Some things are fashion; some things are investments. Aren’t they? A while back I had a bit of a bespoke suit moment. I would go to the tailors a couple of times a year, swoon over a window-pane check, pick some nice lining and dither over the finishing embellishments (would a ticket pocket look right?). The bill was also a thing to stare at in wonder: I spent how much? But the experience was a treat and I loved the results; there’s something about bespoke that puts a skip in your step and makes you feel rather pleased with life. Every day is spring.
The other reason I didn’t worry too much was that I knew these suits were an investment. I’d be wearing them until the day I died. It turned out that there were a few wrinkles in my plan: that extra inch that settled on the waist (OK, two). Plus, it turns out that those fine fabrics fray and soon elbows are popping through at inopportune moments. But the third one was perhaps less obvious: it turns out that even the most classic of suits is actually quite fashion-minded.
You may think that you have ordered something timeless but looking back over the years you see how jackets went from one button to three, how jacket lengths edged upwards bit by bit and trousers bid farewell to the ankle (thanks, Thom Browne). So the day comes when you go to the wardrobe and discover that you have less a line up of trusty stalwarts, more a historical suiting collection. That was a painful run to the charity shop.
The same thought has been evident to me as I do some work on my house and say goodbye to all sorts of things that, just a decade ago, seemed like they would never seem passé. But taps, tiles and light fittings are ever-changing unless you want to live in, say, a mid-century modern set. And, yes, that classic look dragged back to the 21st century could also turn out to be a fad.
At Monocle we have just started working on a new book for publication in spring next year and it’s had us looking back at all of the residences that we have shot since 2007. What’s amazing is how many of them still feel fresh, whether it’s a Greek villa or a Chicago apartment. But while the owners’ choice of fabrics and furniture may have had a better stab at timelessness than I did, even the most stripped back and sober home will date.
But in the end that’s where the fun bit comes in. While we don’t want to be persuaded to ditch our look every six months, we need our clothes, our homes – us – to go on changing. It’s what makes things live – and makes us feel alive.
Classic, it turns out, is just fashion with the brakes on. And once you know that you may be tempted to have the odd moment with the foot on the accelerator.
Andrew Tuck is Monocle’s editor.