Write what you know — that’s the advice given to just about every author looking to put pen to paper. All told, it’s a pretty helpful guide, especially when you’re sat at a desk in the wee hours wearing nothing but slippers and a bathrobe while staring at a blank screen with no idea of how you might fill it. In moments like these, writing about what you know best seems like a helpful route to follow — unless, of course, what you’re writing about is menswear.
Let me explain: In my capacity as a menswear writer, I spend a lot of time covering topics I specifically don’t have much intimate knowledge of. I have never met any of the famous people I cover on this site, for example, nor have I shared the company of the founders of any long-established brands or iconic stores. Even when you consider the topic of individual clothing items, all told, I spend relatively little time actually wearing the things I write about in a given week — if I wear them at all, that is. I do not own a tuxedo, for example, nor am I likely to ever put on a Breguet watch or feel the weight of a Birken bag. Even within the more readily affordable and accessible realm of casual wear, the things I regularly wear and write about don’t always overlap perfectly. It isn’t every day, for instance, that one puts on, say, a cricket jumper, white jeans, or a set of duck boots.
More so, even within the parameters of the most normal, everyday, vanilla wardrobe items, my lived experience is of limited help to me. The reason being that I spend most of my days working from home, during which time I often dress so catastrophically poorly that, should evidence of the same ever come to light, I would likely be forced to issue a public apology and hand in my proverbial gun and badge (which, in the context of menswear, I guess would involve surrendering all use of the fire emoji and turning over my copy of Ametora).
Writing about the clothing that I know most intimately — which is to say the trash I usually put on while typing at my desk — is, therefore, unlikely to be of much use to anyone at all. With that said, in the spirit of taking on board some sage and aforementioned writerly advice, here are some recommendations for dressing terribly within the confines of your own home. I assure you, it’s all rooted in very intimate knowledge and extensive experience:
- Firstly, it is of paramount importance that you never wear anything that’s truly clean. To do so would be an affront to the whole notion of staying home. Soiling clothing that isn’t already dirty is the privilege of those who aren’t perennially confined within the selfsame walls as the ever-expanding and wholly insalubrious horror that is the laundry hamper. Sure, if you’re one of those people who makes a habit of leaving the house, you might be able to forget about the pile of sweaty shirts and smelly socks piling up in that tucked-away corner of your home. But when you’re stuck inside said home, the only responsible thing to do is mitigate the problem by keeping those same sullied items on your person for as long as you possibly can.
- Next, embrace chaos. It is imperative that there be no rhyme or reason to any of the outfits you assemble. If you aren’t eliciting a double-take from every mail carrier and delivery person who comes to your door, go back to the drawing board. Try imagining what someone running out of a burning building might look like and work towards that. The best way to achieve this effect, I find, is to refer to step 3 below.
- Only wear the oldest clothes you have available to you. I’m not, of course, referring to whatever lovely vintage items or family heirlooms you may have kicking about the joint, but rather the kind of thing that has otherwise been languishing at the back of your cupboard for decades on end. Ideally, it would be something in the mould of a promotional tee, an old university sweatshirt, those jeans that were always just a bit too big, a button-up whose cuffs and collar are barely hanging in there, or your one cosy cardy (à la Jason Diamond) that has never been exposed to a lick of natural light. Once you’ve identified this habilitory debris, simply put it on at random without any concessions to fit, composition, or even comfort — that type of thing is best left to those lucky enough to breathe fresh, un-hampered air (c.f. step 1 above). Also, it’s crucial that you never be tempted to wear any of your, quote, unquote, ‘nice clothes’. Those must all be kept pristine for special occasions, like the dinners you never go to, the dates you’ve long since given up on, or the visits to your nearby coffee shop for which you spend hours getting ready in the hopes of eliciting a compliment about your outfit from the barista who you tip excessively — but fruitlessly — to this end.
- Finally, indulge yourself. After all, you’re at home. Not only is this a time to eat too many snacks, drink too much caffeine, and stare at your phone for hours at a time, it is your chance to give in to every clothing-related temptation you’ve ever had. Is there a sale on? By all means, buy a cartload of things you wouldn’t otherwise have gotten so long as it gets you past that free shipping threshold. Has a fancy new collab just dropped? Make sure you spend far too much on it, especially if you’re likely to be too embarrassed to wear it just a few months hence. Do you have access to eBay or similar platforms? You would be wasting your life if you weren’t going through and saving every listing in sight without the least intention of buying anything. In fact, while you’re at it, why not needlessly drive up some bids just for kicks? But remember, if you do actually get anything (as per rule no. 3) as the latest addition to your wardrobe, whatever you buy can never actually be worn. Unless you leave the house, that is. So, never.
That roughly covers it. If this all sounds a bit unpleasant, don’t blame me. I don’t make these rules, I simply abide by them. But if you do catch a glimpse of me taking out the bins while dressed as though I’m ‘going through something’ — a direct quote taken from my actual life, you ask? I’d prefer not to say — please know that everything is fine. I promise. I’m just home all day. And if you see me, kindly do me the courtesy of not telling anyone about it, since doing so might just ruin my career. We both know I couldn’t live without those fire emojis.