Engineering The Perfect Business Wardrobe feat. Ian Anderson

April 3rd, 2014

A well-dressed man’s wardrobe doesn’t have to be large. You certainly don’t need all of this.

The beauty of menswear is that you can be sharply dressed for just about any occasion by investing in, I’d say, roughly 50 quality pieces (maybe I’ll do a follow-up post on that).

Nobody understands the science of building a streamlined, versatile wardrobe better than Ian Anderson in San Francisco. Ian is a structural engineer who took a scientific approach to redesigning his wardrobe when he graduated from Stanford and entered the working world.

“My interest in men’s clothing began when I was starting grad school. I was working on my Master’s degree at Stanford and suddenly realized that I would need a major wardrobe overhaul when I entered the workforce after graduation. I spent a good amount of time learning about clothes and slowly creating a professional wardrobe in order to prepare for life after college. My college-kid thriftiness made me concentrate on buying only the most versatile items that I could find. It also made me focus on quality and getting as much as I could out of every dollar I spent. Now that I’m out of college I have a bit more flexibility in what I can purchase, but I still find myself drawn to the most basic and pared-down items.

My time working in downtown San Francisco taught me that looking sharp helps, but standing out too much does not. At the end of the day, I try to dress in a way that leaves a good impression but doesn’t stand out; I want the people I interact with to remember me for what I say, not what I wear. And to accomplish this, I find that the more limited my choices are, the easier it is for me to leave the house looking my best.”

Here Ian shows us some of the staples of his day-to-day style, and shares some of his science beyond building an efficient business wardrobe.

1. Two Suit Tango


“This is a great example of how I like to dress for a typical workday – simple, neutral-colored tailoring in classic-leaning proportions. I try to avoid overly trendy details like cropped and tapered fits or skinny ties/lapels in my professional clothing. I want to feel like a professional when I’m at work, and I use these clothes to emanate that feeling. Confidence is everything in corporate America, and these items are my secret weapon.”


“One of the easiest ways for me to increase the breadth of my professional wardrobe is to wear my suits as separates (of course, this must be done with some restraint so that the suit pieces don’t wear at different rates).

I wouldn’t normally wear worsted wool suits as separates like I’ve done here, due to the fabric’s obvious “suit-y” feel. To compensate for this, I’ve added some texture with the raw silk tie and suede captoes. This gives the look enough contrast to feel cohesive, in my opinion.”


“A few months ago my buddy Conrad in NYC sent me this tie from his new neckwear collection Conrad Wu. I absolutely love it, and think that his ties might be the best out there for under $100. They’re made out of incredible fabrics from Europe by a small group of artisans in New York City.”


Navy Performance Wool Jacket

Essential Light Gray Trouser

2. Study Your Ratios


“You might be noticing some similarities between this and the first look; that’s no accident. I almost exclusively wear grey trousers and blue shirts in the office, and cycle through neutral colors like brown and navy for my ties and sportcoats.

Having this go-to “uniform” not only makes getting dressed easy, but it allows me to focus on the important things, like getting the fit right, instead of trying to figure out what ties goes with what shirt. As long as I stick with a light shirt, dark tie, and simple jacket, I know it’s going to be bulletproof. Some may find all of this boring and restrictive, but I find great satisfaction in the simplicity of it.

Inspired by Articles of Style and other men’s style websites, I started writing about menswear on my blog From Squalor to Baller. Contrary to what the title might imply, it’s a place where I discuss my thoughts on dressing simply and classically for various settings and my search for products that provide the best quality-per-dollar ratio.”


“Another aspect of my wardrobe that I tend to fixate on is the fit of the collar and lapel zone. I think this is the most critical area of tailored clothing, and it is often overlooked by men. I try and keep my collars substantial enough to tuck neatly under my jackets, and keep my ties and lapels in proportion with the shirt collar. When these three elements are in harmony the whole rig looks so much better.

My late grandfather is my style hero, and this vintage Omega is one of several items that I have inherited from his closet. I swap the band from time to time, but it’s on my wrist every day.”

  • Blue stripe shirt by Proper Cloth ·
  • Navy Silk knit tie by Ralph Lauren Purple Label ·
  • Pocket square by the Tie Bar ·
  • Watch by vintage Omega ·
  • Oxblood Wingtips by Allen Edmonds
  • · Grey Flannel trousers by Howard Yount

Wool Flannel Trouser in Mid Gray

3. California Tuxedo


“Here’s an outfit that can get you through every Bay Area event on your social calendar – for years to come.

Lightweight navy blazer, chambray shirt, worn-in chinos, and slip-on loafers. The California Tuxedo.”


“I rely on Proper Cloth almost exclusively for my dress shirts. The online made-to-measure scene is a bit murky at times, but this NYC-based company has provided me with great shirts over the years. Now that I have my size perfected, it’s a little too easy to order a new shirt.”

  • Navy Cotton blazer by Boglioli ·
  • Blue Chambray popover by Proper Cloth ·
  • Brown Belt by Equus Leather ·
  • Pocket square by Kent Wang ·
  • Watch by vintage Omega ·
  • Brown Penny loafers by Crockett & Jones for Brooks Brothers
  • · Khaki Chinos by Bonobos

Khaki Cotton Trouser


Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Articles of Style


Photography by Alex Crawford