„How do I build a wardrobe?“ was one of the questions I was asked via Mail by Dominic Zarlengo, a follower of mine and 29-year old doctor from Chicago.
He only had few, but very fundamental questions we ALL either have had or still have to conquer. I was at the exact same point years ago, so I answered in detail. Half way through I thought: „wait a minute, this right here is exactly what I want my blog to be like: an introducing of my people to menswear and to be of help.
I asked Dominic for permission, he – thanks again!!! – agreed, so I created a not so ordinary blogpost. All this is, is the E-Mail he sent me and my response to it.
Let me know if it helped you too.
Question from a fan
To: Justus Hansen
December 11th 2017 at 01:09 AM
I’m a 29 year old doctor from Chicago, Illinois in the States. I absolutely love your style and following your Instagram for inspiration. However, I’m wondering if you can pass along a little expertise.
I have recently finished training and now actually have the funds for a wardrobe upgrade. My current wardrobe is pretty sparse and embarrassing. I’m wondering if you have any advice for finding clothes and building a wardrobe. Do you shop at stores, online, somewhere else? I find myself getting overwhelmed when I try to begin finding new pieces. Once inspired, how to you find clothing that fits that inspiration?
Additionally, how is it that everything fits you so perfectly!? I am obsessed with fit, but I have so much trouble finding pieces that fit me well, especially pants. Is it a matter of tailoring or have you found brands that just tend to fit really well?
Thanks for any help you can provide to one sartorially lost dude!
Keep up the great work! I’m really enjoying following your Instagram and now the blog.
Dominic Zarlengo, MD
Advocate Medical Group
RE: Question from a fan
To: Dominic Zarlengo
December 14th 2017 at 11:15 AM
thank you for your mail as well as your kind words; means a lot to me hearing that!
I took a deep thought to what to answer you, since I’ve been at that point myself some time ago and know how hard it is to develop a clean wardrobe.
It’s difficult to give advices when you’re starting off all new and don’t know which direction you’re heading. I guess the best advice is to start like this:
Go for very clean basics. Clothing without showy prints or bright colors or anything, just one colored. That’s the basis.
Means, I’d go for easy-to-combine colors for quite a while: dark blue, grey, white, dark red, dark green, brown, black. Decent colors that don’t drag attention too much when you might have mixed the wrong color tones. Those colors all go along very well together, you’ll see. You can’t fail a combo really.
Second: go for cheaper clothing first and invest in the alteration afterwards. A perfectly fitted Zara sweater is much more of an eye-catcher than a 200€ jumper with a normal fit, right?
You can and should go for the higher quality and more expensive clothing once you have a decent basis. In the long run, higher quality clothing has a longer durability and is therefore essential to a long lasting wardrobe. I mean, at some point you’ve found your style right?
After a while you can slowly sort out the older, more or less worn out clothing and the good stuff will last.
Where to shop: I’m actually doing both now, shopping in stores and online. Shopping in stores has the advantage that you can test the fit and the color of the clothing first before buying it. You can always change the fit afterwards, but you can’t change the color. So when you’re shopping, always keep your current wardrobe in mind. You should ask yourself „Does this piece match enough of my clothing?“ before buying it. That not just brings you to start thinking in outfits, but also saves you money because your wardrobe is combinable in itself and not just a convolute of cool pieces that don’t really match.
Back to online shopping: it’s just so much easier. Once you know your fit and the colors you can combine easily, online shopping saves a great amount of time and money as well.
I’d suggest a good mix of both.
I know the feeling of being overwhelmed of all the choices out there. Try it this way to uncomplicate shopping: think of an outfit first (or take an outfit you saw somewhere). Then look for the single pieces in several stores. Not that one store might not have it all, but that’s unlikely. Remember, you’re going for basics first. You can go looking for the unique stuff once you found your routine and know where to look.
That’s exactly how I did at first, which is why I now know where to shop once I’m inspired.
That problem with the fit…I’ve always been obsessed with fits too, so I know the feeling when you know how it should look like, you also want it to look like, but don’t know how to make it look like that.
It’s simple: tailor shop.
My mom introduced me to the method of alteration as a little guy when she brought her clothing to a tailor. It’s not that expensive (about 15-20€ in Germany to customize jeans) but the outcome in comparison is huge. I give all my stuff to a tailor (jeans, coats, suits, jumpers) because of this thought: „Those jeans are made to fit 10.000 people. But I want them to fit just me.“
How to find a good tailor: Either try a few with clothing you won’t miss. Or head over to a big store like Tommy Hilfiger and ask them which tailor they use in town. That’s how I found mine.
Of course, there are a few brands that fit well from the start. But then that thought comes back in my mind…
Let me know if this helps you or if you have any other questions!