A simple fashion don't like, say, pleated khakis, octogenarian-style footwear, or a sweater that's three sizes too big is an instant dumpifier. (Definition: the male version of "frumpy," a style element that impacts a look negatively.) That can take down the manliest of men.

In the latest episode of The Inc. Life, I hit Barneys New York, headquarters of fashion dos, to illustrate how capture the look of the season without breaking the bank. By my side was menswear guru Joe Lupo, a partner at Visual Therapy, a company that teaches individuals and corporate clients how to funnel their personal style and corporate message through fashion. Joe's mantra is "image, identity, and clarity," which is illustrated in his ability to mix and match new trends with wardrobe classics so that minimum investment yields maximum looks.

To illustrate this concept, we crafted five looks with one three-piece flannel suit for work, weekend, and a night out. Joe is a stickler on shirt and sweater sizing: "Most men buy sweaters and shirts a size too large. Men often feel comfortable in boxy shapes and think that the extra fabric hides a gut. The truth? Fabric fullness can add 10 pounds. Try and go down a size for a streamlined look."

But color is the topic that really gets Joe animated. He and Visual Therapy partner Jesse Garza just completed Life in Color, a tome devoted to why color is critical to the wardrobe.

It's undeniable -- color makes a statement about your point of view. A pop of bold color in the tie, shirt stripes, scarf, or socks indicates a man who does not fade into the woodwork. Just look at successful restaurateurs, sports figures, and music impresarios. Oh, and President-elect Barack Obama. These men know that fashion ain't fluff. It conveys strength and the requisite groove factor to do business in not so colorful economy.

So what are Joe's must-haves for winter 2009? A three-piece flannel suit, fitted shirts, a neutral v-neck sweater, great shoes, and a charcoal grey overcoat. Why? These pieces work together or as separates delivering a myriad of looks for the office and beyond.