I ask a lot of my clothing. I am a sportsman, couch potato, traveler, amatuer chef, and a borderline librarian. Over the years my style has blossomed into a hard won pragmatism. I need dynamic clothes, and I prefer if they look good too. Go figure.
I do look back fondly on my one and only pair of teenage Hollister jeans. They had the least functional front buttons on a pair of pants I’ve ever had the (mis)fortune of owning. Still, they were mine and I was happy to spread them like a sail on the prevailing winds of style.
I moved to San Luis Obispo for University and SLO too didn’t demand much of my wardrobe. The preternaturally mild weather and ample university regalia passing through my closet was sufficient for most situations, read; shorts and a t-shirt 90% of the time.
During college I started to really consider my role as a global citizen. “Do no harm” seemed a good aspirational axiom then, as it does now. I remember walking through a store with a friend at this impressionable moment and looking at a sweater. It had a modern cut, stylish in the right ways and it. was. calling to me. It was also 11 bucks. I was flummoxed. “How can they make money off of this?” I asked my buddy. “Just how?” I chose to lean into that discomfort, left the sweater on the rack, and moved on with my life. I am still perplexed by the materials and economics of #fastfashion. Anything that comes that easy probably shouldn’t be trusted.
The last few years I twisted through offices and boats and hostels. Settling in Lake Tahoe, then San Francisco, then in an 11-kg (25 lbs) bag, and now in Berlin. Out of necessity, I forced myself to adopt a stylistic minimalism. Moving closets that many times means a constant trimming of the excesses. I whittled my possessions down to the most basic and important, then I got rid of some of those things too. What I learned about myself and my clothing in that time remains central to my theory of style. For me, it comes down to three main principles: looks & feels good, sustainable & natural, and long-lasting. This criteria naturally led me to brands like Oliver Charles.
The most important part of any piece of clothing, hands down, is that it looks and feels good. Sure, the “vegan, hemp, sustainable, threads-from-my-mom’s-brother’s-goat that is living on a farm that reclaims CO2 and donates all profits to charity”™ is great too. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for that stuff. What I’m trying to say is that you can buy the wokest clothes ever, but if they don’t make you feel good or look good, they’re not going to get used and might as well not be in your closet at all. In the context of my 11-kg-bag, that slightly scratchy, boxy t-shirt and its ilk are unconscionable. I have to want to wear everything in that bag; I don’t need the extra weight.
Whenever possible, clothes should fall in line with my “do no harm” mentality. That means sustainability and natural fibers. There’s a well founded philosophy of buying less and wasting less over time based on materials that last longer and age more gracefully, which I find compelling (covered in more detail here). I’ve also been working with a group in Berlin bringing awareness to the prevalence of microplastics in cosmetics. It comes as little surprise to me then that so many clothes also have a horrific amount of plastics in them. Like, why? I don’t want plastics on my face, and I don’t generally want them against my skin either. There’s too much to say about sustainable clothing and how we choose materials for one paragraph. For now I’ll content myself with this: it seems evident to me that clothes should be made from natural fibers that exist and are in homeostasis with nature. Namaste.
Finally, it is important to me that clothes last. This is adjacent to sustainability, but has a more personal and pragmatic bend to it. I am hard on my clothes. There’s no two ways about it. I’m going to push them to their limits and I’ve mourned many cherished pieces over the years that just weren’t up to it. If I’m taking a sweater with me on my adventures it needs to be tough, serve multiple purposes, and hang in there if it’s not getting washed every use (or every 5!).
I’m talking day-of toughness; the splitting wood, making risotto, and arguing about politics type of durability. But also the pull it out of the wash for the ten thousandth time and want to put it back on immediately type of toughness. I want to keep wearing and wearing and wearing my favorite things. Don’t you?
Looks good, sustainable, and rugged. That’s my clothing decision matrix and that’s why I’m excited to put the Oliver Charles sweater to the test over the coming months and years. You’ll be hearing from me soon!
See the original post at the Oliver Charles #Repeat blog