So my 5 Year Project is finally complete. After 5 years of building I now have a Gentleman’s Wardrobe. Sure, it could undergo further development, and hopefully will in coming years. Nonetheless, it important to mark this point 0n the journey.
So what does my completed 5YP look like? Funny you should ask. I now have a very good answer since I’ve recently undertaken a 5 year project inventory. With the exception of one or two items, all of my existing collection was acquired between January 2008 and December 2012.
This is not to suggest that I was naked before 2008. Rather, it means that a large number of items have been replaced in the course of the 5YP. In part this has been a conscious and deliberate plan to replace unsuitable items; in part it has been necessary in order to make space for the incoming collection.
On the basis that confession is good for the soul here is the detailed inventory.
Formal Shirts: 42, seven of which are yet to be opened so 35 are currently in active circulation. In addition there are 5 clerical shirts bringing the total to 47.
As might be expected blue is a popular colour in the collection accounting for ⅓ of the total formal collection
Casual shirts 23: Comprising Short-sleeved button-down collar shirts 8; Other casual shirts 8; Polo shirts: 7.
‘In Between’ Trousers: 18. This includes 6 cords, 8 Chinos and 4 linens. In addition there are 4 pairs of jeans. Trousers grand total 22. (These do not include suit trousers).
Suits: 9. In addition there are two linen blazers, one tweed blazer, and one Tuxedo jacket. Tailoring Grand total 13. To these needs to be added 3 waistcoats, and 5 coats: 3 formal and 2 casual.
Knitwear: 20. Comprising 8 button-up cardigans, 8 jumpers ,2 sleeveless pullovers and 2 knitted waistcoats
Accessories: Ties: 47 (including 5 bowties). Cufflinks: 21 pairs. Watches: 4. Belts: 16. 7 in Black and 9 in Brown, Olive, Navy, Grey, and Tan.
Shoes: formal 18; Including 1 pair in Olive, 2 pairs in navy, 4 pairs in a range of tans and 1 pair in grey. 5 are suede leather in whole or part and 5 pairs are boots. In addition, there are 12 pairs of casual shoes which include trainers and sandals. Footwear grand total 30. Ouch!
In addition to all this there is a motley collection of Hoodies, T-shirts, socks in colours from red to violet, Handkerchiefs in similar hues, coloured shoe laces and one or two jogging bottoms (yes I do wear them), really useful for lazy Saturdays.
It would be inappropriate, methinks, to publish the total amount expended in the accumulation of this 5YP collection. It is probably sufficient to say that over 5 years the total figure runs well into 4 figures and that this is far more than I would have anticipated when I started out at the beginning of 2008. It is perhaps also appropriate to say is that it feels like money well spent.
Nonetheless, I have mixed views when I see my 5YP enumerated on paper. I confess that I am shocked to discover the number of shirts that I own. I knew it was a lot but hadn’t quite realised it was that many.
“My name is Calvin and I am a shirtaholic…..”
Conversely, I am a little surprised that the number isn’t larger for formal shoes because they appear to take up a lot more space than 18. What is a real surprise is the number casual shoes, because I wear casual shoes far less frequently. I can already foresee a future in which I get rid of casual shoes to make more space for a growing formal shoe collection! 🙂
I feel similarly about tailoring. In the limited wardrobe space that I have available they seem to fill the wardrobe but when listed the collection isn’t quite as encyclopaedic as it feels.
How does this inventory compare with December 2007 before my 5YP began? Regrettably, there isn’t an equivalent inventory from 2007 with which to make a detailed comparison. So I am forced to rely on memory which is, of course, unreliable at best and downright misleading at worst.
Nonetheless, from memory I can note some obvious changes. My formal shirt collection in 2007 would not have exceeded a dozen so it has quadrupled in five years. Moreover, it has seen an exponential improvement in quality and fit. Apart from 6 shirts and, of course, all of the clerical shirts, the rest of my formal shirt collection comes entirely from T M Lewin and Hawes & Curtis. None of my shirts predate January 2008.
My suit collection in 2007 would have been of the order of five suits with no blazers or Tux. So my tailoring collection has doubled. Again all of my suits date from 2008 onwards.
As for my shoe collection, dear me; the total collection has at least trebled in number, (and in colour, never mind quality) and the formal section has quadrupled. However, unlike shirts and tailoring one or two pre %YP shoes survive in the collection.
Accessories have a similar story. Ties have doubled in number, I would guess, as have cufflinks, but watches have remained reasonably stable. Again some pre 5YP accessories survive in the collection.
I am in the interesting situation now where I need very little by way of clothing and have been in that position for at least a year or two now. Nonetheless, there remain things that I would like to add to my Wardrobe at some point. I regret that my shoe collection still does not include any Monk Straps. I would like to explore tweed a little further and a green hacking jacket is on my wish list. Knitted and Textured Waistcoats is an obvious area of interest as is continuing to build up my bow-tie collection.
In many ways I wish I were starting my 5-year project at this point because I would go about it very differently, knowing what i know now. Having said that I have very few regrets. There are one or two items that I wish I had not bought. In some cases this is because it was a mistake. In others I moved too swiftly and did not wait for the particular item I was after to fall into my price bracket only to find that after I had bought an inferior alternative that the price did indeed fall. and of course in a wardrobe that is growing there is always the risk of duplication. Nonetheless, as I have said, very few regrets.
Some items, of course, are beginning to be in need of replacement. So, for example, the very first suit I bought at the beginning of my 5YP in January 2008 is now five years old and beginning to get a little weary. It needs to be replaced at some point in the future. At the same time, this is hardly a pressing need simply because there are plenty of alternative suits in the collection.
So having completed my 5 Year Project what will i do now? My plan for the next 12 months or so, is to have a wardrobe building sabbatical. What I intend to do is exactly the opposite of what I’ve have been doing for the last 5 years. Rather than seeking to build my collection I intend simply to enjoy it.
I anticipate that this will be more difficult than it sounds, simply because one gets easily accustomed to accumulating after a while. For those who, like me, are collectors, not collecting requires discipline. So 2013 promises to be an interesting year.
Now, let’s be very clear. I’m not suggesting that I will not add to the wardrobe at all in 2013. Rather, I am suggesting that I will radically slash my budget for next year so that I collect extremely little. in fact rather than seeing how much I can add in 2013 I will be seeing how little I can add. It will be an interesting project for me to spend a year NOT Building A Gentleman’s Wardrobe. 2014 will hopefully present an opportunity to return to the next phase of the 5YP, not that I know what that is at this point… Nonetheless, I intend to continue posting 5YP articles in 2013
So I wish you all the best for the year that is ahead. If you haven’t yet decided to begin your very own 5YP there’s nothing like a New Year to begin a new phase in sartorial elegance. Here’s a tip, however. If you are planning to begin a 5YP in 2013 take an inventory at the end of this year so that when you get to 2017 you can do a better comparison than I’ve managed.
All God’s blessings for 2013.