Clothes are a form of expression to some, a form of art to others, a necessity to a great many, and a host of other things to a countless number of people. Much like the varied role that clothes play in our lives, so do our thoughts about what it means to have a “complete wardrobe” and when we can stop building our foundational arsenal of threads and start growing it.
Fortunately, no one but you can figure that one out on your own, but we'd be happy to help in any way possible, and as we did yesterday, we'll give you our thoughts on building and growing. However, while we wrote about it yesterday from the perspective of those who are on the “ramen noodle diet,” today we'll write about it from the perspective of someone with a little bigger budget yet nothing too heady.
Let's Start at the Top
Yesterday, we wrote from the perspective of someone who could only apply the “quality, not quantity” so far because of a very meager budget and suggested that it's okay to compromise to the extent that you have to on certain items. However, we were pretty steadfast in our belief and recommendation that the pieces of one's wardrobe that are timeless and could literally last a lifetime are worth investing in. These items, in our case, include the classic trench coat, the wool topcoat, the white shirt and though they are not necessarily everyday pieces of our wardrobe all year round, they can be and not only that, they can be when we're 20, 30, 70, and 80, if treated right. So, with respect to those select items, today, like yesterday, we don't think that it's worth sacrificing or compromising on quality.
With that in mind and hopefully with some cash left over to spend, it's worth going back and revisiting the everyday, work wardrobe. Sure, these clothes probably won't last you forever and you might switch jobs and dress codes, but for the time being, you are wearing these clothes everyday, so at a minimum, it's probably worth giving consideration to spending some money to at least make sure that your everyday attire is comfortable. Often that means investing in expanding your wardrobe and buying shirts made of different fabrics, different weights, different thread counts, and materials, but that can also mean making a visit to the local tailor and having some alterations made. Because this is still part of the “building” process, in our eyes, it's nice to be able to draw from some of the old, or what you already own, while also investing in some new stuff. Some common “upgrades” made during the growing process include buying shirts with higher thread counts (but don't be fooled by thread count alone) and shirts of various weights. Like workouts and protein shakes, these are investments in your everyday well-being and that's an investment worth making.
But, hopefully you have a life outside of your job and if so, then while we suggest rebuilding an upgraded work wardrobe, be mindful to leave yourself some room to build a weekend wear wardrobe. Fortunately, you might not need to try too hard for the top half of your body because diversifying the top half of your foundational wardrobe can also mean building elements of your casual wear wardrobe, particularly as you vary the materials and weights of the fabrics of your shirts. As for tee shirts...sure, quality matters, but with a budget in mind, we're okay giving quantity a say in this decision.
Much like the top half of your wardrobe, with a little more money at your disposal, it's worth giving those items that you compromised on before a second look, paying close attention to what you optimized for on the top half of your body: comfort and fit. You may end up buying some pants to compensate for deficiencies in your essential attire, or you may just end up reworking what you already have. Though, unlike the top half of your body, “building” might mean more buying for the lower half of your body.
And as for weekend and casual wear, the more overlap there is, the more you can prioritize quality over quantity, but if that's not an option, less can be more on the bottom half of your body and the investments that we suggest all men make in a nice pair of denim and selvedge khakis will serve you well. Wear them as often as you please, live in them and let them reflect your lifestyle. They were designed with those things in mind and they'll look even better if they're used as intended.
There is almost always room to step it up a notch in the shoe department and it's generally not hard to find ways to do so. One note though: don't confuse brand name with quality. Guys with big bucks don't go around telling people they are rich. High quality shoemakers don't go around telling people their shoes are the best either.
So, be careful to not get swept off your feet by ads. Let the shoes do the talking...and walking.
Money doesn't buy happiness; it buys choice. And with a little more money, you have a few more choices when building and growing your wardrobe.