Building a classic gentleman wardrobe from scratch

First impressions are powerful because until we begin to speak, they are the only bits of information we have to make a snap decision as to whether we like or trust someone.  Countless communication studies have shown a man’s visual appearance is initially more powerful than what he says; ignore your wardrobe at your own risk.

The blue suit

Start with a dark navy suit.  It can be dressed up for weddings, professional settings and job interviews. It can also be dressed down for nights on the town or after work occasions.  Keep the shape lean, with a single-breasted jacket and trousers low-waisted and flat-fronted. Wear it with a white shirt and a pale-blue tie, a pink shirt and a navy tie, or a pale-blue shirt and a burgundy tie.

The grey suit

A charcoal grey suit spells business.  A versatile piece, a well tailored grey suit will never go out of style.  Can be dressed down with a slim fit polo shirt.

Formal shirts

Formal shirts to accompany your suit should start with the solid, basic colors.  Choose white, blue, and pink.  Typical brands use excess fabric in the waist and torso, which creates a formless and baggy look. Opt for slim fit shirts that offer a tailored cut which is flattering on most men.

Casual shirts

You can always spot a man who wears the same shirts on a weekend as he does to the office during the week. Don’t be that man.  Get creative on colors, patterns, textures.  They can be dressed up with slacks and blazers or dressed down with jeans. Always stick to a tailored look.

Casual pants

These versatile pieces in your wardrobe are perfect for casual Fridays at the office and weekend wear.


The T-shirt has a place in every man’s wardrobe. However, the time for faded  T-shirts ends around your 30th birthday. What replaces them is ideally a mix of simple white or color tees (v-neck or crew cut).  The fit is key, with too-tight no better than too-loose.

Polo shirts

When the mercury rises, the polo shirt is a must.  Keep it cut neat around the body, and slightly tight on the bicep, so the benefits of those gym sessions show. Wear them with chinos,  jeans or with shorts.


There are hundreds of styles available but the best for classic gentlemen remain simple and contemporary. Avoid conspicuous distressing in favor of dark blue jeans in slim, tapered shapes, with minimal branding.


It is hard to imagine spring and summer without chinos, which are invariably softer and more comfortable than jeans. The early Dockers variety were baggy and shapeless but they now come straight off the catwalks of Milan and Paris resulting in styles that are close-fitting, ankle-grazing and tapered.  They work well with a blazer, but come into their element worn casually with a polo shirt or an open-necked casual shirt.


Shorts can be fashionable, but choose wisely.   The desired shape is neat but not tight, and relatively short: knees should never be hidden due to the length.

The blue blazer

There are few more useful items in a man’s wardrobe than a single-breasted blue blazer. The right one will be as appropriate in the office as it is at a after work party, and versatile enough with both grey wool trousers and jeans. Make sure the cut is contemporary: neat around the waist and short in the body. White mother-of-pearl buttons are chic and relaxed; brass buttons have to be chosen carefully.

Tan cotton jacket

For summer,  this is smart-casual wear and can only take the place of a blazer if it is fitted and tailored. It will be perfect with an open shirt or a polo.

The seersucker jacket

The Seersucker is a thin, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or checkered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. The word came into English from Hindi which originates from the Persian words “shir o shekar,” meaning “milk and sugar”, probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth surface of milk and bumpy texture of sugar.  Perfect add to a gentleman’s summer wardrobe.

The Trench

The trench coat … from a maker with a rich legacy in outerwear – Burberry in tan or black.  No other way to go.


Sweaters should be a year around staple in your wardrobe.  It is a rare summer that doesn’t call for a sweater now and again, at least in the evenings.  Simple rules … wool and cashmere in the winter, silk, cotton and linen in spring and summer.


For office and formal wear, black and brown leathers belts should be called to duty.  Match them to the color of your shoes.  With denim … anything goes; color, texture, braids.


The socks in your drawer should come in three varieties … Formal, casual, whimsical!

Cuff links

Throughout time, men wore cuff links to adorn formal attire and make impressions at gala events and important gatherings.  However, with the change in fashion and trends, this accessory is now ubiquitous.  Styles come in variety of shapes, sizes, metals, materials, and designs.  Our advice – keep it classy.  Quality is more important than quantity.  Stick to specialists like John Hardy, Konstantino, Montblanc, Cartier and David Yurman.


Iconic sunglasses = Persols as sported by Steve McQueen.  Keep them simple and classy.

Footwear (all pics. courtesy Leffot)

Shoes play a very important role in any wardrobe, from suits to jeans, and you need the right pair to match each outfit.  As with other parts of your wardrobe, quality trumps quantity.  Invest wisely.


A fine watch is a mechanical marvel and also a core staple item of any stylish and fashionable wardrobe.  Just as some people feel naked without a belt, others feel marooned without their watches.  A watch says a lot about a gentleman.  Make it count.

The Tuxedo

What man doesn’t look good in a tux?  But there are a few conditions … rented tuxedos don’t cut it.  As with any suit, buy off the rack or get one bespoke that is well tailored, fits you like a glove, and that will get you noticed.  And by the way, the casual look of your  loosened bow tie after the event … pure cool just like James Bond below …

Minimum items that should be in a professional gentleman’s wardrobe:

  • 2 Suits
  • 1 blue blazer
  • 1 tuxedo
  • 4 formal shirts
  • 6-8 casual shirts
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 4 Pair slacks, dark and light
  • 2 pairs of well-fitting Jeans
  • 3 polo shirts
  • 4 sweaters
  • 2 Pairs formal dress shoes
  • 2-4 pairs casual boots and shoes
  • Belts that match above shoes
  • 4 ties
  • 2 pairs cufflinks
  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 4 pairs of dress socks
  • 4 pairs of casual socks
  • 1-2 dress watches
  • 1 sport watch

Common style mistakes and fixes

This style primer appeared in GQ and is a great snapshot on common style mistakes that gentlemen are prone to make but are easily fixed.  Note the problem and solution with each piece of clothing article or accessory shown.  You be the judge … in agreement or against.  Voice your opinion gentlemen!

