Yesterday, an interesting article appeared in the International Herald Tribune about how some Italians are shedding their ties in an effort to help fight global warming. Blogger David Wescott, over at It’s Not a Lecture sent me the link and declared – tongue in cheek – that focusing on style is helping to destroy the planet!
Romans and Milanese ditching their ties at work, are you kidding? Those often fantastic, large-knotted creations that men the world over vainly attempt to duplicate, gone for the summer? Stunning, but not apocalyptic.
While I admire David’s creative thinking, I’d like to take a different tack. This article, though remarkable from a cultural perspective, is actually an excellent argument for paying attention to what you wear, buying for quality, and focusing on real, timeless style. This is a great teaching moment and the lesson is that focusing on style does, actually, help the environment – as it should.
When you buy quality clothing, you are making an investment that lasts. By quality, I don’t just mean well-made, I mean a purchase that is thought out. By thinking about what you buy and editing your wardrobe, you are less likely to make an impulse purchase that eventually winds up in a landfill. Everyday clothing is now cheap and abundant, but there is an enormous price to be paid for such mindless convenience. The environmental costs of manufacturing, transporting, storing, selling, and, eventually disposing of these cheap products are large and global.
As opposed to Americans, Europeans tend to be more selective in their clothing choices. Due to higher prices and limited storage, each piece must be thought out and chosen for its quality, longevity, and versatility.
Does that pair of pants go with more than one outfit? Can you re-sole those shoes? Do you actually need that jacket or another shirt that’s virtually identical to your favorite one? These are things you should consider.
Make deliberate choices; don’t buy cheap shoes that get thrown out when they wear out. The same holds true for tailored clothing. While often expensive, a well made suit or custom shirt will last for years. A tailor’s classic style can transcend fashion and adjustments can be made as your dimensions change.
By being selective, you can build a wardrobe that both meets your needs and reduces pointless waste and duplication. Which brings me back to the Italians. I have no fear of jeans and tee shirts showing up in Roman offices or flip flops in Milan. If anyone can assemble a stylish and absolutely classy “casual” work wardrobe, it is an Italian.