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Lean Wardrobe

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  • The Lean WardrobeFive Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery

  • The Lean WardrobeFive Principles to Achieve Closet MasteryEffortless Gent

  • Published by Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com cover photo credit

    Resources Graduating Your Style Dressing Like a Grownup

    Subscribe to EG Valet Join us here

  • Table of Contents

    1 Introduction

    2 Principle one: Pare Down Aggressively

    4 Principle two: Quality Over Quantity (Whenever Possible)

    6 Principle three: Versatility is King

    8 Principle four: Wear What You Enjoy

    10 Principle five: Dress With Intent and Purpose

    13 Additional Thoughts

    16 Finally

    17 Share Your Story

    18 About the Author

    19 EG Valet

    20 Resources

  • 1 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Introduction

    Since I was a young guy, Ive always been interested in appearance,

    personal style, fads, and trends. Needless to say, I had a lot of clothes.

    After many years feeding this interest, I ended up with a closet

    multiple closets, actually filled with clothing I, for one reason or

    another, no longer wore.

    When youre young, impressionable, and genuinely interested, you

    become a voracious consumer. I wanted everything, even if I didnt

    need it.

    If I liked one particular item, I bought it in almost every color. I often

    found great deals on clearance racks, which pleased the budget-

    conscious side of me, but proved to be a burden as I slowly ran out of

    closet space.

    When I grew up and moved out on my own, I only took a few things

    with me. I survived just fine on the little amount of clothing I had.

    As my tastes changed, I learned to refine and curate the selection I

    kept with me. It certainly has grown, but Ive learned to do without the

    excess.

    The Lean Wardrobe philosophy is a pillar of Effortless Gent. I

    encourage you to strive for a Lean Wardrobe, and hopefully this book

    will get you started on the right track.

  • 2 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Principle one

    Pare Down Aggressively

    Theres nothing sweeter than discarding something at least once

    youve acclimated yourself to the idea.

    When I was younger, I had the hardest time getting rid of clothing,

    even if I didnt wear it. I was like a clothes hoarder instead of a

    clotheshorse.

    I soon learned that my closet situation was getting a bit ridiculous,

    and if I kept it up, wouldnt be able to sustain itself (since I was running

    out of room).

    The ironic thing is, I hate clutter. Im a guy who believes everything has

    its place, and an overstuffed closet is difficult to keep neat.

    As I got older and wiser, I started to realize I only wear a handful of

    things I own. I began forming opinions about owning less but better

    things, and only keeping what I put to use.

    The process of closet curation is an ongoing one. Inevitably, youll find

    yourself with a few too many pairs of pants, or shirts that find their

    way to the back of the closet, or socks with holes that for one reason

    or another you just havent thrown away.

    The important thing is to continually curate. You have to be active in

    this approach. You have to pare down very aggressively.

    By actively weeding out items you no longer need or use, you will

    always stay on top of it.

    Curate constantly. Weed out what you do not use. Taking an active approach will ensure a Lean Wardrobe.

  • 3 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Its easy to keep a neat closet. Simply ask yourself, When is the last time I actually wore this?

    Havent touched it in a year? Toss it. Two winters passed, and you still

    havent worn that coat? Get rid of it; you never will.

    And when I say get rid of it, do so in a responsible manner. Sell it (on

    eBay, to a vintage store) or donate it (to Goodwill, Salvation Army),

    dont just throw it away in the garbage. Just because youve lost

    interest in it, doesnt mean a less fortunate person couldnt make use

    of it.

    The lesson here? Keep your closet neat and clean, and only fill it with

    things you will wear regularly. Everything else is wasted space.

    Once youve refined your closet and wardrobe (or come as close

    as possible to what you imagine perfection to be), switch to a

    replacement-only strategy.

    Continually ask yourself, Can this incoming item replace something else I no longer wear?

    This is how you maintain closet homeostasis.

  • 4 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Principle two

    Quality over Quantity (Whenever Possible)

    Quality over quantity is an important principle to remember when

    building a Lean Wardrobe.

    First off, realize this phrase is relative.

    If youre on a tight budget, Im not suggesting you buy $2000+ Isaia

    suits. What I am saying is that instead of buying five ill-fitting $10 sport shirts, buy one that fits well (and that you love) for $50.

    Youre going to end up discarding those five cheap sport shirts

    anyway. Why not save up and buy the one that fits perfectly?

    If youre relatively well off and money isnt as big of a concern for you

    as, say, a college grad fresh out of school, this principle still applies.

