What is a “Trad”? Maybe you’ve heard the term referring to those sartorial adventurers who, ah…, hmmm…um… Perhaps some definitions are best left to experts and participants—in this case, Kempt turned an authority of no little esteem, his eminence, Lord Whimsy. Sayith the Lord—
I’ve heard the term “trad” bandied about here and there, but it seems to be a slippery definition. For some it seems merely an aesthetic preference, while for others it is more of an ideology. Although it can be a bit predictable, trad’s ethic of prizing refinement over innovation can yield very subtle, dignified options. The trad sensibility seems more interested in style than fashion, which to many is an appealing alternative.
I borrow from the trad aesthetic on occasion, but I do not consider myself one of the rank and file. Personally I prefer variety, and so I use both modern and traditional items in my wardrobe. For me, eclecticism is truly modern, not the latest cut. In today’s world, being merely fashionable isn’t enough; we must be more nimble and astute than that, lest we look back in our old age upon the old photos of ourselves over the decades and regret what utter livestock we’ve been.
If one is going the trad route, it’s far better to be motivated by aesthetics than simple nostalgia. One should be attracted to older forms because they are pleasurable, not simply because they are old. As I say in my book, continuity should be one’s goal, not nostalgia. Nostalgia brings the present into the past, but continuity brings the past into the present, and on into the future.
Despite its flaws, the trad sensibility does raise some good questions. Why discard something simply because it has been around a while? Should we all stop using wheels and levers, too? If not, then why ditch perfectly useful things like hats or raincoats? If it works and it provides an opportunity to enrich one’s life, why not use it? Is a society based entirely on shrill novelty and ruthless expediency even sustainable, let alone desirable? Will the future be made for living, or merely working?
Mammal of Paradise and Author of The Affected Provincial’s Companion, Volume One