We like to think of ourselves as a pretty capable bunch, but even so, we cannot tell you what the “perfect wardrobe” is. Because there really isn't a perfect wardrobe. Everyone's proportions and dimensions, preferences and needs, habitats and climates, and means differ and their “ideal” wardrobes do as well. So, we don't want and we're not going to try to tell you what you should and shouldn't have in your wardrobe. Instead, we'll focus on how we built and grew our wardrobe and today we're going to start out with what formed the foundation of our wardrobes, particularly as cash strapped youngsters.
Some of us like the upper half of our body, some of us don't, but all of us have to cover it up with clothing.
How you do that is entirely up to you and like we said above, there is no right answer. But we'll let you know how we went about filling our closets.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to build the top half of your wardrobe is to adopt a utilitarian approach. While doing so, think about what you do most often and how you want to look, your desired appearance, when you are doing those things. Then, stop thinking and stop building.
In my desk jockeying days, examining my wardrobe through this lens led me to realize that I needed to invest in some button downs. And while I wasn't in a position to order some Charvet shirts in bulk, I found the right mix of quality and quantity that enabled me to go two weeks without dry cleaning and more than one year without blowing out my elbows. That was during my building stage and that was for everyday wear.
But when it came to staples like a plain white button down, I splurged because the lines of building and growing blurred. It was a timeless piece of clothing that I could build a formalwear wardrobe around and one that would grow with me.
What else endured the building stage and has stayed with me as I have grown?
My wool car coat and my trench coat. Because outerwear, unlike some of the other items in your wardrobe, have the potential to be “one and done” garments. Those that you buy when young and those that age as you do.
So, though you may not be in a position to, nor do you necessarily need to, approach building your wardrobe as though its the one and only time you will do so, there are a few items that have ended up serving me well in the long haul and were both what I built my wardrobe around and grew it from.
Perhaps more so than “the top,” building and growing your bottom half of the wardrobe can be intertwined, if you choose for them to be so.
For instance, though I was a desk jockey by day (and night and weekends, etc.) and needed some solid pairs of wool pants to hold me through the week, which ultimately lasted as long as I needed them to, but no longer, my jeans and selvedge khakis turned out to be some of my best, and least expensive, long term investments. Items like these are timeless and can evolve as your fashion style and sense do, so if in the position to give a little more for quality denim and khakis, do it. You'll get a hell of a lot more out of it.
In an ideal world, we would throw practicality out the window and suggest investing in shoes from the get go. And we actually do stand by that recommendation, but we know that real life may not allow for such extravagances, so instead, we'll leave you with this final suggestion: look for something versatile and buy the best quality that you can afford to. By focusing on versatility, you can limit quantity and devote more to quality.
So there you have it. Some of the things that we thought of when we first built our wardrobe. Perhaps some of it is applicable to you, maybe it isn't. That's the beauty of individualization and personal preferences.