Once you have a wardrobe full of nice things, you have to maintain them, too.
You may have encountered some impressive instagram profiles full of photos of shoes with amazing mirror shine on them. Shoes don’t shine themselves (unless they’re in patent leather, though admittedly usefulness of such pair is very limited), and so it requires some time to bring them to such state. It’s a bit easier if you’re not a fan of mirror shine, but shoes require some degree of maintenance anyway, just to keep the leather of the uppers in nice shape.
You also have to iron your shirts – the crisp white shirt is a sign of a well put-together man, and you wouldn’t wear a wrinkled one under this beautiful cashmere jacket of yours, now would you?
To be honest, I hate these maintenance rituals.
They’re mind-numbingly boring, and they take time – an hour here, two hours there, which I could spend doing something either more productive, or just plain more interesting. In theory, it’s possible to outsource some of those tasks. There are places which will take care of your shoes – including giving them this impressive high-gloss finish, and your neighbourhood dry cleaner’s will surely manage your shirts.
I can see several disadvantages of that, though. First, in the long run, they’re expensive. It’s not a problem having your shoes professionally taken care of once every few months – but once a week? And what if you have several pairs to shine?
Second – it’s all not nearly as convenient as it seems. It’s at least a few days before you get your things back, and this means they’re out of the everyday rotation. It may not be a problem if your wardrobe is extensive, but if you’re like me and try to replace clothes and shoes you have instead of adding new ones, and keep their number within some reasonable boundaries, this will turn out to be a major problem.
And the third issue: I don’t like other people handling my things. I know it’s incredibly subjective, and you may not feel the same way. But I like some of my shoes mirror-polished, and not others. Or I want them mirror-polished now, but a week from now I’d rather not. Or this time I’d like darker wax to be used. I like my shirts ironed with a crease on the sleeve, but not on the cuff, and I want the collars to roll naturally. But in some shirts, like the denim ones, I barely touch the collar and the cuffs with the iron, because I like the rumpled texture of this fabric, and I sometimes forgo the crease on the sleeve. Giving all those directions to someone else would really make me feel like an idiot. So I’d rather just do it all myself.
For some, those repetitive tasks are pleasantly contemplative. Circular motion of the hand rubbing the wax into the leather, the almost subconscious, after all those times, movements of the arm pushing the iron – it frees up your mind to roam, and some people need it, as a short break in rushed and stressful everyday life. As established, I find it dreadfully boring, so I came up with a few coping strategies.
I don’t polish all my shoes in one sitting – I usually just take care of one or two pairs at once. Two pairs seems optimal, because when putting new layers of those creams and waxes you need to sometimes wait a while to let them dry, and only then use the brush to remove the excess – so this short break is just enough o repeat the process with the second pair.
I iron my shirts right after laundering them, when they’re still damp. This allows me to get rid of any persistent wrinkles without much effort. It’s made easier by the fact I prefer thicker and more springy fabrics, like oxford or twill – so even when not ironed perfectly, they still look presentable. I then hang them on a hanger I’ve got in my room, so they’re nice and dry the next morning. Having enough shirts to last me through the week limits this to just one evening every week, and that’s manageable.
And I need something to occupy my mind while performing those ungrateful tasks. Netflix is not really a good option – my eyes need to observe what I’m doing, least I burn a hole in my favourite shirt, so I turn to podcasts. Audiobooks also seem like a nice idea. It’s the perfectly complimentary combination – podcasts and audiobooks are there to entertain you, but apart from hearing, the leave all our senses free: your eyes and hands are ready to do whatever needs to be done, as long as you don’t have to think about it too hard.
How about you? How do you deal with this stuff, do you have any clever tricks up your sleeve? Just please, make them something else than “My woman does this for me”.