Wool Pants And Trousers

Wool pants and trousers are an essential item because they’re the middle ground between jeans/chinos and a full suit. In situations when jeans or chinos might be a bit too informal and a suit is overkill, the wool pant/trouser fits this spot perfectly. They’re also amazing because they look damn good on every body type.

I want to clear the air about something first, because it’s important for you to know this:

The category of wool trousers is quite broad and basically includes any pants that are made of wool. This means trousers made of a more lightweight fabric, like suit pants, and the traditional, heavier-weight wool trouser are all considered “wool trousers.” If you want to get technical, I’m specifically meaning a wool fabric weight of anywhere from about 10-12oz and up.

When I say wool trousers from this point forward, I only mean the thick/heavier-weight wool trousers because the lightweight fabrics, like suit pants, look flimsy and unpolished when worn with items outside of a suit jacket. The thicker weight of the wool trousers I recommend below will not wrinkle as easily, lay cleaner on the legs and look great with everything from a sweater or overcoat/peacoat and semi-spread collared shirt (oxford button down dress shirt, too) to a leather jacket and t-shirt. Basically anything in your essential wardrobe will look great with the recommended wool trousers.

Some of my older readers often ask about “slacks” or “suit trousers” and my answer is always the same: don’t bother. You should never be wearing slacks or suit pants or similar without a full suit. Its flimsy looking, tacky and the mark of a guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

To Pleat or Not To Pleat

I don’t care how old or young you are or what your body type is – whether you’re thin or a larger guy, you should NEVER, EVER have pleated wool pants. Honestly, I f*#@%ing hate them because they’re so unnecessary and are unflattering on every guy. I’ll be the first to dance on their grave if they ever completely go away. I’ve never seen a guy look good while wearing them – ever.

What Colors Should You Get?

I’d recommend having at least two pairs of wool pants in your wardrobe. My first choice would be gray, then dark blue, and then brown, if blue or gray wasn’t available. Black is OK, but I’d consider that my last option, if I were you. It’s just too heavy of a fabric to wear black in, as it’ll look more imposing.

How Should Men’s Wool Trousers Fit?

See my How Should Dress Pants and Wool Trousers fit article.

The Best Wool Pants And Trousers For Men

Designer Options

Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Stretch Wool Trousers

Burberry Slim Fit Travel Tailoring Wool Trousers 

Ermenegildo Zegna Flat-Front Black Wool Trousers 

Budget-Friendly Options

Topman Navy Skinny Fit Wool Suit Pants

H&M Wool Suit Pants Skinny Fit

Uniqlo Men Stretch Wool Slim Fit Flat Front Pants 

2 Ways To Wear Wool Pants And Trousers

Wool-Trousers-Pants-Outfit-2-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Topman Premium Dark Grey Ribbed Slim Fit Sweater 

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece White Solid Oxford Sport Shirt

Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Stretch Wool Trousers

Allen Edmonds Poplar Belt 

Baume & Mercier CLIFTON – 10112

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain Toe Oxfords

Wool-Trousers-Pants-Outfit-1-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Brooks Brothers Saxxon Wool Herringbone Chesterfield

Brooks Brothers Cashmere Turtleneck 

Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Stretch Wool Trousers

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain Toe Oxfords

B&M – clifton automatic

Wool Pants and Trousers Outfit Inspiration

Credits

Photography: Justiin Charles
Model: Joseph Boyd at Wilhelmina Models
Hair/Makeup: Brendan Robertson for Exclusive Artists Management using Clarins Skincare and Kevin Murphy Hair Care

How Should A Sweater Fit?

A lot of my clients ask me how should a sweater fit, so I figured it was time to write down my typical answer so you can understand this, as well. These fit rules apply to any sweater, but I’ll use a v-neck sweater in my images below to demonstrate how a sweater should fit on a guy.

