Avoid common mistakes, have a multifunctional wardrobe without breaking the bank….and look good without making an effort. This is your guide to wardrobe basics.
For most guys shopping is a chore that has to be dealt with, a hated ritual and for some a frightening experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Fashion aside, the majority of your wardrobe should consist of basics. WHAT did you say? Yeah I know, controversial huh.
Let’s look at it a little bit closer starting with seasonal fashion. The issue with that is that a particular cut for a short or pants might be in fashion right now, but by next season you look like you’re stuck in the dark ages. Same goes for colours, that fuchsia coloured tee you love to wear screams 2010.
Brand Name Prints
Unless you’re a 12-16 year old boy, big brand prints are a no-go zone. Period. It doesn’t make you look more interesting or appealing. It actually looks like overreaching and desperate for attention – “Oh look at me, can’t you all see I’m wearing Gucci?” Yes we do, and we’re all trying to ignore you and rolling our eyes.
Size & Fit
Unless you’re a gangster rapper, buy some jeans that actually fit you and don’t look like a sack made out of jeans material. The same goes for those oversized shirts that look like dresses. The opposite end is just as bad. Guys with larger thighs and handles for loving at the waste….please stop wearing skinny jeans. We all beg you. Just don’t.
Dress Your Age & Size
When it comes to clothing there are two things that always play in the back of my mind:
- Just because it is fashion doesn’t mean you should wear it
- Just because it comes in your size doesn’t mean it looks good on you
I’ll give you a minute to think about what that means to you and to do a bit of soul and outfit searching if this rings true……
…..Alright, lets get into the basics you should consider when making wardrobe choices. I’ve stuck to some really basic items that fit pretty much any body type and age, but as always you have to feel comfortable in your clothes. If you’re comfortable and feel good, you show that in your demeanour.
The basic tee (t-shirt) should be a stable in your wardrobe. Avoid loud and flashy colours, big prints, etc. Stick to colours such as black, navy, light grey and white. I’ll make an exception for vintage t-shirts.
For the neckline I’d suggest a relaxed round neck or v-neck. Always try on basic tees, you want to make sure its not too long, too short or baggy. Remember, if you look like a rapper in a bad video clip…too long and baggy. Simple.
T-shirts by Industrie Clothing.
The chino, perfect for any occasion. However, be careful to make sure you get the right fit. Otherwise you end up looking like a dad, and not in a good way. Go for tapered or slim fitting chinos. Make sure they fall relaxed on top of your shoes and not bundle up at the bottom. You almost want no folding at the bottom. You can wear them as normal with dress shoes for work or turn the bottom up twice with some nice high tops for a more casual look on the weekend.
In terms of colours, again stick to simple colours like navy, black and a light colour like beige. Avoid loud and fashion colours (think of yellow, bright green, light blue, purple…you get the picture)
Chinos by G-Star Raw.
Those overly baggy jeans that look like a sack should be put in a sack and thrown out with the next trash collection. Your body has a shape and it is allowed to be seen. I’ve mentioned it earlier, but its worth repeating…choose jeans suitable for you body.
If you like a slimmer look, go for some tapered jeans since they have that look, but give you some room around the things. For a more work suitable pair of jeans try a regular fit. If the slim fit jeans you are trying on make you look like an anaconda that swallowed a buffalo, take them off and give them back to the sales assistant.
Be careful with washes and treatments as some age faster than others from a fashionability point of view. White jeans for guys is dicey territory and I’d stay away from it. Stick to a black pair, medium aged wash, standard blue stone wash and maybe a light blue stone wash.
There are some great brands out there that offer a variety of colours, styles and washes, but unless you go and try them on you won’t know. Take a friend with you who is brutally honest and doesn’t care about your feelings. You’ll thank them later when you look amazing in that selfie.
Shoes really do make the outfit and can break them just the same. Good shoes can be expensive, I agree, but you want to invest in quality shoes. They last longer, are generally of better design and higher quality materials.
I’m a bit of a shoes/sneaker collector (trust me, not as bad as some people I know), but you don’t have to have 25 pairs of shoes.
It’s really simple, have 4 pairs. Get dress shoes in black as well as tan, invest in some boots and finally some casual shoes. Boat shoes and loafers are a pet hate so I won’t get into those and I will judge you accordingly if I see you in them.
Leather upper and sole for dress shoes are a must, avoid rubber soles. It breaks and outfit. Good quality boots can last you years and are worth the investment. Casual shoes can be cheaper and more seasonal.
Whatever you do, take care of your shoes. Nothing worse than scuffed and unpolished shoes….or white leather shoes. Those should be burned.
I’m a big fan of sneakers and just like my love for t-shirts they’ve become part of my personality. I even wear sneakers and shirts to the office. Just have to make sure you have the right selection. There’s a distinction between athletic shoes and sneakers, especially when we look at basics for your every day wardrobe.
Personally, I have several Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II Hightops. Incredibly versatile – they go with jeans, chinos and can even pass for a more dressed up occasion if you throw on a blazer over your t-shirt. This is where I also inject colours into the wardrobe – strong reds, blues, greens, etc.
My other choices are the comeback kid, the Adidas Superstar in white with black stripes and the New Balance 574 in black. Classic shoes, great quality, very versatile and also come in a large variety of colours.
The finishing touch for your basics wardrobe is the blazer or jacket. Choose a linen or cotton material for summer and a thicker material like wool or wool blends for winter.
Like jeans, the blazer should fit your shape. Go for a structured version that fits correctly around the shoulders, you can do at least the top bottom up and still be able to breath and you can move your arms without ripping the back of the jacket out.
Colours to match your chinos should be taken into account, so go for a navy, light grey and beige/sand colour. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a tweed.
The blazer can easily make a casual outfit look more dressed up. The outfits in the image above show that you don’t have to wear a suit to look dressed up and professional.
Take care of your wardrobe & appearance
No matter how carefully you’ve selected your clothing items there are a few rules to follow to keep them and you looking great:
- Separate your clothing when you wash them. The basics I’ve mentioned can pretty much all go into the same wash – blacks, blues and greys.
- Only wash your clothes with detergent for black clothes. Doesn’t matter if you’re washing colours – this detergent doesn’t have bleach in it and doesn’t leave your clothes with a white glow after a few washes
- Don’t wash your clothes over 40°C – ever. Preferably on a lower setting
- Read the label in your clothes and stick to the manufacturers recommendation. If it says ‘hand wash only’ then it is hand wash only, unless you want your XL shirt to become a medium.
- Ironing. I hear a collective sigh going up. There’s nothing worse than seeing a guy with a beautiful shirt who look like he just wrestled his way through the crowds. Make sure you iron shirts, t-shirts and chinos before you wear them. Always iron inside out!
- Saying goodbye. I go by the rule that if a shirt looks like it should go in the bin, it should already have been binned. Especially when they loose shape, colour or holes begin to form. Bye!
Whatever you do, have fun with it and be comfortable in the clothes you wear. After all, for the better part of our lives we are dressed. May as well look good and feel good!
Don’t miss out on our guide to Accessories Basics.