I have had the opportunity to read through many of your blog entries and wanted to see your thoughts on building a wardrobe. I work in Commercial Mechanical Equipment Sales (construction), and have had difficulty extending my style to my work attire. My daily activities cover the full spectrum of needs. From owner business meetings, to going out in the field reviewing installations with engineers.
In essence I would like to start over. I, as you have detailed, have become lazy with my attire after college and need to purge the clothes of yesteryear and move forward as a gentleman. I need to get back to the basics. Do you have any suggestions? Recommendations on where to start, or the essential building blocks of the perfect wardrobe? I do have some key components, 3 tailored suits, tailored dress shirts with Allen Edmund shoes. Southern Tide Polo’s and fitted jeans coupled with Red wing Iron Rangers. The rest will be donated to local charities. I have a broad range of needs and would like to start with key components and build from there. Quality over quantity.
A noble task you look to embark upon. And a feasible one as well; it will just take time, effort and funds.
Let’s start with suits. 2 or 3 staples are always good to have; solid navy and 1 or two shades of solid grey; pinstripes with caution. A solid navy and solid grey suit should get you through 2-3 days of suit wear a week. In your case, if you are dealing with different people everyday it would be easier to wear the same suit twice a week because you may not be going into the same office with the same people everyday. Depending on where in the States you live you may want to think about the weight and construction more. If you are in the south where it is warmer year round you may want to invest in a half lined jacket or a fabric with a more open weave/lighter weight. Along with the suit you will need shirts, at least 1 for every day of the week. However, in your case, it sounds like you will need to be prepared for casual, work site and more formal occasions (suits) so you may need a few more, to start. I would recommend, if at all possible, to got the made to measure/custom route on any suits and shirts you may acquire. As fit is the primary concern, and you will get the best fitting garments by going that route. Refer to Black Lapel, My Tailor, Indochino, Luxire, JJ Threads and MySuit.
You will also need an assortment of dress pants (wool mostly), cotton khakis and I suppose jeans. If you have not looked into the brand before, may I recommend Bills Khakis. The quality and material is spot on, the price a little high but you can wear them into the ground, not to mention they are American as shit. The fit tends to be baggy so go for the slimmer styles and be prepared to get them tailored; I will be wearing mine until they fall apart. Polos are always good to bolster a casual wardrobe. As you noted Southern Tide has some good ones. I am also a big fan of Kent Wang’s, may be worth investigating. I know nothing about boots, ie Red Wings, so I cannot recommend anything there.
But dress shoes on the other hand… In honesty, it depends on the style of shoe you want. Allen Edmunds are a great value and great shoes, however, the shoes are a little clunky (as are Alden); they are historically designed to go with American suits, which are not the most fitted suits (Brooks, J Press etc)… And are less fitted than European counterparts. So, if that is the style you want then go for it. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention a few european brands. There are the English makers; Loake, Crockett & Jones, Church’s and Herring. They all make solid shoes and provide a solid value, the styling is much like Allen Edmonds and Alden (as the Americans took all their cues from the Brits), however, they are a little more streamlined and less clunky. I personally prefer the English makers, despite all this hype around made in America shoes. I must also recommend three other brands. Meermin, Carmina and Septieme Largeur. The former two are Spanish makers, they are well styled and well made. Meermin is the less expensive of the two (I just received 2 pair from Meermin and am quite impressed what they deliver for the price). You cannot go wrong with either. Septieme is a french brand. The shoes are quite nice and well styled, they have a bit of the French aesthetic in them, so they are less English/American styled than you may want, but do give the brand due diligence. I would recommend having one pair of brown and one pair of black shoes. Stick with calf leather for both. It’s really up to you on the style of shoes; oxford, derby or loafer. Oxfords the most formal and loafers the least. All can be worn with a suit (however, I don’t like derbys with a suit but that is just me). I hope this helps, let me know if you have any further questions.
Justin L Jeffers