A quick note before we begin: Most sweaters are made of cotton, wool, cashmere or blends with other fabrics. This is a problem for tailors because the fabrics are fragile, which makes them very hard to work with, so you should find a sweater that fits you perfectly off the rack, as it’ll be very difficult, if not impossible, for a tailor to fix a majority of sweaters. The only exception are cotton crew necks. Those can easily be tailored.

What do I wear under a V-Neck Sweater or Crew New When Trying On?

It’s important you’re wearing the proper shirts when trying on your sweater so you can get the proper fit.

V-Neck Sweater

When you’re trying on a V-Neck sweater, you should only be wearing a Dress Shirt or Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt because these are the only two shirts that you should ever wear under a v-neck sweater. That means no t-shirts, polo shirts or any other kind of shirt. Just a collared shirt.

Crew Neck Sweater

When trying on a crew neck sweater, you should only be wearing a t-shirt or v-neck shirt because that’s all that should be worn under a crew neck. You might be able to get away with a collared shirt, but it’s not my preference to wear them with crew necks because it usually looks pretty bad.

What a Sweater Looks Like When its Too Small/Tight

I want you to see what a sweater looks like when it’s too small. See the points below for details.

How Should A Sweater Fit TooSmall

  1. Shoulders – If he pulled the sweater shoulder up so his shirt collar was tucked under the sweater collar, the seams would be sitting on top of his shoulders, which means its way too small. You can kind of see the seam sitting way too high on his shoulder on his bent arm side.
  2. Arm Hole – Way too tight, you can see it bunching underneath his armpit. I guarantee it’s incredibly uncomfortable.
  3. Neck/Collar – If he pulled the sweater so the collar was touching his shirt’s collar, the “v” of the neck would go down past the top of his armpits.
  4. Sleeve Length – The sleeves are way too short, which is why he has them pulled up on his forearms in this picture. I know this because (See the next point)
  5. Body Length – The body length is about 2 inches too short. At the shortest point, a sweater should hit past the bottom of your belt buckle.

What a Sweater Looks Like When Its Too Big

How Should A Sweater Fit Too Big

  1. Shoulders – The seams are way past where his shoulder starts sloping down and are just resting on the upper part of his arms – not good.
  2. Arm Hole – Way too big, so it’s making his chest look super wide and baggy with all that extra fabric around the chest area.
  3. Neck/Collar – You can tell it’s too large because you can see his shirt on the sides of his collar. If he pulled the sweater forward, so the “v” rests better against his shirt collar, the “v” would go past the top of his armpits.
  4. Sleeves – They’re hard to see because his hands are in his pockets, but with everything else not fitting properly, I’m sure the sleeves are way too long and not ending at the bend of his wrist. Also, they’re way too big and baggy, which just look floppy and wrinkled in odd places.
  5. Body Fit and Length – I bet if he pulled his hands out of his pockets, the sweater would be way too long and go past the 2 inch mark below his belt buckle. As you can see, there’s excess fabric on both sides of his torso because the sweater is just to big.

How long should a sweater be?

A sweater should end somewhere between just past your belt buckle and no more than 2 inches past that. In a lot of my other fit guides, I usually differentiate the length based on your height, but for a sweater it doesn’t matter. It should hit between those two points for everyone. This goes for all sweaters.

how should a sweater fit[et_bloom_inline optin_id=”optin=19″]

Sleeves

Length

While wearing the sweater – when you bend your wrist, so your palms are facing the ground, the sleeves should end where your wrist ends. So where the white shirt cuff stops in my picture below. A sweater’s sleeves shouldn’t be totally smooth and ripple-free – if it is, that usually means it’s too small. It’s impossible for a sweater to fit like that, so don’t bother trying. Just make sure it ends at the bend of the wrist and not before or after.

Sleeve-Length-Ashely-Weston-How-Your-Suit-Should-Fit

Fit

The sleeves should fit close to your arm, but not so tight that you can see your muscles or the ripples of the shirt underneath (like the sweater that’s too tight above) or so loose that it’s floppy and folding on itself. The model I used was very muscular, but you can’t see his biceps well-defined, or the folds of his collared shirt under the sleeves.

