Today, I want to go over a highly subjective, albeit common topic in the menswear universe: the essential man’s wardrobe. If you simply do a search on Google, you’ll find that every menswear magazine and blog covers this particular topic in their own way, and while all of the lists can look somewhat similar, you will certainly find some standout differences.
One list will insist that you need a black turtle neck in your closet, while another commands you to go out immediately and purchase a tie bar if you don’t already have one. Some of the more obscure ones will even go as far as to say that items like ascots are fundamental to every man’s wardrobe. I personally think that’s absurd, but hey, different strokes for different folks.
So why are there such discrepancies? Perhaps it’s because one man’s lifestyle is so different from another, that both can’t be satisfied with the same basic wardrobe. While investment bankers on Wall Street need at least a couple suits but not a pair of rugged boots, warehouse workers might just find that the opposite is true for them.
Either way, I hope to provide you at least one more opinion on the subject, based on what I personally think is necessary in any man’s wardrobe. Maybe it works for you, maybe it doesn’t, but I guarantee you that if you have everything in this list, you can be appropriately dressed in all but the rarest of situations.
1. Navy or charcoal suit: I suggest getting a suit that fits snug to your body, with standard notch lapels and 2 buttons.
2. Navy blazer: The best color for a blazer / sport coat. Keep it simple, slim, notch lapel, and 2 button.
3. Grey wool pants: Get yourself a mid-grey pair of 100% wool trousers. Flat-front, semi-break, and slim in cut.
4. Blue jeans: Definitely a dark wash straight fit without any overdone designs or embellishments.
5. Tan chinos: Works as a perfect medium between the grey wool pant and the casual blue jeans. Get them slim, flat-front, and made of 100% cotton.
6. Black oxford dress shoes: A plain or cap-toe black oxford shoe is very important to have in your shoe collection.
7. Brown dress shoes: Mid to dark brown oxford or derby dress shoe. A little broguing is okay, but keep it as plain as possible.
8. Canvas sneakers: A pair of comfortable chucks or vans for the weekend will do.
9. Casual boots: I think it’s good to have at least one pair of casual brown boots, whether they be a chukka, motorcycle, or hiking boot. Versatile, and much more durable than a pair of dress shoes.
10. Leather belts to match shoes: Try to match the color of your belt with the color of your shoes (one black, one brown in this case). A very simple silver buckle will do.
11. White dress shirt and oxford cloth button down: Having a casual and dressy version of the white shirt is definitely essential. Get a poplin/broadcloth/pinpoint dress shirt with a semi-spread collar for those more formal occasions, and the oxford cloth for more casual ones.
12. Light blue dress shirt and oxford cloth button down: Same applies to light blue, as it’s arguably an even more versatile piece than the white shirt.
13. Rain coat: A trench coat, parka, or other type of waterproof coat/jacket is necessary for those who live in places that it rains.
14. Casual jacket: For those days when you aren’t stuck in extremely cold weather, but still need a jacket to protect you from the breeze, get a casual jacket. This can come in many forms, from leather, to fleece, to canvas, to waxed cotton.
15. Wool coat: To keep warm, a wool coat is definitely the best way to go. Topcoats, duffel coats, and pea coats all work just fine, topcoats being the most formal and pea coats being the most casual.
16. Grey V-neck sweater: A grey merino wool or cashmere sweater is a classic piece that will never go out of style.
17. White V-neck T-shirt: I think a man should have at least 4-5 solid white V neck T shirts. They work as undershirts or main shirts. Keep it well fitted, with not too deep of a V.
18. Solid silk necktie: A black, dark grey, or navy necktie should do the trick. Keep it at around 3 inches in width.
19. Shorts: For those living in a warmer climate, shorts are a necessity. Get one that’s trim, hitting a bit above the knee, in khaki, olive, or other earth tone.
20. Wristwatch: One of the only accessories I personally deem as essential. Neutral color face (black, white, silver), on a stainless steel or brown/black leather strap should do the trick just fine.
21. Socks and underwear: Of course these go without saying. For underwear, I like boxer briefs in dark colors, and with socks, make sure you get some greys/blacks that go above the calf.
22. Sunglasses: One of the other accessories on this list that I think are essential. Protects your eyes and also keeps you looking fly.
In many ways, these are the pieces that I think a man should really invest some dollars into. They’ll stand the test of time, and will probably be items you use on a weekly or even daily basis. Focus on the fit being perfect, more than the brand name being cool. Regard quality above most everything, and of course, don’t be afraid to branch out as well! This is one man’s opinion, so take it for what it’s worth. Cheers.