Learn To Like It: Second-Hand and the Acquired Taste
Since my day job is in custom tailoring and retail, I get asked quite a bit if I still buy stuff for myself second-hand. The answer is yes. Because it’s more fun that way.
If custom clothing is about commitment, second-hand is about promiscuity, about playing the field. Yes, you can get “the basics” for cheap, which is great if you’re a college student or just starting out in the workplace, but to me, menswear media can be too obsessed with “the essentials” and “the basics,” and it seems that every day there is another “essential” thing coming down the pipeline for you to buy.
Clothing is more fun when it’s unessential, and buying second-hand is the best way for a young guy to experiment without saddling himself with debt and regret. It’s like getting drunk at an open bar. I’m not saying there won’t be a hangover, but you certainly won’t feel as bad about it.
The fun, rewarding challenge of thrifting isn’t finding that perfect blazer or that mint Belstaff jacket; if you go into a thrift store with a laundry list of requirements you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Thrifting challenges your taste and your preconceived notions of what works for you personally, but that challenge allows you to change your tastes and cultivate new ones. This is all a long-winded excuse for me to show you this awesome jacket (pictured above) I found and explain why I like it, and why I almost didn’t take it.
I passed this jacket up once because I thought it was too 70s and too old-mannish, but I couldn’t let it go so I went back and luckily it was still there. There’s much to like about it. It’s totally handmade vintage Savile Row, tailored by Norton and Sons.
The cut is serious. It’s got a really nipped waist with a draped chest, and it’s a big F-U plaid check with F-U roped shoulders. Hacking pockets, ticket pocket, side vents.
This thing fit me well, and I loved the details, but I was put off by the cloth, which I found to be somehow too drab and too bold at the same time.
If I were ordering a jacket, would I pick this cloth out of a book? Not a chance, but I wasn’t ordering a jacket, I was buying one second-hand for a tiny fraction of what such a beautifully made jacket would cost normally.
Point is, I took the jacket home with the full intention of reselling it if I decided it wasn’t to my taste. But I didn’t let my initial hesitation dissuade me; I took it for a spin, and now the check is growing on me. It requires a heavy trouser, and I’ve worn it with olive whipcords and tan cavalry twills, and a stiff dark gray serge twill. Knit or wool challis ties in rust or burnt orange really bring out the color in the overcheck.
Looking back, I never would have worn double-breasted anything, tassel loafers, spread collars, or knit ties if I hadn’t been able to find them cheap and wear them without commitment.
You can take the jacket home without marrying it first.