We've all been there.
You need to journey abroad for a big conference, or the interview for your dream job is three states away. If you're anything like me, then you've struggled to pick out the clothing you're putting in your luggage.
What if I told you you could fit 180 outfits in ONE bag?
It's possible – and it's easier than you think. Gentlemen, I'm here to bring you some stylish travel hacks that'll make your life ten times easier.
The Power of The Interchangeable Wardrobe
The interchangeable wardrobe is a cornerstone of RMRS. It's precisely what you want to be thinking about when you choose what to stuff in your luggage.
What is the interchangeable wardrobe?
It's an approach to style that builds on minimalism and the capsule wardrobe. It's designed to give you the maximum number of outfits from the fewest number of garments. This offers a host of advantages, among which having additional savings to buy better clothing later on. In fact, you could go in your closet blindfolded, pick out a random outfit, and look amazing.
Building The Journeyman's Wardrobe
How do we get started? The interchangeable wardrobe consists of 15 pieces of clothing, giving you 180 possible combinations – that's it! It's not just a travel hack, it's good style.
Here's what you need:
- 3 pairs of shoes
- 3 jackets
- 4 pairs of trousers
- 5 shirts
The three foundational qualities in ANY garment should be fit, function, and fabric. You want every item to fit you well, you want it to work with your job, region, and lifestyle – and you want it to be of the best quality you can afford (quality over quantity). These principles in conjunction form the Style Pyramid, which you can learn more about by clicking here.
Out of all these, FIT is KING. Prioritize that no matter what. You can afford to compromise a bit on the others and still look great, but the same is not true the other way around. If a $2,000 bespoke suit looks too big on you, no fabric in the world is going to stop you from looking like a trash bag.
1. Foundation – Men's Shoes
Travel hack number 1: Shoes. When you're building an outfit from the ground up, it only makes sense to start here. The confusion oftentimes comes when comparing a $400 pair of shoes against a $40 pair of shoes. There's also the matter of choice – what shoes should you get if you only have three options? Fear not, gents – we'll get to all that.
Tips For Quality Shoe Construction
When it comes to journeymen's dress shoes, there are stark differences in quality that may reflect on the price range.
What are some features you can expect to see on a quality pair of shoes?
- Leather: All good shoes are made with either full-grain, top-grain, or suede leather. Full-grain comprises the highest quality, as it comes from the uppermost layer of the skin and can remain unblemished over a long period. Suede usually shows the flesh side of the leather which is rubbed for a napped look – great for adding texture and ruggedness to an outfit. Synthetic leather is used exclusively for cheap shoes – avoid it.
- Goodyear Welting: Thread is sewn through the upper (all of the shoe above the sole), and insole rib. A second stitch is sewn to attach the welt and outsole. This makes the sole water-resistant and easy to replace if worn down.
- Black Stitch: The upper is wrapped around the insole with a single stitch. This makes the shoe sole more flexible, but the only drawback is decreased durability.
You might pay a little more for paying attention to those details, but the money you'll spend on one pair of amazing shoes will be insignificant compared to the fortune you'd be throwing away by buying cheap shoes over and over again.
Men's Shoe Types
You know exactly what to look for in quality, but what about variety? There are so many types! Here's a brief summary of key choices to consider.
- Balmoral Oxfords: An Oxford is essentially any dress shoe in which the vamp is sewn over the quarter, making for a sleeker appearance. This is what you'll be wearing to job interviews, black-tie events, and the office.
- Brogues: Decorative perforations made around the shoe. You have quarter, half, and full brogues. Though less formal, you can easily rock these with a more casual suit.
- Bluchers: Contrary to Oxfords, Bluchers (and Derby's) have open-lacing. This means that the vamp is passed under the quarter. It gives the shoes a slightly bulkier – and more casual look. You want Bluchers over Derby's because the two-toned leather found in most Derby's can make matching difficult.
- Loafers: The ideal casual shoe for the summer. Loafers are slip-on shoes, which means you can… well, slip 'em on and off without laces.
- Men's Boots: Countless choices here. You got Chelsea's, which are sleek and easy to slip on. You got Chukka's, slightly more rugged but go great with a sports jacket. Beyond that, you have others like Jodhpur's or even military boots.
2. Man's Workhorse – Interchangeable Shirts
A smart travel hack is to come prepared with the right shirts. Start your core wardrobe off with 4-5 shirts – dress shirts preferably.
The glaring difference between dress shirts and normal shirts is length – men's dress shirts extend well beyond the crotch area. Watch out for this. No travel hack in the world will stop you from looking like you're in a dress.
