The Most Wonderful Time To Get Dressed


This story was written for Man Repeller. Photos by Julien Barbès.

Does anyone remember the last scene from Mr. Bean’s Holiday? After overcoming hundreds of obstacles on what seemed like a weeklong journey (loss of his passport, having his tie sucked into a ticket machine, accidentally kidnapping a young boy, to name a few), Mr. Bean finally reaches his destination – the beach – still dressed in his suit and tie. Every time I watch him stand in the shallow water with his wool trousers rolled up to his calves and his shoes stuffed into his blazer pockets, I can’t help but feel sorry for him. I know the pain he must be in (despite looking very jolly): the pain of being dressed all wrong when the sun finally comes out.

Every year, on the first day of spring, je suis Mr. Bean.

By “first day of spring”, I don’t mean the occasional, unseasonably warm Friday in February, or the Tuesday in March when you realize it’s still bright outside after 6 p.m. No, I mean that particular day in early April, when the glacial wind suddenly gives way to a soft, hairdryer type of breeze, when the air smells like freshly mowed grass and everyone walks around with a gleeful, relieved smile on their face. For some reason I will never understand, I am always completely struck with surprise once that day arrives. Incredulously, I stare at the baby-blue sky, at the blooming trees, at the people eating ice cream in the sun, and also at my own outfit. What possessed me to put on a black wool coat today?

As soon as the second day of spring rolls around, however, I am ready. I will not let one more minute of the precious time that is “transitional weather” season slip away from me. I will wear all the things I can’t wear from November to March (because of the lack of heat) and from June to September (because of the existence of sweat) NOW. I will regard every day as a chance to try out new things, to undust forgotten old friends in my closet and to let the surprise appearance of yet another spring invigorate the part of my brain responsible for getting me into clothes. And why not experiment a little? Why not try a waistcoat? Float around in a peppermint-green, floor-sweeping cardigan? Pin a flower brooch onto my windbreaker? Wear my pants as sleeves and a living snake as a belt? Okay now I’m kidding. Below, three dead-serious outfit ideas for the eight best weeks of the year.

Outfit 1: The One With the Very Long Cardigan

Missoni long cardigan, Princesse Tam Tam camisole, Max Mara trousers, Isabel Marant trench coat, Di San Giacomo customized sandals — similar here, vintage earrings — similar here, brooch made from an artificial peony from the flower shop — another here

It’s never too early to dress like the aristocratic-looking, yoga-instructing, gardening-books-writing grandmother you wish to become one day, and if you ask me, this floor-length cardigan is the perfect item to accomplish that look. Add sandals, a flower brooch and a trench coat that’s hopefully big enough to host a picnic on it, and you’ll be ready to greet the day’s pollen.

Outfit 2: The One with the Waistcoat Captain Jack Sparrow Wouldn’t Approve Of

Vintage leather jacket – similar here, vintage waistcoat – another here, vintage Yves Saint Laurent suit trousers – similar here, Jane Carr silk scarf, Uniqlo men’s T-shirt, Prada mules

For some reason I haven’t been able to fully pinpoint yet, waistcoats are a uniquely tricky piece of clothing. More than once, I have borne an uncanny resemblance to Captain Jack Sparrow while wearing one. If that happens to be your dream look, congratulations! If not, I recommend you stick to the pinstriped version, find a pair of matching pants, add a cute pair of Cinderella-ish sandals and let that wonderful spring breeze blow-dry your naked arms.

Outfit 3: The One Where Spring Florals get Rehabilitated

Molly Godard cardigan, Isabel Marant jeans, Uniqlo men’s windbreaker, Aeyde booties, brooch made from an artificial peony from the flower shop — another here

I haven’t dared to wear florals in spring since Miranda Priestley doomed them “groundbreaking“ (translation: a reason to get fired) in 2006, but now, 13 years later, enough time has passed for them to be considered unironically groundbreaking again, don’t you think? I like to pair mine with a rainproof jacket and an extra serving of flower on the side.