Oct 07, 2014

Outfit Post: The Building Blocks

It’s been a while since I’ve thrown up an outfit...

It’s been a while since I’ve thrown up an outfit post, and even longer since I’ve featured a more dressed-up look, so I figured it was about time. However, I’m taking a slightly different approach this time, as I was hoping to focus on and share my usual method for building an outfit.

A lot of guys (including myself, at one point), get to a point where they have the sartorial education/know-how to put together a strong wardrobe of well-fitting, stylish pieces, but struggle to put them together into a coherent outfit. One of the most common questions I see is “where do I start?” With that in mind, here’s how I do it.

I try to start every outfit with one piece. This may be a new article of clothing that I’m really excited to wear or an old one that I’ve been meaning to work back into my rotation. It may be a bold, statement piece, or a neutral base. It might be as front-and-center as a blazer, or as behind-the-scenes as a pair of socks or pocket square. The point is, this piece acts as the foundation for the rest of the building blocks that will come together to form my outfit.

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For this look, I started with my blue and off-white plaid blazer from Gagliardi. It’s one of my favorite pieces, from the fit to the construction to the style, but I wear it far less than I would like, simply because the bold pattern makes it trickier to match (and a little less office-friendly). This weekend, I dressed up my off-duty look a bit more than I have been this summer, and decided it would be a good chance to have the freedom to rock this bad boy. So boom, foundation piece and starting point:

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From there, every decision comes back to this one piece. You could go any direction, but I went to pants next. While I didn’t have the restrictions of an office dress code to work with, the blazer is still pretty in-your-face, as far as style goes. Therefore, I decided right away to tone down the rest of my pieces. I also wanted to dress down the tailored look a bit, since it was still the weekend. Thus, for pants, the easy choice was a pair of dark blue jeans: a subtle and neutral pair of pants that were casual enough for the occasion but sharp enough for the combination, and in a blue that will play well with the colors in the jacket:
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When it came to the shirt, the patterned blazer immediately dictated a solid shirt (or at the very least a very subtle pattern). Beyond that, I took the same mindset as I did with my pants, and picked what I consider to be the shirt equivalent of a pair of crisp blue jeans: a white OCBD. Again, weekend-casual, but fitting to wear with a tailored blazer. Where I played off the darker colors in the blazer when picking the jeans, this time around I brought out the lighter contrasting notes and picked a white shirt over blue:
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From there, I just kept up those same themes as I picked out accessories and final touches. A knit cotton tie, a chambray pocket square, a brown belt and blue suede brogues with no-show socks. Each seems like (and is) a pretty straightforward choice, but if you look at the path that took me to each piece, it always starts with the blazer.

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Of course, there are numerous other techniques and considerations to take into account: color-matching, pattern-matching, balance, seasonality, the list goes on and on (and some are mentioned throughout this article). However, starting with a foundation piece as we suggest here gives you the palette upon which you apply all of those other principles. It’s in no way the only factor in the equation, but it’s a strong and simple place to start.

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Outfit Details:

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tagged belt, blazer, blue suede shoes, building an outfit, denim, details...