There is something about weight, heaviness, sturdiness, solidness, that comforts us. It is true in so many ways, in so many corners. From walls, to houses, sheets and covers, paper, books, cars, fabric, soil and much more. Have you ever spent time in a stone house? It feels different. Have you ever slept in a small stone room? It has its own feeling. In Granada, Spain I stayed in an incredibly old place in the Albaicín neighborhood. I slept in a small room on the bottom floor, the ceiling was low, the walls were tight. Thick, solid stone. The feeling was palpable. If I had closed my eyes and didn't know where I was, I would have known something was off. There is a feeling to stone, there is a feeling to something solid, something heavy. Even if you aren't touching it, there is something to it. You can sense it. It brings a sense of stability, comfort. You can feel the strength.
Fabric and clothing are no different. When you are wearing something substantial, something heavy, you can feel it. People know this about blankets and sleeping. I know some people swear by weighted blankets. I don't know anything about this or how long it has been around. But, the fact that people seem drawn to it is a sign of this longing for weight, sturdiness. It helps them sleep better, it helps them feel more steady and sure. They are more comfortable, more able to relax.
Think about the flimsy fabrics we see everywhere. I am not referring to linen, madras, seersucker. Those are all intended to be thin and breezy. They are for summer. I am referring to fabrics that ought to be heavy. Whether tweed or thick cotton, it feels like so many items are thinner than previous iterations of themselves. Polo shirts, OCBDs, sport coats, chinos etc... the list goes on. Once you start going vintage, you notice the fabric get heavier and heavier. The drape is more beautiful, the garment more sturdy. Yourself, more comfortable.
It isn't only the fit, it isn't only the physical aspect of comfort. I think that there is a mental, emotional kind of comfort that comes with it. I think it is true when it comes to all forms of sturdiness. When you are wearing, around or within something sturdy, a kind of reliability is evident. You can feel it. I don't think there is zero correlation with the great unsettledness that many feel and the unstable flimsy materials we are surrounded by. Of course, it isn't only materials. There are sturdy ideas, sturdy beliefs, study feelings. There are flimsy ones as well, light as a blade of grass. Flimsy, blowing here and there. It doesn't bring comfort, it brings uncertainty.
In the photo above, I am wearing a strong OCBD, 100% wool cardigan, vintage heavy wool sport coat and a vintage herringbone double breasted overcoat. I am not sure what the actual weight of the sport coat and the over coat are combined, I am tempted to weigh them just to know, just for fun. When I am wearing all this I am so warm, so protected. You can tell how heavy they are when I walk, when I move. The coat isn't moving breezily here and there. It moves of course, it is beautiful fabric, but in the way something heavy moves. Slow, swinging, heavy. Wearing this outside in freezing temperature is like wearing a fortress. You are protected within, the heavy weight around you, sitting on your shoulders. It isn't a weight that bothers you, it is a weight that comforts you. It isn't a burden, it is a blessing. I feel steady, solid when I wear this.
Chicken or the egg, who knows? Whatever it is, there is a direct correlation between all of this. The flimsiness of our time, of our spirit, of our will, of our faith is all wrapped up with the instability, the longing for wholeness and some guiding light and the vanishingly thin materials which we all suffer under. If the world was once a world of stone, bronze and steel, today it is like a world of the virtual, effervescent, vanishing, flimsy and throw-away. The physical reflects the non-physical. The non-physical reflects the physical. It is a cycle. We see this in many ways, we see this here in pronounced and grand terms.