An Interchangeable Wardrobe

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When you build a house you start with a strong foundation.

Building a timeless wardrobe is no different.

A man needs a foundation of clothing he can reach for when he needs it – clothing that helps him look his best, is right for the occasion he’ll be attending, and is timeless in style.

The goal of this article is to help you understand clothing interchangeability and how to start building a versatile men’s wardrobe.

By choosing foundation clothing pieces that are wearable with a wide range of other items and classic in style, you’ll create a timeless & interchangeable wardrobe.  This will save you both time and money.

 

Clothing as an Investment

A man does not have enough money to buy cheap things.

What do I mean by this?  In our “disposable society” we have become accustomed to clothing being cheap and something we throw away after it wears out.  We move through life never wearing anything that we really love or are supremely confident in.   And the worst part is we throw money away every few years buying new cheap clothing; the only thing we have to show for it is a tax receipt for donating the clothing to Goodwill.

interchangeable man's wardrobe

If every piece of clothing in this wardrobe were interchangeable, you would be looking at over 34,000 options.

When I say invest in clothing, I mean buy QUALITY pieces that will last you decades and can be repaired at a fraction of the cost of buying new.  Quality shoes, shirts, suits, and luggage have the unique characteristic of actually looking better over time when taken care of.  Cry once about the price, and then spend a lifetime reaping the rewards of being a man who pays attention to the details.

When you invest in clothing you want to acquire a collection of pieces that are interchangeable and fit you.  From this clothing wardrobe you can create numerous outfits that all look sharp and take no effort to combine.

What makes Clothing Interchangeable?

Simply put, a man has an interchangeable wardrobe when each piece of clothing in his closet matches a large number of complementary items.

A light blue shirt that matches 7 out of your 9 pairs of slacks is interchangeable; that red dress shirt that only works well with 1 of your nine trousers is not.  A navy herringbone suit that can be worn with 13 out of your 15 dress shirts is interchangeable; the light grey and pink pin stripe suit that only looks sharp with 2 of the 15 is not.

Your wardrobe should be built on classic interchangeable pieces that go with at least 60% of their counterparts; a higher percentage of compatibility is always better.

WHY?  Look at the chart below – it’s a numbers game.

mens interchangeable wardrobe options

In the above example we do assume 100% compatibility; however the number of items is very conservative.  Yet we can extract three hundred unique outfits from 20 clothing items. And I didn’t even include ties, pocket squares, coats, vests, and accessories that could easily have increased this number ten-fold!

Three Advantages of an Interchangeable Wardrobe

Need more reasons to build an interchangeable wardrobe?  Here are three other advantages of a classic interchangeable wardrobe.

1.  Less Clothing in your Closet

Currently you own 28 dress shirts but only wear 8.  Imagine owning 15, and wearing all 15.  Do this throughout your wardrobe and you’ll free up more than 50% of the space and find that you have more options as to what to wear.  Less clothing, less clutter, more options.  Perfect!

2.  Less Money Spent on Clothing

The key with spending less on clothing is to make sure everything you purchase is going to be worn.  Nothing is more expensive than an item you never use.

To illustrate this let me present a scenario.

Which suit is more expensive – a $300 polyester suit that doesn’t fit and you hate to wear, or a $1000 suit that fits perfectly and boosts your confidence because you are complimented every time you wear it?  I can tell you you’re going to wear that ill-fitting suit only when you have to, and the latter you’ll find excuses to wear it because you love the way it makes you feel.  That cheap suit you finally throw out and wore only 3 times cost you $100 per wear (300 divided by 3) – the higher quality suit you finally wore out after 10 years of faithful service ended up only costing you $10 per wear (1000 divided by 100).

3.  Less Time Spent Dressing

Having an interchangeable wardrobe means that you no longer have to think when you get dressed in the morning.  Any combination is going to work because the clothing was purchased with matching in mind.  Yes it takes a bit more time to make sure this happens, and you’ll have to stay clear of clothing items that are difficult to match.  But the reward is when you have 10 minutes to get ready for work, you’re not spending but a few seconds finding items that go together.

A Man's Guide To Style

How to Build an Interchangeable Wardrobe

How to Build Interchangeable Wardrobe steps

Step 1 – Inventory what’s in your Closet

Every man who starts the journey of building his wardrobe does so with only a few pieces   A couple pairs of shoes, several shirts, a few pairs of trousers, half a dozen ties and maybe a suit or two.  Most of these items will have been acquired out of need or the inability to pass up on a great sale.  It’s safe to say a large percentage of this clothing is not ideal in terms of fit and interchangeability.

