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How to Build a Classic Wardrobe

Updated on April 19, 2015

It is far more important to look good than it is to look different all the time. A loud patterned blouse or suit might be fashionable but you can only wear it once in a while and chances are it will be out of style soon. A classic wardrobe allows you to accessorize with the latest fashions while maintaining a timeless elegance.

The Classic Suit

Every classic wardrobe starts with a classic suit. It can be dressed up for weddings, funerals and professional settings. It can also be dressed down for nights on the town or after work occasions. The classic suit is dark and solid. Patterns and unusual colors can be in vogue one season and a joke the next. You can't go wrong if your best suit is black, navy blue or dark gray. That may sound boring, but a dark suit gives you infinite options to spice up your look with accessories. Meanwhile, it never goes out of style, so you can feel free to spend more on a good suit.

The Classic Suit for Men
The Classic Suit for Men | Source

The Classic Suit Fit

A classic suit must fit well. People often do not notice a suit unless it is particularly ugly or fits badly. It is better to pay more to get one tailored suit than to spend the same amount of money on three or four cheap suits that hang poorly on your body. Better yet, get a custom made suit that fits every nuance of your body. A good fitting suit makes you look taller, slimmer and shapelier. A bad fitting suit makes you look like a cheap slob. You can wear the same black suit every day and everyone will think you look great. You can wear a different cheap suit each day and everyone will think you don't know how to dress. Stick to mid-weight worsted wool fabric. It is good for all kinds of weather, is comfortable and sheds wrinkles well.

The Classic Suit Details

A classic suit can still be customized to your own personal style. A jacket with two buttons on the front is standard but a three button design is also classic. You can get two, three or four buttons on the sleeves. For a touch of class you can get real button holes cut into them. The rear vent can have one slit, two slits or no slits. The pockets can be real or sewn shut so they are only for decoration. It is best to stick to a standard lapel width of 3 1/2 inches at the widest point. This keeps the suit in style as lapel fashions shift by fractions of an inch. Suit pants can be hemmed or cuffed. A cuff is a bit more classic. A standard cuff is one inch but they can be made bigger or smaller. Suit coats and pants can also be fitted to your preference. Many Italian designers make their suits boxy at the shoulders but very slim around the middle. Some people enjoy a baggier feel.

The Classic Suit for Women
The Classic Suit for Women | Source

Women's Classic Suits

A dark solid suit is also the best classic look for women. It can be worn year around and made to look different with creative accessories. Button, pocket and lapel styles are different for women. They tend to have one and two button designs, don't usually use their pockets and have thinner lapels. None of these options take away from the classic nature of the dark suit. As with men, it is essential for professional women to have their suits well tailored. A poorly fitting suit makes the wearer appear sloppy.

Classic Suit Colors and Designs

If you have only one suit in your classic wardrobe, make it solid black. Black goes with everything and everyone looks good in black. Second and third suits in a classic wardrobe should be navy blue and dark gray. After that you can branch out to designs. Pin stripes are also classic but are not as versatile as solids and can't be worn as often. The pin stripes should be on classic colors like black, blue and gray. They come in different widths. One inch and half inch spacing are the most classic. If you can afford to branch out even more, experiment with herringbone, nails head, twill, houndstooth or a check pattern. Not everyone looks good in these fabrics, so choose carefully.

Classic Blouses and Shirts

A classic suit must be accompanied by a classic button down blouse or shirt underneath. White is naturally the most classic but varieties of cream, ivory, tan and light blue are also welcome in a classic wardrobe. Blouses and shirts are much more affordable than suits, so a variety can be purchased to make your classic suit look different. However, like suits they must fit well. Stick to 100% cotton and have them tailored or custom made. Everyone looks good in a tailored blouse or shirt. Everyone looks bad in a poorly cut garment hanging awkwardly off their body. Collars change with fashion. The most classic style is a medium point collar. People with wider faces favor longer collars for their slimming effect while long faced individuals prefer wide spread collars to make their head appear rounder. Cuffs can be buttoned or French cuffs. French cuffs are fancier and require cuff links.

Women Accessorize with Jewelry
Women Accessorize with Jewelry | Source

Classic Accessories

If you only wear suits and shirts, a classic wardrobe can appear to be very boring. This is where accessories come in. They can be as flashy and attention grabbing as you want. Think of the suits and shirts as blank canvases and the accessories as the paint. Women can completely change the look of a classic outfit by wearing a colorful scarf or eyecatching piece of jewelry. Men can express their individuality and sense of style with a bold tie or shiny cuff links. Accessories are much easier to change and discard than an expensive tailor made garment.

Classic Shoes
Classic Shoes | Source

Other Parts of a Classic Wardrobe

No wardrobe is complete without shoes, belts and casual wear. Classic shoes and belts are black and basic. Black goes with everything and is always appropriate. Brown is a close second. However, shoes and belts are another area of a wardrobe that can reflect the wearer's individuality. Once you own the basic black and brown shoes, go ahead and express yourself. Fill out your wardrobe with smart casual wear that compliments your classic suits. Colored button down shirts can be worn with them for a more informal look. Leave the jacket at home for an even more casual look. Solid colored polo shirts and v-neck cashmere sweaters are always classic and work well with the slacks. The beauty of the classic wardrobe is its flexibility. You can mix and match the pieces and always look like a classic.

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    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 2 years ago from United States

      Rated 'Useful' as your wardrobe tips are spot on. I have bookmarked your Hub so I can reference it again (before I am ready to buy a suit). Great job.

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