Planning a wardrobe for men is a little different than for women. Some men have a thing, or should I say don’t have a thing about wearing the same outfit repetitively. Other men are what we call modern-day metrosexuals. They put almost as much time and effort into their hygiene and grooming as women. I am not here to pass judgement so I am going to present some tips that will help the man in the middle – the guys who wants to look professional without going over board.
- A solid, dark color business suit that has been tailored for your body. You want to be sure the jacket and pants are a perfect fit because this piece will be staple in your closet. You should choose a dark gray, navy or black suit as your base and venture out from this point. Depending on your working environment, you should stay away from “interesting” colored suits. Please don’t make me define “interesting”.
- One dress shirt for each business day of the week (4 if your office observes casual Friday, 5 if not). Have a tailor or department store salesperson measure you to ensure the correct fit. To take your look up a notch, purchase at least one shirt with french cuffs. You can consider this your power shirt and pair it with cuff links on those big days that require an extra boost of confidence.
- Five ties. The key to having five dress shirts and five ties is being able to mix and match to create different color combinations which will multiply the number of looks in your wardrobe. Men are fortunate because people will rarely notice if you have on the same suit because you can spice it up with a nice shirt/tie combo. To successfully pull off this plan, don’t go out into left field and purchase pieces that will draw too much attention because you won’t be able to recycle them as often. I don’t want you to be the guy who everyone knows is wearing the same shirts every week.
- Nice dress shoes with hard bottoms. I am sure the shoes with the soft bottoms are very comfortable but there is something special about a man in a nice pair of lace up or pull on dress shoes. You should choose black or brown based on the dominate color of suits in your closet. The goal will be to have a black and brown pair but the color that you will wear most.
- Good fitting jeans without any design. Of course the designs are great for hanging with your boys but casual Friday isn’t really supposed to be that casual nor is a night out with your boss. You want to show off your personal style but always opt for classy over stylish.
- A pair of dress slacks. Ideally, these will not be in the same color as your suit but should complement your shirt/tie collection. There are just some days that you don’t want or need to wear a jacket to the office. Make sure these pants are the right length and offer a nice break against your shoes. I don’t want you looking like you are wearing your daddy’s pants or your son’s. That is a major turn off in business and professional relationships. It shows a lack of attention to detail.
- A couple of polo shirts. Over the years, you have probably amassed a nice collection of tee shirts. Now is the time to kiss those shirts and politely inform them that they may never see the light of day. Purchase a white and black polo and then one or two in your favorite colors. Paired with your jeans or slacks this is a professional yet classy look that can take you from work to the sports bar to the night club while not missing a beat.
- A reversible belt. It should be brown on one side and black on the other. How do you decide which side, look down at your shoes and go from there. If you are reading this post, you should be past the stage of saggin (please be past the stage of saggin). There aren’t many words to describe why you need a belt except pants below your waist is not cute at this stage of the game.
- A pair of comfortable dress shoes. Now you can go and buy the soft bottom shoes. I know there are days that require all your energy to just get out of bed and head to work. We all have those days. You may also have days that require a lot of walking. To look stylish you have to feel stylish. Comfortable shoes are a major contributor. Just make sure you do the grandfather test. If they look like a pair of shoes your grandfather would wear, keep looking (there are very few exceptions to this test).
- A two week (minimum) supply of basics. This includes socks, underwear and tee shirts. You should not rely on your family members for your stock of basics. At least twice per year, you should stock up on fresh undies. We will not even go into how important this is on so many levels.
- A nice blazer. Wearing your suit jacket with jeans in unacceptable. It doesn’t look stylish. It looks like you have on your suit jacket with jeans. Find a blazer that isn’t over the top but shows a little personality. It should work with your dress slacks and jeans to create a business casual look.
- Round out your collection with a couple of sweaters. Argyle sweaters and sweater vests are really hot right now. They look great with your suit, a dress shirt and tie as well as with slacks/jeans and a dress shirt – you can add a tie and/or the blazer depending on where you are going. When chosing your sweaters, pay attention to the colors and make sure they will work with the rest of your wardrobe.
I hope this post will be helpful in helping you create a professional wardrobe. Remember: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.