The first step in building an interchangeable wardrobe is identifying which pieces you can build around, which pieces you’ll keep but rarely wear, and which pieces should disappear into the Salvation Army bin as soon as possible.

Assuming you’ve stopped growing, you need to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit or cannot be adjusted to fit.  Next, consider getting rid of clothing pieces that are not classic in style or fabric make-up.  If it looks clearly looks like it’s a fashion piece from the 1970’s or is built from a fabric whose quality is so bad or outlandish it draws attention to itself, toss it as well.

Past this point you’ll want to be careful.  Even though I advocate interchangeability, do not get rid of an item simply because it isn’t interchangeable.  If you already own it, the only cost associated with it is storage.  This piece of clothing could very well serve you as a non-core piece that you wear only once a month.

mens tweed fabrics

Step 2 – Buy Core Men’s Wardrobe Pieces

Once you have cleaned out your closet you now have the urgency and motivation to start building your interchangeable wardrobe with core pieces.  Factors to be taken into account when buying pieces for a new wardrobe are build quality, fabric, style, fit and price.  Although price is normally the most important factor for many of us, I highly recommend you not let it be the driving factor.  Assuming that you’re within your budget, spending 30% more to get exactly what you want vs. settling for what’s cheapest is a not a good strategy.  Better to get the quality item you want and wear the hell out of it than buy something you’re lukewarm about and consequently ends-up sitting in the back of your closet.

A classic men’s wardrobe will include a variety of clothing items depending on the man’s physical build, professional needs, resources, and personal style preferences.Specific core pieces for most men will be a dark suit, a blazer or dark sport jacket, leather dress shoes, a variety of solid colored dress shirts, grey flannel trousers, classic dark Levi jeans, and depending on the weather it could expand to a range of hot or cold weather items a well.  For a complete list of core wardrobe items look to our other articles that specifically address building a man’s wardrobe.

Core Clothing Colors – Neutral colors as well as natural solids will be most practical for most men’s complexions and needs.  Classics like the navy suit, brown tweed sports coat, and the gray flannel trouser will allow the wearer to mix and match as he pleases to create a pleasing appearance while remaining conservative with a modest number of items.  Although many men often want to spice up their wardrobe with loud shirt colors and patterns, most are better served by ensuring their first ten shirts consist of 70 to 90% classic solids and semi-solid weaves.

Core Clothing Fabric Weight – When buying clothing items for a new wardrobe search for medium-weight pieces.  For example, a medium-weight cashmere sweater is more interchangeable and therefore going to get more use than a heavy-weight wool sweater that can’t be layered appropriately.

Core Clothing Style – Classic is not boring or old-fashioned; classic is simply using lines and shapes that have made men appear more masculine and attractive for decades.  Classic styles have been tested by millions of men across the globe; they have stuck because they work.  To not use this to your advantage is asinine.

wide variety of men's clothing

Step 3 – Expand the Core and Incorporate Personal Style

Once you have the core of an interchangeable wardrobe built, you can start add items that are more “wants” than “needs”.   Here is also where you can add clothing pieces that are hard to match but useful for particular situation or if you really have a need to use clothing to stand out from the crowd.  Think patterned trousers, bold colored shirts, or a jacket with unique buttons or style features.  Shoes are another place to really build your wardrobe, especially if you go with a style that’s classic yet a bit out of the ordinary.  Think multi-colored derby, saddle, or boat shoes.

A Classic Interchangeable Wardrobe – Conclusion

This article is an introduction to the reasons why you should build an interchangeable wardrobe.  As to how to build this wardrobe, a man needs to consider factors such as the components of his individual style and invest in his own sartorial education so that he can learn from the experiences and mistakes of the men before him.

RAW Transcript

An Interchangeable Wardrobe

[0:00:00]
Hi. I’m Antonio Centeno, the founder of Real Men Real Style and today I’m going to be talking about building an interchangeable wardrobe. The first thing you have to understand is that clothing is an investment and this is important to understand because we live in a society in which clothing is looked at as disposable. If you go to Walmart or you go to a lot of these places, they try to sell you clothing which is poorly made, is made from cheap fabric that doesn’t feel good on you. It doesn’t fit you properly and the result is, yes, we can all afford a whole lot of clothing but we end up with closets just full of clothing but we never have anything to wear.