Whites and blues are the most versatile colors – start with them first. They'll match almost any pair of pants or jacket you bring in.
Can you go with patterns and texture? Certainly, but know that it'll be more casual and less versatile. You might want to introduce Bengal or Candy stripes once you have a few plain shirts.
Poplin is a great fabric to start with – it's smooth and gives a subtle weave. You can wear it to the office or elsewhere. Oxford is a slightly more rugged weave that'll look great for business-casual looks.
3. Man's Canvas – Interchangeable Trousers
You're going to want 4 pairs of trousers – three dress trousers and one pair of jeans.
Your very first should be gray pleated trousers. They feature material that folds down the front on both sides of the fly below the waistband. Pleated trousers simply feel more comfortable while being acceptable in formal AND casual settings.
Flat-front trousers made a comeback in recent years. Lack of pleats makes for a sleeker look that goes great with accessories. It's a solid option for the younger journeyman.
Why gray? It's the most interchangeable color, though you can choose between medium and dark grays without worry.
Dark blue trousers seem obvious for a travel hack, but it won't work if you use a blue jacket. It'll look like a failed attempt at a suit. Jeans are the exception to this because denim will likely be a material that is distinct from your jacket.
Otherwise, consider shifting toward tans or even browns.
Trousers For Your Body Type
Preference is the major factor when it comes to trousers, but zeroing in on a style can help compliment your body type.
For instance, skinny men can make easy use of both pleated and flat-front trousers, but larger men should avoid the bulk added by the pleats. Shorter men should draw as much attention to their torso as possible, so flat-front trousers would make an excellent choice.
4. Armor – Men's Jackets
No journeyman's wardrobe is complete without 3 sports jackets. A sports jacket is any jacket made in the style of a suit jacket without matching trousers.
They work great because a sports jacket spruces up most outfits with ease.
Sports Jacket Styles
They come in almost any color and pattern you can imagine, but most commonly we see them in…
- Tweed: A rough woolen fabric with a flexible texture. Usually woven in plain weave and comes in many stylistic variations (like Shepherd's Check).
- Houndstooth: A strong checked style with notched corners reminiscent of a hound's fang. It comes in countless color combos – take your pick.
- Herringbone: A series of short parallel lines whose adjacent rows slope in the opposite direction. The most interchangeable versions come in brown or light gray.
Keep in mind that this will vary based on your needs, personal style, and region.
What about color? Blue is an excellent color to start with, so is gray or brown. If you want to take it up a notch, try blue with a small repeating pattern (like a light glen check).
We've finished the Core wardrobe. Below we'll be talking about what you can use to enhance your travel style on top of it.
One of the best travel hacks I can give you is to capitalize on your accessories. A simple dress watch is a MUST for any man. It's elegant, sleek, and designed to be worn in a suit.
The journeyman should always travel in style, and that means having a great bag. Don't skimp out on a good carry-on. The big difference here is that in lower-quality bags, the telescopic handle piece is very likely to break and the bag as a whole will deteriorate much quicker.
If you travel often – or at all – save yourself the headache by investing in something that will last a lifetime.
- Automatic movements rely on kinetic force. They are powered by an oscillator that moves with the wearer's hand. These watches are usually far more expensive as they employ centuries-old craftsmanship.
- Quartz movements are less expensive and rely on a battery powered by a quartz crystal. They are far more accurate and durable but considered less desirable by enthusiasts.
One thing's for sure: You will find something you love.
Men should have two ties in their traveling wardrobe – one solid, and one repeating pattern.
A solid red tie will serve most formal occasions, but a small pattern could be great for sprucing up a casual outfit.
6. Men's Grooming
The last travel hack: You need to take care of your hygiene right?
Your toiletries deserve something better than a plastic bag. Start with a proper travel kit for the essentials.
You should pack about two days' worth of toiletries in your carry-on (not for the whole trip of course). This includes toothpaste, a toothbrush, floss, as well as your preferred hair product for when you need to freshen up.
Don't forget to shave! Traditional razors are generally allowed on flights, and you can easily bring about a day's worth of shaving cream in any small container.
With the interchangeable wardrobe, you can easily stuff 180 outfits into ONE carry-on bag. Imagine having that power at your fingertips. Imagine going anywhere in the world and never falling flat on style.
That is the power the interchangeable wardrobe gives you – and it's not even difficult to achieve.
To become a true master of traveling click here to discover 25 things to consider when planning a trip and how to be prepared.