Interchangeable Business Wardrobe for Men
The purpose of this article is to serve as a reference to all men working as business professionals who would like to create a strong personal image, and simplify the process of putting together a wardrobe. The principle of an interchangeable wardrobe is to take a limited number of clothing items and make hundreds of different combinations. The reason it's possible is because all articles of clothing are nearly 100% interchangeable. Some may think it's feminine for a man to think about what clothes do and do not belong in his arsenal; however, this could not be further from the truth. Having a keen understanding of why an interchangeable wardrobe is important saves a man time, money, and may be the very reason why he does or does not get the next promotion opportunity. It may boost self-confidence and it will surely make a man stand out from the rest.
The list above is by no means exhaustive, nor does it have to be followed to the T. It is simply a guideline that provides near complete interchangeability for all articles of clothing. The items on the list should be at the core of the wardrobe. Over time, additional items will be acquired, but it is important not to keep any pieces of clothing that do not fit flawlessly just for the sake of having them. Also note that these pieces of clothing are timeless, meaning they have been around for over 100 years and will not be going out of style any time soon.
White: One of the most versatile articles of clothing a man can own. It can easily be dressed up or down.
Light Blue: Staple dress shirt that is almost as formal as the plain white dress shirt. Works well with just about any color jacket or trouser.
White with Light Blue Pattern: Formal, yet contains a bit more character than a plain white or light blue shirt. Steer clear from large patterns or thick stripes, as these patterns make a shirt casual.
Navy: Safe color that looks great on anyone. Easy to pair with any jacket or trouser.
Khaki: Works well with brown shoes and warm colors.
Navy: It is best paired with neutral colors such as a white shirt or a brown jacket.
Gray: Arguably the most versatile trouser because of its neutral color properties.
Dark Blue Jeans: More casual in nature, but can be dressed up with a jacket. Avoid light color denim and rips.
Suit: Jacket and trouser made from the same material. Meant to be worn together. Note that black suits are not on this list, because they should be reserved for more formal events.
Sports Coat: Jacket that is paired with non-matching trousers.
Charcoal Gray Suit: One of the first suits a man should own. Charcoal Gray could also be worn at more formal events, where as Navy may not be as appropriate. It makes young men look more mature.
Navy Suit: One of the first suits a man should own. Can make an older man look more youthful.
Brown Sports Coat: Works well with just about any trouser and shirt. Brown suits have lost a bit of popularity in recent years, but brown jackets are still widely used today.
Shoes: Shoe model is the most significant when ranking formality, then color, then broguing (designs on shoe such as wingtip). Black is the most formal color followed by brown or oxblood.
Oxford: Most formal and elegant shoe due to its simplicity. Can be worn with any suit, but a bit too formal for jeans.
Derby: More versatile than oxford, yet still formal. Can be worn with suits and jeans.
Dress Boot: Extremely useful in harsh winter climates. Simple dress boot designs can be worn with suits. They can also be worn with more casual clothing.
Loafers: Most informal shoe on the list. Perfect for business casual and less formal suits.
Accessories: Where individuals highlight their personalities with the small details.
Belts: Solid brown or black leather belts are the most widely used garments to hold up pants; however, suspenders are acceptable as well.
Neck Ties: Plain solid neck ties are the most versatile. After purchasing a few solid ties, look for small repeating pattern ties or striped ties. The larger the pattern, the more casual the tie will be.
Pocket Squares: A pocket square is a great accessory that will highlight any suit or sports coat. A simple presidential fold with a white pocket square is appropriate for just about every business occasion.
Wrist Watch: Wide variety of styles and models. Watches are a great conversation starter. A good rule of thumb is to match leathers (belt with shoes) and metals (jewelry with belt buckle).
Underwear: The main purpose of underwear is quite obvious, however it can also help retain body heat, protect expensive outerwear, and eliminate dress shirt muffin top. Note, wearing a shirt instead of a tank top underneath a dress shirt can protect it from deodorant stains. Also, underwear is not meant to be seen.
Shirt Stays: Unfamiliar to most, shirt stays resolve the annoying problem of shirts getting untucked by keeping downward tension on the shirt. They are most commonly utilized by law enforcement and military personnel to look their best in uniform.
Crew Neck: Better option when wearing a shirt and tie. If wearing while unbuttoned, the top of the shirt will be showing.
V-Neck: Better option when wearing a dress shirt with the top few buttons opened. Undershirt will still protect from deodorant stains but will remain hidden.
Socks: Avoid white socks when dressing professionally. Brown and black socks are the safest route; however, socks can be leveraged as an accessory and a great conversation starter.
Article Written by: Jim Toth
Antonio Centeno is a former Marine Corps Officer and business owner who does an incredible job going into more detail about a developing man's professional image. I have only scratched the surface of this enormous subject, and I encourage you to visit his website.