The whole idea of an interchangeable wardrobe is less. Less money you’re going to spend, less clothing that’s going to be on your closet and less time you’re going to spend getting dressed. So let me take a step back and what did I mean by clothing an investment. What does it mean for something that’d be quality?

Well when I talk about quality clothing, I talk about clothing that is made from a good fabric. If it’s a shirt, it should be made from cotton. If it’s a jacket or a suit, it should be made from wool. If it’s a sweater, it should be made from cotton, preferably although I’m a big fan of cashmere; it’s not affordable for everyone or a finer fabric. I guess what I’m getting at is whatever you buy, look to buy something that fits you well that is a good solid classic style and is something that you’re going to be able to use and get a lot of miles out of. It’s better to have less clothing that you wear all the time again than have a closet full of clothing that isn’t interchangeable and as a result it’s just causing you a lot of headache.

I hit on a point about less. So that, the 3 advantages of having an interchangeable wardrobe are that you’re going to in a sense have less clothing in your closet and this is pretty big. I mean a lot of us have very limited room. I have friends that have these huge walking closets and I guess they can fill it up with clothing but amazing, they actually do and maybe you’ve got one of those closets that you walk into and it’s like, gosh, you just got stuff everywhere but you’re holding on to shirts that you had in high school or shoes that you haven’t worn for 5 years. And you probably need to reevaluate and look to kind of purge that wardrobe and I’ll get into that in a second. So the advantage of an interchangeable wardrobe is that the clothing, you only keep the clothing that you’re going to be wearing and works with your lifestyle.

The next part is you’re going to spend less money when you have an interchangeable wardrobe and I don’t mean you’re going to spend less money on each individual piece but as a whole, you’re going to spend less money because you’re going to stop buying junk. You’re going to stop buying clothing that doesn’t fit you, is made from a poor quality fabric or that is of a style which is going to go out of fashion here very soon. And I could go on about what’s in fashion and style but basically as a man; you want to go with classic style. You want items which are going to look good on you 6 months from now, 6 years from now, ff you live long enough, 60 years from now. Look at pictures of Carrie Grant. Look at the Duke of Windsor, go back in time, look at some of these old books. Look at somebody like George Clooney. If you actually look at older pictures, the guy dressed and a lot of the stuff he wore back 10 years ago, 15 years ago, he could wear it today and that’s what so powerful about men’s wear is that really the changes are very small as long as you don’t try to ride the whimsical winds of that, winds of fashion. That’s where you’re going to get burned and you need to be careful and you’re going to spend a lot of money. You go out and buy a designer suit which looks great for the seasons. Got those nice thin lapels, it’s the right cut, it’s in color and you think you’re in top of it and all of a sudden everything changes and that jacket needs to go in the back and you can’t even wear it anymore.

So if you’re interested in learning more about that, I’ve got a lot of other articles on that so let me jump to the last lesson and that’s spending less time getting dressed. So when you have an interchangeable wardrobe, it’s kind of like legos. It doesn’t really, their all just going to fit together. Their all going to work perfectly and that’s what you want. You don’t want to spend time thinking and trying to put things together. I mean 8% of men are color blind so they can’t even see how the colors match anyway. If you’ve got an interchangeable wardrobe, you can basically walk in your closet with the lights off, grab a shirt, grab a jacket, grab a pair of trousers, grab a pair of shoes and you know what? You should be able to walk out with a pretty good feeling of confidence that when you throw that together, you’re going to look good. Okay, so I’ve talked the 3 advantages…

[0:05:00]
…now, let’s get into how to build an interchangeable wardrobe. First you’re going to want to inventory your closet. You want to go through and break it up into 3 things. You’re going to want to keep items that you can work with, these are quarter pieces that you may already own so if you’ve got a pair of Oxford dress shoes, a blazer jacket that fits you well and looks good, if you got a solid suit, those are core items. You’re going to get a lot of miles out of that. In addition to undershirts or let’s say some well fitted polo shirts, you’ll want to keep those things as well. Then there’s questionable items, this is maybe a designer suit that it just, it’s a little bit out. Don’t toss it. Are you going to be pay for storage cost? Maybe fold it nicely, put it in a box and we’ll maybe revisit that. There maybe something you can do with that.

