The Cut recently had a great quote from singer-songwriter Father John Misty, patron saint of the not-lost wanderers: “Everyone kind of looks like a graphic designer,” he said. “I just hate that look. It’s predicated on not fucking up, as opposed to the emphasis really being on expression. There’s a lot of prescriptive fashion – ‘Oh, you need the perfect white shirt, and you need the perfect khaki – and it’s just so boring. I would like to see more of a Moroccan-slash-pajama vibe.”
Being that this is the start of spring, we’re bound to see dozens (maybe hundreds?) of lists of seasonal essentials. “Ten Spring Jackets You Must Own.” “Forty-Two Essentials to Spruce Up Your Spring Style.”
The idea of style essentials is awful; it’s just a way to generate clicks and Buzzfeed headlines. Yes, everyone should have a dark suit and the things to go with it (a dark tie, some basic shoes, and yes -- the perfect white shirt). We all have to attend weddings and funerals, after all. Most men could also use a good pair of jeans.
Personal style, however, begins when you branch out and discover things that speak to you.
That doesn’t have to mean Moroccan-slash-pajamas vibes (although it could). You may find yourself playing with American and European workwear, combining indigo chore coats with loose, tapered trousers and funky Tyrolean shoes. Or maybe you like to mix Argentine-inspired clothes with contemporary German-Belgian minimalism. For something dressier, there’s everything from soft shouldered, Italian sport coats to Japanese twists on European and American tailoring (see how good Camoshita’s navy and burgundy seersucker suit looks with a band collar shirt and fringed pocket square). Even the most conservative well-dressed men rely on more than just navy jackets – they have gunclub tweeds, rumpled linens, and softly patterned suits (although even these aren’t a straight ticket to being well dressed).
I know buying things that haven’t earned the “essentials” tag from a menswear magazine can be scary, but with resale sites such as eBay and Grailed, you have some insurance against missteps. On the upside, being a bit more adventurous means developing a true sense of personal style and discovering what you feel most yourself in. Some of the best items in my closet are things I took a chance on and happily found to work out over the years (e.g. a Royal blue mountain parka, which is a lot more cheerful to wear than the drab olive Barbour everyone told me to buy). So never mind what fashion writers tell you are essentials this spring – find your own.