An Exponential Range of Combinations

I read last week that women, on average, wear only around 20% of the clothes in their wardrobe with any regularity. I’ve no idea whether this is an accurate statistic. Since 80% of statistics are made up on the spot, there is a good chance that it isn’t. Nonetheless it makes good reading and makes one think. 

I began to wonder what percentage of my wardrobe I wear regularly.  I confess to being a creature of habit and it is very easy simply to stick with a few well-known combinations.

For example, a few days ago I selected one of my favourite shirts to wear to work; a blue and white block stripe twill from T M Lewin. If worn with a tie my default option is a beautiful blue satin silk tie, also from TML.

Blue Stin Silk tie, TML
Blue Satin Silk tie, TML

However, I thought I should explore other possibilities; my collection runs to nearly 50 ties, after all. Having spent nearly 10 minutes looking at alternatives, I finally decided that the blue satin was the best tie to wear with that shirt.  The status quo remained firmly in place.

There is nothing wrong with working with default choices if they are clearly the best option. However, one of the benefits of having a wide range of items in your wardrobe is that the potential number of unique combinations increases exponentially as the wardrobe grows.  It would be a shame not to explore the range of possibilities that your wardrobe allows.

Brown Linen DB & Blue Shirt
Brown Linen DB & Blue Shirt

So one of my aims this year is to explore a range of new combinations. So last week, for example, I experimented with brown and blue: a chocolate brown suit, blue shirt and blue shoes.  It worked, but wasn’t an improvement on my default blue and brown combination.

Brown Suit Blue Shirt
Even GQ is happy with a Brown Suit Blue Shirt combo

A more successful experiment was this week’s combination of merlot jumper with a similar colour bow tie, over a pink striped Winchester shirt, with charcoal grey suit.  It was warm, and with more than a splash of colour.

I followed that up with a plain grey Winchester shirt, wine chinos, grey herringbone waistcoat, red/navy striped tie, and pin striped taupe linen Jacket with navy shoes with red laces to pick up the red hues in trousers and tie.  That looked much better than it sounds.

Dr Who wears one....
Dr Who wears one….

Having worn red/wine on two consecutive days I found myself idly wondering whether I could get away with deliberately wearing a significant item of clothing in red/wine/merlot for a working week.  So red shirt one day, merlot jumper the next, wine trousers the third, etc.

Indeed one of the colour ranges I want to explore a little further is red/burgundy/merlot. My wine/burgundy chinos, now fit me fabulously since they have been adjusted and are being worn with braces. They are becoming a firm favourite.  A year ago I would not have considered what looks suspiciously like red trousers.  Now I am a big fan.

Not a great pic but you get the idea....
Not a great pic but you get the idea….

Today I experimented with a combination of pink shirt, lime green tie, a muted green knitted waistcoat and navy linen suit. Again, somewhat to my surprise it all worked and didn’t look particularly outrageous though I am conscious that it probably looks better than it sounds….

Trying new combinations does not require that one goes for bold colours. Rather it is to say if like me you always wear a particular shirt with that tie and this suit then maybe the time has come to ask what might it be like if you combined the shirt with a different tie and threw in a snazzy jumper or textured waistcoat under the suit?  Alternatively you might do away with the suit altogether in favour of an odd jacket/trouser combination.  If your wardrobe has the depth it would be a shame not to give it a go.


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