Do you sometimes feel pressured to follow fashion? Even William Shakespeare wrote, “I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man.” The key is to have a capsule wardrobe featuring essential items that reflect your look and style.
In a few months, spring cleaning will be here and that means time to review your wardrobe. Check out these 16 men’s fashion essentials every man should own.
1. A White Shirt
How can any gentleman get by without a white dress shirt? A plain poplin weave is a classic choice. An unostentatious medium spread collar suits any occasion and any face.
A formal shirt like this has to have double cuffs so you can set it off with cufflinks. Avoid a chest pocket that turns an otherwise smart formal shirt into work wear. Cufflinks are an opportunity for a little showiness but avoid anything humorous or gimmicky.
A white dress shirt is such a flexible item of apparel. It can be worn with a formal suit, a more casual suit, and even with jeans. It’s never cliche or overly formal.
2. An Alternate Dress Shirt
The white dress shirt is the standard for almost all formal and even informal situations. There are times when you would like to have an alternative. Light blue is the logical alternative color.
An Oxford fabric with button down collar will complement the white, more formal dress shirt. You can wear it with a suit or jacket and even to the office.
Wear it casually too but be careful that you don’t wear a blue shirt with blue jeans. It can be a little suggestive of the fashion faux pas of double denim, never a good look. An alternate color such as cream is fine with blue denim.
Again, don’t fall for the suggestion that a chest pocket will be a useful place to keep a pen. You may keep a pen in an inside pocket of your jacket. The only time you should wear the tools of your job on display is when you need a tool belt.
Every wardrobe should feature some plaid. If you have Scottish ancestry, wear a kilt for special occasions such as weddings. If not, then take a tip from fashion designer Jared Lang and wear a plaid lumberjack shirt.
The beauty of plaid is that it there’s a plaid for virtually any color combination. It’s always striking and can be used for all kinds of clothing. Trousers, shirts, hats, and socks all work in plaid but don’t wear them all at once.
4. A Navy Suit
Whether it’s for a business meeting or dressy dinner, a navy suit is your formal wear friend. These days you can even wear a navy-blue suit to a funeral.
A single or double-breasted suit is acceptable. Don’t have too narrow or too wide a lapel for a more classic look. Pants with either flat front or pleated front are fine. If you have a fuller figure pleated is more flattering.
A worsted wool fabric provides the kind of weight that won’t crease too much and is more durable. Two pairs of pants mean you double the life of the suit. The addition of a waistcoat or vest gives you the added benefit of more formality if you ever need it.
5. Chino Trousers
There are times when you need a casual look that isn’t jeans. Chino’s are that alternative. They will even be acceptable in work situations when smart casual is the order of the day.
Navy chinos can be worn with a shirt or even dressed down with a T-shirt. Try them with a smart jacket or a casual leather bomber. It’s a good look and somehow less predictable than khaki.
6. A Denim Jacket
There are times when there’s nothing better than a blue denim jacket. It’s casual. relaxed and not too heavy. You want to wear more than just a shirt or T-shirt but a blazer or a leather jacket is too much.
The classic blue denim jacket is just right. You have somewhere to put your keys, your phone perhaps and a small wallet or billfold. It was shabby chic before anybody used the term.
Just one word of warning. By all means, wear it with jeans, but never with blue jeans. Another shade of jeans or chinos is fine.
7. Silk Tie
When you wear a tie, wear silk. There is no substitute. You need several ties.
If you wear a suit for work and a tie is the business dress expected you don’t need to have a different suit for every day of the week. Having a range of ties creates the effect of variety at a fraction of the cost.
The rules are simple. Get them wrong and you are in danger of making an expensive suit and shirt look cheap. Get it right and you don’t have to spend so much to look stylish.
Keep your tie darker than your shirt, simple if you wear a white or light blue shirt. If you have a plain shirt you can go for a pattern in your tie. If your suit has moderately sized lapels, you should not have a wide or excessively narrow tie.
8. Silk Handkerchief
Wearing a handkerchief or pocket square in the top pocket of your suit adds a certain sophistication. Never use this handkerchief to wipe anything, least of all your nose.
Should your pocket square or handkerchief match your tie? Given the number of matching tie and handkerchief combinations sold you would think that they should. The style gurus say your pocket square should not match but complement your tie.
9. Trench Coat
When it rains, you still want to look good. Don’t cover your well thought out attire with hurriedly selected rainwear. Some people seem to think a coat that would be more appropriate for a winter hike works well with a suit.
A trench coat is the correct item of clothing for wet weather. It lies on top of a suit well and still looks smart. If you are not wearing a suit, a trench coat still looks good.
10. A Blazer
You need a jacket to wear with chinos or jeans when you want to look smart but not formal. A blazer is that item of clothing. Don’t wear the jacket from a suit as it will always look as if the trousers are missing.
11. Brown Brogues
You may have a few pairs of shoes for different activities. Sports shoes are for sport and are also worn for everyday relaxed looks. Brogues are a sophisticated alternative to wear with jeans, chinos or any tailored trousers.
12. Black Shoes
A black, grey or blue suit can be worn with black shoes. Lace-up shoes have a classic smart appearance. There are alternatives to lace up shoes and they may be fine but you are never going to go wrong with a simple black leather lace-up shoe.
Jeans are everywhere and it would be crazy to imagine resisting having a pair or indeed several pairs. If you have to have just one pair, make sure they fit really well and that the style suits your leg length and body shape.
Unless you are quite thin don’t go for skinny fit. It might be fashionable in some circles but they can make the man who likes his pancakes look out of balance.
Medium builds tend to look good in slim fit jeans. The classic straight leg works for almost everybody. Levi 501s are successful for reason.
14. White T-shirt
A T-shirt can be worn with jeans or chinos. Even a suit can work in some circumstances with a T-shirt. The key is quality.
Spend a little money on a white T-shirt. Make sure that the money you are spending is going on materials, design and build quality and not on a logo. Don’t have a logo.
15. Gym Kit
Look good in your clothes and feel good too. The key is to keep your mind and body in good shape.
Regular exercise, mindfulness practice and a sensible diet all help you achieve this. If you’re the kind of guy who appreciates clothes too, you’ll want to work out in the right clothes. Don’t just slob about in a loose-fitting T-shirt and sweat pants.
High-performance textiles breath while you work out so you feel good in them. They also stay in good condition wash after wash.
16. Leather Jacket
A leather jacket is an American movie icon that you can wear. Marlon Brando created the smoldering outsider look for his film “The Wild One” in 1953. The leather biker jacket was part of that vibe.
Look for a biker jacket with a retro style. Bomber jackets are best. Black or brown work equally well.
Men’s Fashion Essentials
This set of men’s fashion essentials might inspire one man and incense another. Taste and style are somewhat subjective. Take some time and find your look.
Take your interest in fashion inside with interior design trends to freshen up your place.
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