Once you start filling your closet with The Essentials (a partial list you can work on here, just scroll down), you may have some items that don’t get as much use as you’d like… especially if you’ve invested in the quality stuff.

If you paid a purdy penny for your garments, or if you just have an awesome piece that doesn’t see the light of day very often, here’s how you can get much more use out of them than you currently do.

Take the high/low approach to outfit assembly

Simply put:

  1. Pair your expensive, baller stuff with your budget-conscious stuff, or
  2. your more formal / unique items with your casual / everyday stuff.

Here’s an example. Spent a grand on a suit but you just don’t wear a suit very often? Break it up!

1.) Wear your suit jacket with denim or slim tailored chinos

Throw on some lace-ups or loafers and call it a day.

Be careful though. This assumes you have a plain charcoal gray or navy suit, something where the jacket can pass for a sport coat.

If you have, say, a navy jacket with white pinstripes and is clearly part of a suit, I wouldn’t break it up. This is the reason why I suggest your first two suits are navy and charcoal, much more versatile.

Some additional thoughts from Antonio of Real Men Real Style here (video). I realize a few points he makes are contradictory to this article, but at least you’re get varying points of view and you can make the decision as to what works best for you and the current selection in your closet.

2.) Use those trousers

Throw on the trousers and pair it up with a sport shirt and a sweater, or a t-shirt with a great denim jacket. Finish it off with some desert boots or lace-ups. Done.

3.) Loafers with shorts

This idea applies to everything, not just your suit.

Got a great pair of loafers, driving shoes, or basic leather lace-ups? You can wear it with more than a suit. Try it out with denim, or slim chinos, or even twill shorts (if it’s hot where you are… Sockless or no-show socks, please).

4.) Topcoats and trenches dressed down

Have a killer topcoat or trench? You can pull that off casually. Dark denim and a sport shirt! Trousers and a sweater with casual canvas sneakers! The possibilities are endless.

Taking advantage of high/low styling helps you make the most out of every item in your closet. (Tweet this!)

It also helps to maximize versatility, which is great for a lean wardrobe.

There ya go

…just a little trick to getting the most use out of everything in your closet.

Plus, understanding how to pair things that are traditionally opposite in nature is a good way to keep each and every outfit interesting and dimensional. Almost everything can work with everything else… It’s just a matter of how you put it all together.

Looking for more visual inspiration?

You should follow EG on Tumblr, where I “tumbl” a lot of inspirational, often stylish images from other real world dudes.

Questions or comments? You know the drill.



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7 Responses

  1. D on

    as a graduate student in an academia profession in the midwest, there is zero dress code anywhere. the high-low approach is a great way to wear my nicer stuff and not look too stuck up while still looking really sharp…. and not to mention the fun creative things one can do, especially when the temperature falls below 70.

  2. Rich Soriano on

    I was always under the assumption that you shouldn’t wear your suit as separate pieces. It makes wear on them uneven and you can pretty much always tell when it’s a suit jacket and not a blazer/sport coat (usually made with thicker fabric/thread). Topcoat/trench is advice is decent (a look frequently seen on Daniel Craig, but he has had questionable style before hooking up with Tom Ford) but I think the looks is always rounded out by the right accessory or layer.

  3. Corey Buller on

    Love the idea of breaking up suits! My girlfriend put me on the path to style about a year ago and I haven’t looked back. My workplace carries no formal dress code (especially on Fridays) but I’d rather not be too casual. Throwing on a suit jacket with dark denim and sport shirt has worked beautifully for me. Great article!

  4. Chris Jones on

    Loved the first photo when you originally posted this article, and still love it now.

    For the record, with Black Lapel, if you were to buy a pair of pants and a blazer of the same color, you’re literally getting a suit (they’re matched). I asked them this to confirm that was the case so I was able to buy a jacket later and it matched the pants.

    Helpful if you’re wanting to break them up, knowing that they literally sell the suit jacket separately as a blazer also.