Today, we are launching a new series entitled ‘If I was…’. In this series, we will examine the classic menswear nightmares related to specific lifestyles and provide practical sartorial solutions.
Our first instalment will be aimed at lawyers who are constantly on the move. There is nothing quite so frustrating as packing for a work trip. The only reassuring constant is the knowledge that you will almost certainly forget something important. However, we believe that needn’t be the case.
A diligent lawyer is always very busy. Furthermore, depending on his field of law, business trips are basically unavoidable. Understandably, most aim to travel with carry-on luggage so as to cut down on time spent waiting at airports and nursing hands injured dragging heavy suitcases over cobbled streets. To complicate matters slightly more, lawyers are in one of the few professions that still attach great important to classic attire. The ultimate goal is to be perceived as being reliable and trustworthy. However, one should never forget to inject a dash of personality into one’s clothing choices.
In summary, lawyers have
- little time to address sartorial matters,
- many trips,
- carry-on luggage
and are looking for a
- classic conservative appearance
- small personal touch
As such, the goal is a reserved, functional, and lean yet personal travelling wardrobe.
So where do we start? In this specific case, we’ll draw from Max’ experience as a high-level fencer. Competitive athletes are constantly on the move – tournaments, training camps, etc. – yet are still expected to train regularly during the week. Therefore, coaches generally recommend having two bags with two separate sets of equipment; one set for training, one for tournaments. Training equipment is used during the week and cleaned after every training session. Tournament equipment is only used at competitions. When not in use, it is always packed and ready to go. This eliminates any concern regarding packing and allows the athlete to focus on their preparations for a tournament.
We will apply a similar model to our problem here.
Now that we’ve explained the general approach, let’s move on to specifics.
Little time to address sartorial matters
Work with professionals. Getting yourself a good tailor and a good shoemaker is already half of the battle. Once there, describe your lifestyle (and the sartorial problems that come with it) to them. If they really are good, they’ll immediately offer a number of practical solutions. Short side-note: These skills are some of the many many reasons why working with a tailor is more expensive than other alternatives. However, if you have the right fabrics, the right construction, the right cut, and/or the right last for you, you’ll never have to worry about your wardrobe again.
We’d recommend having a clear division between office (training set) and travel attire (tournament set). Office clothing should be changed daily. If you have a suit, a shirt, and a pair of shoes for each day of the week, your clothing will be able to rest between wears and will last exponentially longer (we have an article on this topic – see link). Beyond the division between office and travel, we’d recommend having separate spring-summer and fall-winter wardrobes (Bob knows what we’re talking about – see link) to make sure you’re feeling comfortable throughout the year.
By contrast, your travel wardrobe is made up of few interchangeable pieces that is kept separate from your office attire and is always ready to be packed at a moment’s notice.
When trips last about one or two days and you’re only travelling with a carry-on, the key is good fabric choices. For your suits, you need a heavy, high-twist, open-weave wool. High-twist wool is crease-resistant, and will keep its shape even during long trips, while the open weave makes it breathable. A second pair of trousers with each suit is always a good idea. When having shirts made, do consider crease-resistant shirt fabrics. This effect can be achieved without chemicals. When commissioning shoes, we’d recommend firm and stable leathers and having a thin rubber sole added over your leather sole. Security agents are time-vampires. Once they’ve sucked you dry, you will often found yourself forced to run for your life (or your flight). While we’re sure you’ll be proud of your beautiful yet impractical leather soles, the last thing you want is to have everyone see them after you’ve face-planted outside your gate.
For a two-day trip, you’ll be wearing a suit in a high-twist, open-weave wool, a crease-resistant shirt, and a pair of good reliable shoes (possibly a good overcoat, depending on the season). Your suitcase will contain another pair of shoes, another crease-resistant shirt, and a second pair of trousers. For longer trips, add one more suit and one shirt for each day.
Classic conservative appearance
So, now you know what weave you need but you still don’t know what your suit is going to look like. We would recommend that your travel wardrobe consist of one dark-grey and one navy suit with two pairs of trousers for each. Generally, we’d recommend a single-breasted suit with a notch lapel or a double-breasted with peak lapels. Whichever your choice, we’d go for trousers without belt loops and with side adjusters and either two pleats and turn-ups or plain front with a military cuff – see link. For shirts, we’d recommend two white (or off-white) and two light-blue with your collar of choice and either French cuffs or (to feel like James Bond) cocktail cuffs. Not only do they make you feel like Sean Connery, but cocktail cuffs are also very practical, as they give you the look of French cuffs without needing to worry about cuff links. If you are looking for an overcoat, we’d recommend going for either a navy or camel colour. For shoes, we’d recommend your first choices be a pair of black cap-toe Oxfords and a pair of brown quarter-brogues. Our shoemaker of preference is our friend and regular visitor Mr Leonard Kahlcke from Frankfurt. He will be visiting us from Friday 8th February 2019 to Sunday 10th February 2019 in our shop at Bleibtreustraße 27 (appointments via link).
Small personal touch
Clothing is a form of communication. All of us need to first find out what we want to communicate. As a lawyer, part of your job is to convince people that you’re what they’re looking for. Your tailor’s job is to help you channel your message through your appearance. When done correctly, you will be able to convince people of the message you’re trying to send, without having to say a single word.
While anything worn with the right amount of personality and confidence will resonate, we would caution against playing too much with colour and pattern. If clothing is a form of communication, solids send clear messages, while patterns tell more complex stories. As in language, this allows one to express deeper messages. However, it is also much easier to send mixed signals. Reserved clothing is basically a common denominator in terms of communication. A final option in terms of communication is a discreet personal fragrance. The key word here is discreet. Here again, we’d recommend an expert, such as our neighbour Mrs Marie LeFebvre from Urban Scents at Bleibtreustraße 32.
In conclusion, you need to work with experts, make good fabric choices, and plan well. If you do these things, travel might be slightly more bearable.
While good shoes will come with heavy wooden shoe trees (ideally cedar), we would recommend getting lightweight plastic travel shoes for trips. However, only use these while travelling and put your shoes back on wooden shoe trees once you’re back home, as the wood will prevent moisture build-up and combat odours more effectively. MM/DC