The lumpy leather jacket

Problem: There’s nothing modern—or even retro-cool—about a leather jacket that fits like a rain poncho.

Solution: When trying on a new leather jacket, keep going down a size until you can’t get it on, then buy the next size up. It should feel snug as a wetsuit but will take your body’s shape over time.
The high waisted dad  jeans
Problem: Whitewashed high-waisted jeans aren’t just dorky—they also emphasize all the wrong parts of your body.

Solution: Medium-rise raw denim jeans sit at the most flatter place (on your hips), follow your legs (instead of saddlebagging out from your waist), and form-fit to you as you break them in.

The cheap tie

Problem: Let’s pretend this tie isn’t a little ugly. And tied too long. It still isn’t working. Why? A cheap thin silk tie gets you an unacceptably tiny knot.
Solution: Go for a sturdier silk, which will make for a solid knot. Plus, keep any patterns understated. Also, a quick note on length: The tip of your tie should not hang below the waistline of your pants.
The sagging suit pants

Problem: Just bought a cool skinny suit? It ain’t cool if it stacks up at your ankles like baggy jeans.

Solution: Take your suit to a tailor and tell him you don’t want a break. Those are the words you should use: “I want this suit hemmed with little or no break.” Period.

Remember: Tailors are used to working with guys who don’t know what they want. Be assertive so he understands that you’re after a specific look and don’t just want “the usual.”

The pancake collar

Problem: When you’re not wearing a tie, the collar on your dress shirt flattens out and sinks beneath the lapels of your jacket. The look? Sloppy.
Solution: First, look for dress shirts with firm collars that stand up on their own., framing your face. Second, use collar stays. You know, those little plastic things. Every proper dress shirt has slots for them.
The wrong belt

Problem: You want Tiger Woods’s swing, not his style, especially when wearing a suit. A silver-tipped faux cowboy belt is not a dress belt. If you’ve got one, retire it.
Solution: Invest in a high-quality leather strap that’s an inch to an inch and a half wide. If it smells and feels buttery, that means it’ll age beautifully. And the buckle should be subtle.
The oversize suit

Problem: You invested in a dark handsome suit, but you look a little…ehin it. Know why? It’s a size too big, and all that extra material is boxing (shoulders), sagging (waist), and flopping (ankles).
Solution: Repeat the leather-jacket method from the opening page. When trying on a suit, keep going down a size in the jacket until it gets uncomfortable. Then go one size up and buy that. And unless you’re over six feet two, buy a regular length, not a long.

Are you ready for the warm weather?

By Guest Contributor John Leite

Spring is here and summer is nearly upon us, and I for one believe it’s filled with style landmines. We’re tempted to cut a few corners for the sake of comfort.  It’s hot, we men sweat.  I get it.   Nevertheless, I have faith that an acceptable compromise can be reached.

I know many of you out there enjoy wearing polo shirts.  This poor gentleman is clearly out of ideas. Beige, baggy and sleeves below the elbows … not a refined look.   Note where the seams on his shoulder land.   This man is a model and his look is an ill fitting one.

There are varying degrees of fit and they all depend on physique and, honestly, your modesty.  But if you’re not shy and think you’re fit enough to pull it off, go with a slim fit. If you don’t think slim fit will work for you, there are still universal rules that apply:

  • The stitching at the shoulder should actually sit on your shoulder.
  • The sleeve should be no longer than your elbow.
  • The length shouldn’t be just long enough to get away without tucking in your pants.
  • Popping the collar up is optional.

Seriously? This gentleman is not even fat and he looks like Jared before the Subway diet!  We are not a fan of pleats. They’re not flattering and the minute you take a seat, it appears that your crotch is tented.  No gentleman looks good in pleats!

Here’s how you do it better with a simple formula … flat fronts and tapered leg pants (a clean and classic modern look!)

The look above?  Never at work gentlemen!

Here are some occasions where these pants would perhaps be appropriate:

  • A construction site
  • Digging for archaeological relics
  • Taking down Taliban members
  • Anywhere in Seattle
  • Global Summit protest
  • If you’re a foreign correspondent in Africa

Here’s cargo pants done right … classic style amplified with new features.  Slim fit with leather strap details.

This gentleman is wearing pleated boxy shorts that can make skinny chicken legs appear even skinnier!

As in the pants … flat fronts, form fitting … these shorts provide a clean modern look.

Beach volleyball tournament? … sure, Tour de France…absolutely … At work, on a date, a funeral, absolutely not!

If these Persol’s were good enough for Steve McQueen and most Italians, they are good for you too.

Gentleman in style: Bryan Ferry

Bryan Ferry: Singer, Songwriter

This is a classic from a few years ago …

Interviewer: Happy Birthday Bryan Ferry!

Bryan Ferry: Thank you.

Interviewer: How are you celebrating?  Tuxedo, models, helicopters, Casablanca, models, being too damned suave, conversations about Picasso, models, making pained and passionate expressions while you croon, buying a new suit, models?

Bryan Ferry laughs before he’s handed a cocktail and escorted onto a private jet by two models.