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Simplifying a Traveling Consultant's Wardrobe -- Seeking OneNess with Foo

Metlin

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So, inspired by Foo's OneShoe and OneTrouser, I've been considering simplifying my travel wardrobe. While I wouldn't necessarily go to Foo's extremes, the idea of concentrating on a few staples in my wardrobe holds immense appeal to me. While I can relate to Foo's aesthetics, I'm driven by a slightly different goal. As someone who's always on the road, I would like to pack the barest minimum that's both conservative and simple at the same time, yet could be expanded with ease. To this end, I went ahead and placed an order for 24 Brooks Brothers shirts this past sale -- 12 in white and 12 in blue, with equal amounts of point and spread collars of each color (their extra slim fit shirts fit me near-perfectly, with only the cuff lengths needing alteration). The reason for ordering so many is simply that I travel every Monday through Thursday, and it helps to have a "reserve" of clean shirts. Plus, these will get dry cleaned (often, and at hotels); so, I would like to minimize the amount of wear. As someone with feet problems, I cannot wear anything but rubber soles -- so, I recently gave AE's Orthotic line a try and purchased a pair from the Parliament line. Needless to say, I've been very impressed, so I am considering buying Black and Saddle Brown in the Parliament style as well as Black and Chili in the Benton style. My hope is that I can pack two shoes of alternate styles with me during the work week (one black, one brown - 2 days each). Unlike some of the dressier folks on Styleforum, I am mostly dressed in business casual with a navy blazer or a mildly patterned sport coat. I am not required to wear suits often, and have enough suits in circulation for such occasions. So, my question is regarding trousers. I cannot quite decide if I should just buy gray trousers in various shades, or consider looking at other colors. Understandably, I would have different weights for winter and summer -- but do they need to be shades of the same color? The only other color that came to mind was navy. My dilemma is that during the work week, I tend to only have whatever sport coat/blazer I'm wearing on Monday. So, if I wore a navy blazer, then the navy trousers would look, well, awkward. I considered light brown or khaki, but quickly put that thought away, mostly because it is a very clichÃ
d "security guard" look. I am also hesitant to try patterned trousers because then it could potentially clash with one of my patterned sport coats. Besides, honestly, I like the simplicity of only having to worry about my tie and jacket when I pack. So, what are folks' thoughts to this end? Are there other colors or patterns that you'd recommend? Or am I too much of a mafoo "fan" for even thinking such heretic thoughts?
 

Blackhood

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I would love to do this as well but - as you point out - I have too many styles of coat and trouser, and many of the various permutations are terrible to say the least!

I personally put great stock in a light grey trouser. Mine go with; DB Blue Blazer, Suit Jacket (same cloth), Blue Blazer/Suit Jacket and every songle shirt I own.
 

gyalos

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Trying to match SC and trousers every day, is guaranteed to make your life difficult IMO, especially when on the road.

Since you seek OneNess, why not give the Caveliere approach(tm) a try?

Always in a navy or charcoal suit, light blue shirt, subltly dotted navy or black tie, you're set.



 

Metlin

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Originally Posted by Blackhood
I would love to do this as well but - as you point out - I have too many styles of coat and trouser, and many of the various permutations are terrible to say the least!

I personally put great stock in a light grey trouser. Mine go with; DB Blue Blazer, Suit Jacket (same cloth), Blue Blazer/Suit Jacket and every songle shirt I own.


Yes, this is something I do often, as well. On weeks that I've to wear a suit, I carry suit separates and that is often very helpful.

And you're correct -- gray is amazingly versatile.

I had a similar problem with my shirts. I've a lot of interesting shirts, but as I get older, I feel that it would be unprofessional to wear, for example, a colorful purple shirt for a meeting with a senior client exec. It just looks cheesy. So, the alternatives are pretty much mildly patterned shirts that are predominantly white or blue. Add the sport coat to the mix, and you want simple.

So, I figured making the shirts and shoes constant would only leave the trousers out and sport coats out. Among SCs, I tend to wear the "milder" ones or blazers for work, so I think plain gray trousers in light and medium shades of gray would work best (in addition to suit separates).
 

Metlin

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Originally Posted by gyalos
Trying to match SC and trousers every day, is guaranteed to make your life difficult IMO, especially when on the road.

Since you seek OneNess, why not give the Caveliere approach(tm) a try?

Always in a navy or charcoal suit, light blue shirt, subltly dotted navy or black tie, you're set.





Holy cow. You weren't kidding. Looks like Mr. Berlusconi doesn't wear anything outside of that uniform.

