Column: Fashion Forward
Wisely Investing In Your Wardrobe
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 22:03
Someone once said—or tweeted, anyway—that one’s closet is like a portfolio, and one should invest wisely. So true. Clothes come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and prices, from $20 tees to $4,000 suits. The key is knowing when to save and when to splurge. What makes some clothes more expensive than others is usually one of three things (if not all three): craftsmanship, material, and the proverbial designer label.
Only the first two will determine whether something will last you a lifetime or literally come apart at the seams after a couple of uses. The label can be insurance, given that renowned designers usually create pieces of superior quality. If you treat them with the necessary care, clothes will last you forever, and you’ll find that, even though you might have paid a lot at first, the clothes end up paying for themselves, as you won’t have to be constantly repurchasing something of bad quality over and over again every time it’s ruined.
One way of making sure that you’re taking the proper care of your clothes is to check the laundry guide (that label on the inside written in some sort of alien alphabet). If something is dry-clean only and you thoughtlessly throw it in the washer, you can bid it adieu. Also check what it’s made of, as some fabrics and materials require special attention.
Back to investing. When in need to spend good money on clothes look for three things: classic design, neutral colors, and good quality. This will ensure that your pieces survive the seasons—both fashion and time wise. By classic design I mean traditional—don’t go spending thousands of dollars on something like, I don’t know, Kanye West’s Givenchy leather kilt? Where would you even wear that? If you’re going to spend money, do it on something that you’ll get much use out of. For example, if you live in a place like London, splurge on a classic Burberry trench coat in beige (not those new aluminum foil-looking ones they have now—I thought Burberry couldn’t make mistakes and I was wrong). Beige is one of the neutral colors I’m talking about, and so are navy, gray, and black. They go with everything and more often than not are in season, especially autumn/winter. By quality I mean craftsmanship and material. A shoe that’s handmade in leather will be of better quality than, well, a shoe that’s machine-made in fake leather, therefore lasting you longer.
Now that spring is—almost—here and with it events like weddings and graduations, I’ve picked five articles of clothing on which it is ok to splurge because of their versatility and timelessness.
First there’s the navy blazer. It could come with gold buttons, or it could not (I personally prefer the former). In any case, you can wear it pretty much anywhere and it never goes out of style. You can pair it with pants and a tie and wear them to the office. Swap the tie for a pocket square and you can wear them to Sunday brunch.
Next is the white oxford shirt. Pair it with the aforementioned blazer to add a little formality or roll up the sleeves and wear it on its own for a more casual look. I own one myself and I think it’s the best money I’ve ever spent on a piece of clothing.
A pair of pants is also good to have in one’s closet. Not jeans. Not khakis. Pants. You can wear them with a shirt and a sweater to dinner, or roll up the hem a bit and pair them with a polo shirt to go to class. If you get them in colors like navy and gray they’ll match pretty much everything.
When it comes to accessories a black belt is a must have—no, not a karate one. A leather one with a classic buckle will go with anything, from a suit to jeans, and if properly cared for will last forever.
Last but not least, a pair of loafers is another great investment to make apparel wise. Like the aforementioned belt, if they’re made with leather they will last a long time. You can get them in many colors, but given that proper menswear guidelines say that after 6 p.m. it is strictly black shoes, it might be a good idea to get them in this color. That way they can carry you from a day at your internship to a night out at a nice restaurant.