A Gentleman's Capsule Wardrobe
Mr. Chris Cox is the style-guru, writer and editor behind Easy and Elegant Life where he inspires men (and women) to lead a luxe, calme et volupté lifestyle. His current projects include working on the Easy and Elegant Life book as well as developing the Icon Collection- custom clothing based on designs from the golden age of Hollywood and menswear. Here he shares his views on the perfect capsule wardrobe for a gentleman.
I am pictured above in England. Mrs. E. reminds me of this whenever I pack. Nine pieces of luggage.
As you can see, packing light wasn't always my talent. I still struggle to do it right. But, having carted that many clothes through Europe for eight months, I began to realize that you could get away with far fewer clothes as long as they made sense when mixed and matched.
So, what ten pieces, not including accessories, outerwear and shoes, would I choose to live with exclusively?
1) Midnight Blue Double Breasted Suit. Worn on its own with the white spread collar shirt, cufflinks and a solid tie, it is as formal as you'll need short of a tuxedo.
2) Subtle Plaid or Check Sportcoat. To wear with jeans or khakis, the trousers from the blue suit or grey flannels. Dresses up or down.
3) Grey Flannel Trousers. Always appropriate with a blazer (wear the coat from the suit), or a shirt and sweater.
4) Blue Jeans or Khakis. Jeans wear harder. Khakis go more places. The sweater or sports coat dresses them up.
5) White Oxford, Button Down
6) Blue Oxford Button Down. Both just get better with age. The sartorial equivalent of comfort food.
7) White Spread Collar, French-cuff (double cuff) Shirt. Formal and good-looking. It can be worn with the grey flannels and a blazer or the suit.
8) Striped Shirt, Moderate Spread Collar. To dress down the formality of the double-breasted suit and to add interest to the sports coat when you've a spring in your step.
9) V-neck Cashmere Sweater (red, light grey, navy, purple or black. Whatever catches your fancy.) Warmth without weight, delightful to the touch. Wear it as a scarf if you have to.
10) Dinner Jacket (Tuxedo). You will be amazed at how easy it is to get into events if you're properly dressed. If you can't afford to have one custom made, buy vintage and have it tailored. Brits will tell you that an old dinner jacket is smarter anyway. You'll need a vest or cummerbund, bowtie, braces and a dress set of studs and cufflinks to kit yourself out properly. Chosen properly, the cufflinks can be worn with your French-cuff shirt. Simple gold links are best suited for double-duty.
Now I recognize that the assignment didn't include accessories, but there are just a few I'd like to mention that will take you far.
1) A great scarf
2) A subtle bowtie. I like one with spots or stripes. Slip it into the pocket of your sports coat and you're always ready if you are required to wear a tie to get into a restaurant. With the suit and the white spread-collar shirt, you're ready for cocktails at the most swellegant establishments.
3) Several white linen or cotton handkerchiefs. Use one as a pocket square.
4) A good watch. I know that everyone has a smartphone, but a watch is one of the accepted forms of masculine jewelry. Choose a classic. I love a tank watch on a leather strap. If you go in for a sports watch like a Rolex or Omega, don't wear it with your dinner jacket. Unless you may have to make a fast escape into the water... .
5) One pair of cordovan penny loafers in oxblood.
6) One pair of darkest brown lace-up shoes.
7) One pair of black plain toe or captoe oxford shoes.
8) Waterproof overcoat. In camelhair, navy, grey or black. Have the wool waterproofed at the dry cleaner. Or choose a classic trench or Mac.
9) Either an umbrella or a waterproof fedora.
10) A pair of leather gloves to match your coat.