A Simple Life

simpleIt’s very easy to come across as judgemental or even ‘preachy’ when discussing life choices, and of course there is no right answer. For me, a happy life means simplicity and while I recognise that my approach is unlikely to work for you, here’s what works for me:

  1. I live out of hand luggage. I can pack up everything I own in minutes and carry it on to a plane; a grand total of 150 things which together weigh in at less than 20kg. I don’t deprive myself but equally I keep only what I need.
  2. I wear only one colour; black. I don’t have to think about what to wear each day, what to wash or buy. Laundry is a simple single load per week (less if travelling). Everything goes with everything, nothing gets stained, everything looks sharp.
  3. I wear the same clothes. My 7 pairs of socks are the same, my 8 tees are the same my 3 work shirts are the same. Almost everything is merino wool so nothing needs ironing, hang dries quickly and performs superbly whatever the weather.
  4. I live in Hotels or AirBnBs. My furniture, appliances, kitchenware, towels and bedding are all provided. I have no gas, electric, water or internet bills as they are all included. I pay nightly or weekly so I have no commitment.
  5. I don’t have a car. I rely on public transport (Uber when I have to) and generally I walk wherever possible. I love getting out in to nature when the weather is nice – which it usually is in Sydney.
  6. I don’t have debt. I pay off my credit cards every month and I detest shopping. My most expensive possessions are a 3 year old phone and a 4 year old laptop. I’m not rich but what matters is that I don’t need to be.
  7. I spend my money on experiences (almost always travel) and not on stuff. This is an easy decision when buying a new ‘thing’ means adding it to my pack weight, and it means getting to spend some quality time in some very beautiful places.
  8. I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I’ve seen the impact on all of these on lives of those important to me, and while I try not to pass judgement these days, I don’t want that in my life.
  9. I don’t have a wife or kids. This is not a popular lifestyle choice but it suits me. I have always maintained that choosing to be with a person every day without obligation is far healthier than being forced to stay because of a title.
  10. I truly value time spent with family and friends. Taking myself a world away from everyone I loved was a strange but effective way to come to the stark realisation that relationships and experiences are really all that matter in life.
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The greatest shirt ever made?

vidsnip1Way back in September 2015 I discovered a Kickstarter by the name of Libertad. Kyle wanted to make ‘the perfect travel shirt’ with the two guiding principles of ‘style’ and ‘performance’.

As a career man I wear formal shirts to work each day – always black, but despite many attempts to locate the perfect merino shirt I was losing hope. I had sampled the Wool & Prince Black Twill Button Down (far too heavy at 170gsm), the Wool & Prince Solid Black Button Down (still heavy and white buttons? Really?) and eventually landed on the Icebreaker Departure which had a fairly informal cut, awkwardly ‘frilly’ shoulders and a fairly weak structure, but at least it was a longsleeve black merino shirt so no stink, no ironing, quick drying and thermal perfection.

emailThe Libertad shirt was due to ship in January 2016 so I figured I could hold out on Icebreaker until then. Of course, as is common with Kickstarters, the inescapable delays began. While it’s easy as a consumer to get angry as the months roll on I really did feel for Kyle as he constantly kept his core faithful up for date with all the gory details of delays due to the small order size, issues with packaging and crucially issues with the initial weave of material. Eventually – just before Christmas 2016 the emails came that the shirt was about to ship. By then my initial batch of five Icebreaker Departure shirts had all failed and Icebreaker had discontinued them (presumably because of the poor construction). I had scavenged amazon.com and managed to secure three from some US outdoor store’s stockpile at outrageously inflated prices but after a few months even they were on their way out with small seam tears.

img_9938Just before New Years 2016 my Libertad shirt arrived. I’d opted for a Medium ‘tapered’ shirt and the first time I tried it on I was in love (apologies for the less than impressive photo). The cut is fantastic; Outlier make a big deal about their ‘pivot’ sleeves allowing full arm movement in a shirt, the Libertad shirt has a variant of this which is freeing but doesn’t result in bunched up parachutes behind the armpits when arms are not outstretched. The shoulder and chest is spacious but not baggy and the midriff perfectly pulled in a modern tapered cut that still allows room for a pasta lunch (if you know what I mean).

The material is beautiful, it’s 130gsm but feels altogether lighter than the Wool & Prince – in fact it is at 228g compared to the 236g W&P Solid Black (130gsm), 310g W&P Twill (170gsm) and the 256g Icebreaker Departure. It is softer and less itchy than W&P (although admittedly both shirts get significantly less itchy after a couple of washes) but sufficiently solid to maintain shape (unlike the Icebreaker shirt). It breathes beautifully – having tested it in some of the hottest weather Sydney has seen in the last decade, 42 degrees anyone? The weave is so fine that sweat is not wicked as quickly as, say, an Outlier Runweight tee, but this is to be expected from a structured weave necessary for a formal shirt.

cuffThere are some lovely features too – like a separate pen pocket within the chest pocket, a secret internal pocket, double buttons on the cuffs for a more fitted look. It also has a convertible cuff allowing for cufflinks for that altogether more professional look. It washes beautifully – even at home (low temperature – hang dry), requiring no ironing. The same could not be said for either of the W&P shirts.

All in all I would wholeheartedly recommend this shirt for any travelling professional. I have since bought another two and while I’m only a couple of months in to it, I feel like they will last me a good while yet. Libertad Travel shirt – available now for $129.