"I am 47 years old and I don't think I have ever thrown away a piece of my clothing in 25 years! I have wardrobes, closets and boxes full of clothes. I have been following your blog since you started last year and now want to develop my own 'look'. But I already have so many clothes I am not sure (even overwhelmed) as to where to start. Please help! Trevor."
I think from the many comments and emails I receive Trevor is not alone! For the next few posts I am going to set out the steps I have taken over the past year in my search for style, which you can then use as a template or model to follow and adapt as you need! Before I start I should point out I operate on a tight budget, re-cycling, re-using, repairing and tailoring wherever and whenever I can - this is not going to be a guide to big brand designers and high end tailoring - more a practical guide anyone can use. Being stylish does not have to be costly or difficult!
Step 1. Identify The Basics Before Your Purge
I initially decided my wardrobe of clothes should have a core of 'basics' - these become the foundation of your look. There is no sense in purging your clothes collection without knowing what to keep or throw away. Regular readers will know my research took me to the 1920s and 1930s as my inspirational period. I based my core basics on this period by looking at images, books, TV Shows, movies and finding pieces of clothing worn and styled consistently. Then, I set out to find contemporary and affordable versions of them.
The key to the core basics is function and adaptability. Here are the 14 core items I identified and therefore believe you need:
A blue suit - dark navy blue, two button, single breasted, the best you can afford. Avoid extremes of style (very narrow lapels, overly slim cut, big and baggy) - we want the suit to last. Accessories can be used to add individualism to the suit.
Jeans - dark blue, slim cut, tailored to fit (especially the length), Levi 501 are perfect.
Oxford Shirt - blue is the classic colour, but other colours can be added.
T-Shirt - white or dark blue, plain, short sleeved - no logos, prints etc.
Tie - if you own just one it should be dark blue knitted silk.
Polo shirt - plain design, short sleeved, start with white, then dark blue.
Tweed Jacket - Harris tweed is the classic look.
Dress/Formal shirt - white, double/French cuff, cotton.
Chinos - tan or stone colour to start, but you can add colour later.
Cords - corn is the classic colour to start with, again add colour later.
Blue sweater - v-neck, cashmere. Cashmere, as a light fabric, can be worn most of the year.
Blazer - dark blue, gilt or metal buttons.
Wool trousers - dark or mid grey. These can be paired with a blazer, the blue sweater, Oxford shirt, even the Tweed jacket.
Quilted jacket - Husky or Barbour, green or dark blue. A great versatile coat you can use most of the year.
Armed with these essentials you can mix and match them, go anywhere in the world and appear well-dressed. Although these clothes may appear somewhat neutral (or blue!) in colour this is deliberate, because the careful use of accessories is where we can add splashes of colour and introduce some 'individual flair'.
Therefore, in the next post, we will look at the core accessories needed.