It hasn’t been a good year for style. In fact, it’s been a lost one.
The pandemic forced everyone to jump off the hamster wheel at the same time. After being off it months on end, however, we started living like rodents themselves - disheveled and unkempt. And who could blame us? When there’s no vacation, no restaurants, no bars, no parties, no events, or get-togethers of any kind - that also means there were no haircuts, no gyms, and simply no need to look your best (except for the occasional zoom call with your boss or client - from the waist up…)
The comfort craze ensued as working from home became the norm. It mattered little what you were wearing walking from bed to bathroom and back again at 3 pm, you just wanted to be comfortable. Locked down days turned to weeks then months. What day was it? Who knew? And who cared? There wasn’t any social interaction to look forward to on the weekends anyway.
Another phenomenon of this past year was the widespread adoption of wearing a mask. The clothing hero and villain of 2020. While its protective benefits are a given, no one looks particularly good in them. And it gives us another reason not to care about how we look. More soberingly, it also brings one back into the seriousness of the moment. Wear or die.
But as the year was coming to a close I had decided that enough was enough. I booked a fancy outdoor dinner and told my girlfriend (who’s birthday it was) to dress up, as I was wearing a suit and tie. “A suit!” she gasped. “Yes, it’s time to look good again” I declared. Our New Year's Eve plans were set - dinner at Buddakan.
That night, as I laid out a clean dress shirt, blue/black rep tie and double-breasted black suit, it felt good. I felt like a better version of myself. “This is it,” I said to myself, “I’m ready to care again.” I was back.
What happened next is a sad, sad story. Call it a wardrobe malfunction. For some reason my black suit pants had the bottom leg side seams opened in preparation for some sort of alteration. My wrath immediately turned toward my tailor as he was the only person who could have opened the leg up with such surgical precision. After further reflection, and in his defense, it was most likely me who had requested a tweak but it had never been completed. After all, I’m known to be quite the tinker man when it comes to my own clothes. So, there I was, having declared a sartorial victory over 2020 and suddenly the year came back for one more fatal blow. Perfectly bookending a year of lost style.
But what I learned in those moments of disbelief when looking at my open trouser legs, was that it’s time to start shaking off the dust of your wardrobe. No one is at fault for having a year-long pajama party, but it’s time to get things going a bit. Spring is coming. Better times are coming. The roaring 20s are coming. Perhaps not today, but soon. It’s time to prepare.
The best preparation you can do now is to simply try on your clothing. Perhaps you’ll discover you’ve lost (or gained) a few Covid pounds. Most clothing can be brought in or out relatively easily. You may also realize that your tastes have changed. Some styles you previously wore may now be obsolete in either a new job or new perspective on life. You may also find a few rips, tears or broken or missing buttons. Minor repairs can be done inexpensively. A glass of whiskey usually helps to get the process going.
And yes, I did find a solution to my sartorial conundrum. I donned dark jeans to pair with my suit jacket and tie. Only I knew the difference in the end. While we all lost a year of style, the first step in taking it back is to make sure your wardrobe is in working order. So put the pajamas and sweats back in your drawers - at least for a night - and prepare to face the world again. That time is coming and you should look your best - sharp, trim and proper.