Plain T-Shirts

A plain, short sleeved t-shirt is an essential because they’re super comfortable, timeless, and everyone wears them. Now whether you need a crew neck or v-neck t-shirt is dependent on a few factors that I’ll get into later on in this article.

If you’re like most of my clients, you’re probably wearing a t-shirt or polo shirt most of the time, so let’s make sure you look amazing in them. Before we get into that, though, I have a few bones to pick with men in regards to their t-shirts. They completely crap the bed in a few ways:

  1. Their shirts are full of logos.
  2. They don’t fit properly.
  3. The fabric is too thin, shiny, or worn out.
  4. A horrible combination of the above.

Types of T-Shirts For Men

A t-shirt is defined as:

A lightweight shirt without buttons, with short sleeves and no collar. Often made of cotton and frequently bears a picture or slogan.

Before we get into the finer points of t-shirts, let’s talk about the two different types, first. Before I started in the fashion industry, I didn’t know that there were only really two types of t-shirts. So let’s quickly get this out of the way.

Crew Neck

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These t-shirts have round collars that fit closely to the neck like the image above. You probably have these in your closet right now. They are great base items for layering or worn on their own. They work on most body types. See the below section about fit for more details.

V-Neck

T-Shirts-V-Neck-Crew-Neck-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

If your powers of deduction are strong, you’ll already know that the v-neck t-shirt is named as such because the neck is in the shape of a “v”. They also work on most body types. See the below section about fit for more details.

Long Sleeves

Long-sleeved shirts are not technially t-shirts. I put this here, because when I was first starting out, I swore that long-sleeved shirts, like Henleys, were also t-shirts. But, they’re not. Also, in my professional opinion you shouldn’t really own any long sleeve shirts. Henleys would be the only exception, but they only look good on certain body types. I’ll do an article about Henley shirts at a later time. But I don’t consider them a wardrobe essential.

If you need long sleeves, throw on a Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt, V-Neck Sweater Harrington Jacket or Blazer instead.

Logos & Designer T-Shirts

DesignerTShirt

I discussed my hatred of logos in my polo shirt article. And it definitely applies to t-shirts. Maybe more-so.

No self-respecting man should ever wear t-shirts with logos plastered all over them. We have enough billboards and advertisements in our lives, don’t turn your body into another one. Sports teams and concert/band tees are fine if worn to an event where it’s appropriate. But the worst is when I see guys wearing “designer” t-shirts. It just screams sucker, amateur and douche. Just don’t do it. If you own any of these, either throw them out right now orariGTFO

How T-Shirts Should Fit

See the T-Shirt Fit Guide for details. But I’ll quickly mention here, too, that no matter your age or body type, a t-shirt (any shirt, for that matter) should have a trim fit and lightly hug your body.

That doesn’t mean it should be skin tight, but it also doesn’t mean it should be baggy, either. A lot of my clients with larger builds tend to think that their shirts need to be baggy to hide their imperfections, but it actually works counter to that. It’ll highlight your imperfections if you attempt to hide them under larger swaths of fabric. And if you’re thinner, a larger shirt won’t add any bulk to your frame, it’ll just make you look even skinnier.

Fabric Choice

I can’t tell you how many nipples and belly buttons I see walking around town because guys are wearing undershirts or flimsy shirts with really thin or delicate fabrics as regular t-shirts.

Too Thin

I see a lot of guys wearing what looks like white undershirts because the fabric is so thin. I’ve honestly been searching for months for good white shirts that don’t show skin through. See my recommendations below.  Thin shirts/undershirts are not the same as regular t-shirts. Undershirts, true to their name, should only be worn underneath another shirt – usually an Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt or a Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt. They’re thin and soft because they’re purpose-built to go underneath something else.

Silky or Shiny appearance

The quickest way to look like a creepy uncle is to wear a shiny or silky t-shirt. You should only wear cotton and matte (not shiny) t-shirts. Nothing else.

