12 Shirt Theory

In our last post about Building a Basic Wardrobe, we recommended that you have a minimum of 12 shirts in your collection. Why? It is based on a simple equation…

The magic number of twelve allows a man to wear a fresh shirt each day of the work week, as well as on Saturday when necessary. Sunday, he takes these six shirts to be dry cleaned, and while they are at the cleaner’s, he wears his remaining six shirts. The process continues to repeat so he is never left without a clean shirt.

If he doesn’t wear a dress shirt on Saturdays, these sixth shirts provide another option or an alternative in the case of a ruined or worn out shirt. By following this advice, a man will be able to wear a fresh shirt every day for two weeks.

We have previously explained this theory, but we felt our visual calendar was due for some updates. Clifton Charles shirts are tailored exactly to your measurements, and can be customized to fit your personality and lifestyle. With hundreds of luxurious fabric choices, various options for style, and complimentary monograms, we are confident you will find exactly what you need.

12 Shirt Theory(1)

How to Build a Basic Wardrobe

There comes a time in a man’s life when he needs to elevate his fashion game to the next level. Most men are unaware of their ability to be well-dressed with a relatively modest amount of clothing. Depending on your occupation, only a couple of basics are necessary, like a charcoal or navy suit. However, others wear suits every day of the week and therefore require a more substantial wardrobe. Your wardrobe should offer a choice of appropriate clothing for a variety of occasions, and it is easy to build one sufficient to your requirements. Click here for our Visual Guide, or continue reading for further detail. By understanding these tips, you will possess the first building blocks of impeccable style.


The most expensive garment in a gentleman’s wardrobe, suits should be made from high quality fabrics in conservative colors and patterns. Your basic wardrobe should consist of 5 suits to offer a full week’s worth of clothing options. By utilizing accessories, you are able to achieve multiple different looks with the same suits, and they provide flexibility in personal style. Your basic selection of suits should include:

  • Dark Grey Solid
  • Navy Blue Solid
  • Medium Grey Semi-Solid
  • Grey Pinstripe
  • Navy Blue Chalk Stripe

Once you have built your wardrobe with these basics, you can further expand with a less formal sixth suit, for wear on Fridays or less formal weekend occasions.


Men constantly wonder, “What shirts do I need in my closet?” While a gentleman can never have too many dress shirts, there is a magic combination of shirts that each man should have in his wardrobe. This is to ensure you are prepared with fresh shirts for any situation, whether that be a regular day at the office, a surprise business meeting, or a much-anticipated date.

For the greatest flexibility, choose an assortment of shirts in semi-solids and simple patterns. A palette of blues from pale through periwinkle to navy, blue stripes or checks on white, gray stripes or checks on white, and pink shirt fabrics are the most basic and easy to wear. The magic combination is as follows:

  • 3 White Shirts
  • 3 Blue Shirts
  • 3 Stripe or Check Shirts
  • 2 Pink Shirts
  • 1 Fun/Casual Shirt

We have tested it out and arrived at the magic number of 12. Twelve shirts give you a range of choices and also minimizes your trips to the cleaners. Wear 6 one week, drop them off, and pick up the next 6 for the coming week. Repeat.


At this point, you are able to use accessories to creatively expand your wardrobe, even if it is modest in size. By changing shoes, ties, pocket squares, and cufflinks, you can transform your 5 suits and 12 shirts into a year’s worth of outfits.

To start, every gentleman must have good shoes. Generally speaking, you should have at least 3-4 pairs of dress shoes that you can rotate through. However, the total number of pairs a man should own entirely depends on his personal needs. The essentials a gentleman should possess are:

  • Black Calf Oxfords
  • Brown Calf Shoes
  • Brown Calf Monk Straps
  • Brogues
  • Slip-on Casuals
  • Evening shoes

For ties, gentlemen should work towards a robust collection of at least 12 ties. Blue, green, red, and gold are classic tie colors, while striped, dot, plaid, club, foulard, and paisley are classic patterns. Start with simple solids and stripes; when you move past a half dozen ties already in your wardrobe, it is safe to purchase more fashion-forward ties.

Cufflinks and pocket squares are a creative way to show your own personality and style. Bright pocket squares can illuminate a generally boring grey suit, while heirloom cufflinks can be a conversation starter. Don’t be afraid to be stylish – just choose your investments wisely!

Building a wardrobe does take time. In order to expand, you will need to acquire more suits each year than you wear out – a formula that varies according to the frequency that you wear each suit and the quality of its construction. As you expand your basic wardrobe, keep in mind the objectives: extend the lives of your existing suits, provide choices for different occasions, and acquire clothing that will be comfortable in a broad range of temperatures. You may want to add a flannel winter suit or a linen summer suit once the basics have been covered, for example. And, of course, don’t forget that every gentleman needs a tuxedo for those special occasions! (Related posts: 5 Reasons to Invest in Custom-Made & BITNB)

Similarly, you should also continue expanding your shirt wardrobe by acquiring new shirts on a regular basis. When selecting new dress shirts, consider current fashion colors, and mix things up by adding a few options with French cuffs. Keep in mind that your daily white and blue shirts will need to be replaced more often, as they tend to wear out faster.

Remember, professional wardrobe acquisition is a career-long routine. It will continue to build over the years, and you will constantly need to replace items you already own. To stay ahead of wear and tear, you will need about three new suits and six new shirts per year. However, once you have covered the basics, you will have plenty of options to continue dressing for success while your wardrobe slowly expands.



Clifton Charles on StyleWhipped.com

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

Hallmarks of a Quality Dress Shirt

1. Always trust your instincts. The first test is to make sure the material feels good to the touch. A quality dress shirt should be woven from 250 two-ply cotton and will therefore be stronger, softer and less sensitive to wrinkling. The design of the fabric should match where any two pieces of fabrics meet.

2. Also, make sure the shirt is single-needle stitched—more yarn is used, but seams are stronger. Inspect the seam running down the side of the shirt for smoothness and make sure it does not pucker.

3. The collar of a great fitting custom shirt should be firm and crisp. It should not be limp and under no circumstances it should have any wrinkles or bubbles. A well made custom shirt should have removable stays or built in stays for a crisp, firm look. The collar should be constructed in two pieces and hand turned.

4. A quality dress shirt should have split-yoke detailing. The yoke is cut in two and sewn up the middle rather than placed in as one piece.

5. Pay attention to the buttons: Mother-of-pearl is preferable to plastic. They should be sewn with a cross locked stitch to ensure your buttons stay firmly attached. Examine the shirt sleeve a couple of inches above the cuff for a gauntlet button that closes up the sleeve.


Article sources:
– http://global.ralphlauren.com/en-us/style/men/pages/question.aspx