A Roadmap Out Of Our Sartorial Slump – 10 Steps To Dressing Well Again

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A Roadmap Out Of Our Sartorial Slump – 10 Steps To Dressing Well Again

Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher

11 March 2021

It’s said that addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can summon the strength needed to seek help. The location of rock bottom is a subjective term, but I plumbed my own personal depths in January of this year, a month into the UK’s third interminable lockdown, when I ordered a pair of running tights. Despite an ankle injury that means I can’t run, I was so inspired by the palpable comfort afforded by the gym leggings my wife and daughter were wearing during lockdown, I thought I’d try something similar.

At the time of writing, I spend half the day in gym kit anyway, either to take some home-bound exercise such as a Zoom Pilates class or a virtual road race around Central Park on Zwift, or caught with so little time between a mobility workout and dinner that there’s no time (and little reason) to get changed. In terms of style, the problem with WFH (working from home) is how often it reduces us to asking WTP (what’s the point)?

Now, however, the vaccine rollout means there’s a pin-prick of light at the end of the tunnel. So, how should we respond? It’s a new world and it’s ripe for reinvention. None of us is the same person we were a year ago and the world, too, has changed. Let’s find new ways to start dressing, true to the people we’ve become, unconstrained by the codes of the past, but informed by the most important lesson the coronavirus has taught us, which is that long-term plans are just flights of fancy and figments of the imagination. It turns out we’ve only ever had today, so let’s start dressing and carpe diem! This is our 10-point programme.

01. Make an effort

After 12 months, anything dressier than sweatpants feels plain weird. Jump into dressing again with clothes that make you look and feel good. Whether you start with a collared shirt or a velvet smoking jacket, let’s just work it out as we go along.

02. Torpedo tradition

Nothing we used to know about what to wear, and when and where to wear it, still applies. We get to reimagine a whole new world, and if that includes a tie-dye T-shirt under a velvet jacket, more power to you (as long as it looks good).

03. Enjoy the craft

Whatever you wear to WFH, chances are those clothes aren’t examples of artisanal craftsmanship. Enjoy reconnecting with your fellow man and woman by seeking out clothes that express a certain humanity, from a handmade tie to a pair of bench-made shoes.

04. Mix it up

In the days BC (before Covid), some style writers loved to say that tailored clothes shouldn’t be mixed with informal garments. Forget all that and try out combinations as you see fit. Tailored linen trousers often look best worn with a casual top and a pair of espadrilles. Why not try a dinner jacket with a pair of black leather trousers?

05. Ease into it

It’s obvious what a year in sweatpants taught us about comfort, but perhaps it contained another lesson, which is about volume. Between the (whisper it) lockdown weight gain and an embrace of a fuller, 1990s-influenced silhouette, it feels relevant to seek out looser-fitting tailoring.

06. It’s just for fun

We’ve spent a year contemplating life’s most serious issues: mortality, injustice, death and politics. Clothes are trivial by comparison, so treat them as a source of joy. Let’s dress up and have a laugh. We’ve been too serious for too long.

07. Rediscover your taste

A year is a long time, and we’ve all been exposed to a wealth of novel influences during lockdown. Whether that’s the films of Mr John Ford, the music of Burna Boy or the philosophy of mid-century Paris, let it inform your style. We are hopeful that we are about to emerge from our Covid cocoons. Let’s be open to the new psychic shapes we’ve adopted and emerge as new forms of butterflies.

08. Respect those around you

An important part of dressing up is to show respect for the people around you, whether you’re out on a first date or celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary. We’ve been dressing to please no one but ourselves, but now it’s time to consider the impression we make on others.

09. Question everything

The last time anybody who wasn’t a politician or a senior health professional put on a tie, the world still showed an interest in daft “rules” about things such as whether you can wear brown shoes with a suit, or if a cashmere beanie is smarter than a lambswool one. In 2021, all bets are off. What counts is looking your best, whatever that means to you.

10. This isn’t about work

Before the pandemic, tailored clothes struggled to shake off their grim associations with low-level office work. The idea was abroad that any man liberated from the need to impress his boss or his clients would dress casually (Mr Mark Zuckerberg was frequently cited as evidence of this). With big tech’s reputation now in jeopardy and a year of WFH behind us, the connection between office work and tailored clothes has been broken. Let’s wear them to celebrate, to impress, to woo, to eat, to drink and to dance. And then let’s hope the dry cleaner is open again.

The people featured in this story are not associated with and do not endorse MR PORTER or the products shown

Dress to the nines