One usually wouldn’t describe suit-clad finance guys as fashionable, especially in a city that worships imitable street style and prays to the ever-changing runway. So when I became one half of a couple with a man who has worked on Wall Street his whole career, I assumed I would be the one bringing all the fashion accolades to the table. Turns out, I could learn a few lessons from him. This guy has getting dressed—and looking sharp—where ever he’s headed down to a science.
At first, I thought it was a fluke, that I would catch him in a ‘I’ve got nothing to wear to that’ trap or that he would show up to dinner in jeans or shoes that made me cringe. But as I watched him work his wardrobe from New York City to upstate to Jackson Hole to black tie to Europe back to New York, I realized all that left brain thinking at work was really paying off—sartorially speaking. In fact, I even became jealous of his perfectly-curated wardrobe, especially when I found myself scrambling to pack for a vacation or look pulled together for my first dinner at a hunting club (side note: ripped jeans and a fur chubby aren’t the best decision). Sadly, spending the last decade working in fashion has left me with a closet bursting with lots of beautiful clothes and accessories, but still suffering from nothing to wear. Here, 10 lessons I’m taking to heart, inspired by my well-dressed boyfriend.
1) Invest heavily in key pieces. When I look at his closet, his uniform is obvious. He’s got several versions of all the key clothing and accessories he wears: pants, shirts, sweaters, jacket, boots, etc. There are absolutely no outliers like patterned jackets or ill-fated distressed jeans. Can you say the same for yourself?
2) Don’t mess with trends—ever. The truth is, if you don’t like the way you look in the ’70s trend, or super skinny, high-waisted jeans don’t flatter you (although maybe you should try Saint Laurent’s version), leave them for someone else. Yes, this is easier for men’s fashion, which is less trend-driven, but if we avoid the temptation of a flash-in-the-pan fashion moment and fashion FOMO and only buy what looks classically good on us, how can we ever go wrong?
3) Have a wardrobe for every occasion or outing. Just like you have your work and weekend wardrobe, invest in pieces that stand up to a black tie invitation, a ski weekend in Vermont or wherever else you might have to eschew your daily uniform, especially if you expect to reach for these pieces a couple times a year. It’s the last-minute scramble that leaves you purchasing something you will likely never wear again.
4) Care about construction and fabrication above all else. Let’s just say he inspects the seams inside all the pants and shirts he buys and if it looks cheap, it doesn’t make the cut. Have you ever done this? Me either. If I had, all that wasted money at Zara or designer clothes that were disguised as well made would have gone to that black Chanel jacket I always wanted—and would wear all the time.
5) Bespoke isn’t just for suits. Yes we all knew you could get shirts made as well, but what about skirts, dresses or even jeans? If your body type is challenging in the retail space (my boyfriend is tall and broad-shouldered) and you’re constantly altering expensive designer clothes to fit you, try finding a tailor that loves to design and bring in some ideas of staples that you want them to create for you.
6) When something fits perfectly, buy in multiple. This fashion statute isn’t news, but how many women do you know that actually do this? It feels so boring, no? The argument here is that the while you could replace later down the line, with the way retail production cycles, you are risking that the designer might quit making that pattern in lieu of something new, not to mention if your dry cleaner ruins the piece or your luggage gets lost. A black pant that fits like a glove doesn’t come around often.
7) Buy globally. Tailored pieces from Savile Row, leather from Italy, fur from Russia, silk from Thailand. Do your research before you travel and purchase the country’s signature items. It makes your wardrobe wordly and you aren’t paying premiums for importing.
8) Glasses can make the man—and the woman. My boyfriend has several pairs of glasses, some very Clark Kent, others more serious spectacles or sporty frames. It inspired me to up my glasses game and invest in a few new shapes and colors.
9) Don’t neglect the boring stuff. Want to feel well-dressed? Invest is quality undergarments, technical but cool workout wear and even make your after-work lounge wear something you would be caught dead in.
10) Lastly, because to write this article I must end in a PSA of things your well-dressed man might ask you to consider, some tips from the wolves as follows: Ballet flats killed sexy; don’t forget the value of a heel. Chunky, oversized sweaters need to be balanced out, ideally with stovepipe leather pants. Wear turtlenecks at your own risk.