and put it in a box for "special
occasions" while you continue to wear the old stuff. Every day
is a special occasion! Dump the crap.
A few more suggestions: if you wear a suit at work, I would
highly suggest getting custom tailored shirts. You don't have to
spend a lot on it. The main thing is that it fits, and if it
fits it fits, no matter what the price is. Look on the internet
for various options. Off-the-rack suits work for me, but if you
are a funny shape, like Winston Churchill, then look into
tailored suits as well.
Especially if you are in a large city, consider wearing a suit
or jacket more often.
Actually, you can do this in rural/exurban places too, more of a
"country gentleman" look than an "urban gentleman" look. Ralph
Lauren has made a business of this niche.
It's not really necessary to buy this sort of big-dollar
stuff, but you can get some good ideas from their ads. 90% of
it is in your mind -- your ability to imagine and execute
certain "looks" -- not the size of your budget. I bet you
could go to a typical Goodwill store and put together
something that is similar in mood, with a budget of $50. I
will also say that, if you don't have it together in your
mind, it won't work even if you spend five figures at Gucci.
We have a long way to go with these things before we return to
anything near where Western Civilization was around 1887, the
time of this painting.