The best investment pieces for your wardrobe

When to invest in clothing, and where to cut corners

The best investment pieces for your wardrobe

From capsule wardrobes to vintage, a more sustainable approach to fashion is very much on-trend. And creating a careful collection of clothes instead of buying lots of cheaper options is one way of doing your bit for the environment and your bank statement (kind-of). 

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite essential pieces for a great wardrobe, from staples like a great plain t-shirt, to a suit that makes you feel like a boss.

How to invest wisely

Building your perfect wardrobe is an art form and it starts by working out what lifestyle you lead. For example, if you have a corporate job and spend five days in a suit, it makes sense that most of your wardrobe should be composed of great shirts and fine suits. But, if you work in a more relaxed workplace you’ll want to spend most of your hard-earned cash on great smart-casual basics.

Once you’ve worked out what you need, it’s worth considering what colours you like and what looks good on you, so you can inject some wearable colour in your wardrobe. Building up a colour palette is great (instead of following trends blindly) as more of your clothes will work together, for a quicker way of looking great every morning. But don’t overlook the basics either, as a grey sweater and great pair of jeans look good on everyone.

It’s also worth considering which fabrics you like. For example, are you prepared to go to the dry cleaners or do you need all your clothes to go through the wash? Whatever the case, it’s usually worth paying extra for clothes you wear regularly, so they will look better for longer. 

Then of course there’s budget. While it’s usually worth spending as much as you can on pieces that you’ll wear a lot, you may want a suit that makes you feel a million dollars, or a stand-out coat you plan to keep for years. Take a leaf out of Marie Kondo’s book and spend your cash on clothes that will spark joy, but aren’t trend led, so they will make you happy for years.

1. Shirts

Whether you spend most of your time in jeans or not, you’ll always need a good formal shirt for job interviews and weddings. This one, by HUGO by Hugo Boss is a regular fit and made of 100% cotton. The Veraldi promises to help you make a polished impression without too much maintenance, as its machine washable and made from easy iron cotton. In terms of details, it has a spread collar and mitred button cuffs as well as a contrasting interior trim. Cheaper white cotton shirts are available, but this one is a great investment at £69, offering quality and timeless style, to help you look and feel your best when it matters.

2. Sunglasses

Sunglasses trends come and go, but one or two styles stay cool forever. Perhaps the most reliable is Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer style. Beloved of some of the world’s most stylish men ever, James Dean, Bob Dylan, Cary Grant, Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp - do you need a better recommendation? While the most classic frame colour is black or tortoiseshell the distinctive D-shaped frame ones in a plethora of colours with different lens finishes, you can pick a pair that best matches your style. We guarantee you’ll wear them for years to come and your eyes will thank you too.

3. Knitwear

A great navy crewneck is a godsend in a smart-casual fashion emergency as it can so easily be dressed up and down, with chinos or jeans, for example. So, upgrading yours is a great investment and cost-per-wear will end up being low. John Lewis & Partners’ Italian cashmere crew neck jumper is fantastic value. Working with a family run factory near Florence for over 10 years, the shop created its finest cashmere, using the longest fibres for softness and warmth. It says this means the jumper has less pilling and makes thinner bobbles that are easy to remove by hand or with a cashmere comb. Complete with a crew neckline and ribbed hems for a snug fit, this jumper is a luxurious layering option and available in loads of colours.

4. Jeans

Everyone needs at least one ‘perfect’ pair of jeans. So if you’re in the market for a new pair, why not invest in an icon of American culture? Levi's 501 original straight jeans are crafted from non-stretch mid-weight cotton denim in a regular fit that's straight through the hip with a slightly tapered leg opening. Their mid-rise cut sits below the natural waist with a tilted waistband that pitches toward the front, for a relaxed look. The jeans come in an array of washes, enabling you to pick the best match for your wardrobe and they’re great value for money. With a little TLC and not too many washes, they will last for ages.

5. Chambray shirt

If you frequently need to nail the ‘smart casual’ dress code, you need a great chambray shirt in your wardrobe. The easy-breezy look pairs well with black trousers and a jacket, as well as chinos, shorts and pretty much everything else. Oliver Spencer’s Clerkenwell offering is one of the best, and made from 100% cotton is brilliant for the summer months. The shirt is cut for a slim fit and has the signature tab beneath the collar that can hide the top button or be left undone for a more relaxed look.

6. Trousers

For days when you want a change from jeans or chinos, there are wool-flannel trousers. Officine Generale’s are particularly good at ticking that smart-casual dress code box. Made from Italian wool-flannel, they have an adjustable drawstring waistband and unfinished hems, with a tapered leg and low-crotch style, meaning they look great with trainers and a t-shirt, or a smart blazer. Designed to be super comfortable, the fabric works well in both cold and warmer weather, but for very casual scenarios, a pair of jeans or traceries might work better because they have no stretch and are dry-clean only. You’ll want to look after these trousers, but with they will amp up your look effortlessly.

7. Sweatshirt

It’s true that you can buy sweatshirts and get change for £10, but why make do, when you can make weekend lounging chic and more luxurious? A good sweatshirt is incredibly versatile and doesn’t look bobbly and worn-out too quickly, stopping you from relegating it to an indoor-only item of clothing. Oliver Spencer’s sweatshirt is cut from soft brushed cotton-jersey with a cosy fleece backing and comes in a neutral stone hue. Despite it being a perfect piece of loungewear, it also looks great paired with jeans and shorts on those chilly summer evenings. Yes, it’s on the more expensive side of things, but we bet that it will earn its keep if you consider cost per wear making it a great investment.

8. Suits

Whether it’s for a wedding or work interview, there are times when you need a really great suit that makes you look like a million dollars and feel as if you can conquer the world. Tom Ford’s suits are among the best and cut in his signature 'O'Connor' block, this slim-fit suit jacket is made from lightweight wool that drapes fluidly for a dapper look. It oozes quality, being made in Italy from wool with a soft silk and cupro blend lining and has amazing details such as buffalo horn buttons. Yes, it has a Tom Ford price tag and it’s dry clean only, but if you only buy one suit, make it a special one that makes you feel as powerful as James Bond, that you can wear again and again.

9. Sneakers

Sneaker trends come and go, but a pair of simple white or grey trainers are forever. Vans OG Old Skool LX suede sneakers are a great investment, elevating a classic design by using great quality materials. This pair is made from supple off-white suede and trimmed with the same wavy stripe that first debuted in '78. And they're set on the brand's signature waffle soles that ensure grip on wet pavements. They would look equally good with jeans or black trousers as they are without socks with shorts for the warmer months. And at a reasonable price, you might want some more in a punchier hue too.

10. Field jacket

Tom Ford is known for his red carpet style but he makes some cleverly constructed outerwear. His field jacket might make for a fashionable investment for someone who like a bit of luxury but doesn’t have to wear a suit for work. Made in Italy from a coated cotton-blend that has the durability and strength of army surplus, and the colour to match, this field jacket is kitted out with utilitarian pockets and an internal drawstring so you can determine the fit. It has a leather zip pull, horn buttons and grosgrain along the placket for the sort of pristine finish you would expect. 

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