I have been quite busy in the last seven years building a wardrobe that will seem modest by your standards, but is still quite substantial for me. And obviously once you start, it’s hard to stop: there always seems to be something, even something very classical, that one does not have and looks great in some pictures. Those country leather boots, that tweed suit and so on.
Even though I have benefitted massively from the advice, and have tried to keep in mind when I would wear certain things, I have ended up with some items I do not wear. I take it from some posts that even you have not escaped that trap, so I was wondering if you could share some insights about your experience with items that strive for sartortial completeness but that will most likely just sit in the wardrobe of the modern urban citizen.
Thanks for your question. It is a very interesting one: a fresh perspective on both the building of an ideal wardrobe and the sartorial temptations we enthusiasts sometimes fall prey to. Here are five things that I think are worth reconsidering. I could go to the other extreme and list the five most useful at some point too, if people think that would be helpful.
Overcoats need to be versatile. If you have one good one it will be worn over everything, after all. Yet they are such interesting things that it is tempting to go for camel hair, colourful tweed, raglan sleeves, and all sorts of design permutations, such as the polo coat. A bespoke overcoat is a beautiful thing, primarily for the fit. It is the flattering line of a jacket writ large, with flowing skirt and strong shoulder. Keep it simple.
Of course you need a double-breasted suit. It’s a sartorial staple, right? Well perhaps – it is certainly the most immediate, big variation on a standard lounge suit. But for many guys it’s simply not practical. They can’t sit at their desks all day in it easily. It is harder to dress down than a single-breasted. By all means consider a DB suit, but think very carefully what it will be like to wear.
I love my velvet jacket, from Timothy Everest. But then I go to more evening events than most, and certainly more that suggest a sartorial statement. Even black tie is a questionable investment for most. Leave velvet for when you’ve finished the first wardrobe and moved onto the second.
Cream linen suit
I adore linen. Beautiful material that should be bought as heavy as possible and then lived in as much as possible. But when will you actually wear a cream suit? Perhaps more to the point, when will you do so and not feel more than a little awkward, like some kind of ornamentation to the event rather than a guest? My suggestion: get a lovely pair of cream linen trousers made first; wear them with every colour of jacket in the summer, and consider adding a full suit (probably with another pair of trousers) next year.
Apart from watches and cufflinks, most men’s jewellery should be approached with caution. It’s easy to think that a pocket watch is somehow a male staple, or a tie pin. But both only work if they are consistent parts of your wardrobe. Are you the kind of guy that is going to wear a pocket watch instead of a wristwatch most days? I thought not.
(Oh, and spectator shoes…)