My articles and videos almost always center around a specific piece of clothing or accessory, so I thought it would be fun to switch it up and talk about 3 head-to-toe foundational outfits every guy needs. Once you have these 3 outfits, you can build an entire wardrobe around them. And here’s the beauty of them: from these 3 outfits, you can switch things in and out to add your own personal touch and truly make them your own.
If you’re thin to average build, you can also wear a white t-shirt. However, if you’re a broader man that’s not in shape, and you decide to take off your jacket, then a white t-shirt will actually spotlight how big you are (and not in a good way). Also, the reason why you want to go with black chukkas is because black is the dominant color in your jacket. I went with leather chukka boots over suede and lace-up boots because the latter options won’t look appropriate for every season.
A bomber is a very stylish, modern alternative to a blazer that works in almost all the same occasions and looks great for every man, regardless if you’re a teenager all the way to a retiree. A younger gentlemen in high school or college, for instance, wouldn’t necessarily need a blazer, so that’s why I’m not recommending it over a blazer. If the occasion does call for a sport coat or blazer, in a pinch, you can use the jacket in my next recommendation and dress it up like I did in the picture below.
I was prepping for a fitting, and I came across these Johnston & Murphy burgundy cap toes that I thought you should know about. I’m not normally a fan of burgundy shoes because I often find the color to be difficult to wear and usually ends up being too much of a statement piece. But, these are different because the darker color is closer to a burgundy brown instead of the more reddish-oxblood color you often see with other “burgundy shoes” and that makes them much easier to wear. So, I had to make them my pick of the week!
The decorative broguing along with the brown soles adds a casual look to them making them easy to wear with your summer suits, like a green or navy cotton suit, or with some chinos or dark wash jeans. Blues, greens, and khaki go great with burgundy. If you’re ever unsure how to wear these, just know that whenever you wear brown dress shoes with a more casual outfit, you can easily wear these instead.
I also want to address the contrasting stitching. On more formal shoes it can be very distracting and pull the attention away from your outfit and really focus it on the shoes. But on a casual dress shoe, such as these, it works because you’re never going to be wearing them with a really formal outfit. So if you’re thinking about doing that, then please don’t.
Like I’ve said before, accessories are a great way to add some fun touches to your outfit and these shoes do exactly that.
These are, to me, the 16 accessories every guy needs to own, regardless of your age, occupation, and lifestyle. Some of these items you may not wear often, but there will be an occasion, as a grown man, when you will need them and you’ll be thankful that you thought far enough ahead to take care of them before it’s too late and you’re scrambling at the last minute. I’ve also included my favorites for each of these items below. But these points below are just skimming the surface compared to the much more through Men’s Essential Accessories Series I did recently.
Like I’ve mentioned before, every man should have at least a grey suit. Even if you only wear it once every year, you’re going to need a suit. Along with that, looking well dressed is always about the details and a white pocket square is an easily overlooked item that really does make a big impact and it’ll only set you back a couple of bucks.
This is another overlooked item. I talked about this in my article about the 12 Things Men Wear That Women Love, but a tie bar is something that adds that special touch to your outfit. It’s also so cheap to own so order it once and you’ll never think about it again.
Get rid of your white socks. These socks can and should be worn as your everyday socks. If you need heavier duty, thicker socks for your job or because of the weather, there are plenty of companies that offer warmer versions.
Whether you’re a sunglass man or not, sunglasses are important because they’re going to protect your eyes from the sun, prevent you from squinting, which creates wrinkles around your eyes, and they can add a stylish, cool touch to your outfit. Check out my sunglasses story so you choose the right frames for your face shape.
We all have those lazy days, myself included, where you just say F it, I’m gonna throw on a hat. When it comes to baseball hats I have very specific opinions about them so I shared some of my recommendations below.
Everyone travels. Whether it’s to some exotic country, or across town, you’ll need to put your clothes in something AND trash bags are not an option. Like every accessory you own, it should not only serve it’s purpose, but look damn good at the same time. I have a whole article about weekender bags you should check out.
