I’ve been on the road to dressing better for a long while now and along the way I’ve come across an endless supply of guides to putting together a wardrobe. I’ve not once found one of these guides that could actually guide me to a better wardrobe that would work for me.
Despite many of these guides stating the fact that business casual has taken over from the suit they still centre the whole wardrobe around it. In most cases a suit is the very first item on their list. If a suit is essential to you you’re shit outta luck. This guide isn’t going to help you, much. If you wear a suit say 3 times a year to a couple of weddings or maybe a job interview then you’re spending less than 1% of your year in it. It should not then even be considered in your 99% wardrobe. Deal with suits separately, lets get you a solid wardrobe first.
There is a lot to consider, from climate to culture and personal style to body type. My guide is less about telling you what you need and more about guiding you to finding what you need. No list of “essentials” or “must haves”, you’re buying for you, not some twat one the internet in a different country living a different lifestyle with a taste for Dom Pérignon.
Step 1. Inspiration.
Sign up to pinterest, evernote, tapiture or whatever “pinning” website you prefer and start pinning what you like. Focus on work first and what you would like to wear there. Make a board for work and one for more casual affairs if that works for you. Don’t go overboard though. Aim for 5 outfits you think would look good on you at work. I picked some outfits from my “My Style” board that I thought would be good for my workplace and added them to a secret board.
Step 2. Analyse.
Let’s take a look at the board you have created. Take a pen and paper and write down what you see. Shirts and their colours and the same for pants, sweaters and shoes. If your list is going to be fairly long tally how often you see individual pieces. 3x white shirts, 4x khakis? The higher the tally the more you need to get your hands on those items. I found that olive pants featured heavily in outfits I like, up until I went through this process though olive pants weren’t really on my radar to buy, they ended being the first thing I purchased.
If you’ve pinned them, leave out “Grail” items in your analysis. You know that Coach leather jacket, I’ll give you that it looks awesome but for the price you can fill out the rest of your wardrobe. Same for accessories like watches and jewellery. Try to make the biggest impact by getting tops and bottoms first and foremost.
Step 3. Buy.
After analysing your pins you’ll have a list of items you need to buy to recreate the outfits you can see yourself wearing. You might even like to create another board with links to individual items that make up your outfits.
If something came up a lot maybe consider buying two of it. Everyone lives in different circumstances. Some of you could create this list and go out and buy the best of everything on it. Others will go and buy the one thing they like they most at the cheapest price. My philosophy is to buy the best you can afford, save and wait for sales. This exercise should not need to involve a credit card.
Hopefully this guide leads you to an individualised wardrobe that speaks of your own style and not the cookie cutter wardrobes you find on /r/malefashionadvice or mens mags.
Leave a comment below and share your boards or what you found in putting YOUR wardrobe essentials together.