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

One thought on “Building a classic gentleman wardrobe from scratch

  1. Great post! I think accessories are important when building a classic wardrobe. A good pair of shoes and a quality leather briefcase will last ages and always make sure your outfit looks smart and sophisticated. Always stick to simple things and you can’t go wrong!

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