Then there are going to be the items which you just need to get rid of unless you want to keep for Halloween outfit. This is clothing that doesn’t fit you at all. If you’re over the age of 21 and you’re a man, you’re not going to grow anymore. Well you’re going to grow maybe out but you’re not going to get any taller. You’re most likely you’re shoulder joint are going to grow out 2 more inches so when you put that shirt on and it’s an extra large and you really should be wearing a medium, get rid of that clothing that doesn’t fit you. It’s never going to fit you and it’s just taking up space. Keep a little bit for work clothing, I guess around the house but no. I mean, actually you’re work clothing should somewhat fit you because yeah, okay. You also want to get rid of items which are just, if it looks like it belongs to the 1970’s or it comes from maybe the 1920 zoo suit era or there are shoes that, I don’t know what clown could wear, get rid of that stuff. If you have things in your wardrobe that you haven’t worn for over a year to 2 years, put them away and if you can’t tell, a great way to do this is to simply put a lot of your clothing into a storage unit and if you need it, guess what? It’s there and you can go get it and bring it out. I’m talking of storage unit in your property or in your house but if you put it out of sight and out of mind, you’d be surprised at how you’re able to manage with the clothing that you currently have and next thing you know it, you haven’t opened that box for 2 years and you’re wife or significant other or somebody hopefully will get rid of it.

Okay so you’ve inventoried your closet. Next we’re going to start buying core pieces. Core pieces, it depends on what that is. Every man is different and this depends on your body build. This depends on your career and this depends on your resources. So let me talk about your body build. If you’re a really large man, there are certain items which are going to look better on you that if you’re short and stout man and I talk about that in other articles so I won’t spend a lot of time here.

Pay attention to your career. A lawyer is going to have very different core pieces than a carpenter. A gentleman that works, let’s say he hangs light fixtures for a living is going to have a very different wardrobe than a gentleman that’s an international business consultant who’s always on an airplane and therefore is going to want a lot of dress clothing that’s also very comfortable. It’s not saying that someone that works with their hands is blue color, doesn’t need a great suit. I think every man needs a suit and the reason being there are just times in life when you need to look like a million dollars and there’s nothing wrong with going after and whether it be a target suit or whether it be an Italian suit that cost $4000.

And this probably gets the last point about resources. Whatever it is, you want to look good in what you wear so getting back to that point, I think every carpenter should have at least 1 suit because if he’s got a daughter, he’s going to someday walk her down the aisle and you want to look great when you’re next to your little girl and your ball in your head off. So buy core pieces, I talk about this in other articles so I won’t spend a whole lot of time here.

After you start buying your core pieces then you can expand out of core and when you expand out of the core, this is when you’re paying attention to your personal style. This is when you start going for pieces that their a little bit risky so this is going to be pocket squares. This is going to be hats. This is going to be shirts that maybe are a little bit louder and don’t go with every jacket or piece of clothing in your wardrobe or you’re going to go with those white jeans you’ve been wanting to try out. These are items which are not classic or they may be classic but their just not your cup of tea but you still want to try and that’s where you expand out and you maybe want to try things. I highly advise unless you’re – a man’s style is a moving target.

[0:10:00]
It evolves and don’t be afraid to go out there and try new things. So I’ve talked quite a bit about building an interchangeable wardrobe. Again the big thing is any time you buy something for an interchangeable wardrobe, you want it to be able to work with all the other pieces in your wardrobe because as I talk about in the article, if you own 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of trousers, 2 jackets, 2 shirts, you’ve don’t have 2 separate outfits. Actually you got 2 times 2 times 2 times 2, you’ve got 16 different outfits you can mix and match and their all going to be slightly different. If their interchangeable by having 8 pieces of clothing, I’ve given myself a wide range of options so just imagine if you expand that up to 10 shirts, 4 jackets, 4 pairs of odd trousers and 3 pairs of dress shoes or 4 pairs of dress shoes. All of a sudden, you got a much larger, just a wider option and it’s going to be very easy for you to put this all together.

Antonio Centeno, I will let you get started building your interchangeable wardrobe and I wish you the best of luck. If you need help with more information like I’ve mentioned, here at Real Men Real Style, I’ve got articles that are going to much greater detail on what’s a core wardrobe and understanding what’s quality in clothing. In addition tips that dress in different body types. Until next time, move forward with style. Take care. Bye.

[0:11:39] End of Audio

[0:00:00]
Hello, this is Antonio with Real Men Real Style and today we’re going to be going over building an interchangeable wardrobe. Now this article is very important. In fact it is one of our core articles. One of the ones that we highly recommend that you read first and there’s a reason for it because – and I talked about this in the writing because like when you’re building a house, you want to start with a strong foundation. And building an interchangeable wardrobe with classic pieces, and when I say classic I don’t mean old style or something that you would think would come from the 1930s or 1950s. What I’m talking about are pieces that are timeless because if you do this and you build a timeless wardrobe, you’re going to have a very strong foundation that you can build the rest of your wardrobe on.

