Bob? Who the hell is Bob? Bob is our resident wardrobe builder. He’s a cool dude; you should get to know him! We met up with this helpful and sharply-dressed chap the other day and asked him how we would go about putting together the ideal classic menswear wardrobe.
Simplicity is key
“So Bob, what ARE your tips for getting started?”
“Not only is the answer very simple, it also hasn’t changed in decades. I remember a quote from Paul Lewis, the head of Kilgour at the time (and this was in 1981, years before I got my own show): In a crisis, conservative and high-quality clothing is the solution. People want things that last. You should invest in a few really good pieces that fit you and your lifestyle rather than buying things of lesser quality that you don’t really need and just end up throwing away. You won’t believe it, but this helmet I’m wearing is the same one I wore in the first episode of the show back in 98. So, your first suit needs to be an all-rounder, it needs to work at various times of the day and it needs to work in slightly more formal situations. That’s why a navy suit should always be your first suit. The exact shade of navy will come down to personal taste and should match your skin type and hair colour, but navy just always looks put-together. Moreover, this needs to be your workhorse suit, so stay away from ridiculous high super numbers and get a good quality, heavy English or Italian suiting fabric. With proper care, it will last you 15 to 20 years. And even then, you can probably fix it; I know I can. A heavy twill works great, or even a high-twist wool, as it’s crease-resistant and breathable. Furthermore, anyone who has ever been to a vintage shop knows that a second pair of trousers is a good idea, as trousers tend to wear out well before the jacket does. Just don’t forget, the suit needs to work for formal occasions, so don’t let the styling be too casual; I’d recommend a three-piece with a peak lapel or that you go double-breasted.”
Stay on track
“Wow, Bob, that’s great advice! So, now you have your navy suit, where do you go from there?
“As a second suit, I would commission a mid to dark-grey flannel. Basically, this is your winter option. Once again, err towards something more formal in terms of stylisation. I know a lot of tailors recommend a navy blazer and a pair of odd trousers, probably flannels. There is nothing wrong with that per se. However, if you have a simple enough body type, I feel like you can find a good vintage blazer fairly easily, so I’d focus on getting that perfect flannel suit first. Your next suit can be a bit less formal, maybe a glen check, or a stripe. After that, I’d personally go for a dinner suit, then a double-breasted coat. I’m going to focus on shirts another time, I’d just say here that you need to build a solid collection of white, off-white, and light-blue shirts, as they’ll work with anything. In terms of fabrics, I would recommend going for either a poplin (simple breathable basket-weave) or a zephyr (which is also a basket-weave, although slightly lighter than the poplin).”
Lifestyle dictates wardrobe
“And when are you ‘done’, so to speak?”
“That entirely depends on your lifestyle, I would say. If you wear a suit every day, ideally you’d have a suit for every day of the week and not wear any suit more than once-a-week. This will dramatically prolong your clothing’s shelf-life. If you’re really a pro, you probably have five or six suits for the colder months and five or six for spring and summer. If you rarely wears suits, it’s nonsensical to have that many. If you just want to look sharp day-to-day but not necessarily in a suit, try to invest in combinations (odd trousers and sports coats) and good quality knitwear.”
The best tailor
“How do you know that you’ve found the best tailor for you?”
“This is another one that’s easier than it seems. Go to the tailor whose style you like best and make sure you have good rapport. That way, you immediately have a common denominator in terms of style and you can be open and honest about what you want and they can be open and honest with you. Communication is so important when working with a tailor, so that they can understand what you want and even make recommendations as to what they think might suit you. From there, you need to work with your tailor to build your own style. I was fixing up an old manor house for the show years ago and I came across the most beautiful wardrobe I’ve ever seen. There must have been over 100 suits and about 200 shirts. The owner told me it took him about 50 years to put it together, but you couldn’t tell at at all. None of the suits looked outdated because he had gone for such classic silhouettes. However, what really blew me away were the small details on each garment. He had developed a truly personal style.”
The death of the lounge suit?
“I keep hearing over and over about how the classic lounge suit is dying out. What are your thoughts on that?”
“I’m all for people dressing casually, if that’s what they want. However, I am encountering more and more people who tell me that they want to dress differently, but don’t want to stand out. To these people, I say: Be yourself, be authentic. Wear what you like. The reason why people want to wear suits is that they understand that suits are designed to bring out the best in a person. A well-tailored suit will make you look slimmer, more athletic, and sexier. It will change your life.”
As some of you may have guessed by now, Bob the Wardrobe Builder is not a real person. He’s a character we have made up (possibly inspired by an existing children’s TV character). We suspect he will come to visit us more often in the near future. MM/DC