A Well Appointed Gentleman’s Wardrobe

What might we reasonably expect in a well appointed gentleman’s wardrobe?  There is of course no single correct answer, for it depends on the gent in question, what he does for a living, and what is his personal style (assuming he has figured out what that is, of course).  Nonetheless, speaking in general terms a well appointed Gentleman’s wardrobe will include a sufficient range of clothing to enable a man to attend to his range of interests and commitments with a certain amount of style.

Business/Work/Formal Wear:  Depending on your role and work context you may need some suits.  Most men look good in a properly fitting suit so if you don’t currently wear one give it some thought.  You will occasionally have the formal event you need to attend: wedding, court appearance, graduation, Ascot race day, etc.  And of course you may occasionally wear a suit for the hell of it, ‘cause you actually feel like it!! Remember the mantra that you should dress not merely for the job you have but also for the job that you hope to do next.  For those who wear suits regularly a well appointed wardrobe will include suits in a range of colours and textures.  A very well appointed gentleman’s wardrobe might include suits of lighter fabric (and colour) for summer and heavier (and darker) fabric for winter.

Along with these suits will be required shirts (and ties depending on your context) in a range of colours to go with them. The number of shirts will depend on budget, need, level of ‘shirt addiction’ and the amount of available space in said wardrobe.  Ideally a minimum of shirts to cover a working week is required.  A very well appointed wardrobe will contain far more than the minimum. Many men operate with a very limited colour palette. A well appointed wardrobe will include a tasteful range of colours.

Smart Casual Wear: Alongside formal wear a well appointed wardrobe will include smart casual wear, increasingly the norm for the workplace; a suit is deemed to be overly formal (shame). A Jacket with chinos/cords and a smart shirt, possibly with a jumper, works in a variety of contexts often with colours being the means of differentiating more casual occasions from formal ones. Well appointed wardrobes include a range of combinations.

Black tie: A well appointed wardrobe may also include a tux, or at least plans towards one.  Most of us don’t need a tux regularly.  However, you don’t want to be in the situation of needing to be at a black tie event at relatively short notice and then running around trying to work out where does one go to find a tux? At some point, when you are not in a rush, if you don’t have a black tie ensemble you might want to get one. Don’t spend a fortune on it either unless you really are going to wear it sufficiently regularly.  Whatever you do get one that fits!  A badly fitting tux is a no-no.

Navy brogues, Allen Edmonds
Navy brogues, Allen Edmonds

Shoes:  A well appointed Gentleman’s wardrobe will include a range of shoes for different occasions. Very formal occasions require black leather shoes, usually highly polished.  In less formal contexts brown and black shoes or boots will be needed.  For the adventurous and creative, or the very well appointed wardrobe, other colours such as navy or grey might feature in the shoe collection. Shoes ideally are smart, comfortable and clean. Shoes are the most commonly neglected element of a man’s wardrobe, and one of the more expensive.  If you are one of the many men who possess no more than 2 pairs of shoes at a time, a pair of ‘smart’ and a pair of trainers, perhaps you need to begin your own 5-year project.

Outerwear: A well appointed gentleman’s wardrobe will also include appropriate outerwear, coats, raincoats, etc.  If a coat is to be worn over a suit jacket, it should ideally be longer than the jacket so that it covers the jacket completely apart from at the front.  There is little point in building up a wardrobe of suitably stylish clothing which is covered by an ugly coat.

Charles Tyrwhitt cuff-links

Accessories: A well appointed wardrobe will need some tasteful accessories. We men don’t need many accessories, and in general less is more.  Nonetheless, here are a few suggestions.  Watches suitable to the occasion; belts which match the colour of the shoes you are wearing; cuff-links which are not of the novelty variety, and perhaps some silk or cotton handkerchiefs in a range of colours for a bit of design flair.

Clearly, unless you have a banker’s bonus or a lottery win building a gentleman’s wardrobe is not the work of a moment.  Moreover, even if you could afford it there are sound reasons why you shouldn’t buy this lot in one big hit. I hope you are beginning to see why building a gentleman’s wardrobe is a 5 year project.

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