“Somehow the rap game reminds me of the crack game” spat Nas once upon a time, and while I’m not too sure about hip hop as an addictive narcotic, I know for a fact that the menswear game reminds me of the crack game. Because my name is Matt, and I’m a men’s clothing addict.
I’m not sure when it happened. It feels like only yesterday I was casually flicking through issues of GQ and Esquire, pondering whether wearing a navy blazer would make me look like a d*ck head. Just a small town boy flirting with gateway clothing like Levi’s 501s, Oxford cloth button down shirts and Ralph Lauren polos.
These days I pore over hundreds of clothing catalogues daily whilst constantly debating the benefits of mother of pearl buttons with myself and buying Bathing Ape, Belstaff and Burberry for a steal on ebay.
It’s become an all consuming addiction that has slowly but surely taken over my life.
I know I’m not alone. There are others out there who are equally, if not more, addicted to men’s fashion and style and are hoping to hit rock bottom so they can let go of this horrible habit. That’s exactly what I’ve decided to do – so consider this article a sartorial intervention for all of us out there who start tweaking and sweating when we get e-mail reminders of sample sales from Ben Sherman and Reiss.
Because if the first step to recovery is accepting that you have a problem, then here’s how to find out. If you tick all of the following boxes then, like me, I’m afraid to say you have a problem. A very stylish problem.
As soon as you and your friends get together for a night on the tiles, regardless of where you’re heading, you automatically assume – nay, you know – that you are the best dressed (therefore, most awesome) of your group.
Much like a twenty-something recruiter who thinks that the coke up his nose makes him the most interesting person in the room, you are in fact just being a tw*t.
Furthermore, you’re convinced it’s your duty to help your friends become more like you. When they say “Matt, which of these two shirts should I wear on my date?” – you reply by disregarding both, searching through their wardrobe for something acceptable, not finding it, searching through your own for something, deciding that you like that item too much to lend to them (because they’ll just get food on it) and simply tell them they need to wear something like said item.
So you’ve basically told them to go out and buy a completely new shirt an hour before their date – really helpful mate.
First, you caught yourself doing it when eating lunch: “mental note, this winter I need to pick up a tweed blazer, some cords and a pair of Red Wing boots”. But now you have the ‘Top Five Blazers To Own For AW14′, ‘Colour/Pattern Socks I Need’ and a list of ‘Acceptable Clothing To Buy In Charity Shops’.
You’ve got so many that you’ve started writing them down in your phone like you’re Drake writing down rhymes on a private jet. You stupid crackhead menswear junkie.
Other people behind you are waiting to try on six items that they want to buy before they have to pay for the next hour on parking.
Meanwhile, you’re in the fitting room trying on nothing but a heather grey crew neck t-shirt and have already spent twenty minutes deciding on whether it fits properly and considering what else you have in your wardrobe you could pair it with.
And that parking that’s steadily edging towards the £10 mark? Well, you can’t put a price on style, can you my friend?
If I only eat two baked potatoes a day for a fortnight then I can totally afford those burgundy tassel loafers from Gucci. I could do with losing a few pounds anyway. Plus they’re on sale so I’d be stupid not to.
If I don’t shower or use my heating for the whole of winter then I can totally justify spending £500+ on a winter weight suit from Paul Smith. I never smell that much when I don’t wash anyway and I can always just layer up when it gets cold indoors. Plus it’s on sale so I’d be stupid not to.
You know who else does this? Drug addicts people, drug addicts.
If this sounds like an accurate description of you, then as much as it hurts to admit, you have a clothing problem. It might be a good idea to get your friends and family to sit down with you and read out letters on how your sartorial lifestyle is affecting them and how it makes them feel. I know it helped for me.
Now I’m focusing on staying healthy and maintaining an ordinary, streamlined capsule wardrobe suitable for a modern gentleman (more on this next week). My life is a lot simpler and all I can do is take it one day at a time.
Wait, what? Mr Porter is having a mid-season sale with plenty of J.Crew goodness? Well, just a little peak couldn’t hurt right? RIGHT?