Muse / Style

The Idiosyncratic Closet

“Who uses a chainsaw in a button up?”

Bear with me through this muse- my long list is at the end.

“Who uses a chainsaw in a button up?”

I get the guff all the time.

“Dude, who wears a polo to the gym?”

“Did I see you cutting your grass in an Oxford cloth shirt?”

Yes Dammit. I have some odd idiosyncrasies around my sartorial choices. These patterns are definitely about how I see myself. They are about comfort and a mental state. They about little things like never waking and leaving the bedroom without showering first. Always wearing a collared shirt- tucked in. Not because I believe you are wrong for not following, but I am being right to myself.

I’ve always been this way. Some might admire the manner of my dress as smart style- ahead of my time in formality as a youth and lost in school boy trappings as a middle aged man. Others might just stop-stare-reflect and think I’m a Forrest Gump one off. More than once I was accused of being a Blockbuster video employee for my daily grind of khakis, loafers, and a blue shirt. Look man I’m not trying to be labelled it’s just how I roll.

My personal closet is different than one than organizes for purpose and and makes purges from season to season. My wardrobe is narrow and idiosyncratic. It is somewhat deficient in very formal clothing, but likewise devoid of casual and sporty clothing. Rather than changing outfits for what I’m doing, I grab from one end of the closet or the other. Same clothing- different stages in the life cycle.

Ready to launch in the womb of my closet.

At one end of the life cycle are the NWT in plastic bags, unworn tailored shirts waiting for an occasion for their first voyage, button ups hung in dry cleaning plastic. I generally have two kinds of pants: the same off the rack khakis I’v worn for over thirty years and bunches of the same trousers that I’ve have tailored for over a decade- cut the way I like them- all the same.

Out of the gate this is my default work uniform, my dinner clothes, what might end up in church under a blazer.

The Trousers: My Cut and the Daily Driver

A nicked seam at a pocket or a slight fray of a collar is a badge of honor. Yes, there are some occasions that might find lend toward being judged for being rough around the edges- so I go back to the never worn and new end of the closet- but the frayed cuff and collars are my comfort sweet spot. Think khakis-loafers-OCBD and a cold beer on Saturday. And yes, in the middle of being dressed this way I might step out and fire up the leaf blower. I will be comfortable in the clothes that make me comfortable.

Getting in the sweet spot.

So who uses a chainsaw in a button up?

The same guy that takes felt tip pen and writes “retired” in the neck and waist bands of the clothes that are at the end of their life cycle.


The idiosyncrasies:

These are not general style rules, these are my general style rules.

Logos, labels and brand don’t matter. I am the brand- those things make me uncomfortable or make me feel like I have to conform to the connotations they send. The clothes speak for themselves without writing on them. But they must be high quality, they must fit, they must last, they must feel good on my body.

Pants and Trousers:

– Only wear shorts around people you know well enough- unless you are doing a physical activity that will cause you to sweat- generally do not wear shorts when you are going to sit down- unless you are in such a relaxed condition that it is socially acceptable to remove your shirt as well. This is generally the time it is okay to wear any footwear that shows your toes.

