The Working Man: The Basic Business Closet

by Rachel Yeomans | June 15th, 2011   

By Alan Neff

For several months, TheWorkingWardrobe’s Fearless (Feckless?) Publisher has mentioned to me, passim, that she wants more “content” for men here on TheWorkingWardrobe, and then she has cast a meaningful look in my direction.  This implied invitation dumbfounded me.

Me?  Write about men’s clothing?  I couldn’t imagine how I could contribute anything useful on this subject.  I think I’m the nearest thing to a fashion idiot.

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(Okay, from time to time, for reasons I do not fully understand, I read the fashion articles in the New York Times and look at the related pictures.  They fascinate and repel me, as they describe the violent collision of commerce and art from which modern fashion stumbles out, dazed, wisps of smoke rising from its battered corpus.  Also, asymptotically anorexic/robotic/pubescent fashion models – female or male – creep me out.)

Fortunately, getting/explaining that kind of fashion is not my job here.  Instead, TWW’s Publisher has asked me to offer direction/guidance to men who need to dress for the workplace, but know little or nothing about how to do it.  That I can do.  I’ve been dressing myself for work for decades and have, over that painfully long period, learned a bit about how to do it without embarrassing myself or my employer.

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We’ll start with the basics – what every man needs in his closet to get through a week in the workplace.  Of course, your budget will dictate how much of this you can afford, but, no matter how much you can buy, keep in mind that quality and durability often go hand-in-hand when it comes to men’s clothes.  Men’s dress-clothes are, relatively speaking, timeless.  What you buy now you can wear for years, if you take care of it.

We’ll start by dividing your closet into two broad categories: “Business-Business” and “Business-Casual.” Our next three posts will focus on the Business-Business half of the closet.  Then, we’ll take up the vexing topic of “Business-Casual.” Stay tuned!