Quick tip: If you’re wearing a v-neck sweater, lightly tug on the sweater sleeve so your dress shirt cuff is sticking out about 1/4″. It’ll have a little bunching near the wrist, that’s fine. As you can see in my picture below, it still looks great.

V-neck-sweater-header-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Shoulders

Like with all your garments in the Essential Series, you want the shoulder seams to hit just where your shoulders start to slope down into your arms. I call this “the natural end of your shoulder”. See the picture below for what I’m talking about – the seam hits perfectly at the point where the shoulder turns into the upper arm.

how should a sweater fit

Body

For any sweater, you want to be able to pinch no more than 2 inches of fabric on either side of your lower rib cage. You also don’t want to be able to pinch any less than 1 inch of fabric, as that’s way too tight. You want it to lightly hug your torso, but not be so loose or tight. This goes for ALL BODY TYPES. I know some of my larger clients fight me on this, but they always come around when they see how much better and fitted it looks. A little rippling in a sweater will always happen, so it’s unavoidable.

Collar

This only applies to v-necks, as crew neck sweaters are all pretty universal. You want the bottom of the “v” to be no lower than the top of your armpits.

Neck Opening

The opening of the v-neck should be just wide enough so that you can tuck your collar tips and they stay in place – like the image above. A wider opening than that would look terrible, as it’ll show too much shirt on the outside of the collar like the image of the too big sweater. For crew necks, they’re a pretty standard size – they shouldn’t be stretched out or show any shirt underneath.

Armholes

They shouldn’t be so high that they’re cutting into your armpits like in my “too small” image or so big and low that it looks like a bunch of excess fabric is around your chest like in my “too big” image near the top of this story.

The Best Sweaters Every Man Should Own

See my V-Neck Sweater Essential Article for my favorite sweaters that every man should own.

Credits

Photography: Justiin Charles
Model: Joseph Boyd at Wilhelmina Models
Hair/Makeup: Brendan Robertson for Exclusive Artists Management using Clarins Skincare and Kevin Murphy Hair Care

The V-Neck Sweater

The V-Neck Sweater is an essential because you’re going to need warm layering pieces for the cooler parts of the year and it allows you to mix and match your Essential Wardrobe a little better by layering it with a blazer or suit, over an oxford or semi-spread collar dress shirt and paired with simple dark wash jeans or wool trousers and a white sneaker, boots or oxford dress shoes. So how could I leave it off this list?

Why a V-Neck and Not a Crew Neck?

Crewnecks are okay, but they’re a more casual item. So for this reason, a V-Neck sweater is essential because it’s the classy mofo of the sweater world. V-necks add a touch of dressy formality that you just won’t get with a crewneck.

I love crewnecks, don’t get me wrong, but most guys don’t know how to wear them so then it starts looking really sloppy. I know some guys like the crew neck and tie or suit look, but I would choose a v-neck or cardigan sweater over a crewneck in this case almost every time.

V-Neck Sweater Do’s and Dont’s

Do

Don’t

  • Wear them with a dress shirt and have the collar resting on top of the “v”
  • Wear them with shorts
  • Wear them over Polo Shirts (ever)
  • Wear them over T-Shirts (ever)
  • Wear them without any shirt underneath – gross!
  • Wear them if they have any holes, pilling or they’re worn thin around the elbows

Fabrics

I prefer the V-Neck Sweaters I work with to be made of wool, – either regular or merino wool. Cashmere is also a great fabric, but it’s definitely on the pricier side. If you run a little warmer, then go for a wool/silk or cotton-blended sweater – Pima cotton is also great, but it stretches out very easily.

Colors

You need at least 1 black V-Neck Sweater in your closet. If you’ve got a black one already, grab a navy and/or charcoal gray version. These colors will go with everything else in your Essential Wardrobe. If you want a 3rd option, then a darker brown will also go pretty well with your wardrobe, too.

How Should a V-Neck Sweater Fit on a guy?

Check out my V-Neck Sweater fit guide for how (all) your sweater(s) should fit.

