Something that I’ve discovered in the course of writing this column over the past couple of years is that the google search “ideas+men’s+style+column” yields very little of use. Nevertheless, I do still trawl the internet – not for ideas as much as to try and give these ramblings a semblance of authority. I do this by intermittently monitoring websites dedicated to fashion. That’s not to say that I just rip off their features – far from it. I regularly find myself scoffing at their recommendations. And rarely more so than this month, because there seems to be a proliferation of “distressed” clothing and footwear. Which I detest.
I mean, why would you buy a new item of clothing or footwear that looks knackered? I just don’t get it. I agree that many things – jeans, some jackets, leather wallets – look better when “worn-in”, but they should be worn in by you, not by a machine. Without wanting to get too philosophical (they’re just clothes, after all), that is a soulless way of doing things.
Apart from anything else, I don’t want to wear a pair of “army boots” that look as if they’ve been through a war because I don’t want to risk having conversations that go like this: “Wow, look at those boots. You must have had those for ages? I’ll bet they could tell some stories…” “Well, no. I bought them last week and a robot with sandpaper on its arm in a Gucci factory in Taiwan rubbed it and all its friends in exactly the same places for exactly the same amount of time.” Cool anecdote, huh?
All that’s required is a little patience. Waiting for your jeans to scuff and stretch and fray. Yes, it will take a while, but dark denim jeans look better with every wash and bout of horseplay. If you’re not the waiting-type, you can buy things that wear out very quickly. Which brings me, inevitably, on to suede.
It’s the neediest of all materials. I love suede shoes – the look, the feel, the way that the suede can take the edge off an otherwise very formal bit of footwear. Until recently I’ve been obsessive about trying to keep them in pristine condition. But the fact is, maintenance is nigh on impossible. Brushing never quite works; none of those bloody sprays offers any significant protection – and I say that as a man who has been a slave to the heavy post-purchase application. I go through suede shoes faster than – well, definitely faster than I should.
However, I have finally found peace. I have realised that suede shoes (and jackets) with stains and markings actually look good. Preferable, even. Including beige ones. So I’ve loosened right up. I’ve been wearing my Hudson suede Derbys in all weathers. They look great for it. And for the less adventurous, a black pair can take a fair bit of punishment without showing so much damage. I’ve just got my hands (feet) on a pair of Clarks Preston desert boots in black. I’m going to trash them! In a good way.