Building a Formal Wardrobe Part 1 : Suits, Jackets and Pants

Building a wardrobe requires time. It’s a painful process, it’s costly, and at times frustrating, but in the end, it’s worth it. After five years (already!) in the upscale menswear industry, my adventure of trying to achieve a perfect wardrobe status is still in its early stages. However, I did learn a few things along the way, and I’m eager to share them with you over the course of the next few months.
As humans, we’re constantly influenced by the environment to which we expose ourselves, and social media particularly, shapes our intake of fashion constantly, even if most of us would like to think otherwise.
Suits, particularly, occupy an important place in my life, and I assume in yours as well, since you’re surfing our Journal. I tend to think of suits as medium to long term investment in a wardrobe. The idea, is of course, to purchase garments that will survive the test of time, both style wise and physically. Building a strong rotation of tailored garments can be achieved easier if certain steps are being followed. These can change depending on your needs. Often, the career & lifestyle are two factors that dictate one’s journey in acquiring formalwear.
The Basics
Thus, the journey for many begin with the timeless navy suit, which makes a lot of sense. Its versatility is phenomenal, and can easily to adapted to fit (almost) any occasion. The jacket can be worn separately as well, which will give you endless combination options. If this is your starting point, ensure that you invest in a suit tailored with a cloth that can be worn year-round. The climate in which you’ll mostly wear the garment will be the main indicator. Typically, these four-seasonal fabrics will be between 9 and 13oz. They’re considered mid-weight, and tend to perform well in different environments. With that being said, if you’re a one suit type guy, this is where I’d put my money.  
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For most, the next acquisition is a grey suit. Its main strength is once again versatility. Just like with the navy suit, the grey suit can be broken into two distinct garments: a blazer & slacks, that can then be worn on countless occasions.  Some prefer a lighter grey, while others have a preference for charcoal. I believe that a darker grey leans on the more formal side, so always choose based on your personal needs. The weight of the cloth should reflect the environment in which you’ll wear it most. For my fellow Montrealers, a heavier cloth is preferred, as the cold months surpass our warmer months.
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As time goes on, invest in a black suit. As we have discussed here, when properly executed, the black suit can be more versatile than one might think. Always keep in mind that a balanced wardrobe is key. Stick to what works for your lifestyle, but never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
The Patterns

Many guys seem to afraid to go down this path. For some, their job simply doesn’t allow these options, while for others, they’re not there quite yet in their journey. The truth is, patterns tend to be misperceived. There are other options out there than the bold glenchecks, the windowpanes or the pinstripes. To kick things off, I’d start with a birdeye pattern suit, or perhaps a subtle houndstooth in a timeless colour (see both examples in the photos below).

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The Extras 
Once all your basics are covered, it’s time to start thinking of garments that serve a more specific purpose, such as a cotton, or perhaps a tweed suit. These seasonal garments are phenomenal for the warmer months (cotton, linen, fresco wool) as well as for the colder months (tweed, flannel, corduroy). Additionally, they evoke an effortless aesthetic, which makes them ideal for more casual occasions in which you still want to look good. At this stage of your wardrobe progression, you can go for colours that are slightly different, however, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with what you feel comfortable wearing.
When shopping for seasonal garments, always be aware of what you’re getting. A light cotton or linen suit will wrinkle much more than your worsted wool suit. It’s just the nature character of the fabric.
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Blazers & Pants
Whether separate pieces have been part of your journey from the beginning or not, they are an essential part of your wardrobe. Blazers, especially, allow you to show a bit more personality and character, since it’s totally common and acceptable to go for bolder patterns.
At Maison Leporem, we specifically enjoy (and very often recommend) hopsack blazers. The nature of the wool (open weave) allows for breathability and comfort, while also giving the jacket a casual aesthetic. It really is a perfect Spring/Summer fabric. Throughout the colder months, there’s nothing more appropriate than a tweed or flannel jacket - whether is in a plain colour of boasting a bold pattern.
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Because most pants from your suits can be worn individually, you really don’t need too many individual trousers. We always recommend to invest in some light options for the Summer, such as cotton or linen pants in navy or earthy tones (cream, olive, brown, etc.). They can really become handy on casual Fridays at the office or on your weekend adventures.
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At this stage of your journey, invest in garments that reflect your personality and that you can take on your jet travels, weekend getaways and nights on the town.
Lastly, don’t forget that these are merely suggestions based on our experience running this shop! We are all unique and enjoy different things, which is one of the principal reasons we started Maison Leporem. Enjoy the journey, and make sure you subscribe to our Newsletter below to receive a notification when the Part II of this article will come out!  

 

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