“You look great. Why is Ben wearing a shirt, though?”
This was the comment on a recent photo of my fianceé and to be fair, it’s not a stupid question
these days. We’re all still mostly stuck at home, more isolated than ever due to a global
pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down. World politics is a non-stop charnel house, the
planet is basically on fire, they made that Cats movie. It’s all enough to make one want to get
into bed and stay there, only emerging periodically to squint warily through the blinds wearing
the most sensible and unrestrictive of athleisure.
Indeed, at first I was in the wilderness as well, living an itinerant life out of my dressing gown
around the apartment, only emerging into the daylight periodically in my most casual jeans and
a t-shirt. I was capital-C comfortable. Eventually, of course, I decided to get Actually Dressed,
and realised I hadn’t been comfortable at all. When I had looked in the mirror, I hadn’t seen
myself, but The Impostor, a shaggy-haired reprobate who had forgotten his most basic instincts.
And getting Actually Dressed? It was a revelation – suddenly, there I was again, once more
ensconced in my armor of cotton and wool. I felt regenerated. I wanted to go outside and do
People will tell you there are more important things to think about these days than getting
dressed up. This is inarguably true, but doesn’t that miss the point? Clothing, in many ways, is
the purest form of self-expression there is. And what tailoring expresses today are values that
have never been more vital.
I’ve always gravitated towards tailoring because it is the definition of timeless style, because it
supports and nurtures small businesses and artisans with frankly unimpeachable levels of craft.
New concepts for the fashion world at large, such as buying less and buying better, are the very
bedrocks upon which the world of tailoring is built. And maybe it sounds ridiculous, but when I
put on a jacket whose maker I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, that was made for me alone, that
is special and holy in a way that no amount of Primark bargains could ever be, I feel proud to be
a part of this grand tradition. It is noble to find joy in cherishing the things we own.
In these trying times, we’re all looking for respite – from anxiety, from fear, from boredom, and
from the very real problems facing the world at large. If tailoring can make even a few of us feel
a bit braver, a bit more elegant, a bit more complete, then perhaps we might stand a chance at
putting things to rights after all.