If you do a quick google search on building your wardrobe you’re likely to get the same advice over and over. Men’s magazines like GQ set the formula for wardrobe building – get a great fitting suit and fill your wardrobe with all the ‘perfect’ essentials. While this idea is good in theory, I’ve learned from personal experience that this approach doesn’t work.
If you’re reading this site, you’re probably have specific goals for your personal style. Finding tasteful nondescript staples isn’t something that will help develop your personal style, it’s more fulfilling to find specific pieces that you’ll love (not simply tolerate) for years. I made plenty of mistakes in the past buying items that didn’t fit into my style or just filling up my closet with things I didn’t need or wear. I thou some of my lessons and put together a simple guide to getting the wardrobe that you actually want.
Before buying anything new, it helps to reduce your current wardrobe to the essentials. If there’s things in your closet that you haven’t worn in a year or longer, it’s probably wise to get rid of them. You may have heard of Marie Kondo, who has become an expert of sorts on the art of de-cluttering. Her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing quickly became a #1 New Times Best Seller. While you may not have to go to the extremes of minimalism that she recommends in the book the basic idea is to keep what you love and get rid of what you don’t use. You don’t need to get your place looking like a serial killer’s hideout in order to pare down your closet to a manageable size.
I recommend doing an audit of all the clothing and shoes you have and sorting out what can be donated, sold or salvaged. There’s a lot of value sitting around in old clothes that can be sold on eBay or Grailed which can fund the process of building towards the wardrobe you want. You will have a much clearer idea of what you need in your wardrobe once you reduce what you own, and you’ll more likely to actually afford what you want to cop next.
Find your Grails
While getting new clothes is usually fun, the process of finding , buying and wearing a grail is really the best. If you haven’t found your grail(s) yet, it’s a good idea to spend some time online and just browsing around to see if there’s a piece you really want. A good place to start is going on Grailed or eBay and just searching brands you like. This approach can expand your selections beyond the offerings of the current season and into the archives of designers and labels. A plus side of this approach is that older season items are generally much more affordable and you can find pieces for a fraction of their original retail cost.
Once you find a grail that you see yourself rocking regularly find a way to cop it. Finding pieces that compliment your favorite items is a good way to ensure you’re wearing your favorite stuff as often as possible. Think of your grails as the anchor of your wardrobe, and try to build all the other pieces around that.
Keep Lifestyle in Mind
Ultimately it’s worth investing in clothes you’ll wear the most often. This is largely dictated by your lifestyle. If your job has a strict or uninspiring dress code it makes sense to invest a little more items that you’ll actually want to wear both at and outside of work.
If you go to the club a lot, find items that are comfortable and will get you noticed in there. Take time to think about the settings and environments you’re in the most often and make purchase decisions around that. Basically invest the most in the clothes you’ll get enjoyment out of. If you don’t see yourself wearing something on a regular basis, it’s probably best to pass on it.
Pants are Important
While jackets and outerwear can be the most exciting purchases, pants generally get the most wear. The right pair of pants can make or break the outfit so find something that goes well with your tops and footwear options. While it might not be appealing to drop a few hundred on a pair of trousers or jeans, if you find something with the fit and look you want you’ll be able to justify the cost by wearing the hell out of them.
Turn Down a Deal (Sometimes)
While sample sales and online bargain hunting can be a lot of fun, they can also distract you from building out your wardrobe in the ways that you really want. Picking up something for 70% off at a sample sale can be a thrill but one that should sometimes be avoided. Being tempted by deals can leave you with a lot of stuff that’s hard to wear or just doesn’t go with the rest of your wardrobe. Jump on deals on items you’ve wanted for some time and avoid impulse purchases when you think “well maybe I’ll wear this once”. A good alternative to just shopping for deals is to create a wishlist of items you really want. Try to be disciplined and budget around the wish-list in lieu of picking up things on impulse. This is more difficult than it sounds, but if really start to fill your room with pieces you’ve wanted for a long time, it’ll motivate you to stay on track.
Ultimately, the process of getting your wardrobe to where you want it should be fun and aspirational. Putting a little planning and thought into where your personal style is headed pays off quickly. The end goal is to have a wardrobe of more than just nice stuff; but one that emphasizes your personality that’s full of items that work in harmony.