Have you ever found yourself looking back at pictures of people from the early 1900′s to about the 1950′s and thought, “man, I love the way people dressed back then”? Usually that thought is followed with a list of reasons on why you can’t dress as classically as the men and women you see in those pictures. I was definitely one of those people, but I finally decided to stop making excuses and just make some changes. So, about 4 months ago I underwent a rather life changing transformation. I stopped wearing jeans. That’s right. Let that sink in. Got it? You ok? Need a glass of water? It’s alright, I can wait.
Let me elaborate. When I say I stopped wearing jeans, I mean I stopped wearing jeans as everyday apparel. Jeans have a use and a place in every man’s wardrobe, I just decided that place didn’t need to be “the only pants I wear except khaki’s to church and weddings/funerals.”
I actually got rid of a bunch of jeans which lead to getting rid of a bunch of t-shirts and hoodies. Getting rid of the t-shirts and hoodies lead me to get rid of clothes that I couldn’t remember the last time I had worn. It was a day that will be forever referred to as The Great Closest Cleanse of 2011. Honestly, I can’t say what exactly caused this to happen. I literally woke up one morning and decided I wanted to start dressing nicer.
While I can’t say what exactly it was that lead to this event, there are several events probably worked together to spur me on to the Great Closet Cleanse:
1. I lost 30lbs in 2011. It is amazing what going from 250+ lbs to 220 lbs will do for your self esteem. I was no longer was concerned with hiding my girth underneath layers of cotton fiber mixed clothing. This meant I bought new clothes and most of them were of a higher standard than my old wardrobe.
2. My wife’s grandmother died. A few days before Thanksgiving, my wife’s grandmother (Norma) passed away from some sudden health complications. My in-laws asked if I (an ordained minister) would be willing to officiate the services. I was moved by the request and of course accepted, but then realized that I did not own a single suit that fit. So it became apparent that I needed to get some suits.
There are some other factors that probably need to be considered in telling this tale. One of my favorite websites, artofmanliness.com, often ran articles about the importance of how a man dresses and how a lot of the old styles that use to define men’s wear had sadly gone by the wayside. After reading numerous articles on the matter, I began to wish I had the wardrobe that allowed me to dress nicer and present myself in the more classic, VINTAGE (yeah, I went there) look.
So the time had come. I had spent a small fortune on 2 suits, several new shirts, new shoes, and some new ties. As I was forking the money out for these clothes, I felt a tinge of sadness at the fact that I was spending more on these few items than I had probably spent on my entire wardrobe, yet I would only wear them a handful of times a year.
Fast forward to the morning of The Great Closest Cleanse of 2011. I decided there was no reason I couldn’t wear my suits and ties whenever I wanted. Why should these nice clothes just hang in my closet while I continue to wear clothes that, to be honest, weren’t as comfortable, didn’t look as nice, and didn’t boost my confidence like my new clothes did. So, I went from one day having a wardrobe that was based on the basic jean and hoodie look to one that was centered around suits, jackets, ties, and *gasp* SUSPENDERS.
As you can imagine, the reaction I got varied greatly. My wife didn’t know what to say and, if she were to be completely honest, probably didn’t think I would make it through the week dressing that way. My fellow employees in the office were shocked and found it quite humorous when I began showing up every day in a suit and tie when I usually showed up in, at the nicest, khaki’s and sweaters. Some other people were very impressed with my changes in clothing, others confused and wondering if someone had died or was getting married and they weren’t aware of it.
I will say there was one universal reaction: I immediately received a new level of respect and customer service wherever I went. Walking into stores where in the past I was just another face in the crowd, I now received immediate customer service and a warm welcome. Probably the most extreme case of this was when I walked into a bookstore, was immediately asked if I needed help finding something, and, upon hearing what I was looking for, 3 employees broke up into a search party to find the book for me. It was awesome.
I am now in my fourth month of consistently wearing a shirt and tie nearly everyday and I can’t imagine going back. Now, taking “dressing up” to this extreme may not be for every one but I will say for those of you who are interested in taking on this endeavor, make sure you get fitted and, if it’s in the budget, get tailored jackets and slacks. It is incredible how much more comfortable I am in slacks than I ever was in jeans. They are lighter, stretch more, and are more forgiving for those of us who are a little more on the “big-boned” side of the scale. If you want to garner more respect as a man, feel better about yourself, and look forward to getting dressed in the morning, then I highly recommend taking a little time and investing a little money in yourself to fix up your appearance.
Now, obviously there are those of us who have professions and jobs where dressing in a suit and tie is not suitable for the work environment. If you fit that description, I would encourage you to examine how you dress when you go out when you aren’t working. There is always room for improvement!
If you are interested in changing your wardrobe for the better, I highly recommend checking out THIS ARTICLE by artofmanliness.com creator Brett McKay. It can be a little overwhelming to try and piece together a new wardrobe and this article helps make sense of a lot of information.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Here at Modern Vintage Man we truly do value your feedback and look forward to hearing your thoughts on our articles.