The Well Edited Wardrobe

I’ve always kept my wardrobe tightly edited as I’m pretty sensitive to things that just don’t feel “me.” Alas, what feels me is always in a state of flux (I prefer to think of it as refinement), and even with a close eye on superfluity I’m always catching myself with stuff I don’t wear.

So now that cold weather is here, I went through my closet and found all sorts of things I can’t believe I was holding on to.

Perhaps we’re all victims of variety, or at least the idea of it. This latest purge was motivated by the realization that I just have pretty strict tastes, almost a formula, and why fool myself that I don’t.

For example:

• I just don’t like shoes with laces. Or buckles. The purge: Longwings and monk-straps.

• I like gray pants. Not navy, not brown, not patterned. Solid gray. The purge: Brown flannels.

• I like white and blue solid shirts, plus the occasional pink shirt or blue stripe. I tried yellow and it didn’t take. Never been tempted by tattersalls or burgundy stripes. And I like them to fit well. The purge: Tent-sized regular-fit shirts.

• I always reach for the same half dozen pairs of socks that work with my pants and shoes. The purge: Colorful argyles.

• I like dark ties, not light ones, and almost always blue. The purge: Ties I don’t wear.

• I like dark pocket squares. The purge: Red and yellow ones.

• I like dark sweaters. On probation: Pink and burgundy sweaters.

• I like recent clothes, not 50-year-old ones, which make me feel like a mannequin in a museum. The purge: Vintage Andover Shop sportcoat.

Most things — a piece of writing, a set of photos, your diet — benefit from judicious editing.— CC

40 Comments on "The Well Edited Wardrobe"

  1. Selling any of this?

  2. Gentleman Mac | November 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm |

    I’m always accepting donations. . .

  3. A few things are going to a Princeton kid who helped me with some research recently and the model from our photo shoot, who’d never worn trad gear before and loved the stuff.

    But yeah the rest is going on eBay to cover the cost of replacements more in line with my preferences.

    Did some major damage yesterday, actually….

    If you have any specific inquiries, send me an email.

  4. Thank God you edit your columns better than your closet.

  5. At least I’m not throwing out any bow ties, Mr. Squeeze — I don’t have any!

  6. What size are those longwings? Looking to unload them?

  7. 10.5E on the shoes.

  8. I frequently go through the same editing process.
    The joy of liberating my wardrobe of items I don’t wear is second only to the joy of acquiring items that I know will become favorites.
    If only I didn’t occasionally fall back into the same old trap of acquiring an item for the sake of variety. Sometimes I actually dispose of an item before even wearing it once. At my age, one should learn from experience.

  9. What brand and how much on the monk straps? Or, can you post the ebay links?

  10. Nice post. Once it starts raining in NYC again I will go through my closet. Ugly poor fitting clothing be warned.

  11. I am so glad that your wardrobe is not well curated!

  12. I go through the same thing from time to time and usually end up regretting getting rid of something. After I re-purchased two pair of cordovan loafers I decided that it is better store the items in the event I have a change or heart. The only exception is ill-fitting shirts. I am in the middle an 18-month shirt replacement process.

  13. “I like recent clothes, not 50-year-old ones, which make me feel like a mannequin in a museum. The purge: Vintage Andover Shop sportcoat”,

    But Ivy league clothes are not classics and timeless?
    In what the vintage Andover shop coat is dated?

  14. @Henry

    I saw a link to the website Uncrate this morning and read it as Uncurate. I thought it was a backlash!

  15. @Carmelo

    There’s a big difference between timeless classics and clothes that are 50 years old — and look it.

  16. @ Christian.

    Well said. Avoid anything over stylised in any direction. Skinny lapel fans be aware!

  17. Any Thom Browne stuff hit the floor yet??!!!!!!!!!

  18. I to am purging my wardrobe. Many of my 1980’s brooks oxfords (I’ve gained a few pounds) and ties are about to go on ebay. Pity as I do not feel the current BB quality is what is in my closet. Will go with Mercer I believe.

  19. Thrifty Trad | November 6, 2012 at 8:31 pm |


    So glad to belong to a generation that still donates unwanted articles to charity.

  20. I still donate clothing. Once saw a hobo wearing my old Burberry trench under an overpass, he looked good.

  21. Bill Stephenson | November 7, 2012 at 3:03 am |

    @ Christian

    Excellent point on getting rid of laces and buckles. LHS and tassels work for almost everything. What do you recommend where we may have worn cap toes or wing tips with suits, in the past?


