Welcome to 2016

As is always the case at this time of year, you spend time looking backwards to what you achieved over the past 12 months and looking forward to what’s ahead.

As I look back over the last year I recognise that this blog  has been largely inactive for the last half of 2015, for which I apologise.  However, that is not to suggest that the wardrobe project has been similarly inactive; in fact, just the opposite.

ALL-TROUSERS
Photo credit: Cordings.co.uk
2015 has been primarily the year of the trouser for me. I’ve applied some of my own advice about Plugging the Gaps and Improving the Quality to my trouser collection. So my informal trouser collection, including Chinos, Cords and Moleskins has been developed. I’m loving moleskins at the moment. They are so soft, warm, and comfortable, especially in winter, that I occasionally have to stop myself stroking my own thighs. Not a good look and very difficult to explain…

The big winner for my informal trousers has been Charles Tyrwhitt. I’m a big fan of their Weekend and Non-iron chinos but have a not so secret man-crush on their Moleskin Trousers. For me it has to be classic fit as I can’t abide slim fit trousers.

What I love about Tyrwhitt informal trousers is the way they fit and the way the waistband doesn’t fold over on itself. However, I’ve had some issues with the hems becoming unstitched on the Weekend Chinos. Not good enough Tyrwhitt….HM045WIN

This process involved some culling of older and frankly quite cheap trousers that I was hardly wearing any more, in order to create space. In one particular case, however, I rediscovered what I think may be my oldest pair of trousers. They were pretty cheap, I think I purchased them for less than a tenner about 10 years ago. But they are now extremely well worn in and massively comfortable.

Even better they are loose fit in a way that it is difficult to find trousers nowadays. They needed some adjusting to fit properly as they were bought back in the days when I routinely bought trousers a size too large. Once adjusted, I was able to recover and recycle an old favourite. My wife is not a fan; she thinks they look a bit scruffy. I think they look cool…

Recycled TrousersAnother feature of 2015 was the return of informal and formal shirts to the collection. I have a long-standing shirt addiction which means I have rather more shirts than I need. Between 2013 and 2014 I added precisely 1 formal shirt to the collection, because I had purchased too many in previous years. So in 2015 for the first time in 2 years I returned to adding some formal shirts to the collection along with a few informals.

Hawes & Curtis were the big winners hear with a good showing from other shirt faves, T M Lewin. I also added a few Charles Tyrwhitts.

However, perhaps the most notable thing as I look back at my 5YP in 2015 is how poorly I stuck to my budgets. I’m a huge advocate for keeping a good budget for your 5YP, especially if like me you are a Man of Modest Means. However, I’m actually pretty poor at actually doing it myself. I keep accurate spreadsheets of all acquisitions so at the end of the year I can see in graphic detail how well (or badly) I’ve kept to budgets. Most years I overshoot my budget. In 2015 I nuked it…. Must do better next year.

510042_prince_of_wales_check_suit_db_brown

This brings me nicely to a smooth segue from looking backward to 2015 to looking forward to 2016.

This year I am planning to have a purchase fast. It will last for at least 6 months up to the end of June, but I’d love to see if I could go for a full 12 months without making any new clothing purchases at all. The tricky point will be in the summer when we plan to be in the US. If I encounter a Nordstrom Rack whilst over there, all bets are off….

It must be acknowledged that a 6 to 12-month clothing (purchase) fast sounds like quite a tall order for a man like me. And it is. However here are five reasons why I’m hoping it may not be quite as challenging as it appears.

  1. One of the few upsides of nuking my 2015 budget is that I don’t actually need very much going forward into 2016. It’s not a bad place from which to start a fast.
  2. I have a number of items bought in the dying weeks of 2015 that have not yet been worn. Whilst I don’t plan to buy any new items for at least 6 months I could choose to exchange some of those items if my self-discipline fails me.
  3. Fasting is actually good for the soul. I’m interested in exploring how I enjoy my current wardrobe whilst seeking intentionally not to add to it. It might just be a good thing to do to curb excess avarice.
  4. Pretty much everyone else will be on some form of diet in January. I’ll have lots of company…
  5. It’ll help my 5YP budget recover from 2015’s nuking…

Bloomingdales-After-Christmas-SaleHowever, I must admit that the next few weeks are going to be a bit of a challenge. Traditionally, the post Christmas sales are when I make most of my annual purchases because that’s where the biggest deals are to be found. As a man who loves a bargain and prides himself on Never Paying Full Price  it’s going to be tricky when I encounter the item I’ve been waiting to go on sale all year at an all-low price.

My last purchase of 2015 is a case in point. I encountered some of my favourite shoetrees, which have a recommended retail price of £45, reduced to £3. These are difficult to find items because they are now virtually out of stock. To stumble across them at the faintly ludicrous price of £3 meant that I bought the last remaining pairs.

Coming across the equivalent scenario in February will require me to let it slide in the interest of the fast. We’ll see how I get on.

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Photo credit: Vogue
Other things to look forward to in 2016 are shifts in trends. There are early signs that we may be moving away from the overly slim fit looks back towards the looser and more comfortable fits on the 90s. Whilst I don’t really want to move too far in that direction myself, I appreciate a lovely slim fit Blazer for example, and hope that slim fit shirts are with us to stay. Nonetheless, I look forward to the days when ageing men no longer feel the need to squeeze themselves into skinny jeans…. Can I get an amen?

Spring-Summer 2016 collections will begin to be released in about 3 weeks time so it will be interesting to see whether any of this becomes evident in the new collections.

All the best wishes for 2016 and good luck with your own Wardrobe Project

Apologies for the self-imposed radio silence.

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