The Best Men’s V-Neck Sweaters

Designer Options

I love these because the fit, fabric weight, and overall construction is impeccable and I’ve worked with these brands many, many times.

Ermenegildo Zegna Black V-Neck Sweater

J.Lindeberg Black V-Neck Sweater

Burberry Navy V-Neck Sweater

Brooks Brothers Navy Saxxon V-Neck Sweater

Vince Navy V-Neck Sweater

Budget-Friendly Options

I love each one of these v-neck sweaters, especially the H&M and Life After Denim sweaters. Even though they’re budget-friendly, the quality, fabric weight, and overall fit is really good.

J.Crew Black Wool V-Neck Sweater

Life After Denim Charcoal Tournament V-Neck Sweater

H&M Dark Blue Wool V-Neck Sweater

H&M Gray Wool V-Neck Sweater

2 Ways to Wear A V-Neck Sweater

V-neck-sweater-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

J Crew Rugged Cotton V-Neck Sweater 

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Heathered Gingham French Cuff Dress Shirt

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Plain-Front Flannel Trousers

The Tie Bar Black Grenafaux tie

Allen Edmonds Wide Basic Dress Belt

Johnston & Murphy Fielden Cap-Toe 

V-neck-sweater-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-3

Brooks Brothers Navy Saxxon V-Neck Sweater

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Gingham Sport Shirt

J Brand Tyler Fit Jeans Tumble

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Baume & Mercier -clifton-automatic

Men’s V-Neck Sweater Outfit Inspiration

Credits

Photography: Justiin Charles
Model: Joseph Boyd at Wilhelmina Models
Hair/Makeup: Brendan Robertson for Exclusive Artists Management using Clarins Skincare and Kevin Murphy Hair Care

The Navy Blazer

The Navy Blazer or Sport Coat or Sports Jacket, whatever you want to call it (we’ll go with Blazer from here on out), is an essential because it’s the very definition of business or dressy casual. It pairs incredibly well with dark wash jeans, oxford or semi-spread collar dress shirtsOxford dress shoes and almost any other mix of dressy or casual wear in your Essential Wardrobe.

NOTE: A Navy Blazer looks horrible with a pair of tan chinos/khakis. This is the quintessential older, out-of-touch-guy-who-wants-to-dress-up uniform. Just. don’t – Ever.

Blazer vs Sport Coat

I see some resources online talking about how a Blazer is different from a Sport Coat/Sports Jacket and honestly, in all my years in the industry, the term is used so interchangeably that it doesn’t matter. They’re basically the same garment. If I have a hard time telling the difference, you’ll have an even harder time, so I say don’t worry about it and call it whatever you want.

Blazer vs Suit Jacket

The differences between a Blazer and Suit Jacket are constantly debated. A lot of sources say they’re the same, others say they’re different, but allow me to flex my teeny tiny muscles a bit, as I deal with these items day in and day out.

First and foremost, they’re not the same. A Blazer is made of thicker fabric so it pairs better with other clothing items of different weights, like jeans, for example. A Suit Jacket is made of lighter material and should only be worn as part of a suit.

You may not notice, but fabric weights can influence whether an outfit looks off or not. Blazers are not made of the same weight of fabric that a Suit Jacket is.

If you have a chance, go somewhere that requires a jacket be worn – like a business casual event or restaurant that requires a dinner jacket be worn – and I guarantee you’ll see some guys wearing suit jackets with jeans or khakis. I’m sorry to call them out, but older gentleman are the worst offenders here.

I want you to notice how it just looks… weird. The jacket fabric seems a little too “thin” and “flowy” compared to the pants because it’s too light of a fabric to go with a heavier fabric like denim or khaki. They don’t lay or move the same, so it looks weird.

The problem is that most guys see pictures of other guys wearing suit jackets with denim pants and think it looks great, which it does – in pictures. In person it looks bad due to the differing fabric weights. So trust me on this one – you need separate Blazers and Suit Jackets.

