Clothes Don’t Break the Man

By Jo Phillips

The first thing I always told people about her was, “That bag, she was interviewed… just so they could say she was the kind of person who could spend thousands on it.”

She hated that, she said it made her sound like a brat, but she loved that bag, and that makes me smile as I hurl it across our apartment and watch it skitter across the wine-stained floor. Next to go is the Burberry trench coat she was wearing on the night we first met, paired with the black Joseph blouse I peeled off her. She looked like a Rossetti painting; so flawless, so perfect and so non-paused about me.

I’m tearing through her closet watching her perfectly pristine clothes soil in my hands. I’ve flung the Veronica Beard midi she wore to the opera with me; the black Hepburn-cut Roland Mouret dress flutters through the air. The grey Vetements bodysuit that she looked so fucking cool in, it hurt, slaps against the back wall. Her assorted Rag & Bone cashmere sweaters, one of which she was wearing when I slumped on her shoulder and told her I loved her for the first time… they skid across the floor kicking up little threads of static wool.


I grab her little wooden box of perfectly folded Hermes scarves and throw them into the air. They float effortlessly through in a symphony of colours and patterns, it’s the only non-earth tone colours she ever wore. She said they washed out her skin, but she always looked perfect in the blue Thomas Pink shirt my mother bought for me. I go over to the most expensive thing I own— the Tom Ford Leather Buckley her parents bought me and whirl that shirt into her pile.


I take a break from the clothes and look at the bespoke shoe rack she brought with her from New York. I’m lobbing Louboutins, chucking Choos grabbing Gucci, but those Blahniks which made her so happy, I leave them there. I don’t want to hurt her that much.


There’s still two shirts of mine in the wardrobe. The shirt I wore when I asked her, “Why do all American girls love taking it from behind?” which is still covered in wine stains, and the Gieves & Hawkes shirt I changed into, when we snuggled after; she told me it looked perfect on me. I leave them there.

I rip the rest of the closet down, slump into a pile and stare at it.

My first thought is to pour red wine on them, throw them out the window, or burn them … but given the cost of this pile that’s probably a felony. You can’t burn art, all of these clothes, they’re art.
It’s a beautiful vortex of black, white & gray that sucks me into an alternate reality where I’m a better person than I am, and then maybe she’d still want to be with me. I rip off my worn out t-shirt & tear off my jeans and I dive naked into them. I’m swimming through sequined seas and lush cashmere waves. I’m sinking into their elegant softness and I can smell her all over them.

I sob into the pile, and worry the salt in my tears will stain and destroy them, but I remember, I made her cry in almost every single piece of this clothing, and they still look perfect. Then I hear the keys rattle, the knob start to turn … this is the image, this is her last shot of me, she’ll think about it, on the rare occasions she ever thinks of me



Joseph Francis is an Anglo-American creative director and writer based out of London. He was born in Texas and raised in North Yorkshire, England. He’s been published by the Liars’ League and is working on a series of screenplays. @jofmcc

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