Fashionably Wabi Sabi

The fashion gods have spoken! Top hats are cool, your shoes should match your watch. Welcome to my judgmental discussion on current menswear trends we all love to hate.

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Clothes don’t last

Besides the few people so far down the rabbit hole they enjoy being slaves to fashion, most men  loath to acknowledge our entanglement with clothes. We know we have to wear them, and may even (at pains) accept the importance of a particular style in a certain environment. But no sooner have we purchased the perfect suit to help us climb the corporate ladder, than we are faced with the inevitable transience of clothing.

Your body will change and the pants that once fitted your waist can no longer get around one thigh. The clothes will tear or get coffee spilled on them or loose a button.

Or even worse…they could go out of fashion!

Fast Fashion

Because clothing is such a vital method of communication and because our identities are evolving all the time, coupled with the physically transient nature of clothing, no one escapes the constant need for more clothes.

And the fashion industry is laughing all the way to the bank. The very real requirement for new clothes is spiced up with some manipulative marketing. And all of a sudden we require new clothes twice a year to keep the sweat shops humming and profits flowing to ‘visionary’ designers. The greatest impact of fashion on the environment is that we produce too much and waste too much. Although not the original sin…fashion was certainly the first.

Wabi Sabi

The good news is that you can still  be permanently expressing new personal epiphanies through your clothes, as well as stemming the tide of their inevitable structural demise, without causing global warming. Let’s side track a second to introduce Wabi Sabi:

The art of imperfection, is a Japanese philosophy or aesthetic which accepts the transient and flawed nature of all things. I absolutely love this School of Life YouTube video on the topic.

In essence Wabi Sabi is an acceptance of the realities of existence, and an appreciation for the beauty that is imperfection. I’ve personally always been drawn to the rustic aspects of life, and in tailoring the minute inconsistencies in hand stitching are a highly valued aesthetic. Wabi Sabi would venerate our old fraying clothes, and celebrate the patches over their holes. To embrace this enlightened sense of fashion, one could:

#1 Maintain

Most of us actually have enough clothes to survive the impending apocalypse, and you’ll be surprised at the life span of a garment if properly looked after. Wash clothes less frequently, don’t tumble dry and take your suits to a professional dry cleaner.

As the garments age they’ll become more Wabi Sabi, exuding zen throughout your whole life.

#2 Patch

Garments inevitably tear or wear thin, which is usually the point at which we decide they’ve reached their terminus. But we should celebrate the tears as marks of reality, proof that we don’t live in a simulation.

Patches also add individuality to our wardrobes, helping us to express ourselves without having to buy new garments.

The same principle applies to alterations: Get your trousers tapered and the hems lifted by a professional. Then when the fad fades get them let out again…no need for new pants at all!

#3 Thrift

Even once our own clothes have been patched to the point of no return, there’s plenty sufficient clothing in the world to keep us wrapped up for another decade at least. Again, these clothes can be altered and patched to celebrate their imperfect longevity.


(These Gucci boots cost me R10 at a church fare)

And, in case you hadn’t noticed Wabi Sabi is how I dress these days…so you need to Get With It!!


Got any awesome Wabi Sabi fashion to show off? Tag @thegreentailor on instagram and I’ll judge your sense of dress ;)


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