Choosing timeless suit colors and classic designs is the secret to maximizing your wardrobe for both versatility and cost-effectiveness. If you, like the average consumer, are only regularly wearing 20 percent of the clothes in your closet, the beginning of a new year or a new job is the perfect time for a change.
Whether you are just entering the business world or you are simply determined to streamline your overcrowded closet, a few wise color selections can result in multiplied mix-and-match outfits. In fact, with the right shoes, a suit, a sports jacket, an extra pair of trousers, and four shirts, you can create more than a dozen different business outfits. Imagine the possibilities when you increase the number of shirts to eight or more and throw in some well-coordinated ties and pocket squares.
If only one suit is in the budget, consider a single-breasted gray, charcoal, or khaki choice. Because a return to minimalism has been the overriding trend on the fashion runways most recently, clean, classic lines are available everywhere and in all price ranges. However, it's worth investing in quality core pieces for your basic business wardrobe. If you scrimp on cheap fabrics and craftsmanship, you will be replacing items regularly. Buy the best you can afford through creative shopping online, at high-end clearance racks, or through special in-store deals.
Timeless, classic suit styles and colors are those proven winners that always look flattering on the majority of wearers. For example, a navy suit or sports coat has longer staying power than a more-formal black suit. Not only does this shade of blue complement the majority of skin tones, but it can easily be dressed up for formal occasions or played down for more casual attire. The shirt and tie combinations are almost endless for this versatile color. Navy makes a perfect choice for a second suit, but a navy sports coat from Isaia, J. Crew, or Calvin Kline is also an excellent choice. Pair it with gray flannel or wool trousers from Epaulet for the office or some slim-fit, cotton-blend chinos from mrporter.com for a more casual weekend look.
With this color palette, one pair of good quality brown shoes will handle all your needs. Paul Stuart sells a dark brown wingtip brogue, but even a lighter camel shade will still look stylish with your dressy business outfits. Since your belt should always match your shoes, how about the Men's Reversible Brown Leather Belt sold at Old Navy for a very reasonable price? When you can afford to, pick up a pair of good-quality black shoes to expand your options even further.
Picking the right shirt and tie is not nearly as difficult as it might seem. J.C. Penney sells Stafford boxed 100-percent-cotton shirts in sets with coordinated, 100-percent-silk ties. The Oxford blue shirt with a blue stripe tie is a safe, classic choice.
Traditionally, solid ties in gray, blue, or dark red are always appropriate. "Repp" ties are a bit more preppy. They consist of thick navy diagonal stripes and one contrasting color. For a more daring look, consider at least one tie with a very small, subdued print on a dark or neutral background. You can find a large selection of classic men's ties at J. Crew. A few colorful pocket squares can inexpensively add a touch of personality and flair.
Round out your new wardrobe with a trench coat or overcoat, a soft cashmere sweater from brooks brothers, a few dressy polo shirts, a decent watch, and a leather attache case, and you're done. From one or two timeless suit colors, you have built a completely functional wardrobe. Now it's time to enjoy looking your best in 2014!
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