x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

When it comes to fashion, buy better, buy less

Editing one's wardrobe is a never-ending task. Open your closet and go through each piece, then get rid of anything that doesn't fit well or you haven't worn for more than a year.

In a Manhattan restaurant on a Monday night, a group of visiting college students ate, drank and gabbed so loudly their lady companions looked ashamed to be seated beside them. Nothing was as disreputable, however, as their collective uniform of ratty baseball caps, oversized sweatshirts, baggy trousers and grimy trainers.

Around midnight, the mob was silenced with the snazzy arrival of Joe Jonas, one-third of the Disney-devised pop phenomenon the Jonas Brothers. In contrast to the rest of the male population that evening, Jonas came dressed in a leather jacket over a white V-neck shirt, dark denim jeans, black trainers and a brown leather strap watch. His date, the Brazilian model Jessica Pott, looked proud to be in his company.

Throughout the past year, Jonas has made it clear he was moving past his Disney days, not just through the launch of a solo music career, but also through his fashion choices. Not only did he get rid of his mop-top haircut and grew a moustache, he also replaced a daily wardrobe of graphic tees with a sleeker set of tailored suits, neutral-coloured shirts, designer denim and a quality selection of shoes.

Jonas, at age 22, exemplifies how editing one's wardrobe can overturn one's disposition - how dressing up is not an act of purely aesthetic preference, or of emasculation, or of vanity. In contrast, dressing well shows respect to one's companions and the moment being shared together.

Not that Jonas, or anybody for that matter, is secure against inconsistency. The very next morning, he strolled around the SoHo neighbourhood in an oxblood cable knit sweater and a fedora. If the outfit looked unique, it was only because it was absurd. Another lesson: editing one's wardrobe is a never-ending task.

Open your wardrobe and go through each piece, then get rid of anything that doesn't fit well or you haven't worn for more than a year. Assess what you're missing - a casual navy blazer, perhaps? Or a pair of jeans that fit perfectly?

Speaking of which, it was three years ago when I decided to chuck out almost a dozen pairs of jeans - cheap buys from the likes of H&M, Gap, Old Navy - and bought myself a single pair of selvedge denim from the Parisian brand APC. A pair costs around Dh750, which seems ridiculous - criminal, even - and at first I did shudder at the thought of such a purchase.

Three years on, though, and I still own only that one pair, which I wear at least three times a week. They seem to grow sturdier and more beautifully faded by the day. In short, cost-per-wear wise, a sensible acquisition.

So before you purchase yet another pair of board shorts or high-top trainers, make sure you first have the rest of your wardrobe basics in order. Is this athletic jacket a trend-driven purchase I will wear 10 times and then never again? Would three pricey but high-quality, crisp white dress shirts make more sense than buying five low-end ones each year? Make better decisions and you'll become a better man.

James Gabrillo is the assistant Arts & Life editor at The National