So the goal of this article is to help you understand interchangeability and how to build a versional wardrobe. By choosing foundation clothing pieces that are wearable with a wide range of other items classic and style, you create a timeless and interchangeable wardrobe that’s going to save you both time and money.

Now I use quite a few words there and I’m really going to get in to these, interchangeability, versatile, timelessness. Okay, but first let me talk about clothing as an investment. A man does not have enough money to buy cheap things. This is the saying that I’ve got highlighted in yellow here and it’s important. You see, we live in a disposable society. We go out and we buy a t-shirt and within a few months of us wearing it, it starts to wear out. And what do we do with it, we throw it away.

And the same thing has happened even with some of our, what I would consider to be somebody’s more expensive clothing. You go to a certain warehouse and you’ll buy a suit. And within a couple of years, you’ve taken, you know, you haven’t maybe abused that suit too much, maybe sent it to the cleaners a bit too much, but that suit is already falling apart or the fabric is starting to get shiny and what do you do? You throw it out and you go get something new.

So I’m saying that it’s better to invest in quality pieces that are going to last you decades. And the key is to take very good care of them. Not many people know this, but if you buy a, I mean, our grandfathers knew this, our great grandfathers knew this because they had to out of necessity, but it’s better to buy a quality piece that you, yes you’re probably going to cry the first time you buy it because you’ve never spend this kind of money on shoes or you never spend this kind of money on a jacket. But if you ensure that you get exactly what you want and you take care of it, you treat it with respect, you’re going to find that overtime, this garment is going to become better.

Kings have known this, if you’ve look at some of these pictures of Prince Charles, you can see the guy, he’s owned certain pairs of shoes for 20 to 30 years and they look better now than when he bought them because he’s taken good care or I don’t know if he’s taken care of them. But this doesn’t have to be something that only kings do. Any man if he’s willing to make the investment in the core pieces can have the wardrobe that is going to spend decades.

All right, last thing, when you buy this clothing and you buy these expensive pieces, you want to make sure that they are classic and interchangeable. You don’t want to spend a whole lot of money and get a piece that doesn’t work with other pieces of clothing in your wardrobe. And that’s what I mean by classic. By classic I mean something that has shown through time that it is usable across a wide spectrum.

So what makes clothing interchangeable? Simply put, a man has an interchangeable wardrobe when each piece of clothing in his closet matches a large number of complimentary items. So why is this important? Well, I provide a very simple little chart that shows you if you own two pairs of shoes, three sports jackets, 10 dress shirts, and five pairs of trousers and jeans and you make sure that each of these pieces works with the other and I’m not talking about a whole lot of clothing here. I’m talking about 20 pieces of clothing including – I mean that’s everything. I haven’t even touched on belts. I haven’t touched on ties. I haven’t touched on outer wear. And you can easily increase this. I mean, just those 20 pieces of clothing, 300 options.

[0:04:50]
If you think about that, you can almost go a year without wearing the same exact outfit. And that’s really powerful. It’s going to save you both time and money. And by time, you’re not going to have to think. You simply go in and you grab a shirt. You grab a pair of trousers. You grab a jacket. You grab a pair of shoes. And if they all work together, you’re not having to worry about does this match. You know it does because when you took the time buying the item, you made sure that it worked.

So the problem that most people have with their closets is that they’ve got more than 10 dress shirts. They probably got 20 or 30 dresses to some of you that wear dress shirts all the time. Or you’ve got maybe five to six pairs of shoes. But each of those items only goes with a very limited number of items in your wardrobe. And so you spend a lot of time trying to find out what matches it almost having to create a look or maybe you don’t call it that. Maybe you just say, “Hey, I’ve got to find something. I’ve got to get out the door I’m in a hurry.”

And again this is about making sure when you buy a piece that it will work with everything in your wardrobe. So that’s what I mean by clothing interchangeability. All right, now the three advantages of interchangeable wardrobe, why having 300 outfits from 20 pieces of clothing, if that didn’t convince you, well I’ve got three other points I’ll go and get a hit on.

