OTC always relishes the pleasure of working with our friend bespoke clothier Jon Green. Jon is a natural educator and ardent student of human nature. He also operates in the rarefied air of true bespoke and a has a pool of word-of-mouth clients who quite literally settle for nothing but the best the world has to offer. As Jon would tell you, to be successful in such a high-touch business, one had better like people, be curious about what makes them tick, confident in your own skills and knowledge, and able to balance your and the client’s needs and proclivities.
However, there are some truths about fashion, style, and developing one’s own wardrobe which are evergreen; rules that are not up for debate, but which instead represent guiding principles of good taste regardless of the moment’s trends. Equally important is Jon’s belief that style is not itself some inbred rarity. In fact, it is a skill that can be taught and a muscle which can be strengthened. “Style is the synthesis of taste and technique, both of which, fortunately, can be learned,” notes Jon.
Dressing well can be fun at any level of interest, taste, experience, and budget. Learn the basics and experiment, or as Charlie Parker, the great jazz alto saxophonist, put it, “first I learn the notes and then I just wail!” The rules of dressing well can be improvised upon when you have mastered them. Learn those rules, make your changes to them, and proudly own the result. They will become your visual marker – your own stylistic signature.
Jon’s guidance on the subject of building a wardrobe hew to these flexible and personalized directives which are grounded in the rules of classic form and balance. Start with the basics and go from there. In building your wardrobe, keep the major items, suits, sports jackets and trousers, simple and classic. Then add the personal flourishes with minor pieces, e.g., shirts, ties, handkerchiefs, belts, shoes, socks, braces, eyeglasses, watch, and any other accessories you like.
Here are six quick tips from Jon Green for starting on the journey to cleaning up your closet and building out a wardrobe that best reflects your style, personality, and intelligence.
Suggestion #1: Learn to distinguish quality.
Don’t be a cynic, which Oscar Wilde famously described as, “someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” It takes time and education to develop distinctions which help one to identify and select items with which to build a quality-focused wardrobe.
Suggestion #2: Train and develop your eye.
Shop, look, read, observe, and listen. This approach will save you more money and provide you with more value than a lifetime of off-price merchandise you do not need and really does not work for you in the first place.
Suggestion #3: Buy less and buy the best.
The greatest value of having what you want is having what works best for you. For example, selecting clothing in the color palette that works for you will provide you with a greater number of combinations and require fewer, but better, pieces. Spending more on a single, well-made and well-fitted garment, will in the long run save you money, time, and frustration.
Suggestion #4: Ask!
Many people, especially men, believe they will appear foolish if they appear – or are – ignorant about something and will often refuse to ask for help. Nonsense! Asking is the most efficient way to get the information you need to make a decision. Asking for help or clarification about something you do not understand is also a sign of confidence and intelligence. At the very least, not asking is foolish because it is also expensive.
Suggestion #5: Find a salesperson who wants to help you.
Pick out the stores which have the merchandise you like and develop a relationship with a salesperson there who will work with you and coach you. But remember that this is both a business and a professional guidance relationship; you’re not trying to get adopted. You are trying to make intelligent purchases. A good salesperson will be someone you like and who enjoys developing you into a good client. This relationship will be invaluable to both of you.
Suggestion #6: Taking care of your investment.
Brush woolen clothing with a boar-bristle brush. The tips of the bristles in plastic brushes are cut on an angle that cuts the fibers of your clothes.
A proper steaming and pressing is preferable to frequent dry cleaning. When dry cleaning is necessary, choose the best cleaner, one whose plant is on the premises and is likely more expensive.
To maintain their shape, keep shoe trees in your good shoes. Run-down heels are bad for your image (as in, “run down at the heels”); bad for your ankles, knees, hips, back, and posture; and will force your shoes out of shape. Polish shoes regularly with a moisturizing cream and occasionally with paste wax. Occasionally, because high polish paste wax clogs the pores of the leather. Silicone sprayed on the welt, where the uppers are sewn to the soles, will help to prevent water damage if you have to walk in in rain or snow. Also, having a thin rubber sole glued to the bottoms when new will greatly reduce leather sole wear in wet and dry weather.