Every classy man needs a certain amount of staples in their closet. In this article, I’ll list out those certain pieces of clothing that are not only timeless, but can be mixed and matched in endless combinations. Don’t forget, most of these can be purchased at a reasonable price so please don’t go out on a spending spree and blow your life’s savings at an expensive retailer. It’s best to gradually accumulate these as your closet grows.
Oxford Cloth Button Downs (OCBD) – a classy, yet casual staple shirt for any man. They can be both dressed up or dressed down with rolled-up sleeves. They come in many colors, and can be worn with both pants and shorts. I would recommend obtaining the colors white and blue first. Other solid choices are yellow, mint, and pink. It all comes down to what color looks good on you. And please, pick the right fit. I don’t want to see any of you swimming in your shirts.
Sweater – for when the weather gets a bit chilly. V-neck or crewneck style is up to your preference, although I would personally recommend a crewneck. Stick with solid, neutral colors as they’re easier to match with the rest of your outfit.
Blazer/Sport Coat – a nicer way to dress up when the weather cools down. I recommend navy, but charcoal is another great choice.
Polos – when it’s too hot for long sleeves or you just want to dress more casually. A few solid polos with a color that suits you are definite musts. Stay away from large logos and flamboyant designs.
T-Shirts – the most casual “must”. I’d recommend grabbing quite a few of these in various colors to add variety to your closet. Again, stick with colors that suit you. V-neck and crewneck are both fine – the choice is up to your own preference. Tees with pockets add a little variety. For the most part, stay away from graphic tees with intricate and obnoxious designs on them. Tap Out and Affliction shirts are off-limits unless you’re a Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and a grandmaster of Kung Fu. And even then, they’re still off-limits.
Pea Coat – for the exceptionally cold days. Again, navy is a very versatile option, but black and charcoal will do the job just the same. This might not be needed depending on where you live (no need for them in the hot, Southern states).
Chino Pants – the go-to pants for looking classy. The necessary colors are navy, khaki, and stone. Gray is another great choice, but the three previously listed should be priority. Other colors that many suggest to fit with the traditional American prep style are red and yellow. Stick with what you like, what works with your skin color, and what matches the rest of your wardrobe.
Jeans – 1 to 2 pairs is enough. Stick with a slim fit – no yoga tights and no loose, apple-bottom jeans neither. Tapered is also fine, depending on your body shape. Dark washes are the way to go.
Chino Shorts – very casual, but a classic that always looks good. As with both chino pants and jeans, chino shorts can be paired with any of the basic tops listed above (I told you that these items of clothing could all go together, didn’t I?). The bottom of the shorts should end right above your knee, so look for 9” Chino shorts. You can look for even shorter lengths if those still go past your knee. Cargo shorts are a no-no.
Boat Shoes/Loafers – comfortable and fit well with the classic look of the basics. Great for the spring and summer time. Grab a pair in a versatile color such as brown or navy. Stay away from green, red, and other vivid or “special” colors at first.
Desert Boots – look great with jeans and chino pants and much more suitable for the fall/winter time.
Sneakers – a casual low-profile sneaker is a viable alternative to both boat shoes and desert boots whenever you want to loosen it up a bit.
Wristwatch – a nice, good-quality watch will compliment any outfit. Brands on the lower end of the price spectrum that I would recommend are Timex (the Weekender is a great choice), Citizen, Seiko, Nixon, and Orient.
Belt – many suggest that the belt color matches your shoe color, but it’s not required. However, if it’s easy for you to acquire one that does, I’d say go for it.
The different articles of clothing I’ve listed above are the main pieces you’ll need. There’s no rush to collect them all, so gradually acquire the pieces at a rate that won’t put you on the streets.
Keep in mind, fit is very, very important. No matter how nice the clothes are or how expensive it was, if the fit is off, it will look terrible and you won’t have made any progress. Stick with clothes that fit tightly on you, but don’t constrict you. A later article will address clothing fits as well as fitness – I know physique plays a very important role in how clothes looks on you.