How to Create a Versatile Outfit

Don’t you just hate it when you’re visiting a far-off country on a rock-climbing expedition and some important local dignitary

invites you to dinner?

Do you wear your rock-climbing boots or your slippers?

Maybe something closer to home…

You’re on a fishing trip and you get invited to a classy local charity which is also a great opportunity to network.

Which fishing outfit would be most appropriate?

Today we’re answering a very real reader’s question about how he can assemble a versatile wardrobe that will look equally good climbing mountains as going to business meetings – essentially something to suit any situation.

Before I get into this question I want to really encourage you gentlemen to give me your thoughts on this specific topic.

Do you have a versatile wardrobe selection to recommend?

Have you been in a vacation-type situation where you suddenly had to come up with something resembling a formal outfit? How did you do it?

I always appreciate feedback from you gentlemen and I always make a point to read your comments and respond to you where I can.

So if you have any thoughts or any questions for future articles please feel free to contact me as I love to hear from you not only to hear what concerns and problems you struggle with, but also because I learn so much from interacting with you.

Contact me here and leave a comment

The Versatile Wardrobe Conundrum

The reader, Joseph, asked the following question:

“Antonio, my question is can you please give me tips on clothing that is both functional and stylish. I go out a lot, varying from parties, social gatherings to hikes and mountain climbs.

I also travel a lot – hot and cold weather countries, both safe and dangerous zones. It would be a huge help if you could let me know items I should have in my wardrobe that I can wear every day to cover a lot of activities.

Thanks you for your response,


To be honest Joseph’s question is a bit flawed because there isn’t an outfit that can take you from the top of the mountain and then down to the boardroom.

Given a choice you should wear the gear that would help you survive at the top of the mountain into the boardroom because at that point who cares?

But of course you do care and so will the gentlemen or ladies you meet in the boardroom.

So here’s how you can go about building a limited but versatile wardrobe:

You Need to Plan Your Versatile Wardrobe

The crux of the problem comes to knowing where you’re going to be that day and having the clothing for that environment or situation.

I have a number of friends that are world travelers (backpackers) and what they do is to carry one set of nice clothing with them which they keep wrapped up at the bottom of their backpacks.

This single outfit prepares them for anything from being invited for tea with the president of a country or an unexpected chance meeting of a lifetime. Preparing in this way they can simply get their formal outfits steamed and pressed and look presentable in any situation.

They won’t look their best yet at least they will be acceptably presentable (and the rest can be written off to short notice and the fact that they’re traveling).

The point is you can still pack light and have versatile clothing but realize there isn’t really anything to suit all of your needs.

Keep in mind that there are pieces that are classic and rugged and can be suitable for a wide variety of needs.

So let’s go ahead and talk about that:

1. Covering Your Feet

A pair of good-looking durable dress boots is your most versatile option.

A wide variety of casual dress boots are well-made and rugged but come from more classical designs.

A great place to look at some examples is Red Wing Shoes in Minnesota which is a brand I appreciate and that’s been around since the turn of the previous century.

Red Wing Boots

What I admire most about them is that they’ve been making work boots for blue collar men in the USA for over a century. You can be sure they would not have been around so long if men who had to stand up to 16 to 20 hours a day in their boots working didn’t feel comfortable.

Work boots are durable and whenever I go to a local cobbler I see tons of work boots being resoled and put back to work.

Investing in quality pair of dress boots that has a work boot heritage would give you versatile footwear even if you cannot necessarily wear them in a boardroom.

 Men Chambray Shirt2. Durable and Fashionable Shirts

I would look at collared chambray shirt which is once again a work shirt. This type of shirt will be made from slightly rougher and lighter material.

The great thing about this fabric is that in the last ten to twenty years it’s moved from a strictly work work shirt to being more socially acceptable and even pretty dressy depending on the brand.

And that’s a far cry from it’s humble origins many years ago as a blue collared work shirt. It is blue because indigo was cheap and would dye well and prevent stains.

So for a versatile shirt that’s what I would recommend – By going with a blue shirt you have something that will almost look like a dress shirt but is more of a work shirt.

3. Presentable Pants

You can’t go wrong with jeans for a good blend of durable and presentable. Dark well-fitted denims will be more acceptable in a more formal environment.

Lee Jeans have excellent choices in their Modern range and I definitely suggest you have a look at their great and affordable selection for this clothing item.

So go with a dark but well-fitted denim for your pants choice.

4. A Good Sports Jacket

With the above selection all of a sudden you have a winning combination but to take it up a level you can dress up with a sports jacket.

I will not recommend wearing this sports jacket out into the field but a good sports jacket is something you can keep in your vehicle or even in locker at work.

For this specific jacket you want something a slightly more rugged. Brown would be a good color choice.

Men's brown leather strap watch5. Putting It All Together

With this great combination can dress it up or down and even add a few details like a nice simple watch.

Considering the situations you’ll be putting this together in you want to make sure you have a towel handy to wipe yourself down.

Consider your appearance – especially your hair. Keep some product for your hair and a good comb or brush handy.

There you go – a pretty basic but versatile outfit that will work in wide variety of situations.

No one outfit can suit all situations but understanding your needs and what to expect from your day should make it easy to dress appropriately.