How To Tell A Blazer From A Suit Jacket

Here’s my patented 4-Step process to tell if a jacket is a Blazer or a Suit Jacket:

  1. If the buttons on the sleeves and torso are metal of any kind – that’s a Blazer.
  2. If it has matching pants – that’s a Suit Jacket.
  3. If the jacket is thinner or more delicate feeling – that’s a Suit Jacket.
  4. If it’s heavier, thicker or sturdier feeling – that’s a Blazer.

Fabric

I recommend you go with a heavier, textured wool fabric because its robust and you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this type of blazer. I like a fabric weight of between 8 to 10 ounces, depending on your climate (hotter climates, I like around 6 ounces). If you go heavier than my recommendations, then you’re getting into Fall/Winter territory and the lighter weight fabric would wrinkle pretty badly. This weight also looks best with the other items a blazer is typically worn with – jeans, wool pants, sweaters, etc. – basically everything else in your Essential Wardrobe. Lighter fabrics have very slim use cases and are a pain in the butt to maintain that they’re usually not worth the hassle.

The Best Colors for A Blazer or Sport Coat

If you read the title, you know I’m going to say navy :). The reason is because it will go with everything else in my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials list. If you already own a navy Blazer – great job! – then go with a Charcoal or Charcoal Herringbone pattern.

Vent Type

Ideally, you’ll want to go with a double vent. This style of vent has been around for quite a while and is flattering on every body type. With that being said, a single vent is not a poor choice, but it’s definitely second in my book. Just make sure that, no matter what, you never go with a blazer without a vent – it’s a horrible look.

How Should a Blazer or Sport Coat Fit?

Check out my Blazer/Sport Coat Fit Guide for details.

The Best Blazers or Sport Coats for men

Designer Option

I chose these blazers because they’re not only well-constructed, but they’re also made of a nice, textured fabric that has the perfect amount of weight to them. Each of these blazers has the 2-button, notch-lapel features that I love and that work on all body types. The navy Brooks Brothers blazer is only offered with gold buttons online, but they do have non-gold button options available in their stores. Stick with their Milano or Fitzgerald lines as they offer the most tailored fits. Ermenegildo Zegna and Z Zegna make incredible blazers that always makes me stop and touch them whenever I’m at the store pulling clothes for a client. Burberry is fantastic for slimmer men that are 5’10” and above.

Brooks Brothers Charcoal Milano Fit Herringbone Blazer

Brooks Brothers Navy Fitzgerald Fit Two-Button Blazer

Burberry Gray Slim Fit Travel Tailoring Jacket

Emporio Armani Navy Jacket in Textured Wool

Ralph Lauren Purple Label Navy Nigel Wool-Cashmere Blazer 

Zegna Gray Cashmere Blazer

Z Zegna Navy Drop 8 Two-Button Blazer 

Budget-Friendly Option

These are my go-to for blazers that look great, sport all the features I want to see on a blazer, and hit a more affordable price poin. J.Crew offers wool blazers for an extremely affordable price and their Ludlow line has a tailored fit that is fantastic and offered in a range of sizes, from Short to Regular to Tall. If you’re a slim to regular build, I love Topman because their cuts are the best! The material is usually a polyester-wool blend so it’s not the best, but it’ll get the job done and still look fantastic.

H&M Navy Blazer

J.Crew Navy Ludlow Legacy Blazer

J.Crew Grey/Navy Windowpane Ludlow Blazer

Topman Blue Slim Fit Jersey Blazer

Zara Navy Basic Blazer 

Topman Blue Wool Blend Skinny Fit Blazer

2 Best Ways To Wear a Blazer

Navy-Blazer-Sport-Coat-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Two-Button Blazer

Tommy Hilfiger Mens Twill Dress Shirt

J Brand Tyler Slim Fit in Bellow

The Tie Bar Outpost Blue Pocket Square

Gucci GG pattern Silk Tie

The Tie Bar Colored Tie Bar

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave brown belt

Baume & Mercier Clifton-automatic

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Navy-Blazer-Sport-Coat-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-2

Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Two-Button Blazer

Brooks Brothers Merino Wool Honeycomb Crewneck Sweater

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Solid Oxford Sport Shirt

Topman Selected Homme Grey Pants

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain Toe Oxfords

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Dress Casual Belt 

Blazer or Sport Coat Outfit Inspiration

 

Credits

Photography: Justiin Charles
Model: Joseph Boyd at Wilhelmina Models
Hair/Makeup: Brendan Robertson for Exclusive Artists Management using Clarins Skincare and Kevin Murphy Hair Care

The Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.