Less clothing in your closet, think about that. Instead of having 20 dress shirts of which you only wear eight, you have 12 dress shirts which you actually wear almost all 12, maybe there’s one or two with French cuffs that you don’t wear very often. But in the end, you have pretty much gotten rid of the clothing that you don’t wear or that you would only wear perhaps once a year because it’s such a loud item. So you’ll end up saving space, less clutter, more options, perfect.
Less money spent on clothing is number two. So the key with spending less money on clothing is to make sure everything you purchase is worth. And how I come into this because you maybe saying, “Well here’s a guy that sells custom clothing for a living and he’s selling $1,000 suits and $200 dress shirts, so how am I going to spend less money if I were to get something that’s higher quality?” It comes down to I measure how much something cost by how many times you wear it. So let’s say you go to a – you go to a certain warehouse and you get a suit. And it fits you okay, but you don’t really feel that great in a suit. It just isn’t your style. You went with something that you almost felt you have to compromise on. You pay $300 for that polyester suit and over the next year, you wear it three times. The per wear it cost you a $100 every time you wore that suit if you think about it.

Now let’s say you get exactly what you want. You perhaps spend perhaps three times as much, but you get a suit that looks great on you, that fits you perfectly that every time you wear that suit, you feel like a million bucks. You know what, you are finding excuses to wear that suit. You find out that you could actually wear that suit without a tie and you get a pair of casual shoes to go with it and anytime that you can pull that off, you’re doing it. And at the end of the year, you’ve worn that suit at least probably, let’s say, over a 10-year period, you wear that suit 100 times. And so we’re talking 10 times a year over a 10-year period because this is a suit that unlike the $300 suit that you got rid of after because you just hate it, this one you kept for 10 years. You took very good care of and you wore 10 times per year versus three times per year for that other suit that you would constantly replace in your wardrobe. It came out to $10 per wear versus $100 per wear on the other one.

So in my opinion, you’ve spent less money on clothing. Yes it may, you know, you’re going to spend it more upfront, but you’re going to get more miles from that clothing and you’re going to look better and feel better every time you are wearing it. Finally less time spent dressing. Having an interchangeable wardrobe means that you no longer have to think when you get dressed. And this is really important for a lot of guys. If you’re color blind, if you just feel that you are color blind or you can’t match or mix patterns to save your life, if everything in your wardrobe already matches and you make sure on the front end, you’ve done the work there, then every morning, you’re saving five to ten minutes because you’re not having to find things that match. You’re not having to look for that favorite dress shirt, that go-to dress shirt that you know matches almost everything in your closet because everything in your closet already matches.

[0:10:07]
All of your dress shirts are go-to dress shirt. All of your jackets work with all of your trousers. Now let’s talk about how to build an interchangeable wardrobe. I break this into three parts. First, inventory what’s in your closet. Second, build your core wardrobe. And third, expand on your core wardrobe what’s with style pieces.

So step one, inventory what’s in your closet. All right, so every man who starts on his journey starts pretty much with nothing. You want to go in your closet as is and identify items that you can use and actually you may already have a few core pieces. Then you want to identify the items which need to leave and you need to donate this to Good Will or over the Salvation Army and get rid of them. These are items which look like they’re fashion pieces out of the 1970s or it could be a Halloween outfit. Get rid of them.

Then there are the pieces which don’t really fall either way. You like them. You feel that you could wear them, but realistically you wear this once a year. Go ahead and put those in a box or put those in a back closet. You’re going to keep those and if you really want to wear it, you can go get it, but you’re going to pull them out of your closet.

So right now within your closet are pretty much the items which you do wear a lot of. And you should – you’re going to find that your closet now is a lot smaller.

So step two, buy core men’s wardrobe pieces. Now that your wardrobe is much smaller, you realize that, “Hey, I’m not going to make it through probably the next couple of weeks unless I purchase something. So there’s a little bit of, you know, we’ve lit a fire on your ass to get out there and make a purchase.

Now, you know, to save money, I would advise to go ahead and possibly look to make these purchases as early as possible. The more time you give yourself to do this, usually the more money you are going to save. And building a wardrobe is something that is over a 10-year process, at least I like to think it takes 10 years for a man usually to build a solid wardrobe. But there are core pieces that it’s going to be hard to find them on sale especially if you are an average sized man because you’ll find that a lot of times these things will simply be out of stock before they go on sale. You need to understand that it’s okay to spend 30 percent more or 50 percent more to get exactly what you want. And if it’s good quality, just play and wearing the hell out of it.

And by doing that, you’re going to get – you already get your money out of that piece of clothing. If you get five dress shirts which you wear those five dress shirts, you know, three to four times a month, you may pay more for them. But you’re going to find that by the end of the year, if you take care of them, they’re still going to be in pretty good shape and you will have more than made up for buying 10 shirts on sale which only two of them that you are really ever happy with.

