Navy suit, black oxfords, white shirt and silk tie. Many people keep asking how to make this outfit more interesting. And my answer is: why would you?
We tend to avoid boredom as a plague, with multitude of distractions in our everyday lives. Boredom is a thing which can kill any fond thoughts of your job or relationship. Calling someone boring is an insult. And so, wherever you look, everything must be exciting and grab your attention, or it will perish among things which do it better.
This attitude is visible in menswear too. It tends to be a little less pronounced perhaps, but it’s there: a fancy lining, some unorthodox accessories, bright socks; but also experimentation in cut, proportions, details. And while every online dressing guide tells you to get yourself a nice navy suit first, it is also invariably quick to add: “It doesn’t have to be boring!”.
Well, maybe sometimes it should.
Clothes are fun. This is, after all, my approach and motivation. Suits are a thing I enjoy rather than need, as I’d probably do well with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt instead. So I understand the drive to make the outfit stand out, to make it interesting and cool. But clothes are a little different from other hobbies. If you build model railroads in your basement, you do it just for yourself; when you dress, you do it for other people as well.
Clothes that look boring – at least superficially – sometimes do a better job at bridging the gap between your enjoyment, and how others view you. They’re less imposing, less in your face. They help your hobby remain your hobby – because they don’t necessarily show everyone how much clothes mean to you. Just like that model railroad – people don’t know about it just by looking at you.
But you’ll know the value of the stuff you’re wearing anyway. The feel of the great fabric you chose for your bespoke order. The buttonholes finished by hand. The slight curve of the barchetta chest pocket. The impeccable line of the crease on the trousers. The comfort of the high armhole cut to fit your body and nobody else’s.
This is not the only right approach, mind you. Some want to stand out with the way they dress a lot more than others. Some use colours or bold patterns as their trademark. They want people to notice their clothes the moment they look at them.
But I’ll take the boring navy suit and a boring white shirt any day.