The Classics: Literature, Clothing and the Connection

Library 2

I have a few hobbies besides obsessing over oxford shirts and wool sweaters. One of these hobbies is reading. I generally read what is broadly termed “literature “(At least that is the section where I generally find my books). As I was thinking over this post I realized that what I like about reading is not that different from what I like about clothing. I know it sounds weird, but let me try to explain.

Young Leo TolstoyA young Tolstoy

Anton ChekhovAnton Chekhov

The first book that really got me into reading was Crime and Punishment. I just remember reading it and thinking “This is classic literature? This is what people like?” I was puzzled, primarily because I enjoyed it so much. From discussions with friends and co-workers about tv and movies I had learned that what I like is not what most people find entertaining. However, this was not true when it came to classic books. It seemed that every classic that I read I liked. I will admit there were a few not so good books, but with some direction from used book store owners and other readers that I knew I soon found my way.

Albert CamusAlbert Camus

SartreJean-Paul Sartre

Andre GideAndre Gide

I began my journey with the Russians. First it was Dostoyevsky and he completely blew me away. I moved on to Tolstoy and I was even more impressed. I read Chekhov, Turgenev, Pushkin, Gorky and Gogol. I liked some more than others. I moved on from Russia to France reading Camus, Stendhal, Gide and Sartre. Later I discovered Orwell and Salinger. The more I read the more I knew that I was not alone, my thoughts were not original, there were others just like me, but brilliant. It is not only in the pages of these books that I find solace.


salingerJ.D. Salinger

Cheever and UpdikeCheever and Updike

It is in People, this is where I noticed the similarity between classic clothing and classic literature. Literature and classic clothing have connected me with people who I understand and who understand me. The woman at the bookstore who points me in the right direction gets me in the same way the man I met at Brooks Brothers understood me when we conversed about oxfords and ties. It is not just about people either, but ideas, ideas that have existed since the dawn of man. Classic clothing can embody these ideas providing them a physical form in the same way a great book can bring us into touch with the thoughts of our forefathers. There is a human connection, something we are all bound together by. Through literature, and yes classically styled clothing I have come to better understand this connection of timeless ideas.

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

3 Comments on "The Classics: Literature, Clothing and the Connection"

  1. OldSchool says:

    Some might think that you’re trivializing classic literature by putting it in the same category as OCBD shirts, tweed jackets, regimental stripe ties, khakis, etc., but I would take your side in the debate. Both represent a tie with timeless quality, and, I daresay with aristocracy of the spirit.

  2. LIn says:

    Don’t forget A.A. Milne“…as Pooh he is very wize….”Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” ― A.A. Milne

  3. oxford cloth button down says:

    @Old School – Thanks for your comment. I am glad that you understand the point I was trying to get at.

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