July 3, 2013

Summer capsule wardrobe: boy style

A couple of weeks ago I helped my friend John shop for his entire summer wardrobe at Uniqlo, which is one of my favorite stores in the world (literally. And also, not just because I work for them) - great quality, great prices. John wanted to completely revamp his wardrobe for a Boston summer as a young professional, and basically hates shopping and had no idea where to start.

Enter: me, the shopping fiend.

Let's start with an approximation of what we ended up with and then some tips for how to adapt this to any season.

summer capsule wardrobe

Everything is from Uniqlo unless otherwise stated.
First row: striped polo, extra fine cotton patterned shirt, long-sleeved oxford shirt, premium cotton v-neck shirt
Second: mint chino pants, men slim fit straight jeans, belted patterned shorts, chino shorts
Third: Sperry Topsider boat shoes, Rayban Aviators, Fossil watch, extra fine merino wool sweater

Pick one of each row (or all of the third row), and basically you have got yourself a perfect outfit.

And here are some tips to make shopping for a new wardrobe from scratch as easy, efficient, and effective as possible. Yes tech boys, be still your beating hearts.

1) Know what you’re buying for
I think it’s strange when magazines have these “10 things you need in your wardrobe” type stories because one of the 10 things I need in MY closet is definitely a pair of glitter pumps. Which obviously is not the same for everyone. When you want to streamline or build your wardrobe from scratch, you need to identify what occasions you would wear them to. For John, he only needed casual summer wear (his professional gear was taken care of thanks to the good folks at Brooks Brothers). We identified key “casual Boston summer wear” events to be:
  • Sailing/ golfing/ WASPy activities like so
  • Eating out, going to bars
  • Going to the grocery store, running errands over the weekend (he suggested sweats but that is literally not a clothing category in my book)
And hence we stuck to a very conservative selection with more collared shirts than tees, and more sweaters than hoodies. Though he did buy 2 hoodies, to my dismay.

2) Buy in a similar color palette
Figure out what colors look good on you or what colors you tend to gravitate towards. I divide it between the blue/black and the green/brown category (if you want to get all fancy, “cool” and “warm” colors). Then choose accent colors.

For John, we stuck with a cool palette and got mostly blues and blacks. For a pop of color, we got a mustard yellow polo tee. We also got a pair of mint chinos for an understated green addition - see above. The most important thing though is to feel comfortable with these clothes. If you're not comfortable with bright red, don't do it. You will most definitely not wear it.

3) To quote another retailer, fit is everything. 
Try it on. Get stuff tailored. There’s nothing worse than baggy jeans. Yes John, I’m looking at you.

If you’re unsure of your size, take a size run to the dressing room and try everything on. Try on things together and see if you’re comfortable in them. See if this shirt looks good with this pair of pants - concentrate on length, fit, and flexibility of tucking in or out.

4) Go wild!
We ended up with: 4 polos, 4 button downs (2 cotton oxfords, 1 chambray, 1 checkered cotton), 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of chinos, 2 hoodies. Basically an approximation of the above picture, but with more quantities of each item.

5) Then edit 
We sat down in a corner of the store and analyzed: does everything fit together? What else are we missing? Can one pair of pants match more than 1 shirt?

The most important thing is for each item to multi-task and be able to match more than one item in the collection. I would go for a mix of print and solids, and then a mix of darks and lights (e.g. white shirt/ dark blue jeans). The mint chinos I am especially in love with because I think it's good with both dark and light tops.

And there you have it - an easy cheat sheet to semi-professional summer dressing. If you're a girl and want more personalized styling tips: say hi via my Keaton Row profile! If you're a boy, you'll have to comment below or email me (KR is girls-only unfortunately), but I'm always happy to provide sartorial advice.

Happy shopping and happy summer!

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