Do Your Research
The process works best when you focus on one garment. It could be a suit, a bold sweater, a statement piece—or a leather biker jacket. Knowledge is power and knowing what, and who, came before you is paramount. The Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, The Ramones, Marlon Brando, Joan Jett, James Dean. They all wore the Perfecto. The historical references won’t all be interesting or informative to you but take what’s useful and leave what isn’t. I knew I wasn’t going to rock this iconic piece like Brando or Dean, but as a call back to my misspent teenage punk phase, how Joe Strummer of The Clash wore it was interesting to me.
As in any creative pursuit, constraints are your friend. On any given day, I’m wearing some piece of F.E. Castleberry tailored clothing … so from the jump I was asking the question, “How can the Perfecto work with what I do while still channelling this punk esprit de corps?”
Trial and Error
The important thing is to start. You don’t have to get it right the first time. In fact, you won’t get it right the first time. Or the second time or perhaps even the third. For the first few outings, it’s okay to be literal. And yes, outings means going to work in it, drinks with friends, on a date. That’s where the feedback loop is. Reflective surfaces, compliments and snide remarks are all useful information.
Pertaining to my Perfecto, I swiped Strummer’s rig practically wholesale to start: black Perfecto, black or white band tee, black jeans, black shoes. It didn’t feel like me though.
Rinse and Repeat
For the next 21 days I wore the Perfecto and added, tweaked, and subtracted (and just as importantly, broke it in). It was day four that the lightbulb went off to swap out the black denim for black tuxedo trousers. Now we were cooking with gas.
Threw a black alligator belt with sterling silver engine turn buckle around the jeans.
Tucked my T-shirt in. Having not owned a T-shirt in over a decade, I’d never worn one tucked in. This was new territory for me and it felt good to be in uncharted sartorial waters. I was still learning, at 40.
Swapped the black denim for black barathea tuxedo trousers. This was a sweet spot between upper class opulence and downtown irreverence.
Donned my F.E. Castleberry sterling silver skull knuckleduster rings on all eight fingers.
Introduced the pearl necklace (a feminine counterpoint to the dearth of masculine energy).
A Dior brooch in lieu of The Ramones’ DIY pins.
Additional band tees with better patina (a David Bowie has been a favorite).
Adopted a black ground silk Hermès twilly around my wrist that shyly peaked out of the half zipped sleeve (an homage to Sid Vicious’ tennis wristband he wore while playing bass guitar).
Concluded with the final stroke of a mirror ball pinstripe tuxedo trouser for nights out when I felt a little more polished.
Each day spent in the Perfecto rig brought new insight, a new tweak, a new refinement. It is now one of the uniforms I wear once a week, with the confidence of knowing I look put together.
As young boy, I’d get dressed each morning by just grabbing clothes out of my dresser and throwing it on. Did it match? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It wasn’t necessarily high on my priority list of things to do that day. But, that’s how boys get dressed. We grab … blindly. We want to do it quickly. The business of playing, leaping without looking, and exploring seemingly cannot wait.
The thing is, as we become men, looking good becomes more of a priority in the morning. The idea of a uniform is that you can set it and forget it. You don’t have to think about it (too much). But when you do, be thoughtful.