Few clothes make this man

The arrival of spring seems a good time to examine my wardrobe. Let me start with my footwear and work up.

I wear dark sneakers most days. Very discreet. Most people think them shoes. They are excellent for long walks on the concrete sidewalks of New York City. (In SoHo, where I work, some sidewalks are granite from New England quarries.)

For grand occasions - a dinner party, the opera, etc. - I take from a closet shelf my elegant black English shoes. On the days I wear them, I hope it doesn't rain.

My socks are made in Turkey - three pairs for $5, purchased from a Chinese street vendor three blocks from where I live.

My pants are brown corduroy. They are sturdy, except for the pockets with holes from the weight of the keys I carry. As the holes grow larger, I lose more change.

I haven't owned a sports jacket for years, preferring to wear suit jackets from suits whose pants have worn out. I used to think huge moths inhabited my closet, for the jacket linings have holes.

But it's just friction at work again: the contents of my jacket pockets - eyeglasses (two pairs), pen, pencil, notebook, and other assorted objects - rubbing against the material.

The ties I wear reflect personal attachments. A blue tie with the New York City seal in gold, bearing the date 1625 - the year the Dutch West India Company established New Amsterdam. A crimson tie with the winged Lion of St. Mark, symbol of Venice.

I wear the same tie day after day. In the rush of dressing in the morning, it is easier to reach for the familiar, rather than spend time choosing from an assortment.

I save for last the pièce de résistance, a Borsalino. This felt hat is even more expensive than the black shoes. I dare not have it cleaned. Look at photographs of New York streets a few decades ago. The men all wore hats.

No longer. Gone are most hat stores and with them, hat cleaners. When I have a hat cleaned, it shrinks, while my head remains the same size.

I work for a nonprofit organization. When I visit a foundation seeking financial assistance, I wear the sneaker/ corduroy pants/suit jacket ensemble. This is my supplicant outfit. The last thing I want is to look prosperous.

For grand occasions, in addition to black shoes, I wear a double-breasted blue suit. This is my prosperous lawyer outfit. Here, the last thing I want is to look impecunious.

Given the modesty of my wardrobe, its diversity pleases me.

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