The £10,000 wardrobe: What to buy if all your clothes catch fire

Chris Kerr
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The worst has happened. Your flat has burned down and all your clothes have gone up in flames. You would go out tonight but you – literally – haven’t got a stitch to wear. The insurance company has made you a take-it-or-leave-it offer of £10,000 to replace the whole lot, from the shoes up. What are the timeless pieces you need to stock up on? What casual jackets can you pair with jeans for a weekend stroll in the park and trousers on Monday morning for a showdown with the insurance broker who only valued your wardrobe at £10,000? Bespoke tailor Chris Kerr gives his recommendations.


The first order for any wardrobe has to be a bespoke navy blue, single-breasted two-piece. This is the go anywhere, do anything equivalent of, say, a Land Rover Discovery – an item that it’s appropriate to turn up anywhere in. When it comes to a bespoke suit, one of the major attractions is that you can personalise it – pockets, lapels, vents, buttons, lining. For a classic but modern look, I'd go for a two button jacket with notch lapels, straight pockets and side vents. For trousers I’d recommend flat-fronted with either side slanted pockets (traditional) or “frog pockets”, which are a horizontal cross pocket, made popular in the sixties. Turn-ups are a fashionable choice.

Two piece blue suit = £1,800


Next up is a blue blazer – but absolutely not one with shiny metal buttons. Ask for plain, horn buttons, two slanted pockets and a ticket pocket (a single small pocket sitting above the main side ones). This piece takes both smart-casual and social scenarios in its stride. You can pair a well-cut blazer with chinos or jeans for dining out, hotel stays or drinks with a client.

Eton shirts x 5 = £1,000


A lightweight tweed jacket would be the third bespoke item I’d recommend, probably in grey with a subtle overcheck. Rather than the traditional slanted pocket, the more casual “patch pockets” give a tweed jacket a more stylish, casual look. This item will see you right at Twickenham and keep you warm if you’re nipping out of the capital for a weekend somewhere.

Paul Smith Aran stretch trousers = £120


The fourth piece on my list would be a grey flannel suit, which, like the blue two-piece, is a real multi-purpose piece that will serve you well over the long term. Flannel is a warm, stylish material much in vogue with the dapper “iGents” seen at Florence’s Pitti Uomo bi-annual menswear trade show. This suit will allow you to dispense with an overcoat on all but the coldest days.

Peckham Rye tie = £60


A covert coat, also known as a Crombie, is a three quarter length, single breasted top coat that can be brown, navy or black, and usually comes with a velvet collar. This classic British style will complement a suit as well as jeans and, as it’s not too heavy, can be worn in autumn, winter and spring. Its flexibility makes it worth the investment.


For traditional shoes I’d recommend George Cleverley’s wholecut style. For casual you can’t beat Oliver Sweeney brogues.

Oliver Sweeney brogues = £200


For shirts (other than my own), I’d look at Eton for readymade and Sean O’Flynn for bespoke. For quality British-made jeans and trousers plain enough to wear with bespoke jackets, Paul Smith is a good bet. Sunspel make great, classic T-shirts. Don’t forget a handkerchief and a tie or two: Peckham Rye do good quality contemporary stuff. I’ll leave socks and underwear up to you – this is very much a personal choice.

The Shopping List

Made bespoke by Chris:
Two piece blue suit - £1,800
Blue blazer - £1,300
Grey flannel suit - £1,800
“Covert” coat - £1,800

From around London

George Cleverley whole cut shoes - £995
Oliver Sweeney brogues - £200
Eton shirts x 5 - £1,000
Peckham Rye ties x 5 - £300
Peckham Rye handkerchiefs x 5 - £170
Paul Smith jeans £115 (standard fit, dark wash)
Paul Smith Aran stretch cotton trousers – £120
Sunspel T-shirts x 2 (white and black) - £110
Socks & Underwear (whatever takes your fancy) - £290
Contact Chris Kerr for a tailoring appointment on 0207 437 3727, call in to 31 Berwick Street, W1F 8RJ or visit

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