Core clothing colors, pay attention to this. Make sure you go with neutral colors, colors that are going to match a wide variety of start off with solids. Then start to move into patterned fabrics. Usually the more patterns, the brighter colors, it’s going to be less interchangeable in your wardrobe. And you really want to hold of on those. You get through with a lot of – if you’re going to introduce any type of pattern, go with stripes at first.

Typically checks are going to be just more casual and they’re going to be harder to fit. Although you can’t fit them anyway on classic wardrobe because they are classic patterns, but usually build with solids. Core clothing fabric weight, you want to make sure you don’t initially buy really heavy weight or really light weight fabrics. If you go that route, you could go light weight on the shirts, but avoid the heavy weight especially if you’re in a warm area.

I like gray flannel trousers, but make sure you’re not in a tropical area where you’re never going to be able to wear them. And if you do, then you just want to look at great trousers made from a tropical weight [0:14:35] [Inaudible] wool.

Core clothing style, avoid fashion at this point. Now, there’s nothing wrong with incorporating a big of fashion at a later point. But here we want classic patterns, classic styles that compliment your body type. Now, I’ve written about this elsewhere. We’re going to get into a great detail here, but you want to go with styles that compliment you, not what they’re pushing on the runways or anything like that.

[0:15:05]
Finally step three, expand the core and incorporate your personal style. Once you reach this point, you should have a wardrobe that gets you buy day to day. Now once you expand the core, you can start to pick up items which don’t necessarily…

[0:15:20] End of Audio.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000294754291 Shane Ellswood

    I love the article and the tips. I know it’s just an image but it made me think which is best – to fold trousers over a hanger like pictured or hang them full length in clamps? What do you do?

  • http://twitter.com/RMRStyle Real Men Real Style

    Shane – I prefer to hang them straight as there is no crease in the side of the trouser’ however the fold over method is more practical as most closets do not have a lot of room for “long” clothing.

    I would say the final decision is often made for you based off closet space:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000294754291 Shane Ellswood

    Good point! My solution was to hang the jackets in the wardrobe with shoe boxes underneath, and hang my trousers in clamps from an additional shirt rail I purchased.

  • Gordon

    Fantastic article. Truly helpful. Maybe there’s hope for me.

  • Brent Strange

    I appreciate the article and tips and am going to implement them as soon as possible. I had one question: when does a man purchase a suit in this paradigm? I have some shirts that fit fairly well, not perfect, but close. I have an ill fitting suit that I never wear because it’s big and baggy. Would I save for a good dark gray wool suit first or the shirts and shoes? Thanks for the advice and help.

  • Anonymous

    Brent – great to see you here!

    You need an outfit – a man never wears items by their lonesome. And balance what you buy with your current needs of course within your budget. Better to have a S300 suit with $70 shoes that fit you great and are classically styled than a $300 pair of designer shoes and a 2K suit that fits wrong.

    To me it sounds like you need to be hunting for a both a good suit and shoes – shirts you can wait on.

    Best,

    Antonio

  • Rafael Antonio

    Very good article Antonio.  I shared this on my FB page.  If I may ask, can you recommend a couple of good resources (website, books, ect.) where I can learn more about fashion merchandising for men’s clothing?

  • Mike

    Really appreciate your input Antonio.  Looking forward to working with you on updating some core elements of my wardrobe.  I also appreciate your service in the USMC.  I am still affiliated with the Navy–as a Reserve Officer–and believe that the military has had a great positive effect on men’s fashion. 

    All the best.

  • http://twitter.com/maxwellscottbag Maxwell Scott

    Fantastic article! It is about quality, not quantity! I think people forget that with the right clothes and accessories, you will have plenty of different interchangable options. Classic pieces are always the best, think a good shirt, quality briefcase and a fine pair of leather shoes. Ciao http://www.maxwellscottbags.com

  • http://twitter.com/juliotavarez Councilman Tavarez

    Great article!

    Will put this to work right away.

  • http://twitter.com/juliotavarez Councilman Tavarez

    Hi, this is an awesome article.  So much that I have shared it with my family and friends.

    Also, if possible, can you tell me the name of the WP plugin that you are using for the “Related Articles” section at the bottom of your post?

    Thank you,

    Julio 

  • Anonymous

    Perfect!

  • Anonymous

    It’s a custom piece of script we developed – Linkwithin is an option you might want to look at. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Mike!

