On the menu of our “PG essentials” series today, we present a set of guidelines to help you put together your entire wardrobe, ranging from formal to informal staple pieces.
This series is primarily focused on beginners, but the content can also be a great refreshment for the more seasoned gentleman.
Business and City wear
For the City
Any man somewhat concerned about his personal style should secure essential pieces (i.e., staples) in his closet.
These staples give a man a passageway to elegance no matter what the circumstances, and ensure that he is not caught off guard in a situation requiring a specific way of dressing.
Of course, every man likes to express his own style differently, but having staple clothing items can be a godsend in giving a man the freedom to dress effortlessly, regardless the situation.
In matters of elegance, as in life, quality trumps quantity. Put simply, four or five quality ensembles of clothing can go a long way towards building a strong working wardrobe.
- Three single-breasted suits. Ideally one suit should have peak lapels and one suit should include a waistcoat. Shades of blue or grey are safe choices, pinstriped or chalk-stripped suits may be considered as well.
- A double-breasted suit.
- Two sports coats : one in linen or cotton for the summer, and one in tweed or wool for the winter.
- An overcoat, either single or double-breasted.
- Two pairs of grey flannel trousers and two pairs of linen / cotton trousers for the summer.
- One cashmere sweater.
- Two pairs of quality denims.
- Ten shirts, including five plain shirts, three stripped shirts, and two summer shirts in light fabric.
- Ten ties, with around half being in solid colors.
- Ideally around six pairs of shoes is a good goal. To lengthen the life of your shoes, avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row and let any pair you have recently worn rest for around 48 hours before wearing them again.
- Three pairs of Oxford shoes – two black, one brown. The brown may be a brogue.
- Two pairs of Derby shoes, in the shades of brown. Now becoming more acceptable to be worn in town, brown shoes are traditionally a more casual option.
- One pair of loafers.
- Later, you may try more adventurous territories such as Balmoral boots or Whole cut shoes.
Men are starting to realize that wearing a weekend casual outfit doesn’t mean forfeiting elegance — far from it. The demand for sports coats is on the rise and the casual chic market is booming, which is great news considering creative casual dressing allows for near-limitless choices and possibilities : jackets, coats, sweaters, polos, etc.
The quality over quantity mandate stands true for leisurewear, and even more so for city wear. Invest in a few fine casual garments of good quality (ideally for each season), then build your wardrobe around staple pieces.
- A leather jacket.
- A raincoat, ideally a trench.
- Two sports coats: choose among a ‘hunting jacket’ in tweed with patch pockets, a four-season blazer, a military jacket or a travel jacket.
- Three quality sweaters in wool/cashmere. Two turtlenecks, and the other a V or round neck, to be worn over a good shirt.
- A cardigan sweater with or without sleeves–extremely versatile and elegant.
- Five button-down shirts (not to be confused with button-down collars), compatible with different weather conditions.
- A few nice pairs of denims.
- A pair of velvet or corduroy pants (purple, grey, blue) for winter and pair or two of linen white (or cream, or yellow) pants for the summer.
- Three pairs of grey flannel pants.
- Two plain scarves in wool or cashmereone in silk with a motif of your choice (e.g., paisley).
- A pair of leather gloves.
- Good work boots (like “Tanker boots” for outdoor activities).
- Two pairs of Derbys.
- Balmoral boots with gum soles.
As any connoisseur will say, there’s a number of simple daily gestures to be observed so clothes remain in great condition and weather gracefully.
While making it a habit to show gentle care towards your clothes, you create a beautiful patina of your own as the years pass by.
As stated above, a pair of shoes should never be worn two days in a row, whatever the season. The reason is that the shoe soles may absorb excessive sweat and leather needs rest to recover, as do all noble materials.
After a day of wear, brush your shoes to remove dust and residue, and always use a shoe tree (at least for the first three hours of rest). Shoetrees are the vital companions of any pair of quality shoes, and increase the shoe lifespan tremendously.
If you have the time, polish your shoes before putting them back in the closet. If you don’t have the time (or the courage) to do so, at least try to polish them before wearing them. As an alternative, many gents set aside Sundays for their polishing and ironing ritual.
The durability of your suits can be improved vastly by investing in quality hangers.
Avoid wearing the same suit two days in a row. Try to all a few days between wears for the suit fabric to dry out and relax. It is also helpful to brush the suit before putting it on its hanger or before wearing it to remove dirt and debris that may build over time. Weather permitting, try hanging your suit next to an open window to eliminate unpleasant smells and refresh the fabric. Attempt to forego dry cleaning–opting to have a tailor refresh your suit. If a dry cleaner service must touch your suit, make sure the cleaner is well experienced and limit such a service to once a year (or less) for each suit, as chemical treatments, disasters like ironing lapels flat, and even tumbling suits have been the demise of many an ensemble.
Shirts are an interesting case. As opposed to jackets, shirts should go directly to the laundry bin after wear. The shirt should be washed and ironed after each wear, and its lifespan will depend on how well you maintain the shirt.
The rules for maintaining your shirts are simply based on common sense : follow the directions on the label (generally wash at 30°C), and don’t hesitate to hand-wash exclusive fabrics. After ironing by hand, the shirt should be put on a hanger.
Trousers may be brushed after worn and put on a hanger, loop against loop (aka the Savile Row Method). Select traditional trouser hangers with a felted bar in order to avoid fold marks. Or, you may opt to use clamping hangers to suspend trousers upside down to remove creases and air out fabric.
To be continued…