    Why? Because youre more at-risk for unnecessarily losing larger

    amounts of money. Instead of buying $10 sport shirts, youll be

    purchasing higher-end, luxury goods, and still not putting them to use.

    If you want to follow the Lean Wardrobe ideology, do your best to be selective when making purchases.

    Another thing to take into account (especially when you have more

    discretionary income) is that its easy to buy a bunch of stuff and end

    up with an overstuffed closet.

    Buy less but better whenever possible, and be selective with every purchase you make.

  • 5 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Remember the principle of paring down aggressively. Only fill your

    closet with things you wear and love. Discard everything else.

    Lean Wardrobe EssentialsI think every man can benefit from having at least one (potentially a

    few) of each of these items in his closet:

    oxford cloth button downs

    crisp dress shirt (one white, one blue)

    dark, slim denim

    dark brown brogue lace-ups

    single-breasted navy blazer

    one charcoal gray suit

    white T-shirts, pairs of underwear, socks, and ties as necessary

    Fit > Quality > BrandAll else being equal, fit trumps brand and quality, every time.

    You can wear brand name clothing that is ill-fitting, and you can

    buy quality garments that are also ill-fitting. But a $150 suit that fits

    perfectly will always be way more impressive than an impeccably constructed, $1500 brand name suit thats ill-fitting.

    Basically, top quality and brand name status cant cover up crappy fit.

  • 6 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Principle three

    Versatility is King

    The leanest of wardrobes (refer to the Essentials list in Principle two)

    ensures that every item can be worn with every other item in the closet.

    I realize that in reality, its not that easy.

    Your closet still has clothing from when you were in high school,

    college, or grad school.

    Clothes you bought on a whim, accessories you were told to purchase

    because they were in style, an unused suit from some event you

    attended years ago... All still there.

    Clothes you thought looked good but are clearly too big for you.

    Clothes that are too tight, because you grew out of them... Yep, in

    there as well.

    Ideally, we can pick up our closets, toss everything out, and start from

    scratch.

    If only it was that easy.

    Start small and pare down aggressively (see Principle one). Start with

    one section of your closet, one stack of shirts, or hell, just one item in general. Do you need it? If not, get rid of it.

    After a few repetitions of Principle one, start rebuilding your closet.

  • 7 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Remember, you dont need much to have a completely versatile (and

    not to mention good-looking) wardrobe.

    Have 10 pairs of denim in various washes and fits, yet you wear none?

    Get rid of them, and find yourself that one dark, slim pair you can wear

    day in and day out.

    Own 22 shirts in different colors and patterns, but only a few fit well?

    Keep the ones that work, discard the rest, and pick up a few oxford

    cloth button down shirts in white and blue, for good measure.

    How to stay versatileOne good way to ensure versatility in your wardrobe is to invest in

    clothes that are relatively neutral, earthy, or basic in color. These

    clothes will serve as your base.

    Think dark denim, chinos in olive, charcoal, brown, and navy. Think

    oxford cloth button down shirts in white and blue. Think T-shirts in

    white and gray. Think navy blazer, charcoal suit.

    Once you have these, you can expand your wardrobe slowly and

    deliberately to include a more colorful selection. A pair of brightly-

    colored chinos, a few more vibrant sport shirts, sweaters in teal, plum,

    and persimmon.

    Need a simple, foolproof way to inject color into your ensemble?

    Incorporate colorful accessories such as socks, belts, gloves, hats,

    bracelets, watch straps, etc. into your wardrobe.

    Keep it simple. It all starts with obtaining a few versatile pieces you

    can wear for years.

    The key to versatility: a base wardrobe in neutral, earthy, and basic colors.

    Accent with bright colors and interesting patterns.

  • 8 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Principle four

    Wear What You Enjoy

    Its a simple idea, but when you put your money down for an item of

    clothing, youre committing to it. Make sure you enjoy everything you

    buy and wear.

    Its important to feel good when you wear the clothing you own. You

    want to feel confident, empowered, put together, dapper, self-assured.

    You do not want to feel self-conscious, uncomfortable, unsure.

    Theres a gray area here, by the way. When youre first engineering

    your personal style and figuring out what looks best on you, there

    will be moments of uncertainty. Youll feel self-conscious and unsure

    about what youre wearing. Thats normal, and not at all what Im

    referring to.

    Think of your clothing as a form of self-expression, an unspoken

    introduction to those around you. Just as your handshake should

    be firm, your appearance should be polished, deliberate, and

    unabashedly YOU.

