Thursday, July 3, 2008

My Closet

Many people ask me about my black wardrobe, which I've written about as simply practical for the 24x7x365 CIO and not a Gentleman's Quarterly fashion statement. I was recently asked to share a glimpse of my closet.

I know this sounds like a strange blog topic, but my closet provides an insight into my brain, demonstrating that every minute of my existence is part of a complex lifestyle. Hopefully, the detail below will not sound too obsessive compulsive. Call it "the examined life".

My closet is organized into clothing for my lower extremity and clothing for my torso.

Everything I own for the lower half of my body is black. It's practical. Whether business attire, climbing clothing, or alpine ascent gear, various kind of black pants work well. For the office, my pants are rayon (it's vegan and derived from wood fiber). For climbing, I wear all Arcteryx gear made of thin but durable nylon. For alpine ascents, I wear Arcteryx gear made from Powershield, a Polartec softshell.

For my torso, I wear all black linen fabrics (a 5000 year old textile made by weaving Flax) in the office, since they are easy care, cool in summer and warm in winter. For the outdoors, all my upper extremity clothing is red for visibility. I have base layers of polyester, mid layers of Polartec Powerstretch and outer layers of Gortex. Each layer is engineered for specific temperatures and humidity conditions.

For footwear, I have specific shoes for specific tasks. Vegan microfiber polyester Monk shoes and Dealer Boots for the office, Five-ten climbing and approach shoes for the Crag, and Scarpa Double Plastic boots for Alpine travel.

My closet also stores my ropes, packs, climbing hardware, and helmet.

All of my clothing and most of my belongings fit into this one 8 foot space.

Over the years, I've tried to refine what I own and approach all my clothing from an engineering perspective, only carrying what is minimally necessary for the range of climatic conditions I'll encounter. Here's the complete inventory including the specific temperature and humidity conditions for each piece of clothing and the body measurements I use for my engineering approach to clothing. The dates are purely so I know when to replace a given piece, since polyester tends to decay over time.

This philosophy works very well in an era when travel is so expensive and difficult. Wearing black, and using the durable, breathable fabrics I've chosen, a week in Europe can be done from a single carry on satchel. A week in Yosemite takes a bit more, since I have 7 pounds of rope and climbing hardware to carry along, but 1 small duffel will do the trick.

That's my closet - another expression of my lifestyle that does not separate work, family, job, and avocations but comingles them all into one continuum.

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