It’s interesting to think about how one’s own personal style develops.
One of the things that led me towards the classic menswear scene in the first place was its sustainability and long-term thinking – both in terms of quality and style. The cycles of trends in classic menswear are much longer and gentler than those in the mainstream fashion industry. The whole point of ‘classic style’ is that you can invest in something with a cut, style, fit and colour that compliments you as much today as it will in five or 10 years time.
This is classic menswear’s biggest selling point for most men. We all like to believe that we are free thinkers; not slaves to trends dictated by what others tell us to wear, and that our approach to shopping is methodical and thoughtful rather than spontaneous. And yet, micro-trends emerge even within the most traditional parts of men’s fashion. Raglan coats, full-cut trousers and camp collar shirts have all conquered the short, snug fit of unconstructed Italian tailoring and ‘sprezzatura’ look that dominated our Tumblr feeds half a decade ago, for example.
Of course, I still believe most menswear enthusiasts shop thoughtfully, and I can honestly say that I still wear most of the things I bought or commissioned five years ago. Nevertheless, my personal style and my own clothing preferences have still changed significantly. Buying good quality clothes and shoes made by great craftsmen will give you the chance to cherish them for years to come, but it’s no guarantee that your taste will stay the same.
Even when it comes to footwear, the most traditional and least trend-sensitive part of my closet, I’ve noticed some things have changed over the years. When I first got into menswear, I wanted to have all a shoemaker’s different styles packed into my wardrobe – from split-toe Derby shoes and double monk-straps to loafers and Balmoral boots. I thought of my shoe collection as a spectrum to cover all different social situations and events. Inevitably, the majority of those shoes barely saw any wear, and as lovely as they might have been in theory, I always returned to the two or three pairs that emerged as a firm favourites over time.
Today, I prefer to own fewer things and to rotate them consistently throughout the week. As I mentioned in my previous article, I wear loafers more than any other type of shoe, and I would probably wear them exclusively if I lived in a slightly warmer climate. I combine them with shirts and tailoring or jeans and knitwear, and feel equally comfortable either way.
You might think that I see all these changes in taste as a bad thing – as sacrilege – or a betrayal of the principles of classic clothing. Quite the opposite; I believe that your personal style should evolve throughout your life. Some of the inspiration you pick up along the way might become a permanent cornerstone of your wardrobe, while other ideas will inevitably get left behind.
That’s human nature – and, believe it or not, it even applies to the hallowed subject of classic menswear.