5-Year Project Complete (but there’s still stuff I want)

I’m in year 6 of my 5-year project to build a Gentleman’s wardrobe. 

I started the project in January 2008 and ‘completed’ it 5 years later in December 2012. It’s a great point to have reached. I even published a Mission Accomplished post on this blog at the end of last year.

In some ways that is true. My 5-year project is complete; I have built a gentleman’s wardrobe of depth and breadth. My expectation was that in 2013 I wouldn’t really need to add anything to the wardrobe. Having spent the previous 5 years in acquisition mode I anticipated that in 2013 I would primarily be enjoying the fruits of my labour.

However, whilst that has undoubtedly been the case, the last 10 months have also give me a chance to notice the remaining gaps in the wardrobe that I still have not filled.

For example, 2013 has proved to be the year of the blazer. This was a gap I had not recognised at the end of 2012. So I have been adding a number of blazers to the collection this year, which have changed the way I dress.

However, there remain a number of gaps that I have yet to address.

Barker-Barker McGregor-Black Calf-6709-3514-1

Formal Black Shoes

One of the surprising gaps in my wardrobe is a great pair of formal black shoes. Given that I have spent quite a bit of time (and money) building up my shoe collection that is a bit of an oversight.

I need a great pair of formal black shoes which are formal enough to be worn to a wedding but more likely to be worn to work. Given that I would like to wear them to work they should ideally be comfortable enough to be worn for long days, i.e. about 16 hours.  As formals they should be lace up Oxfords capable of being polished to a high shine.

Now let’s be clear. I have a number of formal black shoes in my collection. However none of these is quite sufficient for those needs.

Single Monk BlackI have a great pair of formal shoes from Loake. They look great, fit well, and are a fabulous pair of shoes. However, they are slip on rather than lace ups which are slightly less formal. In addition, they are not sufficiently comfortable to be worn on really long days.

I also have a great pair of black boots from Barratts, my oldest pair of formal shoes. They too are great, a reasonably comfortable fit. But as boots they are not quite as formal.

And finally I have a pair of brogues from Tesco. They were a real steal as they had been discounted to £12. Even better, I was able to use Clubcard vouchers to buy them. On the plus side, they are comfortable, they have cleated soles which are useful in slippery conditions, and they are reasonably stylish. Negatively they do not look especially formal, their clunky soles which are great in wet weather are less great with a formal suit and they do not polish to a high shine.

So effectively I need a pair of black formal shoes which combine the best bits of all three pairs.  On dry days I assume that I will replace the Tesco pair.  However whenever it rains I remember how useful they are.

Crockett & Jones Lowndes Monks
Crockett & Jones Lowndes Monks


I still have not managed to add monk straps to my collection.  I just haven’t got round to it, nor have I found a pair of monks which I like that I can afford.  The ones I’ve liked I can’t afford and the ones I can afford I don’t like. So at some point in the next year I will need to address this oversight.

The great thing about monks is that hey are unusual and they sit in the place between formal and casual: a little more formal than brogues, a little less formal than oxfords.


I wrote earlier this week about Fossil Watches. I still haven’t got a decent watch in my collection. Actually, that’s not true. I do have one decent watch that I bought used at boot sale in 1999 for US$10.  It’s a great looking thing by Perry Ellis and is part of a matching pen and watch set.


However, since then, I’ve followed it up with a number of cheap watches and none of my current watches cost more than a tenner.

Interestingly watches have not really been a feature of my 5YP. I’ve admired a few but not bought any. So I feel about ready for a grown up watch.


Bates Hat

I have a few hats in my collection. However, none of them is made by a proper hat maker.  I’ve admired hats made by Bates but have not yet added one to my collection.  I have already selected one in my mind which is both smart and affordable. At some point I need to take the plunge.

Jermyn Street Suit

Savile Row is the traditional home of English suit making; Jermyn Street for shirts. However, a number of JS retailers also now offer suits including my favourite three, TM Lewin, Charles Tyrwhitt and Hawes & Curtis. I do not own a suit from any of these though I have plenty of other things. Scratching that itch would be great.


So if anyone is feeling generous and wondering what to put into my Christmas stocking, feel free to consider this a wish list….

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