What exactly is a Lean Wardrobe?

Lean Wardrobe: the minimum number of items you need to create a flexible, well-rounded wardrobe that suits your daily life.

If you have too much clothing, yet nothing you actually want to wear, are looking to “fill in the gaps” with classic staples that outlast trends, or simply hate everything you own and want to start from scratch, I encourage you to adopt the Lean Wardrobe philosophy.

“Is the Lean Wardrobe for me?”

It does not matter if you:

  • are young, old, or middle-aged
  • are light-skinned, dark-skinned, or somewhere in between
  • are fat, skinny, or athletic
  • are short, tall, or of average height
  • have a tight budget, a bit of cash to spend, or are blessed with crazy deep pockets

The Lean Wardrobe is a philosophy on how to approach building a wardrobe, regardless of your age, body type, or budget. Yes, the Lean Wardrobe is for you if you want a versatile, interchangeable set of clothes that you can wear every day, no matter where you’re headed.

“What kind of clothes are in a Lean Wardrobe?”

My suggestions for a Lean Wardrobe consist of classic, timeless pieces that serve as menswear standards… modern interpretations of silhouettes and styles that have been around for decades.

If you feel you look too young, your Lean Wardrobe will lend you a more mature look. If you are an older gentleman, the Lean Wardrobe will help you look contemporary and modern, without appearing trendy or like you’re trying too hard.

Ready? Start with these articles.

Learn the Tenets of an Effortless Gent

Twelve principles that guide the way you approach and develop your personal style.

Read the Lean Wardrobe fundamentals

Since this philosophy is so important, I wrote a guide laying the foundation.

Understand The Lean Wardrobe Pyramid

Let’s think of the Lean Wardrobe as a pyramid, split into three levels.

Assess Your Lifestyle

Here are three things to consider, and questions to help you evaluate each one.

Go Beyond Basics with Style Archetypes

Take your style a step further.

I can show you a simple way to find the clothes you need.

Build A Lean Wardrobe

Building a Lean Wardrobe is the easiest process to follow if you want to own a great wardrobe that matches your lifestyle AND your budget.

CLOSED UNTIL 2017

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More Lean Wardrobe-related articles on Effortless Gent

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Spectrum of Style Formality: How to mix and match casual and dressy clothes

You have a lot of outfit options between “jeans and a T-shirt” and “tuxedo” but it’s not always easy figuring out if THIS goes with THAT. Here’s what to do.

G Bruce Boyer Effortless Gent

12 Favorite Style Quotes from G. Bruce Boyer, my Menswear Spirit Animal

Bruce Boyer has a way of explaining why well-dressed men look so great, even if you can’t put it into words yourself, and more importantly, how we all can elevate our own personal style.

Three Ways To Wear A Suit (As Separates)

Three Ways To Wear A Suit (As Separates)

I love having suits I can mix and match. In this post, I’m going to give you some sample suit separates, fresh ideas, and examples to try.

Stay Clean With These Three Classic Sneaker Styles

Stay Clean With These Three Classic Sneaker Styles

When it comes to footwear, some are way into sturdy boots, some swear by crisp dress shoes, and others are what you might call sneakerheads. Whatever your preference, you don’t need a closet full of styles to appreciate (or wear) a great sneaker. Here are three sneaker styles you can incorporate into your look today.

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An EDC-Style Wardrobe: 12 Things In Your Closet You Can’t Live Without

While there’s no one standard EDC for every person, there are a few things most, if not all, of us carry. The best part of an EDC is its predictability and consistency.

What if we adapted this concept to our whole wardrobe?

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A Visual Guide To Quick And Easy Color Combinations

One question I still get relatively often has to do with combining different colors of shirts, pants, and shoes together. This is a fairly basic concept that we touched upon in other posts, but it makes sense to dedicate a whole article to this idea.

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This Little Shift In Perspective Can Instantly Make You Appear More Confident, Sexy, and In Charge

A few weeks ago, when I was home for the holidays, I had a conversation with my barber that completely changed the way I look at life.

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Style Archetypes: How To Go Beyond Basics And Take Your Style A Step Further

I love a Lean Wardrobe, and I believe every man should strive to own the basics. It’s good to have a handle on these essentials, but once you’ve mastered that art, what comes next?

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Three Ways To Let Trends Influence Your Style (In A Good Way)

You don’t have the time or interest to keep up with the latest and greatest trends. At the same time, you don’t want your wardrobe going stale. So, what do you do?

