When Editing a Closet Feels Like Failure

My hoarding clothing stems from two things:

One, the understanding that dressing appropriately is all about context. Where will you be and what will you be doing? This should determine the item, the color, the cut, the fabric, etc.

And two, the fantasy that my life is somehow much more interesting than it really is, or at least the fantasy, that it will be so at some point in the future. I need to be prepared right?

I still own a pair of rugby cleats though it has been ten years since I last played.

I own two pairs of snow pants though it has been 15 years since I last went snowboarding.

In fairness to the ten suits or odd jackets I own, such was daily wear for me pre-pandemic, though I must admit it has been multiple years since I half of them fit comfortably. I am convinced they will al fit again.

I realized the other day that while I have shoes in which to jog, I do not have the right shoes to play basketball. This is appropriate since I haven’t even touched a basketball in maybe five, wait, seven, years, but now that I see the clothing gap I am convinced the shoes are why I’m not playing 3-on-3 right this instant.

I saw an image yesterday of a small stadium where cars race around in a tight circle with a track banked at almost 90 degrees. It was wild. Spectators watch from seats right along the top of the track so they can look down and see cars zip by sticking to the wall as if with a high octane Spiderman superpower. While looking at this awesomeness what stuck out to me most was that one car had an obviously insane man sitting mostly outside the window of this moving car, and I cringed. Not because of the danger but because he was wearing this ill-fitting, multi-color striped, long sleeve golf shirt. It looked like a secondhand cast-off from Old Navy; like the wearer just grabbed something out of a pile with no thought as to size or taste. It robbed a little bit from the spectacle. Evel Knievel understood this. While I may not share his same taste for star spangled Elvis jumpsuits, Mr. Knievel understood how to dress in context. As to the driver in this motodrome, I am convinced that a leather motor cycle jacket, or a shirt in colors that matched the car, or maybe even no shirt at all would have made this whole scene so much more spectacular but instead of thinking this guy was just as cool as his stunt, I was pondering if perhaps this guy was only driving on a wall because he had no other options- because I had to assume he had no other shirts.

I love the idea of owning a tuxedo. I get that wearing a tux tailored to fit, will make me look and feel better, and in any setting where a tux is called for, one would of course want to look and feel their best. I have read and learned enough to know the little details that matter, texture, tailoring, lapel style and jacket length. I need to do more testing to really decide the size of bowtie that works best with my face, but I do know how to tie one, and know that I should.

But then also, I have already lived most of my life, and in all this time have only experienced four occasions where my wearing a tuxedo was appropriate.

So. Should I do a better job honestly curating my closet, or do I find some way to get a yacht to go with my boat shoes?

The Verbosity of Swankiness, Rittenhouse Custom Clothiers

I posted previously to invite others to go where they had never gone before. Last night I took my own advice.

1616 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA

Before moving to Philadelphia I had never heard of the Main line. To this day I have never been to a real country club. Before last night I had never visited a custom clothier nor talked with anyone who actually lived in the Rittenhouse part of town.

I felt myself lucky not just to have been invited, but to have found street parking, thereby avoiding the high costs of the lot. I paused at the elevator to straighten my pocket square, these were people I was sure would notice such things and I was unsure how many little missteps would move me from not belonging, to being legitimately not welcome.

Upstairs I walked into a scene that was everything I could have hoped it would be. Central casting had picked the people, dressed them perfectly, chosen soft music, and decorated with the perfect balance of manliness and style. I should stop there before I slide too deeply into cliche’ and flowery adjectives that undermine themselves.  It was wonderful.  no, I should say they were wonderful.

My pants were cut just a little too long, they brush the floor when I stand. My shirt sleeves were just a little too short and the cuffs were hidden by my jacket. No one looked.  Everyone I met talked too, not at, me. Not only was my point in attending not questioned, but I was engaged in real conversation.  I was made to feel welcome.

Now hands down I was out of my league. I met an old money man named after a Norse God whose vocabulary and combination of words was so naturally deliberate that I was forced to actually think to keep up. I met a silver haired man who was so smooth in manner and style that it appeared I was watching a movie, but he was real. And I met Michael Muscarella, the clothier himself, and he made me want to schedule a return appointment.

I have no tangible reason to schedule a return appointment.  I can’t afford, nor do I really need new clothes. I just met the man so I could have nothing of great importance to discuss with him.  But he made we want to go back again.  It could be the vintage prints of Philadelphia on his office walls. It could be the unfinished story about when he worked for Ralph Lauren. Or it could just be that he and his wife treated me like a person of value, when i was just a looky-loo kicking tires with no intention to buy… and they knew it. They all did. I even shared my own unfinished hypothesis with another party goer, of how it was a natural progression for the attendees of football games to slide from suit and tie to jerseys with another man’s name on the back. He took me seriously, as I did he, mostly because I saw he wore football shaped cuff-links.

I went out of curiosity, and for the cheese, then found I was enjoying myself. Perhaps I was enjoying myself too much. I was up till 1:20 am finishing up a precis’ on Thelin’s “A History of American Higher Education.”