Now before you laugh out loud and startle the person sitting next to you, think about it: Designers set the macro path for women’s clothing each and every season. The signature color, the “must-have” accessories, the style of shoes, the length of dresses. In a pinch, women can follow the lead of a few taste-making designers, and they can be certain that they’ll never show up in a female equivalent of a leisure suit at a black tie dinner.
For men, it’s not so simple. Men’s styles change slowly over time. And men themselves tend to be much more change-resistant when it comes to what they’re wearing. To convey an image of power and style, men need to work a little harder. They have to forge an identity based on the realities of their lives and the worlds in which they travel.
So the question naturally presents itself: How do you build that Ultimate Wardrobe? At David August, we are blessed to work closely with some of today’s most powerful and influential men. As we help them develop the elements of their personal style-their brand, if you will-we look at the process as if their wardrobe is an evolving, three-dimensional puzzle. Our job is to continually evaluate their lifestyle and their businesses, and cross-reference this information with what’s in their closets to accurately refine their style.
Power Suit: Think Michael Douglas in Wall Street.
So when a client asks us, “What do I need?” often the answer is that they don’t really NEED anything. At this point, they have usually accumulated enough stuff (clothing, accessories, et cetera), but they may not have the right stuff for the right situations. So the key is to create a portfolio of clothing that is always appropriate and to make sure that our clients have versions of that portfolio in their second homes, and even on their yachts and planes if necessary. Here are the “beginning building blocks” for your Ultimate Wardrobe:
Tuxedo: Most men in a position of power need to have a classic black tuxedo, including a tailored white tuxedo shirt, plus a simple black tie and cuff links standing by. We’ve found that many clients make the mistake of thinking they never wear a tux-and certainly would never need more than one-but when they look back over the course of a year, they find that they have occasions to pull out the tux several times a month.
Power Suit: Think Michael Douglas in Wall Street. This is the big gun, the suit you pull out when you need to walk into a formal meeting and make a huge statement-before you even say a word. Even in these days of business casual, when you need to close the deal or convince the board, the power suit will give you that edge you need. Our power suits tend to be dark blue or black, and often have a bold but elegant gray pinstripe or chalk stripe, contrasted with a white or ice blue shirt and a tie with a small, classic repeating pattern and a satin finish. The entire look screams “power and confidence.” We always say it’s the details that elevate David August above all others; in that vein we suggest a significant, not costume-ish pair of cuff links. Our couture custom shirts are unparalleled and will allow you to go with either links or buttons, so you always have flexibility.
Business Suit: The Business Suit is a choice that works for less important meetings, travel, and everyday wear. The color palette is broader and may include grays and browns as well as blacks and navies. We continue moving toward a trimmer cut for most of our clients, which is a trend that has been establishing itself for several years. That means a coat with a slightly higher armhole, a bit of a shorter sleeve exposing a small portion of the cuff of the shirt, and an overall sleeker profile. We suggest a non-pleated pant to complete the look. Coordinate with a well-finished tailored shirt, and a tie is optional as long as you make sure you keep the jacket on as much as possible.
Two Sports Coats: Sports coats paired with slacks or even jeans are appropriate for some days at the office and often for weekend events as well. Sports coats can be more out on the fashion edge: plaids, pencil stripes, tight patterns, and solid colors. Depending on the time of year, you might have a dress shirt, a lightweight knit, a combination of both, or sparingly, a T-shirt underneath. A couple of great sports coats are a very flexible part of the Ultimate Wardrobe.
Six Slacks: Many of our clients say while they absolutely love our suits, they love our slacks and casual custom shirts just as much. Slacks that are cut for your individual body are so much more flattering and comfortable than anything you can get off the rack. Choose from performance fabrics in shades of gray or rich browns, with heather finishes or tight patterns. One or two pairs of polished cotton khakis are great for summer.
Eight Shirts: We believe that a well-tailored shirt is the lynchpin for the Ultimate Wardrobe. Ours include detail touches like monograms, split yokes, detailed cross stitching on the shirt body, collars, and cuffs, as well as beautiful buttons, all sewn by hand. Of the eight, at least one should be white and one should be light blue. Dark tones, stripes, small checks, and patterns are also appropriate.
With these basic elements in place, most men can be ready to respond to whatever situation presents itself. He is absolutely prepared to get up and go to an emergency out of town meeting, a weekend retreat, or social affair.
And one final piece of advice for the owner of an Ultimate Wardrobe: It’s always better to be the best-dressed man in the room. No one ever gets harassed for looking better than the rest of the crowd. The Ultimate Wardrobe, worn proudly, establishes the fact that you are a man of style, purpose, and power. You’re the guy that all eyes turn to as you enter the room.
And proving my theory that it’s easier for women to dress, we haven’t even talked about shoes! We’ll save that for the next issue…
3140 Airway Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626