A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO BUILDING A VERSATILE WARDROBE
A gentleman knows the importance of dressing well. But despite this knowledge of his mien, there is one dilemma that every man faces almost every day. The lack of options in one’s wardrobe when it comes to dressing. Now, I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that half of us do not know what to do about it. Whenever we are faced with such situations, either we go out and buy something that eventually will become a part of our huge collection of clothes that we won’t be wearing again or end up making complete fools of ourselves by wearing some combination that we shouldn’t have. If you have ever been faced with such a crisis read along.
Before we talk about how to build a wardrobe that never fails you, it is imperative that we understand the reasons behind this lack of options. The lack of outfit choices is not caused by lack of clothing in most cases. In fact, you may own tons of clothes and still have nothing to wear for any occasion. This is because none of your clothes mix and match to give the look that you are looking for. In the end, you end up spending a lot more time and money on your outfits than you intended. This happens because we do not plan ahead when buying clothes.
To solve this problem, the concept of an interchangeable wardrobe came up. Now, what is an interchangeable wardrobe?
An interchangeable wardrobe is a collection of clothing that has versatility. Simply speaking, it has variety in a sense that you can pick any shirt and pair it with any jeans and be confident that it will look good. The very idea of an interchangeable wardrobe is centred around less money, less clothing, less time choosing what to wear but more options. You read it right. Gentlemen, Less is More.
The way to build a versatile wardrobe is pretty simple. It has three major aspects: Segmenting, Adding core items and Accessorising. We will be looking at these three aspects one by one and towards the end will talk about a few tips and tricks.
1. SEGMENTING YOUR WARDROBE
Before you start making changes and amends to your wardrobe, inventory your closet. Divide the entire thing into three segments. ‘The clothes that fit you’, ‘The clothes that don’t fit you’ and ‘The clothes that fit you but you don’t wear them’. This much is simple, right? Now, get rid of the clothes that do not fit you immediately. Do not cling on to your ‘high school shirts’ and those ‘a tiny bit too tight shoes’. Give them away to someone who can wear them.
As for the other two categories you want to keep the ones that you wear and ones that will add value to your closet and your style. I will leave you to be the judge of your choices because nobody can do better. Just remember that not everybody’s wardrobe can be alike. A gentleman who happens to be a carpenter will have a very different wardrobe than another who is a teacher. So, when segmenting, keep such factors in mind. Your profession, your routine and your requirements play a big role.
2. ADDING CORE ITEMS TO YOUR WARDROBE
Having said that the variety of clothing will differ from man to man, there is, however, a certain set of clothes that form the core of your closet. These are the items that form the base of your outfit and make room for experimenting. Deciding what constitute the core of a wardrobe can be a confusing task. In order to make it easy, I have put together a list for you.
- Formal shirts
- Casual shirts
- Solid coloured trousers or jeans
- Formal shoes
- Solid T-shirts and Polo shirts
- A dark coloured suit
This is not an exhaustive list per se but the core of any wardrobe revolves around these basic clothing. You should consider buying non-patterned/solid coloured clothing as they are easy to club with other clothes. This characteristic gives us room to mix and match things up. You can always toss in that floral shirt that you got as a birthday present or that printed T-shirt you picked up from the sale, but that would be the peripheral of your style, not the core. If you do not already own these pieces consider investing in them. And when I say invest, consider buying a piece that is of good quality so that you do not have to worry about buying again and again.
3. ACCESSORISING YOUR WARDROBE
This is the part where we would be expanding out of the core. It is here that you pay attention to your own personal style. The core of your closet is the basic stuff. Accessories are clothing items like your belts, ties, hats, cufflinks, scarves, cravats, pocket squares, suspenders and the like. Now, everybody has a different taste when it comes to accessories but that doesn’t mean you have to be restrictive about it. A gentleman’s style is all about finding what suits you. So, I would suggest that you experiment with different colours and patterns and looks. The good thing here is that an interchangeable wardrobe is not restricted by accessories but they certainly add flavour and flair to your wardrobe. You can choose to spend according to your budget on these and branch out as and when you feel fit.
That must have given you a fair idea of how to go about building your own style collection. Now, I have some tips that I would like to share with you guys to make your experience with the entire thing a bit better. These are the things that I learned from committing mistakes. Make sure you do not commit the same mistakes.
- Do not buy anything that you do not need. Please!
- Fitting is king. Clothes that have a nice fitting will look good on you. Consider getting a tailor to help you out.
- Do not cling to clothes that do not fit you. You may want to keep like one or two large shirts for your housework but that is it.
- Whenever you are dressing up just make sure that the base is not mismatched. There either has to be a contrast or similarity. No quirky combinations. You want to experiment, experiment with accessories.
- Dressing sharp does not mean having to wear sharp colours. It means to dress well. Period.
- Any wardrobe requires maintenance. If you do not take proper care of your clothing, it will perish sooner. Wash and iron your clothes as instructed on the labels and polish your shoes and belts regularly. No excuses.
- If you can afford it, go for Bespoke suits. An off-the-rack suit can never fit as good as one tailored specifically for you.
- Do not worry about the lapels and cuffs and collars just yet, firstly get the basics in place. You will learn about them all in good time.
PS: Donate the clothes that you do not need. Somebody might find them of better use.
Good luck and Happy dressing.
Until next time!