What is the minimum income that you consider appropriate for a bachelor to achieve the number of suits you recommend for the minimum and medium wardrobes that you detail in my favorite of your many insightful posts--'A Suitable Wardrobe'--as well as for the corresponding minimum number of shirts, ties, squares, shoes, coats, sportscoats that you discuss in other posts?
There's no simple answer to your question but I can give you a way to think about what you want to accomplish.
I frequently advise clients to budget the acquisition of four articles of tailored clothing and two pairs of shoes each year, plus 25%-33% for accessories. The client's total budget determines how much can be spent on each item. So, for example, a bit more than $25,000 annually buys bespoke from Savile Row or Naples. Half that amount buys Hong Kong bespoke and MTO shoes, or $8,000 buys good quality ready to wear (call it Brooks Brothers and Alden).
The challenge with this formula is that it's not enough clothing the first couple of years. Suits have a finite life that varies with their quality level, but even the best quality clothing will wear out quickly if it's worn two or three times a week. So in the early years, it helps to acquire a minimum wardrobe of less expensive clothing quickly and only then (if ever) improve the quality.
Fortunately, early in one's career shirt and trousers is as formal as a man may need to dress, and acquiring a wardrobe for daily suit-wearing can often be spread over as many as five years.
But however long it takes, young men should accumulate a wardrobe of six suits for each season, two odd jackets for each season, an overcoat, a raincoat and seven pair of shoes as quickly as they can. At the end of this accumulation period they'll have enough clothing to be able to reduce their rate of acquisition to something comparable to what's in the second paragraph. Or they can spend the same amount on fewer items and improve the quality level.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
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