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Travel Light: A Lean Approach to Packing

Packing for versatility and flexibility is always a smart move, whether you’re going away for the weekend, or traveling for weeks. What’s the best way to do that?

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I Challenge YOU to Build a Lean Wardrobe. You in?

In case you’re too lazy (or overwhelmed) to assess your lifestyle right now—you’ll have to do this eventually, by the way—but you want to get started building that Lean Wardrobe today (hooray), then I have a solution / challenge for you.

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Assessing Your Lifestyle: Three Things To Consider Before Building Your Lean Wardrobe

Here are three things to consider, and questions to help you evaluate each one.

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The Lean Wardrobe Pyramid: A visual to help you get it right

Here’s my theory that should prove useful to the gent who’s still getting his bearings. Let’s think of the Lean Wardrobe as a pyramid, split into three levels.

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The #Menswear Mindset: A Signature Style Chat, From Squalor To Baller

Ian Anderson runs From Squalor to Baller, a site focused on simple style advice for the modern man. We share very similar ideals when it comes to personal style and building a basic, flexible wardrobe. He has an envy-inducing closet, much closer to a perfect Lean Wardrobe than my own.

This Is Why We Dress Now. Why Do You? (You’ll find a few gems in here)

In “Why We Dress Now”, the article hops back and forth from coast to coast, quoting particularly stylish and influential (in their fields) guys about why men of today dress how they do.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Choosing A Versatile Suit and Wearing Each Piece Separately

How flexible is a suit, exactly? Is it really worth the investment, even if you’re not a guy who wears suits every day? How many days in a row can you wear one suit? How do you take a suit from formal to casual and back again, if necessary?

Let’s tackle each of these questions (that I asked myself, in my head) one at a time. This should help, in case you’ve ever wondered the same thing.

Mixing Casual And Tailored: A Signature Style chat with A Bit Of Color

Mr. Walbolt is a creative at heart, having run an art publishing company for 28 years. With years of practice putting together color, pattern, and design style, he has a keen understanding of what looks good together.

How To: Incorporate Trends In Your Classic Lean Wardrobe

If you’ve been reading EG for any amount of time, you may think I’m completely against trends, solely based off the Lean Wardrobe approach I always champion.

While I do think a Lean Wardrobe is best, being anti-trend isn’t the full truth.

F#%K Fashion: Eight Tips to Being the Best Dressed Guy You Know

F#%K Fashion: Eight Tips to Being the Best Dressed Guy You Know

You don’t need to be a menswear expert well-versed in the terminology and minutiae to put together a basic, good-looking outfit.

Get a copy of EG’s latest book, The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery

Get a copy of EG’s latest book, The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery

Aah, yes, the Lean Wardrobe. We discuss it a lot here on EG, and I’ve mentioned it many times in several different articles. But what is it exactly? And how do you get one?

Since the Lean Wardrobe philosophy is such an important one, I wrote a guide detailing exactly how to achieve it.

Lean Wardrobe: Packing for a five-day jaunt to Hawaii

As I write this, I’m preparing for a trip to Hawaii. While there, I’ll be in a few different social situations (as opposed to just plopping down on the beach the whole week).

Here’s the thing. We’ve talked about a Lean Wardrobe before, and preparing for a trip is one of the best times to put it into practice.

Watch That Wrist: Five reasons why a luxury timepiece is a worthwhile investment

The argument of “What’s the point of buying a luxury watch? They all do the same thing…” is one that is common but there are plenty of reasons why you should, if your finances allow, opt for a $2000 watch instead of a $200 piece.

We’re going to take a look at some of the most compelling reasons that luxury watches cost more than their cheaper counterparts and, resultantly, why they are worthy of your investment.

Simple thoughts to help guide you in your quest for personal style improvement

When I first started this site, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to cover and how I hoped it would help people. Three years into it, I have a much, much clearer vision of the site’s mission.

These principles are what guide the site, and they should guide you when developing your own personal style as well.

The Lean Wardrobe: Favorite Clothes of a Minimalist

My friends Ryan and Josh from The Minimalists approached me with this article, which I found pretty interesting. It’s on the more extreme end of the Lean Wardrobe philosophy I’ve been exploring, but a great perspective nonetheless. What do YOU think?

Using High/Low styling to your advantage

I’m a big proponent of understanding basic style rules, and then bending those rules (maybe even breaking a couple) to make them your own. Doing so will help you create a personal style that’s completely yours. The idea of high / low style isn’t a new thing, but if you haven’t yet incorporated the idea of it into your daily life, why not?