I'm impressed! Although personally, I'd go for a dark burgundy tie with subtle white/silver dots as my staple.
 

TimelesStyle

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As someone who travels by air frequently, I'd suggest at least one pair of trousers with a touch of lycra in them. They hold their shape better and are more comfortable for sitting. Otherwise, if you don't like that, Brooks has some nice wrinkle-resistant chinos in their Milano fit.

Have you also considered those extra slim shirts in non-iron? This way, if you have to, you can always wash yourself at a hotel/local laundromat and hang dry overnight (good if you get in late, have to leave early and your hotel has a 12hr turn-around for dry cleaning).

As for shoes, I also keep a few pairs of rubber soled dress shoes on hand. When snow/ice hits, or I'm planning on doing a lot of walking (like NY or London in the spring/fall) they really are preferable. I keep an old pair of Prada mainline cap toes from a Barney's Warehouse Sale, that were made on one of the Prada Sport soles, for this purpose. While not what I'd wear for a formal business event, they are incredibly comfortable, I don't care about the elements damaging them and I can walk in them all day.
 

landshark

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I would reccomend shades of gray based on the info you have. If we knew the colors and patterns of the sport coats you wear for business, I could reccomend more. You could get glen plaid, prince of wales check, windowpane, etc. for your trousers, and in different colors of the brown family.
 

GBer

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Well, I must ask: Do you travel with colleagues? What to they wear? You don' want to be out of step with them. Are you the junior or senior in the group? Do you travel with your boss? How much client face time do you have? Do you sell or just do? Front or back office work? Regional travel? International travel? Small or large company clients?

How do your logistics work?
 

Metlin

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Originally Posted by TimelesStyle
As someone who travels by air frequently, I'd suggest at least one pair of trousers with a touch of lycra in them. They hold their shape better and are more comfortable for sitting. Otherwise, if you don't like that, Brooks has some nice wrinkle-resistant chinos in their Milano fit. Have you also considered those extra slim shirts in non-iron? This way, if you have to, you can always wash yourself at a hotel/local laundromat and hang dry overnight (good if you get in late, have to leave early and your hotel has a 12hr turn-around for dry cleaning). As for shoes, I also keep a few pairs of rubber soled dress shoes on hand. When snow/ice hits, or I'm planning on doing a lot of walking (like NY or London in the spring/fall) they really are preferable. I keep an old pair of Prada mainline cap toes from a Barney's Warehouse Sale, that were made on one of the Prada Sport soles, for this purpose. While not what I'd wear for a formal business event, they are incredibly comfortable, I don't care about the elements damaging them and I can walk in them all day.
Good advice, both on the shoes and the trousers. I have a couple of wrinkle-free gabardine ones that I wear for travel. I like BB's chinos, but they aren't what I'd wear to work. As far as the shoes are concerned, I prefer AE's rubber soled shoes -- they look exactly like leather soled ones, and are very well made.
Originally Posted by landshark
I would reccomend shades of gray based on the info you have. If we knew the colors and patterns of the sport coats you wear for business, I could reccomend more. You could get glen plaid, prince of wales check, windowpane, etc. for your trousers, and in different colors of the brown family.
I will post some pictures -- perhaps that would be useful. I mostly wear a navy blazer, a couple of gentle herringbone and houndstooth patterns, or dark tweeds.
 

Gus

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I traveled for a long time and was often limited to a carry on, forcing me to limit my clothing. Here is what I would take for a Mon-Thurs trip for business casual.

Brown leather Farragamo pebble grain leather oxfords with rubber sole (virbram like)
Charcoal grey wool pants
Khaki wool twill pants (Isaia makes an amazing travel wool called aquaspider. I spilled a latte on it and it flaked off after drying)
jeans (wear while traveling and or going out casually with the guys)
I would then take one jacket for each trip. Just pick patterns that go with khaki and grey which is easy to do.
White, blue, pink, blue and white stripped shirts
2-3 subtle pocket squares.
1 tie, just in case. But you may never wear them if it is a true business casual setting.
A solid colored sweater
Gym clothing and sneakers.

I would try and alternate my sweater and jacket selection each time I visited a city for variety.

I never took patterned pants. Everything had to be able to be mixed and matched by a blind man. If so, it passed the test and became a part of my travel gear.

For longer trips, I took a full suitcase and more jackets, ties and shoes but rarely more pants.
 

