Monday, September 14, 2015

Whatever's Clean 13 FOR MEN - cool colors, cool weather

You asked for it, you get it: a Whatever's Clean 13 for men - the first of at least a couple...

Menswear is SO EASY; pick a color scheme and stick to it like glue! I've sold menswear two different times, as well as selling men's shoes, so I can safely admit that I have some experience in this area...

First up, the finished product, designed to carry you through a vacation that will range from rather nice dinners and other events (a concert or opera?) through to a cool weather morning walk in the park.

I started with a navy blazer, just as I would start with one for almost any man building a wardrobe from scratch. While a lot of men can get through life without a suit, in this day and age, a blazer is still pretty important. It can stand in, with nice wool trousers, in place of a suit for all but the most formal occasions. 

Tan or grey trousers are the traditional companions to the blazer, and since I chose to stick with a cool color palette for this wardrobe, I'm using grey. A white shirt here would be simple, elegant, and fool-proof, but I chose blue for visual interest and variety. A simple, classic tie, belt, shoes and OVER-THE-CALF socks complete this outfit, which could (very handsomely) take you around the world.

Navy blazer – Paul Smith;  black oxfords – Calvin Klein; belt – Nordstrom;
 black over-the-calf socks – Pantherella; blue shirt – Lands’ End; tie –
 Zegna; grey trousers – Hugo Boss

Next I wanted to pull together a couple of outfit options that weren't quite so dressy, but that still would be appropriate and attractive for museum touring, window-shopping, or dining out. I love men in cardigans... (well, I love Belovedest in a cardigan most of ALL!!!)

Note that this cardigan would be perfect with your grey trousers, and these two shirts could easily be worn with your navy blazer. However, these pants do NOT go with the navy blazer. This is one of the bizarre but unbreakable rules of men's clothing - navy blazers are NOT worn with navy pants, and the jacket from a navy suit is NOT the same as a navy blazer.

I don't make the rules, and I don't enforce them - I just pass them on... 

And note the wonderfulness of the knit tie; it's a tie, but it's much more relaxed, and it can be folded into a pocket without fear of ruinous creasing. They're very useful, and more men should take advantage of their inherent versatility!

Cardigan – Rag and Bone;  tie – J.Crew; plaid shirtLands’ End; striped 
shirt – Lands’ End; navy cotton trousers – A.P.C.

Another step more casual, this time with a sweater, corduroy trousers, and a much more relaxed plaid shirt. This shirt would probably not work well with your blazer, but with your cardigan it's ideal. And I'm introducing a second pair of shoes - excellent for walking, and not nearly as formal as the oxfords with which we started.

Burgundy sweaterLands’ End; driving shoe – Zanzara; socksJohn W. Nordstrom;
 twill shirt – Lands’ End; corduroy pants – Hugo Boss

And finally I want to make sure that our companions have their sweatshirt, jeans, tee shirt, and sneakers. While this isn't an outfit that will carry you to all of your vacation activities, there are places where this is the best option - sporting events, outdoor-ish stuff, and any place that might carry with it grime, splashing, or other messiness. And these pieces are very versatile when mixed into your more formal pieces.

Sweatshirt – Reigning Champ; tee shirt – Eddie Bauer; jeans – Lands’ End
canvas shoes – Converse; cotton walking socks - Thorlo

With one outfit worn in transit (I'm voting for the cardigan!), the rest of these will fit pretty easily into a carry-on bag. Toiletries and electronics can go into a briefcase, and the man in your life is good to go almost anywhere!

Because I love to mix and match clothes more than any normal person would, I show you here three outfits based on each pair of pants. There are, of course, many more options available than I'm showing...

Tomorrow, I'm going to replicate this overall idea in warm colors, for the "gingies" (i.e. red-haired) and warmer-complected men we love...

And I'm thinking about doing a couple of these for warmer weather - are you interested?  Let me know!




  1. I love men in cardigans too, but my husband won't be convinced... However, he has a few very French (I think) pullovers with asymmetrical placement of the buttons at the neckline, and he looks very handsome in those so I'm not complaining.

  2. I would love for you to do a version in warm autumn colors. My poor husband needs the help.

  3. Janice,
    Here's a confession. As I am bottom heavy, and only wear skirts in the Winter with boots to help "camouflage " my body shape, and pants of varied lengths in warm months, I would probably wear a lot of this same template myself, minus the ties, and substituting a blouse or two for some of the shirts. I also usually wear a layering piece except on the hottest of Summer days, and I was just thinking of rearranging your template as you have just shown, with substituting a third layering piece for one of the five bottoms that you have demonstrated in other "Whatever's Clean" templates. Yes, a warm version, please !

  4. Lovely. One note, though - my own belovedest would always always wear his most formal clothing on the plane, if it's an international flight. He holds the belief that the nicer you look, the faster you get through customs!

