Esteemed readers, I have a grubby little secret to confess. Despite looking after all things men’s style at this venerable institution, my own sartorial set-up is shamefully lacking. Thanks to the job and almost 20 years in the fashion industry, I have more clothes than most: umpteen suits, approximately 20 coats, a vast amount of eveningwear and – my own personal vice – upwards of perhaps 60 pairs of evening slippers. “I imagine your wardrobes are all categorised and gleaming,” one colleague speculated recently when I mentioned embarking on an extensive clear-out. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Thanks to the space constraints of a flat near central London and the sheer volume of clothing, the collection now mushrooms and spills out of wardrobes and piles into overhead shelving, cresting in a fountain of extraneous overmatter in the cellar. The shoes now quite literally hit the ceiling, as does my partner’s patience. Marie Kondo would need to be sedated. So how best to streamline and sort out this chaotic situation? If you’re like David Beckham (aren’t we all, eh?), who detailed in his recent documentary his need for meticulous organisation in his expansive, sprawling wardrobe, you won’t need our space-saving tips. But how do us mere mortals – or at least stylish men who care about their clothes – manage it?
We can’t all have the Jeeves to our Wooster, nor the valet to our King Charles (who famously applied the royal toothpaste every morning). There’s something wonderfully ceremonial about the upper echelons of men’s dress and the splendid sense of rightness to having your shirts just so, your shoes perfectly aligned. Most of us don’t have a set-up that’s quite so grand, but it doesn’t matter – I have fond memories of my father polishing his Oxfords; the potency of the aroma, the lethal blackness of the polish itself. The fact that men’s wardrobes generally consist of more structured clothes means a degree of thought should go into the organisation of them.
Hardy Amies, the esteemed couturier who dressed the late Queen Elizabeth and published his ABC of Men’s Fashion in 1964, had some of-the-era and not entirely politically correct thoughts on the rigours of how a man dresses himself: “Everybody knows that trousers have to be kept well-pressed and nearly everyone knows how to do it. If you haven’t been in the services, then get a wife and train her.” Amies, consider yourself cancelled. But – as my own wardrobe situation reaches breaking point – what’s to be learned from well-dressed men who’ve got the process nailed?
‘Some clothes deserve a spot outside the wardrobe’
Tom Leeper, creative director of New & Lingwood
Given his day job, Leeper’s interest in the details of clothing is more than a passing hobby. “I love having clothes out – perhaps on a screen or hanging on the wardrobe door – so that I can look at them and get a sense of how they’re made, the fabrication,” says the 31-year-old designer, who helms heritage British house New & Lingwood, makers of sumptuous dressing gowns and silk pyjamas.
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