Wardrobe Planning

What’s in your professional wardrobe?

What do I mean by that?  I mean what are the pieces that are currently in your wardrobe that would allow you to slip seamlessly into a business meeting where millions of dollars were on the line?

Do you have pieces that would accomplish the task?

Do you know what pieces you should have?

When I was working in men’s clothing full time, this was a question I would often ask of my customers.  New graduates seldom had anything, and sadly, some gentlemen well along in their careers were not much better off.

But the question, and the answer, are critical.  What’s in your professional wardrobe?

Some gentlemen that I talk to protest, and tell me that they don’t need such things in their wardrobes.  “I’m just an average guy, I wear polo shirts and khaki’s to work, and that’s on the good days.  Why do I need to think about a professional wardrobe?”  The answer I give invariably is, “Because when you need to think about one, it’s too late.  It controls you, and you will spend more and get less.  Thinking about it when you don’t need it is how you maximize quality for every dollar spent.”

So what’s in your wardrobe?

Over the next few posts, we will talk about different pieces, and the combinations that make or break the wardrobe.  But in this post, I want to stress that we won’t be talking about spending a lot of money, and we won’t be talking about doing it all at once.  We will be taking the approach of finding a piece at a time, prioritizing based on the pieces that you currently own, and adding carefully to that group.

For my readers who are familiar with the business world, this makes sense.  For my readers who don’t, think of it this way: you wouldn’t dream of tackling an activity without the right gear, right?  Think of your wardrobe in exactly the same way.  You are putting together the gear that you will need to be successful in very focused and particular projects.

And if it we do it right, it will be fun.

So, here is some homework.  Look at your wardrobe.  Break it down in terms of suits, blazers, sportcoats, slacks, dress shirts in solids and patterns and colors, ties in colors and varieties and, believe it or not, even socks.  See what you would have available if you were called to the ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange, or to sit with investment bankers to discuss a multi-million dollar deal, or invited to the White House to present an idea to the president’s cabinet.

I know, a little far fetched, right?

But you never know.

Next week, we start talking about what you found, and what you need to find.

The Versatile and Indispensable Sweater

The man of style and substance is both discerning and dogged in his pursuit of elements to add to his wardrobe.  They must fill more than one niche, of high quality, and designed with both aesthetic and serviceable qualities in mind.  We who are driven to pursue style even while remaining committed to priorities (and budgets) are careful in our acquisitions but ever mindful of the items that can be added to dress an outfit up or down.  Enter the sweater!  While not in the category of a suit, it can perform many of the same functions.  and while alone it is not enough to fend off the elements in many outdoor situations, with a little thought it can be a wonderful addition to pieces that are insufficient alone.


Let me be clear, I am not thinking of a sweater like Mr. Rogers cardigans.  There is a time and place for such a sweater, but they are not necessarily a style piece.  They are functional to a fault, and while they lend themselves to style rich pieces, what I am thinking of is definitely a different item.


The sweater I am referring to is typically made of acrylic or blended with cotton or wool to give a high warmth without feeling like a track jacket or sweatshirt.  It isn’t fleece, but instead is woven with thicker fibers and finished to prevent easy snagging while retaining a more organic feel.


Typically, the sweater I am thinking of is cut closer to the body and likely with a longer than waist hem.  It may or may not have waist pockets, but will invariably have a chest pocket, perfect for storing a mobile phone.  It zips, allowing it to vent and hold in heat, depending on the needs of the wearer, and it is likely finished in colors that make it easy to match to various trousers or pants.


Did I say trousers?  Why yes I did.  The sweater I am speaking of would look fine paired with the right slacks and dress shirt, and can even make a tie look less formal, but can also be paired with jeans or twills and a mock turtleneck and become a step above casual.  Comfortable in both the board room and the ski lift, it can be worn as a layering piece in both arenas without losing any of its credibility.


Most of us, when we are thinking about a piece to wear over a shirt, go immediately to the sport coat.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t.  But I am suggesting that, if you can look through your closet and not find at least one or two good sweaters, maybe it’s time to change targets.  Use the sweater to dress up jeans and a polo, pairing the outfit with a pair of dressy styled slipons.  Or use the sweater to give the dress shirt and slacks an approachability factor that every favorite uncle is known for.  Experiment with this wonderful piece, pick one up in neutral colors, and another in some rich tones, and see what it does for your style choices.


I am careful about recommending brands, because you con’t always get what you pay for, but The North Face and Columbia both have some wonderful options, as does Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic.  But look around, and you will find options galore.


What do you think about the option of using a sweater to expand your wardrobe options, and if you desire, leave a thought about your favorite sweater.



Travel with style

When I was young, travel was amazing and intriguing.  I watched movies and TV shows about people and families who visited interesting and amazing places and I was fascinated.  One of the things that stood out the most was that they always seemed so well put together, and it seemed so effortless.

As I got older, I realized more and more that the effortlessness portrayed was the result of good script writing, and the selection of destinations had much to do with attracting an audience, but the idea of traveling being something remarkable and dignified has never left.

Fast forward to the most recent business trip I took.  The vast majority of travelers looked more like they were going to the corner for milk and eggs than anything else.  Travel has become mundane, completely lacking in style, and I think that’s a shame.  So, with Thanksgiving coming and travel a given, I invite you to join me and make traveling with style your SOP.  Consider the following:

1. Travel comfortable, not casual. Jeans ans hoodies are fine for hanging out.  They may even be part of your selected wardrobe upon arrival, but five some.thought to slacks and a sweater for the actual journey.  Slacks can be more comfortable and less binding when sitting for long periods of time, and a quarter zip sweater over a polo or dress shirt is far more elegant and classy then the hooded alternative.

2.  Upgrade the carryon bag.  I’m not saying that a duffle bag isn’t extremely functional.  I’m saying that it is a little too functional, especially from the standpoint of.advertising.  Carrying a bag that has been designed to be a billboard for the company you bought it from is good for them, but does little for YOUR personal brand.  Consider finding something that reflects how you see yourself through fabrics or styling.  Also, recognize that a well packed rolling case can hold nearly as much as a comparable duffel bag while giving the air of sophistication and class, not sweat and gym class.

3.  Dress for your destination.  Checking the forecast for the destination and preparing to shed or don layers upon arrival is good.common sense.  But rather than burying or cramming the jacket, plan its placement so that movement through the airport is smooth and effortless.

With these thoughts in mind, enjoy your holiday travel.