    1. My husband is a comfort first kind of guy. After taking one dressy outfit (jacket, tie, shirt, nice pants, nice shoes) on a month-long trip to France in 2012, and wearing it only once, he will never take those kinds of clothes again. It simply wasn't necessary, even in the place we went where all advice said to dress up. The jeans or cotton pants in this grouping are the only things he would take or wear. None of the pairs of shoes look like his feet would be comfortable for 6+ hours per day of walking and standing. We have traveled to Europe several times over the past 6 years. We sometimes fly stand-by and sometimes end up in the front of the plane, so we don't wear our pajamas (like the young couple next to us last fall), but we don't dress up. And I have never noticed that anyone in more formal clothing got through passport control any faster than anyone else in line. Customs is always just a walk-through the "nothing to declare" door for us. Last trip he wore one pair of Merrells the whole time. He didn't take any other shoes. He prefers jeans or chinos and long-sleeve tees. He owns some button up shirts and they look good on him. He never wears them, here or anywhere else. He has been known to wear a (heaven forbid) tee from an event or place. Last trip, his Joe Bonamassa tee led to a conversation with a German guy in Nafplio Greece, both of them being fans. This selection of clothes looks more appropriate for a business trip than the kind of trips we take which involve walking over cobblestone streets, rough sidewalks, dirt paths through ruins, etc. We use 22x14x9 carry-ons exclusively and do weekly laundry on our month+ trips. What he takes must come out of the dryer or off the drying rack totally wearable without any further work. If we have a laundry wash, dry and fold our clothes for us, they have to survive that unscathed.

  5. I envy the versatility of men's clothes - there's no real equivalent to the blazer, flannel pants and shirt outfit for women.

  6. You are just as clever with men's wardrobes as with women's - but please, let them go somewhere else!

  7. I appreciate how much you listen to what we ask for & how you work to give it to us.

  8. So much fun to see this!

    And, yes, please do more, as you suggested. (Warm tones for cool weather, and cool and warm tones for warm weather.)

    For what it's worth, have forwarded this to my two grown sons. The younger one probably would wear every item as shown. The older one would substitute his color palette. (Black, white, and gray when he's feeling a little crazy.) And he would have solids only. (No stripes or plaids.)

    Meanwhile, my beloved husband will get no forwarded post. His one criterion for clothes is that they be comfortable. (When our daughter got married a few weeks ago, he had to be convinced that his many-years-old white dress shirt with a stain on it was not suitable attire. Happily I prevailed. I got him a new white shirt plus a new tie.)

    Looking forward to more posts on men's wardrobes!

  9. Thank you! With your help, my wardrobe has improved but I am at a loss for how to improve my husband's wardrobe. He needs warm colors and frankly, he overheats in all but the coldest weather. So I have trouble convincing him to layer!

  10. Thank you! With your help, my wardrobe has improved but I am at a loss for how to improve my husband's wardrobe. He needs warm colors and frankly, he overheats in all but the coldest weather. So I have trouble convincing him to layer!

  11. Honestly, I am not at all interested in the men's clothing. That's ok, if others enjoy the topic I will skip the posts and wait until you return to the ladies. I am a big fan of your excellent work.

  12. Thank you Janice, this is an excellent wardrobe for the man I love to travel with. He likes to be comfortable and neat for walking around European streets and galleries, but also likes to wear a jacket and tie to the opera. You have also reminded me that packing like a man is perfect for carry-on ... if well chosen, one jacket, two top layers, two shoes, three pants/skirts and 'enough' tops can meet most occasions and durations of trip. Brava!

  13. Thanks, Janice! I like seeing your system at work for the gentlemen in our lives. I know Mr. Data Driven Engineer will relate to this format much easier than all the cute LL Bean Labrador retriever and hunting pictures. It's easy to see how everything works together. All the best,

  14. I showed this blog post to my husband and he said, "Fewer slacks, more shirts. Who wears sweaters like that? What about jogging clothes?" And then he said he thought he'd print out the photo and put it in his suitcase for future reference. :)

  15. Yes, yes, I would really appreciate a version of this for warm humid weather. I find the wardrobe choices, colours and rules that go with them for men as interesting as the beautiful capsules for women. Many thanks for letting us learn from your experience Janice.

  16. These clothes are fine for a man who wants totally safe clothes in which he will not be noticed by anyone. That is sounding more negative than I intend, but I can't find another way to put it. I showed it to Le Duc, who said, "The clothes need not be more 'fashiony' but I'd take my lemon yellow or orange v-neck." For business and dress, he asserts, "Leather shoe with leather sole" and thanks you for pointing out a suit jacket is not a blazer. He recommends Alan Flusser's "Clothes and the Man".

  17. Very nice wardrobe! My husband has adopted his own "uniform". He wears khaki pants everyday with mostly blue themed button down shirts. He never has to worry about matching! He will wear dressier clothes when necessary. So packing for him is pretty easy! He usually wears a sport coat on the plane too. :) I wish I could get him to wear cardigans! I would love to see your warm version.

  18. I would love to see you take on a men's capsule that is much more casual, Janice -- many workplaces are full of jeans 'n' sweatshirts types, but my men are trying to step up their game while still not looking out of place -- currently they are both wearing golf polos and chinos every day because of the wicking properties and easy laundering. There is no way they are ever going back to 20th century menswear ie. button down shirts, ironing, neckties, dry cleaning, etc. except for funerals, job interviews, and weddings

    They know I read fashion blogs and have both asked for an opinion.

    Currently, I'm thinking maybe go the urban simple route (EverLane, The Arrivals, DSTLD) but would love to hear others' ideas!

  19. I love the men's capsules, because I shop for men, and also, honestly, they're probably more directly useful to me than the women's, also, since I never, never wear skirts/dresses, anything shiny or low-cut, or any shoe with heels.

    My particular menfolk have a virulent hatred for the golf/polo shirt, so I agree with Throckmorzog, it'd be cool to see a business-casual capsule and casual-casual capsule, both with and without the polarizing polo shirt. :)