Instead of a gentle close, summer weltered and sweltered on. Social media automatically reminded a friend that on that same date exactly a decade before, she’d written about the joys of a cooler season, the rituals of changing out summer clothes for sweaters and all the changes in clothing colors that accompanied those of the leaves around us. Now, temperatures continued to notch the 90s under skies where the sun pounded down.
The seasons are foundational to our idea of cycles and progress, reliable series of changes. Once we could count on the gentle ebbing of temperatures, a growing sense of relief from chokingly muggy mornings and evenings. Now, as with holidays, seasons are announced more by marketing than by breaking peace of mind: cool grey mornings start later and later in the year long after pumpkin spice ads in Starbucks windows.
Why care, gentle readers? Because if you are reading this then fall is your wheelhouse, its months the time of #menswear man’s greatest plumage. A plumage of not just colors (leafy oranges, rusts and pine greens accenting the usual greys and tans and blues with which we hide our shame), but of textures and materials. The tiny chains of knits of various fineness, corduroys in jewel tones in velvety wide wales, lush moleskins, shirts in thick oxford or wool-cotton twills, sportcoats in all the speckles, furriness or herringbones of tweed, pebble grains on leather boots or the luxuriantly soft suede of chukkas, to say nothing of the flourish of indulgence for which fall weather is the best excuse: careless knots of scarves whether madder silk or cashmere, gloves to poke out of pockets in all sorts of colors and materials, the widest possible range of footwear to choose from, all the various types of outerwear from heavy cable knit sweaters to camel polo coats, double riders, quilted huskies, shearlings, and on and on…
All of the above rely on a certain equilibrium, a transition from heat to cold that climate change threatens. Every year we know more and more scientifically about the effects of our consumption and destruction, and every year each of us learns more, anecdotally, how that manifests in our own lives.
It manifests in destructive extremes, summers of punishing heat in places that were never designed for it (anyone who’s ridden a Métro car in Paris in recent Junes will know what I mean). In brittle winters punctuated with the occasional heavy snow. And in what used to be the gentle shoulder seasons of spring and fall, the seasons that were the most forgiving to our dandified species, violence. Violence of storms and onrushes of heat replacing chill or vice versa without time for what was once a three-month-long elegant sigh.
Even if so much of #menswear claims military origins, our favored clothing doesn’t do well in this violence. Extremely hot and humid weather simply is no place for sartorial style. And while extreme cold and the drifts of heavy snow allow us to break out layers of cashmere, luxuriously thick overcoats and various other fopperies, in truth all of us would rather just be inside by a fire with a hot chocolate or something stronger and Philippe Trétiack’s Arnys et moi.
So fight for fall! Make your voices heard, in order to keep deafening others with the patterns of your sportcoats! Your chukkas and commando boots may no longer be made for marching, but every step counts! If you happen to believe that dressing well is a responsibility to others, then manifest for better seasons, for responsible stewardship of our resources, for the alternative may be a world that burns.