    A sloppy presentation is like a limp handshake; youre not impressing

    anyone, and that person you just introduced yourself to is not taking

    you seriously at all.

  • 9 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Enjoy it, whether a classic or a trendI encourage you to try anything that strikes your fancy.

    I dont care if its a classic piece of clothing (like a standard dress shirt)

    or something more trendy or popular at the moment (like suspenders

    or multi-patterned sport shirts). Whatever it is, try it!

    One piece of advice: If youre trying something new, tread carefully. You dont want to overbuy (which leads to closet clutter), and you

    dont want to overspend (which leads to an empty, sad wallet).

    Think long and hard, and then buy ONE piece to see if you can

    incorporate that style into your existing wardrobe.

    Know the rules, then break them at willThe best part about forming your own personal style and learning

    how to dress well is the liberation you get from knowing the rules and

    being able to break them at will.

    Breaking the rules is fun, and I encourage you to do so.

    But, in order to break the rules effectively and with a hint of panache,

    you have to know them inside and out. So learn them first.

    You have to know the rules in order to break them effectively.

    click to tweet

  • 10 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Principle five

    Dress with Intent and Purpose

    If you buy clothing with intent, stock your closet with intent, and dress

    with intent, you will be a much happier and fulfilled man.

    Some of this comes with age and experience, but if youre young

    and aware of this idea, you can practice it and come to sartorial

    enlightenment much earlier (and save money and closet space in the

    process).

    How does one shop with intent?If you shop with an intention, youll know

    1. what youre looking for, and

    2. the reason youre looking for it.

    Youre not simply browsing, youre on a mission.

    Shopping with intent is good because you dont waste time browsing,

    and you dont waste money by buying things that werent part of your

    original plan.

    Your recently-curated closet will also benefit from a little intent when

    shopping, because you wont be refilling it up with useless crap you

    picked up on a clearance rack somewhere, just because.

  • 11 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    What does it mean to dress with intent and purpose?Know your situation and preferences A corporate office workers closet will be much different than a graphic

    designers. Understand your situation (where you spend the majority

    of your time, for example) and your preferences.

    Knowing your situation will help you understand whats expected and

    accepted, as far as dress code is concerned. Knowing your preferences

    will help you dress accordingly (the intersection point between whats

    expected and what you like.)

    Corporate office workers usually have a more formal dress code

    than people in the creative field, but that doesnt mean casual office

    workplaces dont exist, or that designers dont like to put on suits once

    in a while.

    Situation and preferences.

    Know why you want to dress betterDo you want to command more respect, have people take you more

    seriously, or catch the eye of a female youve been eyeing yourself?

    Everyone has their reasons. What are yours?

    Its important to know your reasons for wanting to improve. This will

    help you keep your eyes on the prize, if you will. Its like setting a goal

    and taking steps to achieve that goal. You have to know what your

    desired end result will be, so you can formulate the steps needed to

    get there.

    step it up just a little to set yourself apartUnderstand that dressing better simply means stepping it up just a

    bit, relative to your surroundings and situation.

  • 12 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Also, dont confuse dressing up with dressing better. If you work in a

    casual environment, you can still dress casually, but step it up just a

    bit and refine what you wear and how you wear it.

    For example, instead of a T-shirt, put on a polo shirt, a sport shirt,

    something with a collar. Instead of faded, baggy denim, throw on a

    pair of slim chinos.

    Youre still casual, just more put-together and refined.

    Ultimately...Understand that how you project yourself is a reflection of your self-

    respect and how you expect others to regard you.

    Hopefully by dressing better, youll start to feel better and project

    more confidence.

  • 13 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Additional Thoughts

    Dressing well is about more than just looking goodSure, dressing well is mostly physical. However, I think the desire to

    dress well gets a bad rap. Most people have this idea that dressing

    well or even just caring about ones physical appearance is vain, or

    worse, unimportant.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Weve already discussed dressing with a purpose. Also, besides

    looking better, dressing well can help you feel better and more

    confident.

    Ultimately, it will allow you to command more respect from friends

    and family, as well as your subordinates, colleagues, and superiors.

    Deny it all you want, but its a simple fact: Presenting yourself as

    a more refined, put-together man results in people looking at you

    differently, and in a more positive way.

    Be the best dressed man you know, on your own terms

    In other words, stop comparing yourself to others. You build personal

    style during the journey, not at the final destination. Its a marathon,

    not a sprint.

    Whos to tell you what looks good and what doesnt? As long as youve

    learned the rules and deviated from them deliberately and mindfully,

    no one can tell you whats best for you.

