Building a Gentleman’s Wardrobe (BGW) Year 2 of 5: Building up the Collection

So you’ve worked on year 1 of your 5-year project.  If you haven’t you might want to have a look at BGW Year 1 of 5: Covering the Bases. Hopefully, by now the basics are largely in place so that in year 2 you are looking to build up the collection.

Hopefully your wardrobe does not look like this

Year 1 of my 5-yearproject was very much focussed on suits, as that was my pressing need. It’s what kick started my 5-year project. My two favourite suits had holes in them in embarrassing places and something needed to be done.  I had two other suits, each of which had seemed a good idea at the time, but really weren’t.  I had only one suit that didn’t have a problem with it. It was, however, brown.  So not a great starting place.

By the end of year 1, I had 3 purchased decent suits and so the focus shifted to shirts in year 2.  Nothing like a new suit to make you realise that your shirts are pants.  In addition, it was during year 2 that I Found My Perfect Fit.  So shirts moved up my agenda.

It is always important to work out an annual budget for your 5-year project and stick to it.  My budget for year 1 was pretty small but by year 2 it had increased, so there was greater flexibility.  I was able to spend about the same amount on suits in year 2 as I had the previous year whilst also purchasing shirts, shoes, ties and cufflinks.

For year 2 work out what you are aiming to purchase and see how it fits within your annual budget.  Clothing should ideally be interchangeable.

E.g. a plain navy suit could be worn together or separately.  A button up jumper can be worn with a pair of trousers or with a suit creating as a neo-three piece look.  Shirts should be able to be worn with a variety of suits and ties, and be worn casually or more formally. If you have not been measured recently do so to make sure that you are purchasing clothing that fits properly.

By the end of year 2 you should have a decent wardrobe developing with the following:

  • 3-5 suits, depending on how often you tend to wear them,
  • 5-10 decent shirts which fit properly
  • 2-3 pairs of smart shoes in black and brown
  • 4-6 ties matching a range of shirts and suits
  • 2-3 jumpers
  • 2-3 smart jeans/chinos for more casual occasions
  • Accessories including cufflinks, belts to march shoes, and a decent watch

Where to shop?

This entirely depends on your budget and tastes. As a man of modest means I rarely shop in the places that I might like to. For casual wear I am not especially bothered where I go. For more formal items I am more choosy.

I find that certain shops are my ‘go to’ places for certain items.  If I need a shirt I head to T M Lewin or Hawes & Curtis.  For cufflinks and ties I look to Charles Tyrwhitt, for shoes I tend to look to T K Maxx or M&S etc.  Suits are trickier; I’ve bought them from Suits You, Burton, M&S, Primark, George @ Asda, and TU @ Sainsbury’s. It ultimately boils down to a question of Cost v Quality.

Happy hunting.

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