  • Anonymous

    I suggest you buy www.amazon.com/Entrepreneurs-Guide-Sewn-Product-Manufacturing/dp/0966320840  The great thing about this book is it gives you access to Kathleen’s private forum!

  • Anonymous
  • http://twitter.com/JMattHicks JMattHicks

    Solid, solid piece. I’m not exactly “huge into fashion,” but I do enjoy having an “efficient” wardrobe than can easily be dressed up, dressed down, etc. At the moment, my job and lifestyle doesn’t demand anything too smooth as I work, study, and then wear shorts/sweats and a t-shirt on weekends if my wife and I go to an early movie or something. But, we’ve been planning on doing some shopping as Fall comes to a close to I’ll definitely keep your advice in mind…I’m thinking I need another jacket or two, a few pairs of jeans, a few nice button-down shirts. In high school and college I was much more “fashionable,” if you will (and I use “fashionable” loosely), but lately it’s been purely practical.

    Anyways, pumped to have you on Livefyre. Definitely let us know if there’s anything we can do for you, we’d be more than happy to help in any way we can.

  • rmrstyle

    @JMattHicks Wow – I’ve heard that you all are an interactive team but having one of you all come in and comment is awesome! Thank you sir!

    We made the switch as we were having too many headaches with the other commenting system – I think as long as you all keep this tool efficient and easy to use you’ll have a winner.

    Thanks for checking out my blog!

    Antonio

  • rmrstyle

    Julio – it’s a custom piece but look for one similar called link within.

  • rmrstyle

    Sounds solid!

  • rmrstyle

    Of course there is Gordon! Keep moving forward sir!

  • http://twitter.com/JMattHicks JMattHicks

    @rmrstyle My pleasure, happy to have you! Gimme a shout if you ever need anything, always happy to help :)

  • hemanth.outofperot

    Starting your wardrobe, or updating it, can be a lot of fun and a little scary at the same time. For most of us, choosing clothes that we feel look good on us is an invigorating experience.

    pudulifestyle.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/mens-how-to-start-a-wardrobe/

  • geoffrey.cubbage

    @hemanth.outofperot Thanks for the link!

  • geoffrey.cubbage

    Glad we could help!

  • geoffrey.cubbage

    Thanks for dropping us a comment and a link — a fine briefcase is definitely an “interchangeable” piece!

  • geoffrey.cubbage

    Military uniforms and fashion go back all the way throughout history intertwined — we might do an article on the relationship over the years some day, just for fun. Thanks for the comment!

  • JWise

    @geoffrey.cubbage I agree in general with Mike (above), but I think that the military can also make some (me) a little fashion lazy. I’m also in the reserves now and slowly getting used to style in the civilian world. Ever thought of doing something specific to military men/women transitioning to the civilian world? Thanks again!

  • geoffrey.cubbage

    @JWise I think the military does a great job teaching the importance of your personal presentation, overall, but I like the idea of talking about re-adjusting to civilian clothing after life in uniform — if we do something on that, I’ll definitely turn to Antonio and his experience with the Marines as the expert!

  • btnyhan

    Hey Antonio, i was going to private message you but i saw you say you want people to post things here so everybody can learn, i have a quick question. Im 18 and can go clubbing in ireland, my clothes mostly entail of polos and chinos, i guess if i was to label what I’m aiming for it would be the preppy look, what i need help with is shoes, what type do you recommend for nights out on the town? I was thinking of boat shoes or tan loafers such as this one http://www.skechers.com/style/62500/audience-unreel/cdb what do you think would be best?

    And if you had time, do you think this is a good versatile starter mechanical watch http://www.ebay.ie/itm/310367267750?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649#ht_1745wt_1014

    I appreciate your videos so much, you really do deserve far more subscribers

  • AntonioCenteno

    @btnyhan Wow – a lot to cover here. In this case you could have PMed me:) Let me add these to the queue as they are easily 10 minute topics and I am working on a series for watches. Sorry to have you hold but look for your answers here via vid and THANK YOU for the kind words…..subscribers will come with time:) Please pass the channel along to your mates though to help it grow faster!

    R/S – Antonio

  • DocReyes

    I’m glad I found your site as I’m just starting to rebuild my wardrobe. You have a ton of useful info here and I’ll be visiting this site daily for help. 

  • rmrstyle

     @DocReyes Fantastic — feel free to check out the RealMenRealStyle channel on YouTube as well, or our brand-new interactive Q&A site, MensStyleQA.com!