A chat with Will Boehlke of A Suitable Wardrobe

On November 27, 2006, Will Boehlke posted the first entry at his blog, A Suitable Wardrobe (to a smattering of applause). Today it’s recognized as one of the first blogs to cover classic menswear, influencing many to follow suit and spawning a store specializing in hard-to-find men’s accessories.


Will records a monthly podcast.


It’s hard to imagine that Will’s modest office space houses one of the largest collection of, say, Drake’s ties, but it’s also Grand Central for store operations: shipping/receiving, a photo backdrop with lights, a small audio/video recording studio, and of course, the merchandise. And not just ties, but also bolts of gorgeous chambray, soft suede chukkas, striking pocket squares for summer, and enough shoe-care products to care for the collections of Styleforum’s most profligate shoe-philes.

Peter Zottolo: What was the main reason you started the blog?

Will Boehlke: I was between things, and I had a lifelong interest in clothing. So I just thought I’d start doing something that I enjoy doing, and if it paid, it paid.  It started with informational posts, primarily—how to put a wardrobe together, what kind of shoes you should have, what kind of necktie, etc.  Nothing like that was available 6 years ago.

PZ: So it filled a niche?

WB: It did at the time, but I think now the blog and the store are more geared toward the clothing hobbyist, and that’s probably where we’ll stay. At first I thought I’d support the blog by advertising, but even at over 300K unique visitors a month, many advertisers just aren’t interested. So I thought if I was going to do this for the long run, I needed to open a store. And it’s been great—I get to go to around the world, I get a lot of clothes, and life is good.

PZ: Speaking of clothes—what’s new for the spring?

WB: I don’t really think that way; I sell perennials. I buy things that I think are beautiful, and I sell more of them than most others. Drake’s ties, for example—I have more of their ties than anyone else, aside from their stores.

A summer combination of silk and linen.

PZ: Since the shop has opened, have you seen any changes in men’s clothing?

WB: Well, ties may have narrowed a bit, but the classics never really change. The number of people who buy the items has increased, but the items themselves are basically the same.

PZ: Was there anything at Pitti Uomo this January that really caught your eye?

WB: Recently Drake’s has made things with fabulous colors and textures—stuff that I don’t recall ever seeing in my lifetime. For example, this year I bought a silk bouclè necktie from them. It’s a beautiful textured weave. Photos can’t do it justice. You have to see it in person.

PZ: Would you ever consider opening a brick and mortar store?

WB: Absolutely—we’re planning on opening up a retail store perhaps by the end of this year. Not sure where, but if in San Francisco, somewhere between Union Square and the Embarcadero, so it can be close to those who come to visit the city. Nothing huge, just a small haberdashery, and open the store to traveling tailors. My only concern is if enough people would buy what I’d sell.

PZ: But I’m sure if people just came in to see and touch the stuff…

WB: …and who can blame them? I have customers who buy an enormous amount of stuff, but start out with just one piece.

PZ: Just to see?

WB: Right. Because you just don’t know… The item may not be soft enough, or the exact color as the picture. But once someone sees and feels them in person…

PZ: …they’d all be gone?

WB: Well, that’s what I’m hoping.

Bolts of shirting fabric, including fine chambray.

Silk boucle, with 50 nubs per inch (NPI).