This item goes great with your weekender bag. Again, doesn’t matter if you’re traveling to another city or to the gym, a dopp kitt is essential because it’ll keep your grooming products organized and contained in a respectable manner.
Everyone has casual days, and white sneakers look so sharp on every guy regardless of your age or body type. If you’re really scared of wearing white, or think that it doesn’t look right, ease yourself into it with a nice low top lace-up black or navy sneaker.
These are the top 4 men’s shoes for Spring that I really love. You’re probably not going to wear these with your Fall and Winter wardrobe, so it’s time to pull these shoes out of your closet and let them shine! Footwear is a great way to inject new life in your existing wardrobe, and these 4 shoes will make a stylish statement during Spring and Summer.
Here are my top 4 favorite shoes for Spring:
4. Suede Double Monk Straps
I included these in my Top 10 Essential Items for Spring as well. Suede Monkstraps, whether you get a dark brown, grey, or navy pair, can just take an outfit to another level. It’s such a stylish touch to any outfit and can be worn with a suit, chinos, or jeans. Make sure to Scotch Guard them before you wear them for the first time – always gotta protect your suede items!
I absolutely love penny loafers. They look so good when worn with no-show socks and a little bit of ankle exposed. Whether you cuff your jeans or chinos, or hem your pants so there’s no break or a little ankle showing. A leather loafer looks so chic and luxurious. I love Ferragamo’s loafers (I got a pair for my fiancé Dorian 2 or 3 years ago) and they’re totally worth the price because they definitely hold up and still look great after years and years of wear.
Think of them as the middle ground between sneakers and penny loafers. They’re just as comfortable as sneakers, yet dressier like a penny loafer. I also included these in my Men’s Summer Essentials ebook because they work during the warmer months in general.
My hands down, favorite suede driving shoe is from Tod’s. Everything about that shoe – construction, design, and color choice – is so damn sexy and incredible. It’s worth every penny, and there is no close second for me.
Henley shirts are one of the few items that, to me, don’t really have a specific season they’re best worn in because there’s so many different versions for men. Other shirts, like T-Shirts, Polo Shirts and DressShirts don’t really have this problem since they’re pretty standard across the board no matter the season.
I love henleys, because they look sexy and masculine, especially when the top 1 or 2 buttons are undone to draw the eyes to your chest and shoulders to show off your physique in a flattering way. Hence, the image below.
BUT, and this is a big mistake I see a lot of men making – they’re not for every everyone. More on that shortly.
Let’s get into what to look for in your henleys based on the time of year.
Generally, henleys will be made out of cotton, so there’s really not much choice outside of that, but you still need to consider fabric weights depending on the time of year. The main thing to know is that lighter weights should be worn in warmer months or in warmer climates and thicker, heavier fabrics in cooler months or climates. You can get them in everything from a lightweight summer weave, where it feels like a t-shirt, to thicker, quilted versions which will keep you warm during the cooler months.
You don’t have to worry too much when buying them because, based on the time of year, the brands will carry the appropriate weights. But I still want you to be aware of it just in case.
Like all your clothing, including henleys, they should have a trim fit throughout the body and arms – no matter your body type. You never want it too loose anywhere because that’s when you’ll look sloppy and not put together. You shouldn’t be able to pinch more than 1-2 inches of fabric on one side of your stomach and no more than an inch around the bicep.
The image below highlights the proper fit around the torso and sleeves.
I mentioned earlier that henleys aren’t for everyone, so let’s get into that right now since we’re talking about fit.
For Thin Gentleman
If you’re a thin guy, no matter your height, if you want to wear a henley, you absolutely need to nail the fit, especially if you’re going to wear a long sleeve version. If the fit is too loose, it’ll make you look thinner and more frail than you are – not good!
