The Skinny

We call it “the skinny.” Why? It’s our inside look at how you can build a lean-and-mean professional wardrobe. With these essential elements, you’ll be able to put together a no-fail collection of 20 looks that will keep you dressing sharp on the job for weeks.

It all starts with the suit—two in fact. A suit is the most important clothing investment you’ll ever make. Clean, neat and comfortable, a suit is the uniform of success that inspires confidence. Today’s suits are trim (not tight) under the arm, hug the shoulder, fit slightly narrower through the sleeve and are paired with pants whose silhouette follow the line and proportions of the jacket.

Grey All the Way

the skinny grey checked suit

If you own only one suit, choose a medium-weight, all-season grey suit in a high-twist (wrinkle-resistant) pure-wool fabric. You can cover the full year with a mid-grey, banker’s grey or charcoal grey in either a plain fabric or one with a tiny pattern.

the skinny grey suit jacket as blazer

Versatile, neutral grey is less stark than black. It works beautifully for day and evening with a variety of shirt colours, both solids and patterns, and it pairs nicely with black or brown shoes.

Plus, the jacket can be used as a business- or smart-causal sport coat worn separately with dress or casual trousers, respectively, and jeans.

True Blue Navy

Navy is the classic power suit. An elegant, well-fitted navy suit lets a man make a statement without saying a word. Whether you work in the corporate or creative sector, your navy suit will command attention and convey authority.

the skinny true navy suit

This is not your father’s navy suit, however. Trim cuts that chisel the silhouette are combined with shorter jackets and narrow, plain-front pants to reinvent this menswear classic. Contemporary suits have less structure and padding, and they are made in a diverse range of lighter-weight fabrics with fine patterns and textures. More sophisticated designs are finished with contrast trim under the collar and at the cuff, or with richly coloured linings.

Nowadays, the navy suit is worn with more than a white shirt. The addition of colour—through your shirt, tie and pocket square—adds energy and sophistication that will keep you in style in navy.

the skinny navy style suit

Crisp, Clean Finish

Shirts and ties are the spice in your two-suit wardrobe. Chosen strategically, your shirt selection will maximize your options for dressing each day. With two suits, the ideal ratio is six shirts and four ties, which provides a shirt for every business day plus an extra if you fall behind with your laundry. It may seem like a big investment in the beginning, but shirts save you from spending on more expensive clothing now, like sport coats and suits. Enjoy the suits you have and when the time is right, update your big-ticket items in keeping with changing styles. Since your pants take the bulk of the wear and tear, however, you can always add an extra pair at any point.

the skinny white shirt

The Shirt on Your Back

Every man on the planet could simplify his life by owning the right dress shirts, and it starts with buying two quality white ones. Make sure they are comfortable, durable and easy-care so you can wash, dry and wear your whites with zero fuss.

the skinny shirts

From there, build your inventory around a colour theme for ease and optimal quantity of looks. Diversify within your colour scheme by choosing a selection of classic patterns, including a solid, a gingham or Tattersall check, a Bengal stripe and a banker’s stripe. Whether you prefer semi-spread, button-down or straight-collar styles, you now have a selection of basics that will provide endless mix-and-match options for your grey and navy suits.

Tie It Together

the skinny tie array

With ties, start with a beautiful plain in a subtle tone that coordinates with your core shirt colour, then add a stripe and one with a small medallion, all of which will work with your shirt choices. From there, choose a blue pattern (paisley or floral) or a new colour, like a red, burgundy, pink or yellow, to complement your blue colour theme.

Looks Galore

And it all works together. Four suits of clothes and 20 variations without breaking a sweat. You’ve got weeks of clothing before you’ll grow tired of dressing for work each day:

Looks #1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Navy suit with a white or blue-patterned dress shirt and tie
Looks #6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Grey suit with any shirt and tie
Looks #11, 12, 13, 14, 15 Navy jacket and grey pants with your choice of shirt and tie
Looks #16, 17, 18, 19, 20 Grey jacket and navy pants and your choice of shirt and tie

Find out how the Chris James Wardrobe Development Program can help you put together a clever and affordable wardrobe for work.