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Jun 15, 2014

Learning from Men's Style: Building an Interchangeable Wardrobe (by Antonio Centeno)

Hi all!

I hope you are enjoying your Summer season! Today, I would like to share something we can learn from Men's Styling Tips!

The more I am getting more proficient in the Project 333 system, the more I'm learning about different kinds of clothing, accessories, and jewelry combinations, and how choosing them in a certain way gives you LOTS more options than others...

And then, I came across this video on YouTube:

How To Build An Interchangeable Man's Wardrobe - Buying Flexible and Versatile Men's Clothing

As I watched the video, it really got me to think about how women really ARE sold the wrong information by the Evil Garmentos, and are encouraged to consume and purchase more clothing than is necessary.

This also brings me back to my initial resistance against the Capsule Wardrobe concept when I watched the videos that used only 3 colors, black/white/red as an example. (

But, when I was watching this Men's Version, it felt different, maybe it's the more neutral colors that were used. But all in all, the whole 'Math' thing made so much sense to me. Especially having calculated them myself, with my previous Project 333 outfit options calculations! 

I mean, once I sat down to see how my tops, jackets, and bottoms matched up, I was blown away by how versatile my grey shirt-blouse was! 

Well, for those of you who need more 'Proof' - here's the math that Mr. Centeno shared on his website:

"What makes Clothing Interchangeable?
Simply put, a man has an interchangeable wardrobe when each piece of clothing in his closet matches a large number of complementary items.
A light blue shirt that matches 7 out of your 9 pairs of slacks is interchangeable; that red dress shirt that only works well with 1 of your nine trousers is not.  A navy herringbone suit that can be worn with 13 out of your 15 dress shirts is interchangeable; the light grey and pink pin stripe suit that only looks sharp with 2 of the 15 is not.
Your wardrobe should be built on classic interchangeable pieces that go with at least 60% of their counterparts; a higher percentage of compatibility is always better.
WHY?  Look at the chart below – it’s a numbers game.
mens interchangeable wardrobe options
In the above example we do assume 100% compatibility; however the number of items is very conservative.  Yet we can extract three hundred unique outfits from 20 clothing items. And I didn’t even include ties, pocket squares, coats, vests, and accessories that could easily have increased this number ten-fold!"

Yes! When you have the RIGHT pieces that are INTERCHANGEABLE and MIXABLE completely, you get a whoppin' 300 options just from the 20 pieces mentioned above. Now, tell me this is not mind-blowing! Or what!!

I am always so much more drawn to what the men's style concepts teach men about their 'system' because there is so much less frou-frou involved.

The above calculation is all the more surprising, because Mr. Centeno did NOT include the 'tie' in it! I mean, for men, it's often so much about what the shirt & tie combo does to spruce up and spice up the more conservative suit!

And I also love how men's suit with its matching jacket and pants, immediately screams Work & Style, AS WELL AS giving you that 'Lean Column' that Imogen Lamport talks about on her blog. If you want to look slimmer or taller, lean column is what will help you achieve that!

Another amazing thing about men's suit + shirt + tie combinations being a GREAT template for a 'cohesive' yet 'versatile' wardrobe is that... it NATURALLY follows the most ESSENTIAL formula for a successful color scheme that almost ALL interior design courses teach you: the 60/30/10 rule.

What this means is that in order for an interior design scheme to be most successful, there needs to be a predominant amount of 'base' color, which should make up the 60%. In a man's suit, that is the jacket and the pants. Depending on whether you wear the jacket open or buttoned, it pretty much gives you that basic palette that will serve as a background. Your 'blank' canvas, so to speak.

Then, the 30% is your coordinating color. Some call it the accent color, others call it different names. But whatever the name they use, it basically breaks up the main 60%, so that you don't drown in your base color. And depending on how you want your overall image to be, it could be a color that blends in with your base color, or it could be a contrasting color, or a color that compliments the base color.

Finally, there is the 10% that completes the set or outfit. For some, this could be a 3rd color that brings more fun and edge into the entire outfit, or for others, this could be the color of the metal they use.

The way that this is set up for men usually, is that the 30% is where the shirt color/texture/pattern comes in to play, and the 10% is the tie worn right under their face.

It just seems so strategically well placed to me... How these 3 basic components work! So deceptively simple, yet, when you actually look at well dressed men, this works! They never look out of place, it never gets boring quickly... With a number of shirts in solids and patterns, and some ties in various colors/textures/patterns... They seem so elegantly 'put together.'

* * *

Having examined the men's style system though, I still have some nagging thoughts I need to address; I teach for a living, and my workplace is a lot more relaxed, and I would feel so uncomfortable teaching in a suit. But I can't help but *marvel* at how having the correct core items that are completely interchangeable is the KEY to having what I so want. A wardrobe that says, YOU HAVE A LOT TO WEAR! As in, YOU *ALWAYS* HAVE A LOT TO WEAR.

I wonder if my current 'too relaxed' approach to style is what is causing my wardrobe blues... I know that most people in their 30s DO make a shift towards wearing their jackets more often... Right now, I am somewhere in between feeling too chubby to look good in a cardigan, which USED TO BE my thing... and finding that only wearing a Tshirt feels a little too young and less professional... I've been wearing more blouses as a result, because I don't own any 'shirts' in my wardrobe.

OK. Well. That's it for tonight, folks!
Thanks for reading!

Sending you lots of love & well-wishes,
for a totally coordinated wardrobe that serves you well!


Jessica Flatshoenista


  1. Jessica, have you considered vests? I have some that are very light and filmy. They are summer-appropriate and don't add bulk. Something like that could work with what you already own to create the column of color you're after.

  2. Hi Susan!
    Vests! I have not had much of those before... But it would be something I would like to consider! Thank you for suggesting it! I have thought of vests as more of a warmth giving layer! But now that you mention it, I guess, they could be used for 'visual' effect!!! :D
    xoxo Hugs!!!


  3. I've seen summer-appropriate crochet-type vests, too. If you go the vest route, let us see the results.

  4. Yes! I will keep you posted!
    I'm kind of drawn to getting a black vest! :-)