I only like long sleeve henleys on thinner men if they’re layered underneath a jacket, like the below right image. When worn on their own, it really spotlights and elongates your thinner torso, like image on the left. So if you’re a thinner guy and want to wear a henley on its own, then wear a short sleeve version since it’ll look similar to your t-shirts.
If you’re a rotund gentleman (aka you’re not in the greatest shape and have a belly), you cannot wear a henley shirt, period. Allow me to show you why and explain. See exhibit A:
Because of the button placket on the front, coupled with the lack of a collar, a henley will shine a massive spotlight on your bigger neck and torso. This is when a polo shirt is perfect and should be used instead, because a polo shirt’s collar will visually keep your torso balanced and in proportion, so your top half doesn’t look so big compared to your bottom half. The image below of James Corden shows a guy with the exact same body type as the image above, but in a polo shirt. Talk about a night and day difference…
Best Ways To Wear A Henley Shirt
Think of your short sleeve henley as a t-shirt, they’re interchangeable in the same outfits, so that means they can be worn on their own or underneath a jacket.
For a long sleeve, you would normally wear these during the cooler months as a layering piece, so I styled Dorian in a long sleeve henley shirt underneath a bomber jacket, dark wash jeans, and sneakers.
There’s only a few weeks of Winter left, so pretty soon we’re all going to have to start thinking about transitioning to our Spring wardrobe. So in addition to your year-round Men’s Essential staples that are already in your closet, Jordan O’Brien from The Gentlemans Cove and I each came up with a list of 10 Spring Essentials that every man should own.
My Top 10 Men’s Spring Essentials
1. Lightweight, Spring Suit
Whether you go with a linen, cotton, seersucker, or lightweight wool suit, these options will make a statement and keep you cool throughout the Spring and Summer months.
These lightweight blazers are perfect for casual Fridays at work or heading to lunch or dinner with friends. They’re a great way to insert a stylish statement while keeping cool. Linen will wrinkle a bit, but that’s part of its character so embrace it.
I love gingham shirts for the Spring because they can be worn dressed up with a suit or blazer or dressed down on their own or underneath a sweater. I included some great lavender, navy, and light grey gingham options below.
There’s no other brand that I love more than The Tie Bar. The quality, construction, and color/pattern choice can’t be beat by any other brand. Like I’ve always said, they’re not paying me to say this.
Polo shirts instantly make an outfit look more put together and Spring is the perfect time to start wearing them. I like John Varvatos, but be careful if you’re not in shape or have erect nipples because their silkier shirts will highlight these areas. The fit on Theory and Fred Perry polos is excellent and H&M is my go-to when I’m more price-conscious. You’ll need to replace those roughly every 8 weeks though due to fading.
Not only do short sleeve button-up shirts look stylish, but every man (regardless of age or body type) can wear these. There’s currently so many great options from J.Crew and come March/April, Topman will have an equally great selection.
I’ve maintained in some of my other videos and articles that you should save your suede for Spring. Well, it’s time to break out those items. I love the options below – you can choose from navy, light grey, and brown suede jackets. The A.P.C. jacket is a BIFL piece and will never go out of style.
Finally we’re entering ankle season, which means penny loafers can finally be worn. I love Ferragamo’s loafers (I got a pair for my fiance Dorian 2 or 3 years ago) and they’re totally worth the price because they definitely hold up and still look great after years and years of wear.
Suede monkstraps, whether you get a dark brown, grey, or navy pair, can just take an outfit to another level. It’s such a stylish touch to any outfit and can be worn with a suit, chinos, or jeans. Make sure to Scotch Guard them before you wear them for the first time – always gotta protect your suede items!
Chinos should only be worn in Spring, Summer, and early Fall and that’s it. They’re a great alternative for those days when you don’t feel like wearing jeans and when you want to just feel cool and comfortable.
Whether you need some extra sun protection or want to look stylish while staying cool, straw hats are super breathable and lightweight. Every year I get J.Crew’s panama hat, but it only lasts the season before it starts to fall apart. I’m currently eyeing Loro Piana, Brooks Brothers and Stetson’s hats because I know I can count on the quality and construction.
