BEYOND THE BASICS: Building an Intermediate Wardrobe

Zegna Clifton CharlesSo, you have built a solid foundation of suits and shirts after reading our previous post on creating a basic wardrobe. Your focus now shifts towards expanding your wardrobe. As previously noted, this is a career/life long journey. With the change in season, now is an appropriate time to consider your intermediary wardrobe.

Your objectives should be to extend the life of your existing clothes, provide a variety of choices for different occasions, and to acquire clothing that will be more comfortable for wearing in a broader range of temperatures. With strategic planning and purchases, you can accomplish this without investing large sums of money. Now that you have the basics, you will simply need to add in the key pieces you have already mapped out. The temptation to make impulse or emergency purchases will be removed, which ultimately saves you time and money. Your closet will contain only quality garments that you will wear for years to come and not be filled with unnecessary items you will later regret. Below, find a sartorial road map to continue building your wardrobe:

Suits

Now that you have the five basic, and perhaps a sixth suit, you can begin shaping your wardrobe to cater to all of your needs. Depending on the climate you live in, you may want to select suits of different weights or fabrics than your existing suits. A man should ideally have at least one suit for each day of the week that he wears one; multiply this by two seasons if necessary for the climate he lives in. If he wears a suit every day, the sixth suit will add variety as well as maintain the rotation should one suit need repairing or alterations.clifton-charles-custom-made-suitsPicture source: http://wardrobelooks.com/

  • Cold Weather Suits:
    • 13 ounce wool/flannel will provide durability, warmth, and shape
    • Selecting darker, richer colors
  • Warm Weather Suits:
    • Open weave 10 ounce cloths
    • Quarter lining, which means the sleeves are lined so your arms slide smoothly in and out, but most of the rest of the coat is unlined
    • Lighter shades of blue and gray, as well as tan, because lighter colors look better in and reflect bright sunlight

As your wardrobe grows, it is important that you continue to balance it. This will provide you with a better selection of clothing for any weather and occasion. For men living in a temperate climate, a medium-sized suit wardrobe might be comprised of two-dozen suits:

  • 5-6 professional suits in perennial weight fabrics
  • 2 to 3 suits for Spring/Summer
  • 2 to 3 suits for Fall/Winter

The seasonal suit wardrobe should be of the same style of conservative stripes, solids, and semi-solids that make up your basic wardrobe. However, when expanding, it is possible to be more playful with patterns and materials. Just make sure your selection is still appropriate for everyday wear. One or two suits should be slightly more elegant. The remaining suits for each season can be more relaxed and fun to accessorize.

Additionally, fabric selection can also vary by season. Pattern and color can add a lot of variation to your suit wardrobe. We recommend these fabric choices:

  • Plaid in dark colors for fall/winter
  • Chalk or fancy stripes for fall/winter
  • Seersucker for summer
  • Mid to light blue windowpane for spring/summer
  • Tan for summer
  • Fun plaid for spring/summer

Shirts

While suits are definitely the more costly garments in your closet, you should continue expanding your shirt selection on a regular basis. Having a variety of shirt colors and patterns will provide you with more options to create different looks with the same suits. When selecting a new shirt, consider current fashion colors that are popular or change the style of your shirt. You could try adding a few shirts with French cuffs, or a few with button down collars instead of spread. Keep in mind that you will always need to replace your daily white and blue shirts, as they tend to wear out faster than the others.

Once you have obtained the 12 shirts in a basic wardrobe, you can benefit from a little thought about how you would like your collection to grow. Similarly to expanding your suit wardrobe, men should begin selecting shirts of different weights for better temperature control. Purchasing shirts in more patterns will enable a wider variety of looks. Bright colored and patterned shirts are great for spring/summer. Shirts in deeper shades with minimal patterns are best for fall/winter.

Of course, there is no upper limit to the shirt collection, but cotton ideally requires several days of rest after each wearing. So, one shirt for each day of the month is a reasonable middle ground.

Custom suit, shirt, and tie from Clifton Charles

Custom suit, shirt, and tie from Clifton Charles

Shoes

The only true limitations to a man’s shoe wardrobe are storage space and budget. Continue to expand by adding more variety for each season. For example, as warm weather arrives, you should move boots and dark colored brogues to the back of your closet and replace them with shoes that are both lighter in weight and color. Summer shoes wear cooler and complement light colored clothing, so swap your black, dark brown, and oxblood choices for chestnut, light tan, and white. Try these recommendations for the seasons:

  • Fall/winter Shoes:
    • Ankle boots in brown suede
    • Ankle boots in cordovan (keep your feet dry in rain/snow)
    • Dark Brown brogues
  • Spring/summer Shoes:
      • Light Tan Punch Cap Oxford
      • Tan Quarter Brogues
      • Spectator Oxfords
      • White Bucks
      • Switch one paid of Oxfords for unlined slip-ons

Ties

While mastering the basic wardrobe, you probably obtained a good variety of basic neckties in your collection. Now that you are ready to expand accessory choices, we suggest selecting the following ties:

  • 4 two-color stripes
    • Block stripes and ribbon stripes are flexible styles that coordinate well with patterned shirts or suits
    • Navy and gold, navy and pacific blue, navy and red, and red and gold are classic color combinations
    • 2 mini dots
      • White/silver dots on black or wine are useful combinations
      • Small Checks
      • Paisley in large print
      • Non-directional foulard or club ties
      • 4 Seasonal Ties
        • 2 Linen (or silk and linen) with tan and blue grounds for summer
        • 1 Gray and 1 Blue cashmere or wool challis for cooler weather

Expanding from your basic wardrobe is all about options. It is important to ensure you have items to wear for every occasion and in all different kinds of weather. There is no real limit when adding to your wardrobe. Be sure to select pieces you are comfortable wearing, and you will have the opportunity to wear. Once you have mastered the basics, building an intermediate wardrobe is all about your personality and style!

Ready to build or add the necessary pieces to complete your wardrobe? Take advantage of our Annual Professional Suit/Shirt Package Offer (extended through Columbus Day) and get fully custom suiting on sale with custom shirts included for free!

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