One of the best collared shirts to own and what I recommend for all my clients, regardless of age or body type, is the Oxford Button Down Shirt. It’s versatile, comfortable and one of the more durable items you’ll have in your closet.

What is an Oxford Shirt?

Oxford Shirt vs. Dress Shirt – What’s the difference?

In my best Jerry Seinfeld voice: “So what’s with all these dress shirts?”

A dress shirt is any type of collared shirt with a stiff collar and long sleeves that may be worn with a suit or blazer. An Oxford Shirt is usually considered a type of dress shirt, but the Oxford shirt is different from a regular dress shirt in two ways:

  1. They usually have a button down-style collar which eliminates that problem of collars flopping around and/or laying flat and disappearing underneath a jacket’s collar.
  2. The Oxford Shirt is named after the specific weave of the fabric called, you guessed it, Oxford cloth. It has a basketweave structure and a lustrous aspect making it a popular fabric for a dress shirt.

While you can wear Oxford shirts with suits, I don’t dress my clients this way. The buttoned-down collar lends a more casual vibe to the shirt and takes attention away from the formality of a suit. Unless you’re going without a tie when wearing a suit, it’s just not my preference, but it’s acceptable. I normally pair them with a Gray Notch Lapel Suit (no tie), Blazer, Harrington Jacket, sweater, or by itself with the sleeves rolled up.

Why Should I Own Oxford Dress Shirts?

Well, because they’re awesome. But most importantly, because of these 3 points:

  1. Looks Good, Is Versatile
    They look great on every body type and they pairs easily with the rest of your essential wardrobe. They can also be worn in casual and professional settings and feel equally appropriate. Roll up the sleeves and leave it untucked over a pair of dark wash jeans and you’ve got a casual outfit. Button the cuffs, throw on a tie (or not) and wear under a suit or blazer and you’ve got a dress shirt. It’s one of the most versatile shirts in a man’s closet.
  2. Comfort
    The oxford material is typically woven in a basketweave pattern which allows it to be soft and comfortable and less prone to wrinkling than typical dress shirts made of silk or silk blends.
  3. Durability
    Due to the heavier fabric and weave the shirts are very resilient and durable, as opposed to non-weaved fabrics like silk or silk blends. I’ve got clients who’ve been wearing their Oxford shirts for over 5 years and they look good as new.

How should an Oxford Dress Shirt fit?

An Oxford Shirt should fit just like any other dress shirt you own.

The Best Oxford Button Down Shirts For Men

Since they’re all generally made of the same fabric and weave, the color is what matters most.

For my clients, I only recommend two colors to start because they look good on every skin tone, can be paired easily with the rest of your essential wardrobe and will cover any situation where a collared shirt is appropriate.

The colors are:

  • Light Blue
  • White

Designer Options

Brooks Brother Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Rag & Bone Thom Browne Oxford Shirt

Budget-Friendly Options

Club Monaco Classic Fit Oxford Shirt   

Uniqlo Mens Easy Care Long Sleeve Shirt

3 Ways to Wear Oxford Button Down Dress Shirts

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans 

Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt

Converse Jack Purcell Signature Leather

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Plain Front Trousers

Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Micro Check Suit Jacket

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt 

Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans

The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Black Border 

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt 

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Outfit Inspiration

Best Dress and Casual Belts

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
Every guy only needs 4 belts in his closet, ever. Even though I always say your pants should fit without a belt – they’re still a must-have item because pants will shift as you wear them and belts help break up an outfit. You’d think belts would be simple and this article and video should be one sentence long. Unfortunately, I constantly see guys crapping the bed in the belt department. So let’s fix this. Here’s the best dress and casual belts for men and other tips and tricks you should know about.