I like long sleeve henleys when they’re worn as a layering piece, so underneath a casual button down shirt paired with some dark wash jeans and boots or sneakers. If you’re a slim or wider gentleman, I highly advise against wearing henleys on their own because they emphasize your body size even more (and not in a good way).
If you’re new to wearing denim jackets, I suggest going with a black or dark grey version because it’ll be a lot easier to wear, especially if you wear jeans a lot because you don’t want to look like you’re wearing a Canadian tuxedo.
I came across this image that I thought would be a perfect Spring & Summer men’s suede jacket outfit because it’s a great, casual everyday outfit that you can wear when you’re going out with friends or if you work in a casual work environment. It has the added benefit of being able to be dressed slightly up or down as well as layered depending on the weather.
A suede jacket is perfect for Spring and Summer and will look great on every guy, regardless of age or body type. But if you’re not into suede, or like other styles, look no further than the Harrington jacket or a wool bomber jacket.
Let’s talk about my favorite and what I consider the best men’s dress shoes for Fall and Winter – Monk straps, Brogues, and Wingtips.
Quick note: Wingtips are technically Brogues, so I’ll be lumping them together throughout this article. Just know when I refer to Brogues that I also mean Wingtips.
I prefer these during the cooler parts of the year because they go much better with the heavier wool and cotton items you wear in your Fall and Winter outfits. Don’t get me wrong, they also work year-round, but I think there’s better options out there for the other parts of the year. Check out my Summer Essentials Ebook and Wardrobe Essentials Series for details about those options.
Below are the things I look for in a good pair of Monk Straps or Brogues.
As I said in my Fall/Winter boots story, I love a good calf skin. Don’t get me wrong, I love a suede monk strap or brogue, as well, but if you live in an area with snow or rain, you’ll regret the day you wear them outside. So let’s wait to get into those until Spring or Summer.
I will say this about dress shoes until the day I die, but you want a nice, slim profile with a rounded toe box. Ain’t nobody got time for square or large, bulky toe boxes! – See the video near the top of the article if you’re unsure about what they look like.
As for colors, I love a nice dark chocolaty brown, or even a medium brown, like a walnut. Black is also good, but the first color I’d get is brown because it goes better with all the Fall colors in your wardrobe. All these colors are represented in my suggestions at the bottom of this article.
If you live somewhere with a bit of rain, ice or snow, then you can and should definitely have these with Dainite or rubber inset soles for added traction. If you don’t live in that kind of climate, then a regular leather bottom that you’ll find on 99% of dress shoes is perfectly acceptable, but I’d probably look for a Dainite or rubber insert sole as my default. There’s also lugged soles, which are pretty popular right now (and I included some in my selects below), but I have a feeling they won’t be around for the long haul. They’ve already come and gone with fashion a few times in my lifetime. When it comes to Fall/Winter boots, though, I love me a lugged sole.
MONK STRAP SPECIFICS
I prefer a double buckle because a single buckle looks less refined. (Example in the video at the top).
If you get black Monk Straps, make sure the buckle is silver, because gold or brass tends to look gaudy, but is perfectly fine on brown monks (examples in the video).
Also, please make sure the buckles are on the smaller side as opposed to some big ass buckles you’ll find on a colonial gentleman.
As for medallion toes and other flourishes, I like all of them, so check out my recommendations below.
These, to me, are the quintessential Brogue. If you’ve seen my other dress shoe article then you know my love of Allen Edmonds. They make amazing products with great value – and they don’t pay me to say that. I’m just a huge fan.
I love this color and the Dainite soles. They’re just perfection.
These hit all the points I look for in a double monk – the beautiful chocolaty brown with the matching soles, the silver hardware and the rubber tread inset for added traction. On top of that, they’re a GREAT price and my clients always comment about how comfortable they are. My other favorites are the Allen Edmonds Monks below, if you’re looking for something higher quality.