Distressed or Worn out

Your t-shirts shouldn’t look like the garment equivalent of those terrible worn-out baseball caps. A t-shirt should look clean, comfortable and relatively new. Once they’ve got holes or they’re faded, even a little bit, they need to be replaced. Such is the nature of being a well-dressed gentleman. There’s nothing worse than old, stretched-out, or faded looking shirts, unless you’re deliberately going for that look.

You’ll get more usage out of your t-shirts if you wash in cold water and hang dry them. But once they’re stretched out or faded, it’s time to donate and replace them.

The Best T-Shirts For Men

Choosing the best t-shirts comes down to your body type, preference and the colors. I’ll reiterate again, because my older clients like to give me this excuse before they see the light: AGE DOESN’T FACTOR INTO WHAT SHIRTS YOU SHOULD GET – AT ALL.

Should I have V-Necks or Crew Necks?

Between the two, I would say it all depends on your preference. Some of my clients are adamant about their love or hate for one or the other. But if you don’t have a preference, I’d suggest getting one set of each. That way, you have the option to switch it up.

As for which ones you should get, there’s 3 points to consider:

  1. If you have a longer neck, go with crew necks. A v-neck would visually lengthen your neck and make it look longer. Unless you can find shorter v-necks with a shorter “v” like the white shirt on my model below.
  2. If you have a shorter neck, go with v-necks. It’ll make your neck appear a little longer.
  3. If your neck is average, the t-shirt world is your oyster and you can have whatever you want!

What colors should I have?

Every man should have these colors to start since they’ll go with everything else in your Essential Wardrobe.

  • White
  • Heather gray
  • Navy
  • Black

As for how many of each you should have, I suggest getting at least 2 of each, that way you can easily get through a week without needing to do laundry.

Best T-Shirts For Men

Designer Options

The fabrics of these options are really amazing and super comfortable. The James Perse ones are a personal favorite and I use them on a lot of my clients. I wish I could make all my clothes out of some of these materials. See my note in the section below, before making your decision. All of these shirts come in the colors I recommended above.

Ralph Lauren Cotton Jersey Crewneck T-Shirt 

James Perse Melange Cotton Linen V-Neck

Rag Bone Navy Classic T-Shirt

James Perse Grey Crew Neck T-Shirt

Brunello Cucinelli Cotton Crewnect White T-Shirt 

Budget-Friendly Options

I’d probably default to these options over the designer ones because I find very minute differences between them. The biggest factors would be fit and slightly better fabrics. I don’t find the added costs are worth what you get in return, especially because t-shirts will need to be replaced much quicker than other items in your wardrobe. All of these shirts come in the colors I recommended above. I especially love the RibbedTee shirts and the American Apparel Summer Shirts.

All Saints White Figure Crew T-Shirt

Alternative Apparel Black Plain T-Shirt

Armani Exchange Pima Crew 

RibbedTee White Rex Cotton Modal Tee V-Neck 1-Pack

J.Crew Broken-in V-Neck T-Shirt

3 Best Ways to Wear Your V-Neck and Crew Neck T-Shirts

Alternative Apparel Black Plain T-Shirt

Burberry Slim Fit Wool Trousers

Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Oxford 

Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses

IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch

Rag & Bone Duncan Shawl Cardigan

RibbedTee White Rex Cotton Modal Tee V-Neck 1-Pack

Diesel Buster 0607A Jeans

Allen Edmonds First Avenue Dress Boots

John Varvatos Lafayette Sunglasses

IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch

Brooks Brothers Camel Suede Barracuda Jacket

RibbedTee White Rex Cotton Modal Tee V-Neck 1-Pack

SIimon Miller M001 Gunnison Slim-Fit Selvedge Denim Jeans

Nike Tennis Classic Sneakers

Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses

IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch

Men’s T-Shirt Outfit Ideas & Inspiration

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

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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

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 

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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

The Oxford Dress Shoe

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
These are the best mens dress shoes, no questions asked. Anything else pales in comparison. Every man should have at least 2 pairs of Oxford dress shoes in his closet. Not only are they one of the most versatile shoes a gentleman can own – which will work for nearly all formal occasions from business casual to formal – but they’re the de-facto standard shoes to wear with a suit. On top of that, they’ll also work very well with 99% of the items in your Essential Wardrobe. They’re that good.

