How To: Build a Wardrobe


By George Manley | Dec 5th, 2008

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We have all seen pictures of America’s glorious past; mobs of men dressed in suits, all donning a gentlemen’s cap and a tie. These were times when American men found it in poor taste to be seen in public without proper attire. This was true whether you were a banker or a dockworker. I am not sure when American men began accepting “dressing-down;” at the risk of sounding cliché, I think it was Elvis Presley’s fault. With the introduction of rock-and-roll, America’s youth found an explosive passion for disenfranchisement from traditional values, which gave birth to the hippie movement, and today Internet porn is the most lucrative industry on the Internet. Are you following me? I hope not, as I am laying it on pretty thick, and I just connected Elvis Presley to Internet porn in 3 moves. For the record, and had I been alive at the time, my hips would have been shaking to the new sound of rock-and-roll, while smoking a marijuana cigarette with the original hipsters.

In all seriousness, and in an increasingly competitive global economy, we American men must develop a personal style, which is as focused and illuminating as our work ethic. Good-taste is no longer taught in American public schools; good-taste is increasingly not passed down from older generations; and good-taste, with few exceptions, is absent in contemporary American icons; therefore, we must develop our own rules to Dress the Part!

The first way to ensure you are always looking good is to have a great wardrobe. A great wardrobe is one that has all the essentials for any occasion; in other words, you should not have to hit the stores if you suddenly get invited to a wedding or need to attend an important business luncheon.

Since Sid Mashburn and his team did such a good job listing many of the essentials in a man’s wardrobe (the one thing I would add to his list is a black tuxedo), I am going to focus on the things one should think about when shopping for himself. This is how I shop, and it seems to work well, as I always seem to be able to put the right outfit together in a pinch:

1. Shop for your wardrobe, not for your girlfriend.
-If your girlfriend likes that lime green cashmere sweater on you, think about the places you can wear it. A cashmere sweater is an essential, as it can be worn under a blazer, under a sport coat, or on its own; however, lime green does not complement many other essential wardrobe colors, and lime green is hard to wear year-round. I would recommend navy, grey, black, or brown (in that order) before you go for the lime green.

2. Can you see yourself wearing this two years from now?
-If the answer is “no,” then don’t buy it. Trends and personal tastes change from season-to-season; however, there is no replacement for timeless pieces, which never go out of style.

3. If you must have it…buy it…it can always be returned.
-Unless you are at a flea market, or some other place where you may not be able to return the item, purchase the items you love. Any reputable company will allow returns at least two weeks after purchase. With stores cutting back on inventories more and more, you may not be able to find that item you love in your size again.

4. Think about the colors in your closet.
-Always buy items that complement or properly contrast the colors already in your closet. Stay away from loud colors that may not be worn on a regular basis. Use loud colors as decoration or embellishment, not as main colors in your closet.

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