I want to address the younger dudes right now. I’m talking to the guys who know better than I did when I was their age… the guys who are realizing the importance of a well-balanced wardrobe, and who want to nail it the first time around so they can skip the years of trial and error that most of us went through.
I wanted to pass along five useful tips that will help get you on the right path from the beginning. I’ve received a lot of emails saying how helpful EG is to a guy trying to fix his mistakes, but there’s no concise, step-by-step guide for the guy who wants to get it right the first time.
Not yet, anyway… more on that later.
Here are five general guidelines to set the groundwork for what needs to get done. Don’t write these off. As with any big reinvention, the planning and foundation-building process is just as important as the actual steps you take to progress.
And now, the tasty and useful morsels
1.) Read. A lot. And then read some more.
EG is a great place to start, but you want to glean as much info as possible from as many sources as possible. This will give you a better overall view, and gathering info from several places allows you to filter out the stuff that doesn’t ring true for you, and to apply the stuff that does.
Don’t get stuck on this step. Some people just read and look at photos, but don’t make any actual changes. You’re defeating the whole purpose if you do that. Read and then apply, read some more, readjust, reapply, etc. You get it.
Some sites (besides EG) to check out: Primer Magazine, Real Men Real Style, and Dappered, for starters. In fact, to make it easy, just check out the Purveyors of Style links I have down below in the footer. When you’re done reading this post, scroll all the way down and you’ll see it on the right.
Tumblr is also an excellent resource, especially for visual images of people doing it right. Just check out the #menswear tag.
Be warned though, if you’re a beginner, you may feel overwhelmed with some of the stuff these guys talk about. It’s advanced shit.
Just admire the pretty pictures, make note of what you like and don’t like, and move on. Don’t get too bogged down in Brunello and Boglioli and Bastian if you don’t even know what kind of denim you should be buying. Basics first!
2.) Be honest with yourself and what you have
Don’t try to pass off your ratty, billowy button-up hand-me-downs as decent dress shirts. Start over and buy new stuff. Save those old shirts for mowing the lawn, or something.
If you have a closet full of t-shirts, you’re essentially working with a blank slate. Now it’s time to add things so you can dress like a grown man.
3.) Don’t be afraid to eliminate / donate, and make sure to pick timeless classics
Fine, this is kind of a two-fer here, but they go hand in hand. You HAVE TO get rid of things, or at least be okay with the idea of it.
If you’re young and haven’t bought one grown-man outfit yet, you STILL will have to clear out space in that teenager closet of yours. You probably have a ton of stuff you haven’t worn since 6th grade. Get rid of it and make room for some real clothes.
When you’re ready to start buying things, keep in mind the classics. Something you can wear in ten years and not look dated. Things like a basic, slim fitting (not tight or snug) white dress shirt, another in light blue. A slim (not tight) charcoal gray or navy two-button, single breasted suit.
These items won’t ever go out of style; they’re standards that go beyond trends. Kinda like Sinatra’s greatest hits. When’s that guy ever gonna go out of style? (Probably never.)
4.) Take it a step at a time
This goes with step 3. You don’t have to buy a whole wardrobe at once. In fact, you probably won’t be able to, since quality can cost money, and not everyone has the money to blow on a top-notch wardrobe in one hit.
My advice would be to tackle things one item at a time, or one group at a time. Think of it like building a collection; the fun part of collecting is gathering these coveted items one by one.
For example, when you have enough money, buy a few dress and sport shirts (start with 3-6) to start building your wardrobe. When you’re looking for the next piece in your collection, get a great pair of dark denim. Keep building slowly until you have a well-rounded wardrobe.
5.) You’ll always be refining
Keep in mind that even with classic pieces, your preferences may change. Maybe one day, you’ll realize you really like a certain sport shirt, but want more lavender instead of light blue… or after wearing straight legs, realize you prefer a slimmer cut of denim.
You will learn these things as you go, just make sure to stay open and realize you’ll change your mind now and then. As long as you’re in that realm of classic, timeless style, you can’t really go wrong.
Realistically, you don’t have to be young to take advantage of these guidelines. You can be any age, and if committed to reinventing your wardrobe, good stuff can happen. Take it slow and progress naturally, and soon enough you’ll have a killer starter wardrobe that will last you years.
What do you think?
- Are there any other important pointers you may have for a younger gent trying to build his wardrobe right the first time?
- Are you that younger dude, and you have questions?
Let’s hear em in the comments below.