Being a man of style and substance means many things, but two of them are relevant to today’s discussion. The first is that you understand that, while clothes do not make the man, clothes do matter. The second is recognizing that the best way to build a wardrobe is to avoid trends and clue in to classics. Today’s post has some suggestions that should help you do both. The questions that follow, and the perspective I will try to provide on each of them, is all about building a wardrobe worthy of a man of style and substance.
Before I get into the rules, i want to be clear, I’m not talking about the jeans and t-shirt portion of your wardrobe. There is nothing wrong with that part of your wardrobe. And while jeans and t-shirts are a major part of some designer’s fashion palettes, for most of us, jeans and a t-shirt are what we wear when working in the backyard or when camping or doing chores around the house or something else where the clothes are more likely to get damaged and dirty than they are to get noticed and appreciated.
Likewise, we aren’t talking just about suits. Again, a suit is a part of the wardrobe. But being a part of the wardrobe is not the whole of the wardrobe. Depending on the work you do, the profession that you have chosen, you may spend a great deal of time in a suit. You may not. Neither situation makes you a man of style and substance. That is something entirely different. But knowing how the wardrobe contributes to being a man of style and substance is worth knowing, respecting, and using for your benefit.
With that said, on to the rules.
Is it a replacement? The first reason that an individual should consider adding something to the wardrobe is that it is replacing something else. The reasons for the replacement can be many, from something being worn out to something no longer working with the other wardrobe pieces. Case in point, I had a tie that I picked up from a designer that I really enjoyed. It was a tie that I felt spoke to the interests that I had. It was like a silent statement that I was making about what I valued, who I was on the inside. It looked nice, it didn’t overwhelm the rest of the outfit (ever) and it was special.
Until it wore out. Everything wears out. This tie was no exception. It finally got to the point that it just was becoming old, threadbare and too badly worn to continue holding onto it. So I replaced it.
Is it meaningful? This goes somewhat along with the previous story. The tie that I picked up was one of the first real well made silk woven ties I had ever purchased for myself. It was a little bit like a rite of passage, proof that I was becoming more than a trend-chasing teenager, but a man, a gentleman. That tie meant something, and even though it was a little priceier than many of the other ties I had bought up to that time, and since that time as well, it meant something. That is plenty of reason to bring something of worth into the wardrobe.
Is it quality? Sometimes the best reason to bring something into the wardrobe is that it is a quality piece of clothing. I remember when I purchased a silk blazer. It carried a designer name, which spoke to its cut and fit. I knew that this particular designer made clothes that typically flattered my body shape and size nicely. But the jacket itself was exquisite. It had a great texture, both by touch and by sight. It was a piece that was going to last for years and wear extremely well without going out of style or falling apart with a little hard use. It was certainly a quality piece, and worth every penny I paid. It is still in my wardrobe, and I wear it about once a month, even today.
Does it fit your style? Sometimes I go through a store or a mall and something catches my eye. It just speaks to me, which I know sounds a little corny, but it is true. Some things just feel right, and when they do, picking them up is perfectly fine. Recently I was on a business trip and I found a shirt at a specialty retailer. It was a casual shirt in black with some detailing. I can tell you that I don’t need another black casual shirt. Ever. But this one was perfect. It was the perfect weight, cut, and detailing. It was from both a manufacturer and promoter that I appreciate and enjoy. In the end, I thought to myself, “This just looks like me.” So it came home with me in my luggage.
Is it different? Finding something new to add to your wardrobe is tricky. It can be a risk. After all, we have just talked about recognizing things that fit your style. But sometimes, especially if you are exploring a new direction for your wardrobe, finding something totally different is appropriate too. On another business trip I found one of those pork-pie fedoras that are so popular right now. It fit well, it was inexpensive, and it seemed like a fun purchase. Typically I have bought caps and a few wide brimmed cowboy hats. That has been my style. But this item, it just seemed like something worth picking up for the sake of difference. It spoke to a part of my personality that was coming to the surface, perhaps part of my maturing. Whatever the reason, it was certainly different. And it is in my collection now.
Approach from a standpoint of curation, not collection. This last one is a little harder for me to describe. It is about looking at the things that you are doing for patterns and departures. Do you tend to have a lot of dark colored suits? Great, now go out and find something a little lighter. Do most of your ties seem to be old rep stripe pieces? Great! Now go find one with a different theme. Curation is about deciding which of the other rules needs to be honored and which needs to be broken.
What do you think of these ideas? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.