Walker Lamond, the keeper of the Rules for My Unborn Son, is, himself, the son of a man who proved that when you invest in quality, a short-list wardrobe can go a long way.
Red pants, white oxford, blue blazer, suntan. That’s the look my dad’s wearing in just about every snapshot I have found from his salad days living single and preppy in Georgetown. When pressed about it, he used to make vague references to a suspicious dry cleaning fire that left him with quite literally the clothes on his back. We should all be so lucky! Whether his slim wardrobe was a result of said fire or just a slim wallet, his ability to make do with nothing but a few high quality essentials has been a superb lesson in sartorial discipline. And it’s not a bad way to pass as a swell even when your bank account disagrees.
The keys to pulling off the micro-wardrobe are familiar to any preppy, trad, or boarding school survivor. Natural fibers. High quality brands that eschew trends in favor of bachelor-resistant craftsmanship. And most importantly, the acknowledgment that clothes need not be so specialized. For my dad, oxford button-downs did double duty in the office and on the beach. Tossing the football did not require a change into a tracksuit (usually just the loosening of the tie). A day at the ballpark did not require an authentic home team jersey and high-tech marathoner’s shoes, just a tweed jacket and a pair of thick wale cords, which conveniently also suited a day at the races or an afternoon cocktail party. The old man frequently mowed the lawn in loafers. He did not own jeans or tee shirts or athletic shoes (unless golf cleats count).
Because his uniform changed so little over the years, his clothes seemed to never have been bought, they seemed to just have always been. Over ten years since his death and I can accurately recall the entirety of his wardrobe for as along as I knew him.
– One navy blazer
– One Harris Tweed sport coat
– One Brooks Brothers pin-striped suit
– A handful of button down oxford shirts–white, blue, banker stripe.
– A short stack of cotton polo shirts
– One pair, khaki pants
– One pair, gray flannels
– One pair, GTH pants (at different times red, green, or Lilly)
– One pair, thick wale corduroys (embroidered with pheasants)
– One pair, Gucci loafers
– One pair, Alden wingtips
– One pair, Sebago Docksiders
– One pair, tux slippers
– One pair, Birdwell Beach Britches
– An endless supply of birthday, Christmas, and Father’s Day ties
This kind of spartan preppiness is certainly not for everyone, especially those with a weakness for technical gear or eBay. But as I have gotten older, I find myself aspiring to assemble the kind of wardrobe that could last me the rest of my life, not to mention be packed in a single suitcase, or as my dad called it, his Getaway Bag. If I decide to climb Everest or move to Florida, I may decide to spring for something more appropriate, but for now, my dad’s closet will do.