Why do you need a belt?

Most guys only wear belts as utility items to keep their loose pants from falling off. Certainly, a belt is for this, but there’s other reasons to wear a belt.

  • You want your pants to hit a certain part of your waist, depending on whether they’re jeans or dress pants. During the course of your day, you’ll be standing, sitting, and moving around – this will tug and pull at your shirt and pants, causing them to move around. A belt ensures they stay in their proper place.
  • A belt is necessary to break up some of your outfits, especially with non-suit outfits. Let’s say you’re wearing a sport coat/blazer with a dress shirt, dark wash jeans, and some oxford dress shoes, you’ll definitely need a belt to help break up the outfit in your midsection. People who go belt-less in these outfits… ugh.
  • To hold up your pants as they loosen, not because they are already loose. Please wear properly fitting pants!

The Be-All, End-All Buckle Type

I have family from Texas (these are actually my relatives) and they take belt buckles very seriously – which is what every guy should do! All you’ll ever need is some variation of the standard belt buckle with a single square frame and prong – no matter if they’re casual or dress belts. There’s absolutely no reason for having anything else – EVER.

Ashley Weston Black Leather Casual Belt

If you have any other type of belt buckle, and you’re not a cowboy, sheriff, rodeo rider or douchebag, replace them immediately. I throw up a little in my mouth when I see guys wearing those horrible box-frame style belt buckles like the guy below. Whatever you do, please, don’t be that guy!

ThisGuyFucks

(“This guy f*cks!“)

The 2 Types of Belts Every Man Needs

1. Dress belt

You need a dark brown and black leather belt with a simple, thin and silver belt buckle. Also, is should absolutely be shiny. A matte belt as a dress belt is a no-no. Look how terrible a matte-finished belt looks as a dress belt in my image below!

Width

You want the width to stay as near to 1.5″ as possible. Anything wider will be more bulky and is considered more casual. Anything slimmer than that is a woman’s or a fashion belt and that’s not what we’re going for here. Even though the width is only slightly smaller than a casual belt, it makes a huge difference in appearance. Compare this picture of a guy wearing a wider belt as a dress belt compared to the image of my model. Night and day, in my eyes even though it’s only about half an inch difference.

Proper Dress Belt Width - Ashley Weston

Material

You only want leather, but if you’re averse to leather, then get a leather substitute belt. You want the luxurious look of leather to match your dressy outfits.

2. Casual belt

Just like the dress belt, you’ll want a black and brown casual leather belt, each with silver buckle. This is where the buckles can be slightly thicker, but not by much. Gold buckles may be allowed if you really, really must have gold, but it may clash with some of your outfits or accessories, so I like to keep it simple and avoid gold all together. Also, in regards to the texture or finish of the belt, you want to avoid super shiny belts. Shiny/Polished-looking belts = dress belts. Most casual leather belts will be pebbled or have a texture or be matte-finished. That and the width of the belt is how you determine whether a belt is dressy or casual.

Width

Have your casual belt somewhere between 1 3/4 – 2″ wide. Anything more than that is too wide and will look out of place. Slimmer than that looks more like a dress belt.

UltimateWarriorBelt cropped

Material

You can go with leather, cloth, or webbed belts. I personally think you should stick to leather until you’re ready to step out and get more adventurous with your belts. That way, your casual belts will work no matter the time of year or outfit.

Be careful not to get a belt that’s too shiny – like a dress belt. They should be more matte-finished. I see guys making this mistake a lot. Look at the differences between my dress and casual belt recommendations below to see the difference between shiny and matte.

What Size Belt to buy?

This is a question more men should be asking! Please check out my fit guide for details about how to choose your belt size.

