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Friday, August 16, 2013

Madras Amongst Mountaineers

Every city has its own fashion culture, and truth be told I wouldn't want it any other way. Here in Vancouver more formal men's items like jackets and ties are far from a common fixture; in a city that's notorious for its outdoorsy lifestyle, people seem content to leave the suits to the guys in the financial districts downtown. 

This is something I used to bemoan, even if only a little. I suppose I'm more of an eccentric sort, and for several years I've always found myself overdressing for the occasion, almost without exception. My favourite item is the bow tie, a badge of eccentricity if there ever was one. 

But even as I silently wished that more people around me took their wardrobes a bit more seriously, something occurred to me: in a place like this, one is afforded a lot more leeway to experiment and really push the envelope. And, for the most part, no one cares if your outfit is less than perfect. As much as I hate to admit it, I have more than a few items in my closet that don't fit as well as I'd like them to. 

Never mind that, though. Let's stick to the experimentation. Recently I found myself really wanting to take the plunge on a crazy item, so I commissioned a Madras patchwork blazer. Perhaps it wouldn't be out of place at a yacht club in Nantucket, but here in Vancouver? Unheard of. I received the sample swatch in the mail, a glorious mash up of red, navy blue, white, teal, yellow, green, and several shades in between. I signed off immediately, and the maddening wait to have it made began. 

I'll cut to the chase: the other day I found myself wearing it while out about in town. Even as someone who wears a bow tie on a regular basis, I felt the slightest sting of self-consciousness. "Was it too much?" I wondered. I felt as though I'd either pulled off a minor fashion coup or made a terrible mistake. I was leaning towards the former, of course, but whenever the envelope gets pushed, there's bound to be at least a shadow of doubt. 

As the day went on, I found that doubt washing away. I realized that I didn't care if other people liked it or not. It was enough that it made me happy. To be sure, there were a few odd choices on the part of the tailor in its construction, but I didn't care about that either. 

Such an item shouldn't be brought into the rotation too often, lest it become tired, but rest assured I'll wear it again as soon as I feel I'm able. And I'll wear it proudly, even as I stand next to a crowd of people decked out in their very best active wear. After all, what else is there?

Ben Pearson
Contributing For Le Noeud Papillon

Ben Pearson's Madras Swatches

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