From Where or Wear?

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When I transitioned from student life to the working world my wardrobe transitioned along with me. One of the first things that changed is that I no longer had a pressing need for casual clothes.  Now when I went shopping if I saw a pair of broken-in chinos with distressing or a pre-faded OCBD it garnered a reaction of superiority from me. I would think to myslef, “I will wear out a pair of regular chinos and an OCBD soon enough. I do not need to wear pretend clothes or invest in worn-out clothes to look cool.” At least this is what I thought I at the time.

Fast forward a decade and I am not so sure that any of the above the above is true. A few months ago I was reading about the history of the 3/2 roll when I saw my self perceived ability to withstand the fashion industry’s attempts to influence me crumble before my eyes.
Brooks Brothers #1 SackThere are two schools of thoughts about the origin of the 3/2 roll. One school claims that the 3/2 roll was created to mimic the roll 3-button jackets often developed over time. The other school claims that the 3/2 roll was a unique feature that was not created to mimic a broken-in 3-button jacket. I won’t dive any deeper into the history at this point. The important part is to remember that one school sees the 3/2 roll as inauthentic as I see prefabricated broken-in chinos or distressed OCBD.
Green Shaggy ShetlandThe next item to shake my convictions was the brushed Shetland (pictured above). I have heard many people claim that the brushed Shetlands were not created (and sought after) because it makes the rustic Shetland wool softer, but because the result looks similar to an old worn sweater. I have no proof of this either, but again it is a plausible argument.

What does all this mean? For me it means that I need to remember to be humble. While I want to think that I have transcended the reach of marketing and fashion I have not. The desire to look cool is still very much alive within me (and always will be) even if my idea of cool is very very square.

oxford cloth button down
is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

8 Comments on "From Where or Wear?"

  1. John M says:

    Oxford,
    About a year ago I purchased an elegant navy-blue camel hair blazer (41R), a really impractical move because I already had four solid blazers – two navy and two black – of various weight and texture. And, over the years I’ve kept an additional seven odd jackets, again of varying patterns, texture and color. But the camel hair seemed special for the price: at retail, $650; on sale, $65. I couldn’t pass. I’ve looked it over, had my tailor look it over, nothing wrong, excellent quality but for the front. It’s a 3/3 … three buttons, no roll. Still I love this cashmere-looking, deep-navy coat. The 3/3 doesn’t bother me. What’s your take on the “3/3″?

    • Hollywood Argyle says:

      The 3-button jacket with the top two buttons buttoned looks good on no one. It makes the tall look gargantuan, the short look minuscule, the heavy look hulking, and the skinny look like a rail.

      However, not all is lost! Ask your dry cleaner or tailor to roll the lapel for you.

      A man can never have enough navy blue blazers, so don’t worry about having “another” (I have at least half-a-dozen, and wouldn’t mind more). Black blazers, though, can be problematic—but that’s another topic.

    • Don says:

      Your camel-hair blazer will roll the right way naturally over time. In case it was pressed that way, you can take a steamer and speed the process along a bit. That’s what I do when my cleaner does it wrong.

      Ditto the comment about you can never have enough blazers–I have five.

  2. Fading Fast says:

    I think of it as a fashion continuum. Yes, I buy some things that are “broken in” or “faded” for three reasons.

    (1) Sometimes they are just that much more comfortable (which as a kid in from the ’70s knows, pre-washed – or whatever you call them – beats the heck out of the stiff-as-can-be jeans that, as a kid, I used to run through the washing machine 10 times just so that I could wear them). So if the pre-wash or whatever makes an item more comfortable, I’m good with that.

    (2) Sometimes the little bit of fading or “wear” so enhances an item, that I’m glad to buy it that way (this “authenticity” thing is over thought: yes, it’s great to wear something to “just that right point” but if I buy something that is already there, then that’s fine also). Do I feel more inherent enjoyment when I’ve worn it to that point yes – but again, this is not a big deal. We’d all wear very simple, plain clothes if style and details didn’t matter to us.

    (3) Sometimes the only version of the item you want (fit or color, etc.) is in a pre-faded one – and, if I like it overall, then that’s fine too.

    What I do avoid is the overly worn out to the point of silliness (big holes or when the garment is almost falling apart) item as that seems silly to me in that I’d be basically buying a product that I wouldn’t wear if my own clothes got to that point and I’d be paying for something with very little life left in it.

    N.B. neat info on the 3/2 roll origins. Again, though, while I absolutely love knowing the history, if it was “inauthentic” at the time – who cares – they look great now. I wear desert boots because I like the look, feel and history, but I’m not wearing them in the desert or as part of a military need. Most things are inauthentic if overanalyzed.

  3. I have to say that you sweater looks incredibly nice with that good rollin’ shirt. :)

  4. oxford cloth button down says:

    John M – Sounds like you have a good plan for acquiring clothing. Slow and steady. I like it. Now to your question. The 3/3 does not bother me at all, nor does a 2-button for that matter. First and foremost, it is about how you look in it followed closely by how you feel in it. Me personally, as long as it has natural shoulders I usually pretty happen. Sometimes I can even live with darts on patterned sport coat. last, but not least I have always like navy camel hair. Great texture.

    Fading Fast – Thank you for your well thought out comment. I agree that one can get caught up over analyzing. I do it all the time. Your remarkably well adjusted outlook is admirable.

    Casually Smart – Thank you. I am impressed that you can narrow trousers. I want to get better at sewing, but at the same time I find that I don’t want to spend all my free time sewing!

  5. Heh, main reason is that I wanted to narrow trousers but when I was student I couldn’t afford going dressmaker once in a while. I have to confess that first few attemps did not go very well!

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    Hollywood – I would add that just because a jacket is a true 3-button jacket is no reason to button the top button. I have always worked from the (top down), “Sometimes, always, and never” buttoning guideline.

    I have never tried to have 3-button rolled. Has this worked out for you?

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