How to build an interchangeable wardrobe in 7 steps

Forbes and Lewis - The perfect interchangeable wardrobe

We put a lot of thought into the individual items of clothing that we buy, but not many of us think about their wardrobe as a whole. Every single fashion item you buy will almost always be worn with something else, yet how many times have you actually stood back and assessed your wardrobe in its entirety?

Having a workable, interchangeable wardrobe means you’ll never be stuck for something to wear. It’s an easy way to look effortlessly stylish without needing a big budget and it cuts time spent sorting your outfit each day. It’s worth investing both time and money into your modular wardrobe as you’ll end up saving on both in the long run.




Step 1: Assess your current wardrobe

  1. Organise your clothes into jeans, tops, shirts etc… Take out any items unsuitable for the current season and store them until the weather gets warmer/cooler and you can repeat this process again.
  2. Now, take out any items that you love, but that you only wear on special occasions, not every day. This could be a cool vintage shirt or a favourite hat. Put them back in your wardrobe.
  3. Remove any items you haven’t worn in over a year, or any items you feel even slightly uncomfortable about wearing, physically or mentally. Bag them and stick them to one side.



Step 2: T-shirt

One of the most essential items in an interchangeable wardrobe is the simple t-shirt, but only if you can find a style and shape that suits you. Look for a t-shirt with a flattering cut and quality material that won’t become misshapen over time. Think about how you’ll wear it. Is it long enough to tuck into trousers and is it short enough to hang over your favourite jeans? Once you’ve found the perfect fit, buy 5 of them (with some in black and grey if possible).




Step 3: Jeans with (almost) everything

Find one brand that works for you and stick to it. There’s an incredible amount of choice with jeans, so having a go-to brand makes it much easier to replace a pair if they eventually get worn out. As you’ll get huge amounts of wear from them, don’t buy the cheapest jeans you can find. Look for a great cut and the right length. If you’re short, get them hemmed to fit. Aim for at least two or three black or dark pairs and one or two lighter pairs. 

Add subtle colour if you’ve already got a lot of jeans, you might want to expand your already modular trouser selection with something with a bit of texture. Cords look great and can be dressed up or down. Chinos can likewise be smart enough to wear at a casual wedding, or just down the pub. It also gives you the opportunity to add some colour whilst still staying casual (although we’d stick with neutral colours instead of bright hues unless you’re going for a long holiday in Italy).




Step 4: Adding to the basics

Now you’ve got the bare minimum of your modular wardrobe. Take the clothes you set aside at the start (the ones that didn’t end up in a bag or in the “occasion wear” section) and see where they fit into your new wardrobe. Match your sports jackets or suit jackets with jeans and t-shirt combos, seeing how many matches you can get out of each item. If some items just don’t work, have no mercy, put them in the reject bag.




Step 5: Suits for all occasions

If you want a modular wardrobe, you’ll need one great suit. Choose a colour that means you can match the jacket with your selection of jeans or trousers. Dark blue with a bit of texture is a popular choice. That way you can dress down your suit or dress up your jeans.



Step 6: Feet

If the shoe fits, great, but it also has to look good. Try and narrow down (or expand) your collection with a functional but good-looking boot that looks like a smart trainer when worn underneath jeans. Timberland has some great ones in classic tan leather that are also waterproof (great for walking in the country or hitting the town in the January rain). You’ll also need a smart pair of shoes to go with your suit and a casual trainer that works as well in the city as it does with sportswear.



Step 7: Accent pieces

This is where you add the tone to your outfit. Accent pieces could include:

  1. Watches - Not only are they convenient, a watch is an accessory that always works with whatever clothes you have on at the time. They are a statement piece that reflects your personality. Always a good item to invest in. 
  2. Jewellery - Can be tricky for men to cull. However, the right pieces can effortlessly add style to your outfit. A simple pairing of gold or silver, rings, necklaces and bracelets have become the accessorising choice of stylish men all over.
  3. Hats - From a flat cap to a trilby, a beanie to a baseball cap. A quality hat will make you look sharp. Not only are they a functional accent piece but its a modish way to finish an outfit
  4. Bags - Like most leather accessories, we recommend going for a simple black or brown. Experiment with textures such as smooth, grain or robust leathers. These can compliant your style whilst preparing you for an action-packed weekend away.

Now you can add more personality. You can change the vibe of an outfit depending on the bag, hat or watch you’re wearing. A watch and a briefcase or a beany and a backpack can change an outfit from “work” to “weekend” in a couple of seconds. 

There’s your wardrobe. If you take this exact advice you should end up with at least:

5 x t-shirts

3 x shoes

1 x suit

3 x jeans

2 x cords/chinos

5 x 3 x 1 x 3 x 2 = 90 different outfit combinations.

Behold your modular wardrobe!