The work shirt.
About ten. Five of which are black and look exactly the same. They are all variations on the theme of black and grey – very forgiving colours – and various thicknesses for different times of the year.
Through sheer practicality the work shirt has become the most vital part of my wardrobe. It is the Swiss army knife of clothing, with a compartment for everything I may need when going on tour. I wear them so often that they have become part of my persona. I may not be alone in this habit but I have a ‘Hayden Uniform’ that I have to wear for the job of being me. When I put a work shirt on I think “Okay I’m ready to be me now, let’s get the day started.” The only time I break from this is when I’m on stage, where I am currently wearing a cut-off denim waistcoat and matching jeans a la ‘Born to Run’-era BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.
It’s all about the pockets. You want an inside secret pocket, two pockets on either side of the lower torso – ideally with a smaller pocket within those – then at least one chest pocket to top it off. You’re usually looking at around 4 or 5 pockets minimum for a good work shirt. My favourite has six.
I think it’s from my barber growing up. He wore them and would keep untold numbers of bits and bobs stored in his pockets. He always looked so effortless and like he had his entire life sorted out. A life organised through a shirt.
I definitely feel a bit threatened. I associate myself so strongly with work shirts so it can be strange seeing them on another person. However, if I see one I really like I’ll simply look on longingly. I saw a guy in London recently with a beautiful work shirt and I stared at it for so long that he came over to ask me what I wanted. I was too embarrassed to ask him about the shirt.
I look at our road crew a lot. They have very tough jobs and wear clothes that are highly practical, which I like. I spend a lot of time looking at wholesale trade catalogues for industrial work wear. Big books full of things like highly durable DICKIES trousers and overalls that you can only buy en mass.
My current wardrobe is immaculate as I am on tour. I did a big tidy and storage session and it feels like part of my life has been cryogenically frozen awaiting my return in the future.
That happens to me quite often. In fact, the jeans I am wearing this very moment are a pair of LEVI’S I bought about two years ago and didn’t really like. I hadn’t worn them at all and then a couple of days before we left on tour I put them on and, lo and behold, they are exactly what I want in life. I’ve worn them almost every day for the last month. The denim is slightly elasticated which I initially thought was weird, but now I am on tour buses and planes for prolonged periods of time that bit of extra give is perfect. Elastic is the traveller’s friend.
No radical changes, but it has been a long and often ugly journey to get my wardrobe to the state it’s in now. I have reached the happy balance where 90% of the things I own are compatible and I don’t have to think about what I am going to wear on any particular day. I remember when we first played South by Southwest in the States, I was wearing a huge wide–brimmed felt hat, a bandana and a tie–dyed shirt. It was a bit of a disaster.
No. I think I just wear my uniform. My philosophy is: “This is me, why should I want you to be attracted to anything other than who I am?”
A good T–shirt fold is both space–saving and just a delight. Neatly folding a T–shirt brings me so much joy and I am still refining my technique.