If the eyes are the window to the soul, then a gents wardrobe, and its condition, are the window to his character and aspirations.
Who can forget Ray Liotta’s wardrobe in Goodfella’s? – row after row of neatly hung suits, or, the evenly spaced crisp white shirts of Mickey Rourke’s in nine and a half weeks?
Not all of us have the money, or space, for such indulgences but it amazes me that some guys sartorial armoury resides on six wire coat-hangers rammed in a broom cupboard, with everything else stuffed into the bottom drawer of a bedside cabinet.
I’m not going to launch into a diatribe about the importance of dress and how “clothes maketh the man” but will simply say that clothes are a part of our lives and should be used to make it easier, both at work and play.
Whilst there are those like myself who are self-confessed clothes addicts with closet space to rival Imelda Marcos, a man should aim at building a wardrobe that is efficient and will get him through any situation or emergency.
In my opinion, ‘The Cornerstone’ of a gent’s armoire is a single-breasted suit in a mid-weight navy blue worsted cloth. Blue is the most elegant of colours and is most complimentary to the pale skin that we Brits have to put up with thanks to our crappy weather. It is worth noting here that you need to think about Season (Summer / Spring vs Autumn / Winter) and get your tailor to select appropriately weighted cloth.
A blue suit is perfect for more formal occasions, it can be dressed-up with a waistcoat, tie and black lace-ups and will look the part in the boardroom, at a funeral, wedding, conference, christening, or, court appearance. On the other hand, when worn as a two piece, with a colourful open-necked shirt and slick brown loafers, will work just a well for a night on the town, dinner party, or other ‘smart casual’ event.
If you wear a suit to work every day, then a charcoal grey suit of the same ilk is an excellent ‘Number Two.’ It’s a good idea to order an extra pair of trousers with each as they tend to wear out quicker than the jacket and can then be rotated. The good thing with plain blue and grey cloth is that they will work with a vast range of shirt and ties in various colours and patterns so there’s no hunting about for ‘the right shirt’ in the morning when you could be chilling with a cuppa over breakfast.
After that, you need something special, a real ‘Bobby Dazzler’ that will only be showcased on the most important of functions and will make you the best dressed man in the room – perhaps a one button, or even, double breasted, in mid grey with a pink pinstripe, or lilac over-check. It goes without saying you will also have the perfect shirt, tie, cuff links, socks, pocket hanky, waiting in the wings to produce a killer outfit of legendary proportions.
The only other formal garment that you must have is a decent tux – if there is a shiny one from Moss Bross lurking in the wardrobe, chuck it out and invest in something special. How often do we get the chance to tread in the steps of 007 and wear such a divine creation? – invest in your ‘Dark Knight,’ and you’ll feel two inches taller at that black-tie dinner, particularly useful when all the ladies will be strutting about in their Louboutins and Jimmy Choo’s.
Final nice-to-have formal garments include a morning suit, white dinner jacket, smoking jacket, and if you’re an opera singer, or regular on ‘Strictly’ a tail-coat.
And so to something for the weekend.
After wearing my three piece all week it’s out with the battered jeans and t-shirts but I still like to keep up appearances and introduce a structured garment of some kind. A ‘Casual Jacket’ might take the form of a fitted blue blazer with a single gold (or cream) button, something in grey herringbone with a black velvet collar, or even, a tweed jacket with a modern twist. A covert coat will also add a touch of class to an otherwise scruffy ensemble.
For those whose social calender extends to the vicars tea-party, Grand Stand at Lords, or the Royal Box at Wimbledon, a pair of mid to light grey flannels is also useful to have and will compliment the above.
And apart from all the usual t-shirts, polo shirts, long sleevers, and cashmere delights, you’ll also need something ‘razor sharp’ for attending weddings, the races, or a good old night on the lash. I love a simple black suit, anything in Mohair, lighter coloured worsteds with vibrant stripes, a Price of Wales Check, or, again funky mid-weight tweeds, not the kind worn by gamekeepers.
And last but not least, accoutrement’s. Money invested in quality shoes (and shoe tree’s), shirts, socks, accessories is never wasted. They say more about you than anything else in your wardrobe and these will be discussed further in the not too distant future.
So your shopping list – you need a “Cornerstone,” “Number Two,” “Bobby Dazzler,” “Dark Knight,” “Casual jacket,” “Grey Flannels,” and something “Razor Sharp” for partying your head off.
And once you’ve spanked your credit card acquiring the above, look after them with a further purchase of plenty of broad wooden coat-hangars, a trousers press, clothes brush, and boot polish.
As Gordon Ramsey would say, “The Perfect Wardrobe by Michelsberg. Done.”