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:


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:

  • 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


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


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


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!

The One Key Item You Need to Become More Confident

It is the staple in every man’s closet, the essential, the cornerstone of his style. It all begins with the shirt. The perfect shirt helps bring out a man’s “A” game and makes every day stand out. The moment he puts that perfect shirt on, he feels more powerful. He exudes an aura of dominance. The confidence that comes with looking your absolute best is priceless.

While most men desire to look their best, many simply do not know how. The perfect shirt is not just about color and pattern choice; the perfect fit is the key. While there are many details that go into the shirt, there are a few main points to pay attention to when it comes to the right fit:Shirt Fit

Do your shirts pass the test? Unfortunately, when purchasing an off-the-rack shirt, it is common that the shirt does not have the “perfect fit.” Every man is built differently, so why should every man’s shirt be made the same? There are many benefits in purchasing custom-made shirts, but achieving the right fit is most prominent.

If you have not had the perfect shirt, make an appointment with us and get started today. When you invest in Clifton Charles custom-made dress shirts, we take multiple measurements to create a luxurious shirt that fits you perfectly. If you want to learn how to measure yourself, check out our DIY guides on our website.

With fabrics in various colors and prints, multiple details for you to customize, and even an option for a complimentary monogram, Clifton Charles can help you achieve a perfectly fitted shirt to suit your style. We know our luxurious and affordable custom-made shirts will give you the perfect fitting and flattering look you cannot get off-the-rack.

Dig Into the Details



So, you have been diligently following our last couple of blog posts on first making the leap into custom, then upping the ante with an en vogue yet timeless custom blue tuxedo. Well done! The question now begs, what details should you choose? Shawl, Notch, or Peak Lapel? How many buttons? Single or Double-Breasted? And where did the tuxedo originate, anyway?

At the time deemed somewhat revolutionary, the tuxedo style we know today modernized evening wear and ignited a spark for men to replace the traditional tailcoat with a shortened, more casual dinner jacket. This new trend in formal wear debuted in American society, right here in our very own New York. The founders of the posh Tuxedo Park in Orange County are thought to have first introduced the style at their exclusive sporting club. Although there are many myths of creation, the most commonly believed is the tux was created on a whim, after men were getting frustrated that the tails were interfering with their sitting and dancing. Something so classic, the tuxedo: rebellious trend to timeless tradition.

If you have ever purchased a tuxedo, or looked into purchasing one, you are probably aware of all of the feature options that are available. Even more so, when investing in a custom-made tuxedo, the extra details you can choose are practically endless. When you’re given so many options, especially if you are uneducated in “proper” formal wear, making any decisions on style and detail can seem near impossible.

So what makes a classic tuxedo, well, classic? A truly classic tux is typically a single-breasted one-button jacket with peak lapels, however there are many variations. The single-breasted one-button jacket allows the front to be cut in a deep “V” shape that mimics the ideal male torso. One-button jackets are typically worn unbuttoned, so they require a cummerbund or waistcoat to cover the exposed waistband. The double-breasted jacket became acceptable as an alternative in the 1930s. It looks better buttoned while standing, but men generally prefer to unbutton their tuxedo jacket while sitting down, so it is considered inconvenient. As a general rule, when wearing a tuxedo with two or more buttons, the bottom button should be left undone. Tuxedo jackets were originally made without vents, but side vents are acceptable. Side vents provide easier access to trouser pockets and are more comfortable for sitting, but they can sometimes make the jacket less slimming. The much-too-sporty center vents are never appropriate.

Color may seem like the easiest decision you will make, but there are a couple of points to think about. When wearing black, it is often noted that men give off an aura of dominance and power. The juxtapositions of black’s lack of color against your white shirt’s complete spectrum of color creates the greatest possible contrast. While black is the norm, midnight blue is also an appropriate classic (if you haven’t already, read our post BITNB – Blue is the New Black). The extremely dark hue of navy retains its richness under artificial light, which is not true for black. It also has the upper hand at parties beginning prior to sunset due to black generally appearing dull and lifeless in daylight. Unfortunately, midnight blue is rarely offered off-the-rack and will need to be obtained from a custom tailor.