  • 14 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    There is no one correct form of personal style. Thats why its referred

    to as personal. It is a reflection of your unique tastes and how you

    choose to present yourself to the world.

    Yes, there are rules, and right and wrong ways to do things.

    Yes, there are purists out there who believe a tie should be a specific

    length 100 percent of the time, that cuffs should only exist on pleated

    pants, and that a jacket lapels width should be exactly three inches.

    And yet, there are others who know all this, and choose to wear their

    tie slightly shorter, cuff their flat front trousers, and have narrow lapels

    on their sport coat.

    Dont be afraid to learn the rules, and then twist them to make them

    your own.

    Pay attention to the detailsDetails are the extra 10 percent, the finishing touch that pulls

    everything together. I cant keep track of how many times Ive seen

    a guy in a decent looking suit, but wearing cheap, plastic-looking,

    square-toed shoes.

    Pay attention to everything. More importantly, learn what to pay

    attention to, otherwise you are just wasting your time.

    Know a little about a lotYou dont have to understand the complete history of the brogue,

    or who first designed the oxford cloth button down, or know by first

    name the worlds best tailors.

    Thats great if you do know all that stuff, but if not, thats okay. It is more important to know just enough about a lot of the different rules when it comes to clothing. A little bit can take you a long way.

    Your personal style is a reflection of your unique tastes and how you choose to present yourself to the world.

  • 15 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    For example, even if you dont know the full history of the brogue, at

    least understand that, traditionally, the more broguing on your shoe,

    the more casual it is.

    So if you are wearing a tuxedo or attending a formal event, a plain or

    cap toe oxford shoe would be best.

    Traditionally, the OCBD is a sportier shirt, because the collar points button down and the collar itself has little to no lining. Therefore, its

    not an actual dress shirt.

    Knowing a little about a lot makes a big difference. Understanding the

    history of your favorite garments and knowing how things were done

    traditionally will help you understand why these rules even exist. From

    there, you can determine whether youd like to follow them, or discard

    them completely.

    Keep in mind, rules exist for a reason. Dont just break them all for the

    sake of being a sartorial rebel. Its the quickest way to end up looking

    more foolish than dapper.

    Lean Home, Lean Office, Lean SpacesThese Lean principles can extend to other parts of your life as well.

    Think of all the spaces in your home and office that accumulate

    clutter. If you strip each area down to its bare essentials, imagine how

    much more clear-headed and focused you will be.

    Just like a clean closet, a well-curated space provides clarity and

    facilitates focus.

  • 16 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Finally

    Thanks for reading. I hope this helps in your quest to curate the

    perfect Lean Wardrobe.

    These five general principles are a good place to start, though it is

    only the beginning.

    There is no right or wrong way to build up a Lean Wardrobe. It really

    comes down to having the basics and essentials in versatile colors,

    getting rid of things you dont use, and owning only the things you

    enjoy wearing.

    Contemplating, curating, and eventually maintaining a Lean

    Wardrobe is not simple. Its definitely not hands-off, either. It takes

    time, determination, and perseverance, much like any other goal or

    outcome you are trying to achieve in life.

    Always remember that once you achieve your version of the perfect

    Lean Wardrobe, you have to work to keep it that way. Dont allow stray

    items to make their way into your closet.

    Even if you do so deliberately, keep mental note of these things. If you

    find yourself not making use of them after a specific period of time,

    discard!

  • 17 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    Share Your Story

    Id love to hear the story about your Lean Wardrobe, or the Lean

    Wardrobe youre working towards. What are your experiences,

    challenges, and victories?

    Leave a comment and share with the EG community, or send me a

    note and tell me personally.

  • 18 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

    About the Author

    Barron Cuadro is Founding Editor of Effortless Gent, a site dedicated

    to helping guys figure out what looks best on them.

    He has written several guides on improving ones wardrobe and

    personal style from the ground up, as well as how to do so as a young man on a limited budget.

    You can (usually) find him in San Francisco.

    Lets have a conversation

    twitter.com/effortlessgent

    facebook.com/effortlessgent

  • 19 The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery | Effortless Gent effortlessgent.com

    TAbLe oF ConTenTs

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  • The Effortless Guide to Graduating Your Style

    A Young Mans Guide to Dressing Like a Grownup

    (without breaking the bank)

    Resources

  • The Lean Wardrobe: Five Principles to Achieve Closet Mastery 2013 Effortless Gent effortlessgent.comAll rights reserved in all media.Permission to share if copyright and credit left intact.

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