Metlin

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Originally Posted by GBer
Well, I must ask: Do you travel with colleagues? What to they wear? You don' want to be out of step with them. Are you the junior or senior in the group? Do you travel with your boss? How much client face time do you have? Do you sell or just do? Front or back office work? Regional travel? International travel? Small or large company clients? How do your logistics work?
I do travel with colleagues and clients -- seniority varies, but they're usually peers, although I sometimes travel with very senior client execs. Peers are usually pretty well dressed -- darker trousers, blue/white shirts, and sport coats. Conservative corporate attire, if you will. Ironically, not a lot of ties. I'm entirely client facing -- with a mix of both. Both domestic and international travel (pretty much everywhere except Africa). All mega-large clients. Client engagement times vary, but usually travel out on Mondays and travel back on Thursdays. I may travel to different locations in the middle of the week.
 

Metlin

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Originally Posted by pocketsquareguy
I traveled for a long time and was often limited to a carry on, forcing me to limit my clothing. Here is what I would take for a Mon-Thurs trip for business casual. Brown leather Farragamo pebble grain leather oxfords with rubber sole (virbram like) Charcoal grey wool pants Khaki wool twill pants (Isaia makes an amazing travel wool called aquaspider. I spilled a latte on it and it flaked off after drying) jeans (wear while traveling and or going out casually with the guys) I would then take one jacket for each trip. Just pick patterns that go with khaki and grey which is easy to do. White, blue, pink, blue and white stripped shirts 2-3 subtle pocket squares. 1 tie, just in case. But you may never wear them if it is a true business casual setting. A solid colored sweater Gym clothing and sneakers. I would try and alternate my sweater and jacket selection each time I visited a city for variety. I never took patterned pants. Everything had to be able to be mixed and matched by a blind man. If so, it passed the test and became a part of my travel gear. For longer trips, I took a full suitcase and more jackets, ties and shoes but rarely more pants.
This is perfect. I am going to see if the Isaia aquaspider has something in shades of gray (black shoes look odd with khakis, and I'd like to avoid the "security guard" look
). You're right about the tie of course -- I carry a couple, and it's usually a function of the engagement in question. I've been traveling for about 2 years, but I find that as I get older and the nature/role of my engagements change, I'm more picky about what I wear -- in terms of both quality and simplicity.
 

DStew

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Originally Posted by pocketsquareguy
I traveled for a long time and was often limited to a carry on, forcing me to limit my clothing. Here is what I would take for a Mon-Thurs trip for business casual.

Brown leather Farragamo pebble grain leather oxfords with rubber sole (virbram like)
Charcoal grey wool pants
Khaki wool twill pants (Isaia makes an amazing travel wool called aquaspider. I spilled a latte on it and it flaked off after drying)
jeans (wear while traveling and or going out casually with the guys)
I would then take one jacket for each trip. Just pick patterns that go with khaki and grey which is easy to do.
White, blue, pink, blue and white stripped shirts
2-3 subtle pocket squares.
1 tie, just in case. But you may never wear them if it is a true business casual setting.
A solid colored sweater
Gym clothing and sneakers.

I would try and alternate my sweater and jacket selection each time I visited a city for variety.

I never took patterned pants. Everything had to be able to be mixed and matched by a blind man. If so, it passed the test and became a part of my travel gear.

For longer trips, I took a full suitcase and more jackets, ties and shoes but rarely more pants.


+ 1. This was well said. Having to pack more than one sport coat and more than one pair of shoes is a real pain. I would still mix up at least 2 different pairs of pants. You alternate those with different colored/styled dress shirts and a couple different pocket squares and it will go a long way.
 

Metlin

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Originally Posted by DStew
+ 1. This was well said. Having to pack more than one sport coat and more than one pair of shoes is a real pain. I would still mix up at least 2 different pairs of pants. You alternate those with different colored/styled dress shirts and a couple different pocket squares and it will go a long way.

Agree with the sport coat -- but I do try and pack 2 pairs of shoes (sneakers + dress shoes) in addition to what I wear. I'd like more variety with my pants simply because I've moved away from variety in my dress shirts.

I think I'll go ahead with 3 shades of gray, simply because it adds enough variety.
 

Mr. Pink

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I travel quite a bit--though not every week. Trips are generally 3 to 4 days. My personal preference is to carry two sport jackets and or suits. I don't want to wear a jacket two days in a row. Same goes for shoes. I wear one pair and pack one pair (plus athletic shoes). I find it easier to add variety through shirts, ties, pocket squares than through multiple different pants--or more suits. I find the same suit or jacket looks very different with solid vs. patterned shirts, and the same is true for ties. If you're having difficulty, consider your packing. Take a look at this thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...pack-suit.html . When I pack, I fold suit or sport jackets as shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWz6a...layer_embedded . They take up very little room.
 

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