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!

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A couple of weeks ago, we had an in-house visit from the Editor of the online magazine StyleWhipped, Alison Stewart.  She brought along photographer Andrew Werner and model Kaolin Bass to help her show us off. She just posted the article, check it out below!

January 28, 2013

Letter From the Editor: Custom Menswear from Clifton Charles


Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Clifton Berry, who along with Wayne Taitt, is one half of Clifton Charles, an amazing custom suit & shirt destination. According to Clifton, who I finally had a chance to sit down and chat with (there we are in the photo below), they are “selling confidence.” And there is nothing more of a confidence-booster to a man than a perfectly fitted suit and shirt combo. And here in NYC, Clifton Charles is THE place to go to buy some confidence…

In 2008, Clifton and Wayne, who were college friends that both ended up working in finance for 12 years, realized there was a major missing piece of American menswear, quit their jobs, and launched Clifton Charles. Not only were off-the-rack shirts not fitting them the way they really wanted, but while on his honeymoon in Shanghai in 2005, Wayne had discovered how quickly you could get custom suits made. But being the business-savvy guys they were, both Clifton and Wayne also knew that they had to somehow straddle both the luxury and value markets (we all remember what happened to our economy in 2008…).


So they did their research and talked to endless potential clients. And they came up with a way to provide all made-in-the-USA suits and dress shirts from fabrics sourced from the UK and Italy (all of their shirts are made from sumptuous full Peruvian pima cotton) that can be made in a shockingly short amount of time (10-15 business days for shirts; 4-6 weeks for suits). There is no minimum of how many pieces you have to buy, and those shirts? 100% custom for $100-$150 (Seriously!) Wait, it gets better…their suits will run you anywhere from $895 to $1295. And in terms of quality, attention to detail and fabrication, a Clifton Charles suit at $895 is comparable to a $3,000 designer suit you’d find in a department store. Oh, and don’t forget…theirs is custom…which means it is made from scratch according to your measurements…with your choice of fabrics, finishes, and free-of-charge extra perks like fabulous linings, monograms on your shirt cuffs, and more. The guys will even act as personal stylists, helping you to make your choices (wider leg or narrow? what kind of lapels? single-breasted or double?) with your lifestyle and preferences in mind.


I know you are wondering if you fit into the average Clifton Charles customer. And while some of their clients are in fact CEO’s of major banks, professional althetes, and the like, their clients are also lawyers, bankers (who aren’t the CEO…) and every other type of suit-wearing executive. They come from all over the world (from as far as Australia) and flock to trunk shows the company hosts in other cities like Chicago, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. And because once your measurements and preferences are in their system, you can order new suits and shirts anytime online. No need to be in NYC…you just need to be aware that you need more of these beautiful pieces in your wardrobe! And just how beautiful are they? Well, I was personally excited enough to want to share the company with our readers here. The fabrics feel like the finest air. The details are perfectly tailored and finished. The cheeky extras (like purple iridescent silk linings…) will make you feel like a rockstar in a suit.

My suggestion? Pay Clifton Charles a visit online or at their Manhattan showroom at 30 West 18th Street. Because that confidence? Yeah, you will have just bought it.

~ Alison.

(Check out our model starting the process of ordering a custom suit with Clifton’s help…I have a feeling he is going to be very happy with the result!) Model: Kaolin Bass / All photos: Andrew Werner Photography



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Posted at 08:00 AM in Alison Stewart

Check out the official website article here

Be Active in Your Suit

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Recently, we had a client come into the office for a fitting who knew of his active lifestyle. He told tales of old suits that were too tight and countless uncomfortable workdays.  While taking his measurements, we paid attention to his experiences because they shape how he will wear his suit. As we discussed the requirements of his daily life, we began to settle on a suit that will allow him the movement he needs to be successful.

Here at Clifton Charles, we recognize the importance of being active.  You’re on-the-go, constantly moving.  What good is a stiff suit? Your job, your flexibility, your life should never suffer as a result of your attire. Being well dressed does not mean being uncomfortable. We live in a world where men are constantly pushing themselves to take the next step, literally and figuratively.

Your suit is more than it’s appearance; it’s a tool. Use it!


Collar Pins

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An elegantly worn tie should have a slight forward arch below the knot. Back in the days when three piece suits were more common than two piece suits, the tie was supported by the vest, forcing it a bit forward. Achieving this arch nowadays can be hard without the vest, however there are some tools to get there. Wearing a collar pin or a shirt with a tab collar can help your tie to ‘pop’, but then again, these accessories have become less common to wear. Obviously, this is not an excuse to forget about dressing well all together. We should always strive to present ourselves well, like Frank Sinatra did.

A long time ago, the collars of many dress shirts were specifically designed to wear them with a collar pin. One would pin the collar pin or bar through the collars to hold up the tie. Some collar pins look a lot like a safety pin while others might look more like an extended piercing with two small balls at both ends. The latter is called a barbell and both ends screw off to easily shove the pin through the holes in the collar wings. The third possible design is a bar with clips on both ends that takes hold of the collar ends (picture).

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The pin collar style is suited for all face shapes except for a diamond shape face. Shirts with this type of collar are not meant to wear without a tie, as the holes in the collar wings will look strange. The tab collar is another option to create an arch in your tie. Two small pieces of fabric and a button connect the collar wings together. The tie is worn over this ‘tab’. This will keep your collar nice in place and make your tie look really good.


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