Giving Up Nylon (Mostly) aka Buying Classic Clothing

My wardrobe was set — each day I when went to work I would slip on a pair of Futureslimworks (aka Futureworks) in Dark Navy or Space Grey (sometimes Sandstorm). I would pair these pants with Wool&Prince’s Merino Wool Button Down shirts. I washed the pants whenever they looked dirty or started to fit loose. I washed the wool shirts about once a month, or when they smelled.

It was all pretty simple, except one thing…

I would get home from work, and I couldn’t wait to change into some lounge wear — cotton sweats, a merino t-shirt. It’s not that I was ever uncomfortable throughout the day, or even at home. But I certainly wasn’t relaxed in my clothes.

And when I looked in the mirror in the morning — no matter how I paired my wardrobe, I always felt as though things were slightly off. The pants were too smooth, or the shirt didn’t quite lay down right. I don’t know, maybe it was the combination with the shoes.

And then the straw that broke the camels back — my Wool&Prince shirts started to look like trash. The sleeves kept shrinking to levels where they wore too short — even though I would wash on cold, and hang to dry — the sleeves just kept climbing. The material itself looked tattered — not on the cuffs where you might expect it, but where the sleeve meets the cuff, where the shoulders meet the sleeve. The material looked like it had seen a lot of wear, of use, and decay. Somehow rumpled, worn, and pulled all at once in these spots.

And even though I kept buying the shirts, they kept wearing out — and then one I bought only three months prior suffered the same fate. I was done, no more. It doesn’t matter how good your clothing’s performance is, if it is ill fitting or doesn’t last, it’s not worth it. It has to fit, it has to last.

So I went to Proper Cloth again — it’s been a long time since I bought from them. And I grabbed a merino wool shirt, for what I frankly felt was too much money, but it was coming made-to-measure in the exact setup I wanted. That was back in August and that shirt still looks perfect. And so I got another, then a non-merino, and then some Oxford Cloth Button Downs (OCBD).

I love these shirts. They feel amazing, and they fit great. I have to wash them after only a couple wears (OCBD) or about the same for the merino, but they fit and the materials are fantastic. But they threw the look of my outfits off — the OCBD looked not right with the smooth texture of the Futureslimworks, so I needed new pants.

And so, I did, I got full cotton pants. I’ll be writing about all this stuff, but there’s more to this than the items. I finally feel relaxed in the clothing, while not really finding any performance pitfalls — mostly because it all fits well and I have the ability to care for it easily.

Let’s talk about that relaxing feeling, here’s how I see the difference:

  • Futureslimworks: I am always comfortable in these, and never restricted by them. They perform very well, and they resist stains like no other. But when I try to lay back in a pair, they always feel cool against my skin, they always remind me a bit that they are there.
  • Cotton Chinos: I can feel a little restricted in these at the extremes of motion, and they certainly offer no stain resistance. But when I sit down wearing these, kick back on the couch, I don’t have a nagging thought that some other pants would be more comfortable. The fabric is always comfortable against my skin, never too cold, and while they are not magic performance enhancing materials, I’ve yet to find a general discomfort wearing these day to day.

Comfort is an aspect of clothing we’ve focused a lot on here, and rightfully so. Far too many clothing items are of low quality, poor materials, poor cuts, and bad designs — they feel uncomfortable. We should all feel comfortable — I am simply no longer convinced that to feel comfortable you must target scientific advances in clothing fabrics. Sometimes cotton pants provide vastly more comfort than the most advanced nylon-elastic fusion on the market.

There’s also the drape and texture that has driven me towards more classic clothing. The biggest complaint I see (visually, but also in reviews) around performance fabrics is that they don’t drape on your body correctly. We all know, and have seen this — it is no mystery. Too stiff, too crinkly, too smooth, or lacking all structure. It can lead to a weird look, and it was another trigger for me with my wardrobe.

As I said above, I got tired of my Wool&Prince shirts wearing out, so I switched to a made-to-measure Pima cotton Oxford cloth. It looks fantastic, but when you pair that with the incredibly smooth texture of Outlier’s Futureslimworks, the entire look is slightly off. It’s not that you need a shirt with nylon or merino, but you do need something not heavy Oxford cloth in texture. But that’s the shirt I wanted, so I needed my pants to work better with the shirt.

There are very few pants that offer that texture in a performance fabric, which also drapes well. Because, yeah, sometimes cotton does it better. Just the same as how it is hard to replace leather for boots and loafers with nylon.

None of that is to say that you can’t pair synthetics and natural fibers — but rather that to build the cohesive look that I was after, it was increasingly more difficult to do with synthetic fibers. Whereas it is rather effortless with natural fibers.

In other words, leather work boots, and a nice waxed jacket can look good with Outlier pants, but it almost always looks good with pair of jeans or cotton chinos. Part of the reason I moved to synthetics was to make my life easier, and a big reason I am now moving away is to make my life easier.

Easier in different ways.

On the one hand synthetics tend to look brand new almost always, and require little washing and worry when out and about. But they are harder to get ideal fits and cuts, and require more focused thought to create cohesive wardrobes. A lot of thought, actually.

Natural fiber garments fade and wear overtime, but make easy work of putting together classic styles and staying current and timeless in your looks at the same time. But they do require more laundering, and more replacement over time (theoretically, not always) — though they generally don’t suffer from too many durability issues if you spend the same money on them as you would the synthetics.

In other words: I’ve traded less washing and harder to style, for more washing and easier styling. Moving the amount of thought I need to put into what I shall wear today to the easy category, and making the weekends a little more laundry heavy than before.

An easy tradeoff to accept.

More to come on the items I’ve moved to soon…

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Giving Up Nylon (Mostly) aka Buying Classic Clothing