“The clothes make the man!”.
You’ve heard it before.
Yeah, it’s B.S. Clothes don’t make anything. Character, passion, values, heart, and work ethic; those are the things that make the man.
But hey, let’s not take ourselves too seriously. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good, right?
Paying some attention to your personal style can give you a little extra confidence as you go through your day, and it can help others see you take yourself, your career and your projects, seriously (but not too seriously!). I’m sure your significant other wouldn’t mind either; I know my wife appreciates my putting forth an effort to look good for her.
The absolute most important things about nailing men’s style is the fit of the clothes. You can spend thousands on an expensive wardrobe with the highest quality, most perfectly crafted materials. But, if your clothes don’t fit properly, you’ll look like an idiot. It’d be better buy clothes from the thrift shop and get them professionally tailored for your body than to get the coolest suit from Bloomingdales that is too large or small.
I’m not going to pretend I'm an expert in tailoring and how every piece of clothing should fit a man’s body. But my advice is this: look for sales, deals and affordable places to buy your clothes, then take them to your local tailor (Yelp them first to make sure they’re legit) and get them tailored. Don’t stress it, it’s not as expensive as you’d think, and you’ll have clothes that you’ll wear for a long time.
Below, I've listed my 8 wardrobe essentials for men. I chose the 8 pieces listed below because I believe they’re the most versatile, foundational parts of a man's wardrobe. If you have them, you can build everything else around them, and add things as you need them or find things you like.
1. Dark Wash Jeans
In my opinion, a solid pair of fitted, dark wash jeans is probably the most important piece of clothing in your closet. I have one pair of slim jeans from DSTLD that I wear probably 3-4 days a week.
If possible, try on your jeans before you buy them, because one company’s slim-straight fit might be another company’s skinny fit. My general advice is to look for something with the word “tapered” in the description. This usually means the jean is fitted through the thigh (not skin tight) and then “tapers” down from the knee to the ankle. It provides a clean, fitted look. But if that’s not your thing, feel free to try on different fits. The key is get whatever fit makes you feel most confident.
You can venture off into different washes, distressed jeans, etc. later on- for now, grab a pair of dark washed (either raw denim or washed is fine). Levi’s always seems to have some good sales. I’ve also heard great things about Nudies, Gap, Uniqulo and G-Star.
2. Bomber Jacket
Bomber jackets are on this list because they’re light enough to wear during the day, but can be heavy enough to wear on a chilly night.
They usually come in basic colors: black, navy, grey, and olive are pretty common colors and the ones you should look for. They’re super easy to wear with a simple tee or casual button up, and a pair of jeans.
It’s the kind of jacket I almost always keep in the back seat of my car: I can toss it on if it gets chilly outside, and it’ll almost certainly look great with whatever I’m wearing.
A good pair of sunglasses is a must because it can take any normal look and add some easy style to it.
Quick rule: please never, ever wear any sort of “sport style” sunglasses unless your currently playing a sport. Please. Pretty please.
You can go either way on budget for this category. I’ve got two pairs of RayBans (Aviators and Clubmasters), and paid full price for both of them. But I NEVER lose sunglasses and I rock those bad boys every day. If it makes any difference, I get more compliments on my Clubmasters than almost anything else I own.
If you’re a guy who sits on/loses/breaks your sunglasses, just grab a cheap knockoff pair for five or ten bucks and you’ll be set. Knockarounds are a really cool, affordable brand as well.
4. White Sneakers
I like a simple pair of white sneakers because they can go with almost anything.
Jeans and a t-shirt? Yep. Khakis and a casual button up? Good to go. Stylish board shorts and a tank top for a beach day? Still fits. They’re super versatile and are a must-have in your closet.
Look for clean, simple sneakers.
Vans Canvas sneakers have always been a popular choice because they’re cheap and last forever. I’ve got a pair that I wear all the time. If you wanna spend a little more, you can go with Adidas Stan Smith’s, which are currently really popular in men’s fashion (I have a pair with green trim and they look freshhhh).
5. Watch + Bracelets
I like watches and bracelets because, very much like a good pair of sunglasses, they add instant style to an otherwise simple outfit.
Though, I can’t stress enough: do not go overboard on the size, shape, color, or number of pieces you wear on your wrist. The huge, heavy metal watches look distracting. Wearing 947305 bracelets on one wrist is overkill. Chill, bro.
Pick a simple, smart watch and stick with it. I like the Timex Weekender: it’s just the right size and the straps are interchangeable if you like to play with the colors.
I understand that some fellas are a bit iffy on bracelets. Keep it simple and grab a couple of beaded bracelets, and a few corded ones as well. Try wearing one or two at a time and see how you feel. It’ll grow on you!
6. Fitted Tees
Get 3-5 in various colors. You should definitely pick up a few in white, black and grey. Maybe grab a couple more in navy, olive or even another color like maroon or army green.
You can throw on a tee with your dark wash jeans and a pair of sunglasses for a relaxed summer look. Or, you can use them to layer underneath button up shirts, jackets and cardigans when it’s cooler out.
Please, please, please don’t fall into the trap of paying $40 for a simple t-shirt. Just get something simple that looks clean and fitted. That’s all you need here.
7. Brown boots
Okay, I’m all about doing this affordably, but this is the one area where I’d advise you to go ahead and pony up the dollars. Every guy needs a good pair of brown boots. They never go out of style and as long as you’re wearing jeans
I really quality pair is probably going to cost you at least $200. I know, it ain’t cheap. But I’ve had mine for years, I wear them 3-4 days a week in the winer
For more of a workboot, Redwings tend to be everybody’s favorite. Beware, they’re on the expensive side.
Alternatively, you could go a little cheaper with a desert boot, like these Clarks.
I’ve got both styles. Love em' both.
8. Quality Cardigan
It can be lightweight, or heavier, depending on where you live.
They always look great when they’re layered with other pieces. For example, you can do a fitted tee for your base layer, a light cardigan, and then throw a jacket on top, and you’ll look great.
If it’s not freezing outside, you can grab a lightweight cardigan and push the sleeves up for a casual look. Alternatively, you can wear a dress shirt underneath for something professional to wear to work.
They all look great! That’s what’s awesome about cardigans: they can look easy and casual, or quite professional, depending on the occasion.