Maybe it’s because it’s a new year, but I think beginning a closet overhaul would serve many of you well. But, before you complain that this sounds expensive, realize that you can reinvent your look by integrating just a few staple pieces. As long as they’re the right pieces. So here’s Miss Wingman’s list of 10 Basics Every Man Should Have In His Closet. Enjoy.
*At least 3 custom suits: I know, I know, custom suiting isn’t cheap. But if it’s not bespoke, at least make sure it fits you exceptionally well. You should own a standout black suit, an equally standout charcoal gray suit, and one other. I recommend navy, but I’ve seen guys pull off brown or light gray well, too. And don’t fall into the boring trap – make sure the third option has something different about it, like a 3-piece, or fine pin stripes.
*A pair of fashion sneakers: Please, please do not confuse athletic sneakers with fashion sneakers. Under no circumstances should you pair your white New Balances that you wear to work out with jeans and a shirt. How do you tell the difference? For starters, fashion sneakers, like these, will cost a hell of a lot more. But throwback Nikes, Supras or brands like Common Projects also look a lot cooler, hence the price tag. Play around with what style suits you best, just please leave the cross trainers at the gym.
*A pair of non-cargo shorts: Are you a kangaroo? No? Then you don’t need that many pockets. Flat-front shorts flatter your, um, figure better (read: don’t make your ass look droopy). Keep the hemline close to the knee – not below – and you should be alright.
*A classic, chunky watch: This one’s very subject to individual taste, but here’s a good rule of thumb: No plastic (you’re not in 3rd grade anymore). The sportier, the better. And stainless bracelet trumps leather strap – unless that’s not your style. Diving watches, nylon straps, chronographs – it all works, so long as it suits your personality. It doesn’t have to be a Rolex Daytona, but every man should eventually own a quality watch.
*A versatile jacket: Sure, this will vary depending on what climate you live in, but you don’t have to rock a down parka or a cashmere overcoat – there’s definitely a happy medium. Surplus styles tend to look handsome on men, as well as waxed cotton field coats, like the one above (J. Crew). And if you’re really feeling baller (like, $800 baller – yikes), the Mackintosh Duncan coat is one of my absolute favorites.
*A fitted dress shirt: Measurements are taken for a reason, boys. Use them. Also, women like the way your chest looks in a dress shirt. It’d be a pity to bury it under all that extra fabric.
*The perfect sports jacket: Solid-colored and well-fitting through the shoulders, all men should own a go-to sports jacket. Pair it with jeans or pants, tees or a button down, if it’s the right cut it’ll work with everything.
*Dark wash jeans: Faded went out with 90s hair metal bands, and ripped are only acceptable if you’re Joey Lawrence (“WHOA!”). Make sure they’re flat-front, dark enough to wear out at night, but casual enough to wear hanging around. No high waters – seriously, dudes need to watch the length of their pants. And please, for the love of God, no embellished pockets.
*Crewneck tees in solid colors: Black, gray, navy, olive, these should all be in your closet. Why? Because you can wear them as base layers or alone. Score.
A man-friendly, functioning carryall: Dispel everything you know about the “murse,” (that’s “man purse” for those worried about the stigma) and stop using your work-issued laptop bag to tote your life. There are options that serve both fashion and function, if you put a little thought into it. Modern briefcases and messenger bags are perfect for the urban guy-on-the-go. Buy quality and it’ll last even longer. Distressed looks cooler anyway.
So that’s the rundown, gentlemen. An exhaustive list, but one that you should all be able to check off item by item. Amassing these pieces over time is allowed, but the sooner you’ve covered your basics, the better. Just remember, being a well-rounded man may be the most important thing, but having a well-rounded closet is a close second.