The Best Dress Belts for Men

A quick note: Allen Edmonds are my absolute favorites because they’re high quality and they match their colors to their dress shoes. A lot of companies don’t do this, but it’s very important to match your belts with your shoes and AE takes the guesswork out of matching them.

Designer Options

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Brooks Brothers Skinny Chino Calfskin Belt
Brooks Brothers Leather Dress Belt

Budget-Friendly Dress Belt Options

Zara Reversible Belt
Zara Leather Belt

The Best Casual Belts For Men

Designer Options

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Brooks Brothers Deerskin Leather Belt

Budget-Friendly Options

H&M Leather Belt 
H&M Leather Belt 

3 Ways To Wear

Dress-Belt-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
Levis 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
True Vintage Revival Glasses
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

*NOTE: You choose the type of lenses (shaded, etc.) during checkout for the sunglasses above.

Casual-Belt-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Rag & Bone Jayden Workwear Jacket
Brooks Brothers Cotton Henley Sweater 
Levis 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Outfit Inspirations

 

The Harrington Jacket

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
Timeless, casual, cool and sexy. It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, running errands, or hitting the links – you need a Harrington jacket. It’s light and pairs well with nearly anything. This iconic jacket will never let you down.

Popular since the ’50s, the Harrington jacket was worn by pretty much every iconic star of yesteryear: Elvis Presley, James Dean, Steve Mcqueen, and most recently, Daniel Craig as James Bond. The Baracuta G9 is the O.G. worn by these stars and is still made today, but there’s a lot of great brands making them.

Lightweight, often teflon-coated cotton, standing collar, zip front, and the tartan lining, I just love the hell out of this jacket. The original Baracuta brand is a bit tough to find, but Fred Perry and Ben Sherman make killer versions that I actually prefer.

Why you need a Harrington Jacket

Lots of guys, my clients included, have a tough time finding a casual jacket that isn’t too sporty or dressy. A Harrington Jacket fills this gap perfectly.  It looks great with jeans and sneakers as well as dressier items like collared shirts and wool pants.

The fit and design is also very flattering on any body type. On top of that, the style hasn’t really change since it’s inception and with proper care, this jacket will last decades – easily. The mileage and value you’ll get from this jacket is some of the best for any menswear item I’ve seen.

Which Harrington Jacket Is Right For You?

Since we’re talking about essential/foundational pieces and the style of these jackets is pretty standard across brands, you really only need to worry about the color, which is simple: get a navy Harrington jacket.

If you’re a regular to slim build, you can pull off other colors, but your first Harrington should be navy. If this is your second Harrington, definitely go for a khaki color.

I don’t recommend other colors, like black or burgundy, because they’ll be much harder to match with other items in your Essential Wardrobe and/or it’s just a big swath of color. So if you went with black, it’s a lot of black and, I think, doesn’t look all that great in person. It looks much better in photos than in real life.

One small note: If you’re a larger build, you may not fit Ben Sherman, even their larger sizes tend to run pretty slim.

The Best Harrington Jackets To Own

Designer Options

My personal favorite is the Fred Perry jacket. It’s what I use for all my clients.

Fred Perry Harrington Jacket
Original Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket
Ben Sherman Harrington Jacket
Ben Sherman Harrington Jacket 

Budget Friendly Options

Reclaimed Vintage Harrington Jacket
Topman Peter Werth Sand Coat

3 Ways To Wear

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-3

Fred Perry Reissues Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Shetland Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
J Brand Tyler Slim Fit in Levin
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Fred Perry  Reissues Harrington Jacket Navy
Armani Exchange Pima V-Neck Tee White
J Brand Tyler Slim Fit in Levin
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-2

Topman Stone Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Henley Sweater
Levis 511 Slim Fit Line 8 Jeans
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Outfit Inspirations

How’s The Fit of My Cardigan & What do I pair it with?

The fit looks spot on, actually! The sleeves are a tiny, tiny bit too short, but my experience with these cable-knit sweaters is they’ll actually stretch a little with wear and those sleeves will be perfect afterwards. As far as what to pair it with, see below.

What to pair it with