Lapels are one of the most distinctive traits of a tuxedo jacket that provide an elegant flair. Deriving from the tailcoat, peak lapels are considered most formal. The shawl collar, although considered less formal due to its origins, is equally classic and conveys a softer image than its angular counterpart. This smoother lapel also lends itself to a slimmer silhouette. Notch lapels are very popular now, but many style experts believe it is limited to a fashion-forward alternative. Made from satin or grosgrain, the color should be the same as your tuxedo (with midnight blue, facings are usually black). You get bonus points if the left lapel has a working buttonhole. Keep in mind that the facing chosen for the lapels typically determines the type of material for the bow tie and cummerbund. Piping around the pockets is recommended and also adds another burst of detail. The lapel’s facing should be used for trimming the pockets. Flap pockets are not typically appropriate for the formal attire.

Clifton Berry, of Clifton Charles in New York City, recommends a one-button peak lapel tuxedo jacket. If you already have a classic black tuxedo, or if you just want to make a statement, midnight blue is a great alternative. A bold color or pattern for the inside lining of your tux subtly allows for more of your personality to shine through – but the lining selection is all about personal choice. With a bit of guidance on the best features for a tuxedo, you can now dig in to the details. If you are not typically a stickler for the details, now is your time to start. Become one just for a night. There are many options, but the key to shining in your tuxedo is nailing the little things.



BITNB – Blue is the New Black

For tuxedos, blue is becoming the new standard in formal wear. In recent years, more and more celebrities have been rocking their formal wear in shades of blue; a color so recurrent throughout the seemingly endless awards season that it became the new black. Whether the trend is inspired by James Bond or simply vintage, the men of Hollywood have caught the blue tux bug.

Photo from Bradley Cooper, Damian Lewis, Navid Negahban, and Tom Hooper

Photo from Bradley Cooper, Damian Lewis, Navid Negahban, and Tom Hooper

Clifton Berry, owner/co-founder of Clifton Charles in New York City, says, “Midnight blue tuxedos are a classic, beautiful option for formal wear. The deep navy blue color reflects and appears rich under artificial lighting, so it is the perfect option for formal evening events. The wearer will stand out amongst a sea of dusty black. Blue is definitely the new black. Midnight blues, as well as several other shades of blue, have been appearing on red carpets of the Oscars, SAG Awards, and other prominent events on the backs of Hollywood’s most sartorially elite gentlemen.”

1 - CopyFashion-forward evening wear first premiered the color alternative in the 1920s, but it was a decade later when the midnight blue tuxedo escalated in popularity. By the end of the 1930s, midnight blue tuxedos were purchased just as frequently as black ones. The blues were constant until colored tuxedo jackets began trending in the sixties. As the color was slowly reintroduced in the past few years, it has exploded with popularity yet again.

Despite whatever color the fashion industry says is the “new black,” there are certain articles of clothing that we prefer to be more timeless. In this case, we tend to steer toward colors that will always be fashionable, regardless of the season or year. No matter how popular the current trend may be, some investments, like evening wear, should never go out of style.

But why, in some cases, does timeless simply have to mean black? A basic black tuxedo is perfect for just about any formal occasion. Many men assume that a proper tuxedo is always black. There is no arguing that a man in a custom-tailored tux will look as good and as confident as he feels. However, it is possible to stand out with a classic. A dark blue tuxedo is an acceptable option. With the addition of colors, guys can now take chances on more than just lapels and cuts. Through the increasing popularity of custom-tailored menswear, guys are starting to make dressing for a formal evening look fun!

Men have slowly stopped asking, “what are the rules?” when it comes to evening wear. As dress codes continuously become more lax, you have more opportunity than ever before to show off your personal style. This should not mean you appear to be wearing a costume or that it’s a good time to dust off your pink tux from the 80s, but you can get more imaginative than the typical penguin suit if you feel you have fallen into a tux coma. So when you are invited to a Black Tie Optional event, you can look forward to dressing to the nines. Take full advantage of the word “optional”; Black Tie doesn’t even have to be black anymore, and it’s a license to use a little more color.

2Whether you are going for the modern wedding look or simply just looking to spruce up your evening wear, a dark blue tuxedo is dressy enough for even the most formal occasion. It draws the appropriate attention; it’s unexpected and radiates a subtle confidence. From navy to midnight, and various shades in between, more and more people have been riding the blue tux wave. As stated by Clifton Berry, “This is one trend you should definitely emulate.”