My wardrobe routine could rival the late Fred Rogers. I have staples. I have opinions about my staples. When I find something I love, I double down. I seek quality and timelessness. I'm 46 years old, with pieces in my wardrobe from high school. Style is a relationship. Fashion is a fling. Both have their merits.
This post was going to be a list of 10 items I wear or use practically every day that I love. However, I have more to say about each item than I realized, so let's start with 5 objects. Let me know if my analysis provides value and I will post more. Thanks!
1. J.Crew 770 Straight-Fit "Broken-In" Chino: I've been wearing versions of this mid-rise pant for about 15 years. It was originally called the "Urban Slim" before becoming the 770. I preferred the Urban Slim's slightly fuller cut in the thigh and calf but not enough to abandon ship.
J.Crew's chino has progressively slipped over the years. They no longer have a button flap behind the fly. They're using cheaper pocket material, and coarser chino twill. That said, I still find current state 770's better than other comparably priced twill chinos I've tried.
I skate and work in the studio in these pants, and I swear they hold up better than jeans. Years are added to the life of my chinos because I routinely repair them (see pic). I only buy the 100% cotton chinos, and never stretch twill (or stretch anything for that matter). It does not hold up like 100% cotton twill.
2. Rolex Datejust Ref Model # 16220: My interest in Rolex started in elementary school. Seeing their ads in National Geographic magazine, showcasing their tool watches as a symbol of precision and adventure made me an aspiring customer. I fantasized about owning a Submariner dive watch for years - like a Navy SEAL, or Green Beret in Vietnam. When I finally got a chance to try one on, I realized it was too large to wear as an everyday watch in my studio. I gravitated towards a Rolex Explorer. It's 36mm case fit my wrist well, and I loved its Mount Everest history.
I periodically visit pawn shops. They often have used Rolexes but almost all of them are too flashy for my taste. A few years ago, I walked in a local pawn, and under the glass was what became my Rolex. A circa 2003 Datejust with a smooth bezel, stainless steel oyster bracelet, and a black dial. As I marveled at the Rolex, I found myself preferring its dial over the Explorer's dial. The baton markers and subtle roman numeral surround made it slightly more versatile for dressing up or down.
The watch still had a factory green sticker on the back of the case, as well as original boxes, hang tags, and paperwork. I gave myself permission to buy it and floated out of the pawn shop. Time stood still as I sat in my car staring at the Rolex on my wrist. I was overwhelmed with emotion. For better or worse, I develop strong attachments to objects I deem special. My bond with my Rolex was immediately taking root.
The following months, I became obsessed with reading about vintage watches, watch movements, and watch collecting. I eventually realized any watch I liked as much as my Datejust was beyond my budget, or too precious to be a daily wear watch. The idea of a one watch collection resonated with me.
I've worn my Datejust every day since I bought it. It remains one of my prized possessions.
3. Vans Anaheim Authentic 44 DX: When Vans moved production offshore to China in the late 1990's, I was so put off by the quality, I started buying white Sperry Cloud CVO anniversary canvas sneakers, then parchment white 1970 Converse Chuck Taylor low tops (which are actually really nice sneakers).
Several years ago, I discovered Vans' Vietnamese-made "Anaheim" line in a boutique skate shop and was taken back by their resemblance in quality to vintage American-made Vans. My only beef with the Anaheim line is they do not evergreen essential color ways. When the 44 DX lace up was offered in white canvas w/ black foxing stripe several seasons ago, I had no choice but to hunt down 6 pairs to stockpile.
4. Brooks Brothers OCBD (Oxford Cloth Button Down): I used to buy Brooks Brothers slim fit, made in USA, Supima cotton oxfords at their flagship stores in Chicago and New York. They had a standing offer of 3 shirts for $125. A considerable investment at the time, but such an incredible shirt.
A few years ago, I walked into their New York store for a resupply and they told me they discontinued my beloved shirt. I was confused and distressed. The salesperson tried to sway me over to their "non-iron" shirts. I fled the store and ended up buying some classic oxfords at J.Press down the street. Fortunately, eBay saved search enabled me to squirrel away a small cache of my discontinued Brooks Brothers blue Supima slim oxfords.
I just visited the Brooks Brothers site and see they may have brought back my shirt. It's made in USA, Supima cotton, and offered in slim but I have not seen one in person, and cannot attest to its fit or quality. I also see they offer only one sleeve length (32), which does not work for me. Sometimes I'll wear much older Brooks Brothers "Makers" tag OCBD's but their vintage sporty cut is like a boat tarp and hard to pull off tucked in, under a jacket or sweater, etc. I find them best worn untucked with shorts.
5. Uniqlo Supima Cotton Pique Socks: I've tried expensive socks but I do not understand them. When I was in New York a few years ago, I visited a Uniqlo and discovered these pique socks in a very nice heather gray. I bought three pairs to try out. Over the last two years I've added about 28 more pairs and have been phasing out my other socks. They are a great weight for all seasons, and they wear well with my Vans and Clarks Desert Boots. I no longer have issues with one patterned sock going AWOL, and laundry is slightly less time consuming.