A Gentleman’s Wardrobe: Tier 1

In building a wardrobe, a gentleman does well to think in terms of tiers.  Tier 1 is the realm of the suit, and that is where we start.

Why start on Tier 1, why start with the suit?  Quite simply because a suit can serve in many situations, but other items are not as versatile.  A suit can be dressed down, but a blazer or sports coat is never as classy or sophisticated as a suit, no matter who the designer is.

When purchasing a suit, it is a good idea to set aside some time for the experience.  True, you can walk into the nearest men’s store, put on a few jackets and trousers and call it good, but you will likely be more pleased with the results if you take your time.  Find a man who knows clothing, someone who is more than just a salesman, and you are likely to learn far more than just what size you should be looking for.  You will also learn about fabrics, weaves, weights, rise, hand, and the subtle alterations that can make a suit look custom built for you rather than just purchased off the rack.

In building tier 1, i recommend three suits.  1 should be black, ideal for formal occasions.  1 should be gray, more versatile than black, but still suitable (no pun intended) for formal occasions.  Finally, one in blue.  I recommend these three colors because they are less likely to go out of style quickly, and for the man of style AND substance, maximizing the value obtained from any investment in clothing is critical. 

Along these same lines, I recommend single breasted, two button suits for at least two of the tier 1 items.  Again, these are classic lines, typically prepared in more conservative cuts and fabrics, making them more likely to last a long time before they are noticeably out of style.  In some cases, the right suit can provide a decade of wear, or more, before it must be retired.

I recommend having the slacks hemmed without a cuff, again owing to the fact that cuffed slacks go in and out of style, but it is not critical to do so.  Most clothiers will have a tailor on site who can handle the hemming quickly and generally with no or little charge.

If you are an individual with an athletic build, meaning that there is more than 8 inches difference between your chest and your waist, you will likely want to look at purchasing suits through matching separates.  Many department stores will carry the slacks and coats separately, and minor adjustments to fit can be made by a local tailor.

One way to make the suit more economically feasible and longer lived include going with a suit made from a blended fabric.  Typically a wool/polyester or wool/dacron blend will provide a pleasant feel without being stiflingly hot during the summer nor too thin during the winter.  Additionally, the blended fabrics tend to make the fabric more resilient, allowing for more time between cleanings and making replacement less frequently needed.

Tier 1 items, wisely purchased and thoughtfully cared for, can pay dividends for years

What questions come to mind as you finish reading this post?