Last week, I heard a story from a guy who told me how he got rid of everything in his wardrobe and started again. He wanted to make getting dressed in the morning as easy as possible so he decided to buy just 7 outfits. One for Monday, one for Tuesday etc....you get the picture. He's got a set for Summer and one for Winter and loves the fact that he doesn't have to think about it and it's one less decision he has to make in the day!
It reminded me of a discussion I'd had with a client about doing something similar. He wanted a formula to dress by and we were talking about keeping the colour palette really simple and just upping or downing the scale according to where he was going and what he was doing.
Though I didn't end up doing it with that client, I thought about it again recently as I've been finding templates and formulas super useful in a marketing group that I'm in. It really helps to simplify things and I've been wondering how I might be able to use it more to help men get dressed, as I know you guys love a systematic approach to dressing.
So to start with, I thought I'd give it a try here to see how it worked out. As you can see I've kept the formula for the colours exactly the same - light blue t-shirt/shirt, navy trousers, grey jacket and brown shoes and taken it from casual to formal to cover all occasions. There's lots of possibilities to mix and match between these outfits too.
What do you think? Could you see it working in your wardrobe? Do you like the idea of having a formula to follow like this, or would something else work better for you? Do drop me a line or head over to my Instagram page and send me a message there - I'd love to hear your thoughts.
This is the most casual look with a print t-shirt, worn in jeans, hoody and sporty trainers. This would be good for those weekend days where you're doing general chores, going for a walk, popping to the shop or maybe going to watch a football match (whenever we can do those sort of things again!). In winter you could keep it the same but just add a layer on top with a puffa jacket and perhaps a navy beanie hat and scarf.
Swapping out the print t-shirt for plain, casual trainers for smarter leather ones, worn-in jeans for a clean wash, and hoody for a bomber, takes this look one step up from the previous one. This might be more the sort of thing you'd wear when you're going out and want to look like you've made an effort but still stay casual - going to a gallery, out for lunch, or a trip to the cinema, or possibly even for work if it's a relaxed office. You could add a navy or grey sweater (or even the hoody from the previous outfit) when it gets a bit colder, and maybe swap this lightweight seersucker bomber for a more padded wool one.
Switching it up some more - this is the sort of thing I often shop for with clients - I'd say this is at the casual end of the smart/casual spectrum. The details that contribute to this are the button down collar of the shirt, the unstructured blazer which is in a jersey fabric (a knitted cardigan blazer would also work), the garment dye chinos which are a bit washed in looking and don't have a crease down the front, and also the boots which have a slightly worn in feel to them and a lighter coloured sole. This outfit would be great for a dress down day at work or a date, or going out for dinner. Make sure everything is neatly fitted to keep the look modern.
Pale blue button down shirt - NN07 at Liberty - £60, Grey jersey blazer - Barena at Liberty - £200, Garment dye chinos - Jigsaw at Harvey Nichols - £85, Brown suede chukka boots - Officine Creative at Liberty - £380
Now we're heading to the other end of the smart/casual spectrum with an outfit that is a touch more dressy. Change the button down shirt for one with a more structured collar, and the jersey blazer for one that's a little more formal. This one is partially lined and a linen mix which means it's not too stiff and structured, though more so than the jersey one. The trousers are stretch cotton with flap pockets (great for a flat bum!) at the back - less formal than wool suit trousers but more dressy than chinos. The shoes are an Oxford style with closed lacing, which is considered more formal than a Derby shoe (click here if you're not sure what the difference is). If you wanted to formalise this outfit further, you could wear a tie or add a pocket square - I'd go for something like this. In winter, a formal overcoat or peacoat would look good with this - if you choose a peacoat just make sure it's longer than the blazer.
Pale blue herringbone shirt - Emma Willis at Mr Porter - £260, Linen mix partially lined blazer - Hugo Boss - £369, Stretch cotton trousers - Joseph - £235, Brown suede Oxford shoes - Paul Smith - £252
A suit would also be formal too but here I wanted to stick to the exact same formula as the other outfits. So I've scaled this up with a print shirt which makes it quite fun - if you wanted a more serious formal look you could go for a double cuff shirt and cufflinks, or a pin collar shirt would also work well. The trousers are a mohair mix which gives them a slight sheen, and the jacket here is fully lined giving it more structure and therefore, formality. The high shine leather and the whole cut style also contributes a touch more dressiness to this outfit. With this shirt, I'd say this is great for a smart dinner, bar or party or if you wore one of the other shirts suggested and added a tie, it would turn it into more of a work look. As with the previous outfit, I'd add a formal overcoat to this look for winter and a cashmere scarf.
Print shirt - Paul Smith - £102, Grey check jacket - Armani at Harvey Nichols - £775, Navy slim leg trousers - Valentino at Harvey Nichols - £525, Dark brown whole cut shoes - George Cleverley at Mr Porter - £535
I hope this has given you some ideas of how you could apply a formula of colour to your outfits from the most casual to formal and also helped you understand the details of how you scale something up or down in formality. You could possibly simplify the colours even more , eg: just navy and white or pale blue but you have to be careful if you're mixing chinos and blazers that it doesn't just look like a mismatched suit - you'll need to go for a textured or patterned blazer.
There's also options of taking items from each of these outfits and mixing them with others - just don't mix items from the first outfit and the last one as they're too far away on the smart casual spectrum and won't mix well together.
"I’ve been transitioning in my career and really needed to readdress my wardrobe. I asked Sarah for a set of rules to help make shopping easier and she more than delivered, providing images, links and loads of guides to help me create the look I want. If you’d like to shake up your style and look your best I would highly recommend working with her. Its definitely money well spent."
Would you like to have an easy formula like this to take the hassle out of choosing and deciding what to wear? Contact me to book in so we can find a great solution for you to make getting dressed easier!
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