Building a Basic Wardrobe

Photo of a man shopping.

There comes a time in a man’s life when he gets his first suit. Most men think that they only need one suit which, in today’s world, is fine since most men don’t wear the more formal clothing of eras gone by as casual attire. However, it is smart for a man to build up his suit wardrobe, rather than having one single suit that he wears until it is worn out.

In 1960, A.J. Drexel Biddle, the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, was dubbed best dressed man in all the land (the United States that is). Why Biddle you ask? Because his wardrobe always looked new and spectacular but at home is simple wardrobe consisted of seven suits. They were:

- Three blue solids, two double breasted and one single
- Two blue pinstripes, one single and one double breasted
- One charcoal gray single
- One light-grey semi-solid double breasted in a lighter weight fabric

Most men today don’t wear suits, jackets and coats as frequently as men of the 1960’s did. The point is that men can be very well dressed with a very small yet well chosen wardrobe.

First, you should be willing to spend a little bit of money when building up your wardrobe. Suits should be high quality to last a lifetime. This expansion will take years and careful consideration but, in time, will be well worth your while.

For a man who does not wear suits often, starting off with dark colors is key. Dark gray, black or navy are appropriate for evenings and formal occasions. The gray is a great daytime suit for meetings and job interviews.

For a man who wears suits every day, five suits (a possible sixth to allow for cleaning and repairs) is a good idea. It allows for great wear so your every day doesn’t become stagnate. A basic suit collection for the everyday suit man could be:
- Dark gray solid
- Midnight blue solid
- Medium gray semi-solid
- Gray pin-stripe
- Navy blue chalk-stripe

This collection is great for the working man but the selection can also take him out for cocktails, to a formal event or to a meeting. If you opt to get the sixth suit, it can be a less formal one for weekends or “casual Friday’s.”

Another factor to consider is fabric weight. Think about your life style. A man should choose what fits in around him. If you live in cold weather, suits of 13 ounce weight in wool are a good choice. They are block cold but are also comfortable in the office.

If you live in a warmer climate, 10 ounce fabrics in a looser weave such as mohair or wool will work well. They are lighter and more breathable than other light weight tropical wools.

If you live in a climate that goes back and forth between warm and cool, opt to have your six suits split right down the middle – 3 in heavier 13 ounce and 3 in 10 ounce fabrics.

If you so choose, you may continue to grow your closet until you  have a wide variety. Having lighter weight suits in nearly ever color for the warmer seasons as well as heavier in nearly every color will ensure that you will be fit for every occasion. Also having a spring/summer and fall/winter casual suit collection for leisure times is ideal. Start your suit collection now. The collection will only mature and grow more sophisticated with you. You will surely become known as the best dressed man in all of your land.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Head.

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