A lot of men’s wardrobes seem to be nothing but jeans and t-shirts, but they still have no desire to expand it. I’m still in the process of expanding my own and through that consideration I’ve gotten some extraordinary insight and have come up with this list of fashion staples Every Man should have.
These are the things you really should have at the ready, regardless of what culture you live in, because you may need them on too short of notice to go shopping.
A black suit is really irreplaceable. They almost form their own level of formality and to some people, including me, they’re the only thing that’s appropriate at a funeral. You’ll probably want to go with a two or three button single breasted jack with notch lapels.
A black suit isn’t always appropriate, especially in some cultures where they’re considered exclusively funeral attire. For that reason, you’ll want to have a charcoal grey or navy blue suit in your closet for those other occasions.
You need to have a variety of dress shirts to go with various outfits. Be sure to include at least one solid white shirt and several more of other solid colours. If you want to throw in some patterns, feel free, just keep the patterns subtle.
Ties & Pocket Squares
You’ll need these to complete your suits. They’re also the best place to add bold colours and patterns.
I recommend having at least two belts. A woven fibre belt for street clothes and a leather one for casual and semi-formal. Your belt should match your shoes, so you may need more right there. You’ll also need more belts if neither of those work with some of the outfits in your wardrobe.
Blue jeans only. A man should only wear other colours of denim if he has a very good reason. The exact style and fit is a personal choice but every man should stay away from skinny jeans.
I mean a variety of sweaters, from sweatshirts to wool crew necks. Every outfit you have should have a sweater to go with it.
You’ll need t-shirts for cases where comfort should trump style. They can also be incorporated into casual outfits in some very expressive ways.
Most men don’t need many shorts, since they’re inherently so extremely casual. Whatever shorts you have should be approximately knee length and fairly loose.
Every man should have at least one blazer. A classic navy blue is a good choice, but there are so many options that every man can have a blazer that perfectly suits him.
In the same vein, every man should have some sport coats. A sport coat or two can be combined with virtually any outfit to create something classy but expressive.
In addition to jeans, shorts, and suit pants, every man needs some nice trousers. Jeans and shorts are often inappropriate and suit pants should only be worn with their matching jackets so they wear evenly.
For obvious reasons, every man needs coats. After all, you don’t want to freeze to death, I hope. Exactly what coats you need depend on where you live but they should include coats to go with every outfit and all weather conditions.
Unless you never go outside, you need some shoes. If you actually never go outside, start. You’ll want at least a pair of oxfords or derbies, a pair of canvas sneakers, a pair of athletic shoes, a pair of work boots, and a pair of hiking boots, in colours that match your belts and coordinate with your pants. It’s also a good idea to have sandals and some more unique dress shoes, like Chelsea boots.
I’ve said it before, every man should wear a hat. For that you need to own some. You want at least one casual hat, one informal hat, and one hat to go with your street clothes. You can’t have too many hats though so go nuts, just be sure to wear them appropriately.
Since every man should be ready to play sports, he needs to have at least one appropriate outfit in his wardrobe. You’ll also want to have the traditional attire for any sport you play frequently and the uniforms for any organised team sports you play.
You’ll likely want to have two pairs of sunglasses. For practical reasons, like sports, you’ll want to have some more rugged sunglasses but you’ll want some nicer ones too. Your standard sunglasses should be something with metal frames and black or mirrored lenses, like classic aviators.
If you’re closely associated with a culture that has traditional clothing, like Scottish kilts or Japanese yukatas, you need to be sure you have that too.
Get When You Can
There are some things that you really should have in your wardrobe but you’ll almost certainly have time to shop for when you need them.
The classic tuxedo is the standard of evening semi-formal attire. It consists of black pants with a satin stripe on the outseams, a matching jacket with satin lapel facings, and a black bow tie and waistcoat.
If you don’t know what a stroller is, it’s the daytime equivalent of a tuxedo. It includes a black suit jacket, grey trousers (usually striped or checked), and a four in hand tie and waistcoat (usually grey, black, or buff in colour).
No, I don’t mean an actual dress. Evening dress typically refers to men’s evening formalwear. It’s identical to a tuxedo but with a tailcoat, and white waistcoat and bow tie.
Again, the daytime formal standard is very similar to its semi-formal equivalent. The only common difference this time is the use of a tailcoat. It also has more acceptable variation.
Naturally, when you have more outfits you may need more hats to go with them. For formal and semi-formal you’ll likely want to go with a bowler, homburg, and top hat.
Again, adding outfits may necessitate adding more shoes to your wardrobe as well.
That’s my list of men’s fashion staples. I didn’t mention anything about uniforms because you either need them immediately or not at all. If you have anything to add to this list, feel free to add it in the comments.