What They Don’t Tell You On The High Street

Brook Harris Profile

Brook Harris – Head of Tailoring

7h September 2020

How to stop wasting money and build the perfect wardrobe

“Clothes don’t make the man, but clothes have got many a man a good job” – Herbert Harrold Vreeland

No matter what line of work you are in, you never know where the next big opportunity might come from, and it has never been more important than right now to make the best possible first impression!

Often, as people progress through their careers (and their lifestyle improves) they tend to invest more into their work clothing, however, little attention is paid to how to get the best value for money from your wardrobe.  Here are a few tips to help you create a wardrobe which is comfortable, gives good value for money and can help enhance your performance.

1 - Invest In Quality, Not A Label

Price doesn’t always equal quality. With brands continuing to increase their spending on advertising whilst seeking to reduce production costs, you should aim to focus more attention to the fabric and construction rather than the designer or label. Suits made from natural fibres like wool, linen, cotton or silk tend to wear better and last longer than man-made alternatives. Floating canvas (meaning that there is no glueing of the fabric to the internal canvas of the jacket) results in a more natural silhouette and a softer, more breathable jacket. Look for hand stitching in the main stress areas including the armhole and shoulders as this allows for flexibility and movement, enhancing the overall fit and comfort.


2 – Rotate Your Outfits

The reason most suits and jackets are made from natural fabrics is because they have self-cleansing properties. If hung properly and given enough time to rest, any moisture will naturally evaporate, odours will dissipate and unwanted creases fall out. The truth is the biggest reason for suits going shiny, tearing or looking tired is that they haven’t had enough time to rest. A one-week rotation is the ideal starting place for a business wardrobe. This means after each wear, your outfit has at least a week to rest before it is worn again. 

*Tailors Tip* – As it’s usually the trousers which wear out first, investing in a second pair of trousers with each suit can help build up your rotation quicker. 

There is a secondary benefit to rotating your outfits and that is that you are not always seen wearing the same navy suit, white shirt and burgundy tie (trust me, people notice!). With a suitable rotation of quality clothing you should expect each outfit to last at least five years, sometimes much more.


3 – Dress For The Job You Want, Not The Job You Have

We’ve all heard about the importance of first impressions and how hard it is to change them later, right?  Some research shows it only takes between 3-5 seconds to size up another person in terms of attractiveness and trustworthiness. In the following five seconds we form a more “complete” conclusion about a new acquaintance relating to their presumed personality and competence.

Obviously, in that short a period, we haven’t really learned that much about the other person. Rather, we have used our cognitive biases and filters to form a “snap judgment” about someone, just as they have about us.  Those judgments may or may not be accurate, but they endure. And if the judgment formed is a negative one, shifting someone’s opinion can be extremely difficult.

It is also said between 60-90% of all communication is non-verbal, meaning that how you dress is just as important, if not more important, as how you act and what you say. Think about when you go into a hospital and how would you expect to see a Surgeon dressed…  If they came in wearing a tracksuit you might begin to feel a little concerned! 

The most successful people in every field understand this concept and dress according to the job or position they want. As well as meeting others expectations, it helps them to get into the best mindset, feel more confident and allows everything else to follow. 

4 – Dress With The Seasons

For clients in the UK, we recommend developing a three-season wardrobe consisting of Year-Round, Summer and Winter outfits.

Year-round outfits include those which can be worn through all but the hottest months of the year, either on their own in the Spring and Autumn, or with an overcoat through the winter.

Summer outfits are all about comfort and style. Whether you are attending a sporting event, wedding, party or a show (or simply wanting to avoid getting too hot under the collar in the office); Consider lightweight seasonal fabrics like Linen, Mohair and lightweight Cottons/Wools. Summer suits, travel suits, casual jackets, lightweight chinos and casual shirts will help you to keep looking and feeling cool throughout the warmer months!

Winter outfits are all about warmth and texture. Although you can wear a year round suit with a sweater or coat, it is great to have some more wintry suits and jackets in a heavier fabric like a worsted wool or tweed.  For a more casual look, flannel is also an excellent choice for casual jackets to match with jeans and some sturdy brogues.  As the mornings become darker and nights begin to draw in, this is also the time of year to check on the condition of your overcoat & raincoat.


5 – Match Ties To The Suit And Keep It Simple With Shirts

The quickest way to devalue a new suit is to wear it with an old tie… Most men have many ties but only wear their favourite few. Every time you buy a new suit you should get at least 2-3 ties to go with it.  By dedicating those specific ties to that suit you have the option to choose something different each time but also know that each tie will work with that suit. Use simple white & blue shirts to make it easier to match the tie to the suit and take away from the early morning decision-making process.

6 – Limit Dry Cleaning As Much As Possible

The chemicals used in dry cleaning are harmful to most suit fabrics. Over time, they will strip off the natural oils and weaken the material. Along with the heavy pressing machines, this will cause the suit to go shiny and more prone to pulling or tearing. The best way to clean your suits is to spot clean with a damp sponge, then steam clean and brush with a good clothes brush, paying particular attention to the knees and elbows. There are a few steam cleaning services out there or you can buy a hand held steamer and do it yourself every couple of months. A somewhat easier alternative is to hang your clothing in the bathroom with a hot shower running (not under the water!) to build up steam, then brush over and leave to dry naturally for 24 hours before wearing or putting back in the wardrobe.


Brook Harris

Brook Harris

Head of Tailoring