Ask Me Anything: Shabby Haberdashery

13/06/2011 § 2 Comments

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line: contact@quitecontinental.net
Schwartz Tailor Shop, St. Paul, 1918.  Via Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.
Dear Mariah,
With a closet full of fine shirts (Borelli, Kiton, Charvet, Ascot Chang, Emma Willis, Battistoni et al.), I’m curious to know your thoughts on what to do with them as they age. After years of washings and ironings the first thing to go tends to be the collar. In most cases, the shirts and fabrics are in perfect condition – even ten years on. But the collars start to fray slightly. Do you think these are still wearable (albeit casually) and if so, only in the country or are they ok in the city as well? Or will I just look like a well haberdashed homeless person?

Fine shirts indeed.  I can see how you would be loathe to simply throw the baby out with the bathwater here.  The preppy adage that you should keep things — especially items of quality and sentimental value — as long as humanly possible, is near and dear to my heart.  In some cases you will be able to repair your keepsakes to make them good as (or better than) brand new — here I am talking about the soles of your shoes, the strap of your watch, restringing your pearls, etc. — but in some cases, your items cannot be repaired or reconditioned.  Instead, these are things to be loved in their perfect-imperfect state for years on.

In the case of your shirts, your instinct is correct here.  Your frayed-collars are no longer appropriate to be worn with a suit, but for weekends kicking around the city, country, shore and points beyond, they are perfect.  You should feel free to wear these shirts casually.  Take care not to pair them with anything too prissy, because this look is all about comfortably lived-in finery that gets better with age.  You definitely won’t look homeless.

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line: contact@quitecontinental.net
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