How many suits does a man actually need?

The answer depends on how well you plan things out. Of course you can have as many suits as you like, if you have an endless budget and closet space, but bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to the size of your wardrobe. Closet clutter is distracting, and can keep you from being able to see how it all fits together. If you do a little bit of strategizing from the start, you can create a much more flexible and varied wardrobe, with a smaller number of items that work together as a cohesive whole.

In terms of a strong basic set of suits, five is the magic number. With two blue suits, two grey suits, and one black suit, you can build a surprising number of complementary outfits. Instead of thinking of it as five suits, look at it as ten separates that you can mix and match. We like to call this principle “collaborative coordination,” and this method ensures that you’ll be able to build your wardrobe in a way that makes sense. Your collection will become seamlessly blended together with each piece you add, and you won’t be wasting money on impulse buys that don’t really fit into your overall style.

Here’s how it works: with each piece being able to combine with other pieces, your five suits actually turn into a whopping twenty-five suit combinations. The key, of course, is to keep an eye on your color choices when you’re shopping for your five suits. Pick grey tones that play well with your blue tones, as well a true, solid black. Make sure that the colors you select play well with everything else.

Once you start thinking of the staple suit elements in your wardrobe as separates rather than necessarily needing to go with the “matching” pieces, a whole other world opens up. You can create a multitude of stylish looks by matching things up in combinations you hadn’t previously considered. You can even use some of your suit separates as components in more casual outfits.

Try pairing the black suit jacket with khakis and a striped shirt for an effortlessly-put-together look. A navy suit can be worn with a simple black ribbed knit shirt for a clean, modern take on professional office wear. A slate grey jacket can be paired with a white Henley tee and jeans for a business-casual look that works just as well at happy hour.

Those are just a few examples of how you can use collaborative coordination to maximize even the most modestly-sized wardrobes. Each new piece you acquire over time expands your wardrobe exponentially, and you can use a relatively small number of pieces to create virtually endless possibilities. So instead of shopping without a strategy, take the time to do a little planning before you start – you’ll be glad you did when you experience the benefits.

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