  22. Great still-life at the top!

  23. Getting rid of shoes with laces means that one is on the road to flipflops, I fear.

    What’s next? Replacing belted-waist trousers with elastic waists? Clıp-on neckties?

    In my book, laced shoes are as basic as OCBD shirts, navy blazers, and cheddar cheese.

  24. I’m pleased to know all my other preferences get a pass.

  25. Christian
    You’ve discarded a lot of barkers there, but I’d keep the monk straps and maybe that plaid shirt. Those dark brown wings, just too brown, take the the Mothers of Invention’s advice, “brown shoes don’t make it”. 😉

  26. The plaid/tartan shirt was an idea I got last winter that I should have a patterned shirt to wear under a sweater during the five or so months of the year when I wear a sweater nearly every day. Loved the pattern and got it anyway even though it was non-iron. Never again.

    For me, the monk straps were one of those things that were handsome to look at (hence the purchase) but clunky to wear.

  27. Hah! This purge post made front-page news at Valet this morning. Too funny….

  28. You’re going to regret getting rid of those brown flannels. I’m wearing mine right now. Love them.

  29. Christopher Redgate | November 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

    I’ve got to say, reading that line about not liking old clothes and seeing that majestic Andover shop jacket cast aside are sorely disappointing to me. That’s the sort of thing I’m always looking for when I’m out combing the thrift shops. I’ll agree that anything too over stylised or dated is no good, but it surprises me to hear a guy who runs a popular blog about mid century style clothing say that he doesn’t want 50 year old clothes… I’ll take ’em!

  30. How can you tell it’s majestic?

    I just grabbed it off eBay and I really wanted it to work. Really. But it has passed the boundary of being well aged good clothes, which I love, and is in the realm of full-on retro-eccentric vintage costume.

    I don’t want to be that guy you see walking down the street and say, “Look, here comes Mr. Vintage.”

    Maybe you do.

    And just because I document midcentury style and take inspiration from it doesn’t mean I’m interested in wearing clothes that were actually made at midcentury.

  31. Christopher Redgate | November 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm |

    Hahaha ok, ok, just giving you a hard time. I suppose I can’t tell for sure that it’s majestic… But I do love most Andover Shop stuff that I’ve come across. Though I’m sort of biased since it’s practically in my backyard, Mr DeLuca is a friend of mine, and Charlie Davisdson is pretty much my hero. However if it’s the one I can see a bit of in your photo you have to admit the material is pretty awesome. I suppose I don’t want to be that guy either. Interesting and different clothing is good, but being THAT guy with a costume on is never good. Sorry it didn’t work out. Sadly I find it’s often the case with my ebay purchases as well, especially when they are made late at night, post scotch drinking. Hope the next one works out better for you. Cheers.

  32. It’s a balancing act and one that takes skill. There is a case for saying one obviously vintage item per outfit only.

  33. I’ve been that guy for so long that I don’t even notice anymore. For me, it’s “here comes the guy in the hat” (I wear fedoras).

    I have some older clothes, but with the exception of my tuxedo from the 1930s, nothing is older than I am. Maybe that decreases the tool factor.

  34. Unless it subconsciously serves to make room for new clutter, I, too, am all for paring down. As you’ve written in your post back from 2009, after a certain extent it gets impossible for every garment to “be fondly cherished”.

  35. Dogru Soze Cankurban | November 11, 2012 at 1:58 am |

    @Can Duman

    If it isn’t cherished it should be gotten rıd of.

  36. Yes, indeed. More power to you. Dispose of things you don’t wear and intensely enjoy your favorites.

  37. A very thought-provoking piece. I quoted it in my blog and urged my readers and Wardrobe Wisdom clients to take the author’s advice: identify your preferences and purge the rest. Smart.

  38. Dickey Greenleaf | November 17, 2012 at 8:07 pm |

    If I may Chris, it’s been a while since we’ve chatted, so, I’ll make this short and sweet, I think every wardrobe should have an extremely amount of balance, taste, and distinction. One should always have more than one needs, it’s checkers, not chess, and if in doubt always buy, just to sleep at night, comfortably. Thanks for letting me share.

  39. Rule No. 1: Always buy something that you like; if you don’t, it won’t be at the shop when you go back to get it.

    Rule No. 2: Get rid of it immediately, if you decide that you really don’t like it.

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