  • Shorts should generally be four fingers above the top of your kneecap, unless you are jogging- then they should be shorter, or you are in Bermuda- then they need to be Bermuda length. If you think the summer engagement party at the lake is an invitation to wear “nice shorts” think again- they asked your to a Luau, not over to swim.
  • Generally I only keep one pair of blue jeans. They are only to be worn with an Oxford cloth shirt- or a sweater- generally in the fall. Never with a short sleeve shirt. Never with a sport coat.
  • The default for pants are khaki chinos.
  • Don’t wear athletic shoes with long trousers or when you’re not being athletic.
  • The perfect rise considers the underwear you chose, for boxers room for the bell to toll must be considered.
  • Brand new, unsoiled, no frays at the hem are acceptable to wear to work, but only on the most casual days- these are the days that the pants are new enough that they might be confused with a nicer garment.
  • As the pants wear in they are entering the sweat spot for casual wear- this is the around town, even out to a casual dinner pant. A little fray at the hem is okay- even gives a smidge of character.
  • Once the pants become soiled with a stain that can’t be removed or have a tear, they have retired to work clothing status. They can be worn on the weekends, to the farm, and when you might find yourself “taking a knee”. Essentially, you get the same comfort as the ones you might wear to work, but the license to get grease all over them when you’re switching a tractor implement.
  • Off the rack chinos should be from the same maker and have the same feel and fit as to not give you a surprise- like too much leg show when you sit, a really good grab in the crotch when you bend over, a button flying off at the waist. 
  • For me trouser fit::::::  the waist band runs exactly over the top of hips. The rise is generous and makes sense for boxer shorts. The inseam is generous with the heel hem within one inch above the floor- that is: even with top of the heel meeting the shoe upper. The break extends out onto the vamp with a slight bend when standing. Ideally the outer edge of the hem comes just above the ankle bone when sitting. The width is just enough to provide four inches more than my leg at the thigh and tapers to the same generosity at the calf. There is no taper below the calf  to the leg opening.
  • There are three commonly available fits that are different that the one I have described above that are commercially available that I will not wear. The first is the trend toward more fitted, negative break pants that are tapered. They come across as too small too tight and effeminate. It reminds me of childhood and being embarrassed because you grew and your pants did not. The second miss is the blousy pant that doesn’t stay flat trough the hip and front rise. These are what I think of as the old-man with fat below his waistline pant. The third pant that I don’t like is what I would refer to as the “nut grabber”, generally this is every pair of blue jeans ever manufactured.


  • first and foremost the idiosyncrasy around shirts really begins with a question “when would it EVER be acceptable to not have a collar”. In our culture for the most part this falls into the question of when is it okay to wear a T-shirt. (See when to wear shorts above and apply an even stricter standard). No collar means getting really dirty, sweaty and no one important is seeing you. For me (and this is about me- this includes the gym, cutting grass, etc). I’d rather wear a nice pique polo or a collared -T-shirt like Criquet.
  • The default shirt is an Oxford cloth button down in blue, white, blue and white bengal stripe and occasionally pink, or yellow if we are getting really kinky. The collar is best a longer width button down. The sizing is neck-arm and the cut is a little more generous than slim, but not blousy. It must be long enough to stay tucked in. It must be tuck in. I repeat who came up with the notion it is okay to be untucked in a public space? It’s like walking around with your zipper down.
  • Like Khaki trousers there is a life of wear from the brand new to the retired. There are times I take pride in a slightly frayed collar crease.
  • Don’t put a tie under an OCBD
  • Likewise a spread collar needs a tie
  • Don’t wear a suit without a tie
  • Don’t wear Jeans with a sport coat.
  • An untucked shirt is like an unzipped fly.
  • Empty your pockets before you tuck your shirt in an be sure that the waist band of your boxers is level with but slightly lower than your trousers.
  • the tag end of a belt aims left, that is counterclockwise
  • Beyond the OCBD, I appreciate tailored dress shirts that are slightly more fitted to my body with some generosity through the abdomen (gotta hide the pudge). For these shirts I venture out into some stripes, checks, and tattersall. The color palette generally stays in the white base, or blue. I like the collar to accept ties and they are either long button downs or medium tab collars with collar stays. I am particular about my dress shirts having a pocket with a top cuff. I like a fused construction barrel cuff to extend one inch beyond my wrist bone and have mitered corners with one button. I never button the second button. I only like French cuffs and cuff links for blacktop dress, otherwise I believe they are a little effectual for me.
  • I do wear polo style short sleeve shirts. For me this would vernally be when most folks would wear a T-shirt. This is seldom. More that likely I’m going OCBD.
  • I am a sucker for Tailored jackets and suits. That goes beyond the scope of this—- but generally I want to look more Saville English in style than Italian. In fact, I prefer a more tweedy and earthy Scottish than English given the season. 
  • I wear loafers. Not bit loafers, not tassel loafers, not moccasins, not Kilties, but Penny Loafers built on a good last with great soles a cobbler can repair and replace over and over again. I wear loafers with shorts, on a canoe, to church, to work, to the party at your momma’s house. Never with socks. If its cold enough to wear socks, I wear cowboy boots. If its too formal to wear loafers, I wear more formal loafers.
  • I wear flip flops to the lake, to the beach, to the pool- but only if I am around people that are intimate to me- never in public around strangers.

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