A Wise Choice: My New Jacket

Building a wardrobe is an endeavor best executed over time; a pragmatic lesson I'd come to realize gradually despite receiving early heeding. Developing style, understanding utility, learning "the rules" of dress, the financial commitments - prohibitions one-and-all to a quick fix of one's attire.

Eschewing novelty and those brash statement garments is good tact when choosing foundational pieces, since function should be our primary concern. It's more important to get maximal wear out of a limited subset of items, and basics are far easier to mix-and-match. Yes, it's perhaps a little less exciting, but every unique permutation is a fresh look (and you'll need them!)

To uncover my greatest needs, I chart my wardrobe and categorize by season and function - if a suit jacket can be broken up and worn as a sport jacket, it counts as an additional option. This strategy allows me to plan ahead; I've already decided what suit I'll be commissioning come the fall, but the task at hand concerned the upcoming warm season.

Spring! Lighter fabrics, open weaves, brighter colours, unlined jackets and the like. A time for tailored clothing in the luminance of the bright sun. Days of linen, of hopsack, and no-show socks. Perhaps I'd check two boxes off of my mental bucket list and venture into a cotton suit...in olive, no less!

After consulting the heart, I'd be best served to check with the mind. My homework revealed a tendency towards summer suiting and an over-reliance on breaking up suit jackets for sportcoating; a new sport jacket would undoubtedly solve the most problems. Fortunately, the tiebreaker lay in the choice of available fabrics.

With several hundred swatches at hand, I curated a selection of fabrics that either fit my criteria or caught my eye for one reason or another. One Samuelsohn swatch in particular was persistent in drawing my gaze: a grey and ice-blue basket weave consisting of wool, silk and linen. Samuelsohn had thought so much of the cloth that they had included it as part of their A.B.S. Collection, a selective grouping of ten fabrics highlighted each season for their exceptional appeal.

At 8 ounces, the fabric held enough heft to maintain its integrity as an unstructured garment yet was woven open enough to remain lighter and airy. The grey was a perfect neutral colour that would absorb just about any additional hues with ease; the light blue in the weave offered a unique depth that was subtle enough to remain muted but also enhance any blues I could match to it. The blend of materials offered a distinctive combination of properties: silk for a slight sheen, linen for breathability, wool for structure and durability. This particular iteration also gives the cloth a nice slubbiness - a slightly imperfect nub strewn throughout for an alluring texture. There, in my mind, laid an immensely useful jacket.

And that was it. I'd foregone the niche, the unusual, the peacock piece: I'd offered my wardrobe a cornerstone that was quietly stunning in its own right.

I designed the jacket with minimal structure to skew casual, as I tend to be a little less formal in the warmer months. Soft shoulders and one-quarter lining allows for a breathable garment that can match with a tie and wool trousers as easily as it can with denim and sneakers.

I envisioned pairing the mid-grey colour with both light and dark trousers for distinctly differing looks. I began with plain charcoal wool trousers, dark enough in hue to offer a complementary contrast while opting to emphasize the subdued blues in the jacket. Mid-brown thatch-grain longwings are smart yet casual enough to keep with the ensemble.

When the rains finally provided respite, I switched to a light contrast: stone chinos, white Oxford button-down, chocolate brown suede tassel loafers, and my new repp tie - emerald green with pink and (quite uncharacteristically) purple. This is the default template I'd originally concocted in my head, and the permutations are endless - tans, whites, creams in cottons, linens et al, blues and pinks and even olive as accent.

I love this jacket. The fit, the fabric, the detailing - it's effortlessly emerged as my go-to and fast favourite. The best compliment I can give is that I'd eagerly have a second jacket similar to this one. And by choosing to address the biggest need in my wardrobe, I've added greater depth to my existing pieces and less-versatile garments.

Ryan W.A. Clark

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