One of the things I will get around before too much time passes, is paring down my wardrobe. I have too much stuff, and in solidarity with most people in the world today, I will be making a trip to Goodwill very soon. But there isn’t any reason not to do it with a bit of style. Low key style, mind you, but nonetheless.
Several years ago, I had jotted down some notes for the bare minimum wardrobe a man should have, and I also checked out a couple of websites such as The Art of Manliness which is brimming with advice. My ideas haven’t changed much, and many of the items that I have do come from second hand stores. Now when I say “bare minimum” that is exactly what I mean. And I would really like feedback on this one!
Not counting outerwear, here is the bare minimum:
1. Suits. First, for the love of St. Pete, yes if you are a man, you need a suit. A dark suit. I’m not here to micromanage you, but you will wear it to formal occasions such as weddings, church, and your own funeral.
2. Jackets. You thought we were done with the formal wear, didn’t you? Blue blazer or sports coat (or both, if you find a sale). A camel hair jacket*.
3. Sweaters. V-neck. Polo. Try to stick with natural fabrics. Cotton and sweater-vests are verboten. Always take a woman with you when sweater shopping and for checking the fit.
4. Shirts, long sleeved, button down. You need three of them. A white one, a blue one, and a striped one.
5. Shirts, polo, pick your colors. You only need two or three.
6. White t-shirts. Wear them under your long sleeved button down shirts. Please.
7. Pants. Plain khakis, blue jeans, corduroys, blue or black wool.
8. Shoes. After thinking about it, I had to come back and revise this. Here is the bottom line: No man should own more than five pairs of shoes, ever, for any reason. I heard of one man who always wore brown boat shoes, even if they clashed. He owned two pair, and when his “dress shoes” started looking sad, they became his “casual shoes.” When the soles of his casual shoes wore through, he bought a new pair, and the former dress shoes became his casual shoes. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this man, and we should all strive for the simplicity of his system.
9. Ties. Tie one around your neck when you wear a suit, and shut up. The ladies like them and you don’t have a choice unless you want to be perceived as a whiny, over-indulged b’yotch. And I will call you out.
10. Reversible belt. Black on one side, brown on the other. ’Nuff sed.
11. There isn’t an eleven. You don’t need that many clothes.
Now throw the rest in a plastic bag and take them to Goodwill. If they give you store credit, use it to buy the things you are lacking. Granted, this list is for a Midwestern city dweller. Tailor it to fit your individual needs, except for the suit. You will dress up for formal events, and you will wear a tie, pal. And obviously I haven’t gotten into base garments, performance fabrics, or cold weather layering. I will in an upcoming post. For now, I’ll just say that less is more, and enough is ideal.
*Camel hair jackets rock. Seriously rock. You can dress them down with jeans and a polo, or dress them up to darned near formal wear. Okay, just shy of formal wear. They make frequent appearances at thrift stores. Make sure the one you buy is in good condition, and get it a size or so larger than your normal size so it hangs nice.