When you imagine a well-dressed man in a suit, I guarantee he’s wearing a pair of these.

Black & Leather ≠ Oxford Dress Shoes

Don’t think that if a shoe is black and leather, it’s an Oxford dress shoe. I shudder at the thought of those square-toed and/or slip-on monstrosities I see men wearing in place of a proper, lace up, round-toed dress shoe.

Also, if you can see your reflection in your black leather shoes, those are not a proper dress shoe. Those are tuxedo shoes. As the name implies, they should only be worn with a tuxedo. I’ve seen quite a few guys wearing these shoes with jeans. It’s not a good look. Your Oxfords shouldn’t look like mirrors, they should be a little more matte finished. Go to a department store and ask to see their tuxedo shoes so you can see the difference in person.

The image below from RealMenRealStyle highlights exactly what I see a lot of men wearing in place of Oxford dress shoes:

Wrong-Square-Toe-Shoes

To Cap-Toe or Not?

My opinion about whether you should have a cap toe Oxford or not changes with the wind, so I’ll leave it up to you. There’s not a single scenario when you’d wear a cap-toe over a non-cap toe, so this is entirely up to your preference. 

My clients are split 50/50 on this, too. You won’t go wrong with either, so choose whichever you think looks great and fits your style best.

allenedmonds_shoes_carlyle_blackallenedmonds_shoes_park-avenue_black

Should I go for Quality or Value?

For foundational pieces such as these, I’d say go for quality. However, there is a caveat:

How Often Will You Be Wearing Your Oxford Dress Shoes?

  • If you’ll be wearing them more than a handful of times a month, definitely grab a nice, high quality pair. They’ll give you many good years of use and look great the whole time.
  • If you’ll be wearing them once a month or less, go for value. They’ll definitely get the job done and look “good enough”. What’s the use of having a high quality pair of dress shoes sitting in your closet most of the time? I’d take that money and spend it on other pieces you might wear more often](link).

Which Shoes Should I Get?

Since you’ve decided whether you like cap-toe or non cap-toe shoes, now it just comes down to color.

Every guy should have these two pairs of Oxfords in their wardrobe to cover every outfit choice:

  1. A solid black pair
  2. A brown/cognac pair

Anything outside of those two colors will have more specific uses and occasions and definitely falls outside the domain of an Essential Wardrobe item.

The Best Mens Dress Shoes

These are my go-to Oxfords for clients:

Designer Options

Giorgio Armani Plain-Toe Patent Leather Bluchers
Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxfords
Allen Edmonds Carlyle
Prada Plain Toe Blutchers

Budget-Friendly Options

Aldo Craosa 
Jack Erwin Joe Cap-Toe Oxford
Johnston & Murphy Hyde Park ll Cap-toe

2 Ways to Wear

For other ways to wear your Oxford dress shoes, check out my Gray Notch Lapel Suit article, Dark Wash JeanSemi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt & Leather Jacket articles.

BlackOxfordDressShoeLook1640-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Model: Tommy Mckeown

Fred Perry Reissues Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers 3-D Knit Fine-Gauge Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
Burberry Straight Fit Japanese Selvedge Denim Jeans
True Vintage Revival Glasses
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

BlackOxfordDressShoeLook2640-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Topcoat
Brooks Brothers 3-D Knit Fine-Gauge Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button Down Collar Shirt
Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Wool Dress Trousers 
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt 
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Outfit Inspiration