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.
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.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions and emails from you about what to wear when going to the gym or airport so you’re still stylish, yet comfortable.
Thus, my POTW are John Elliott’s grey sweatpants because they’re the only item you need to add to your closet in order to create this sharp outfit below. You should already have three out of the four items if you’ve been following my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials Series for any length of time.
Here’s why this outfit is great:
I love John Elliott’s clothes because he always does such a great job with creating high quality basics and these sweatpants are no exception. The construction and fabric choices are a cut above the rest, so if you’re able to swing it, I highly recommend these.
You already should own a navy, black, and/or white t-shirt. These colors are perfect for the gym because they won’t show your sweat prominently like a grey tee will. Also, they look great with this outfit outside of the gym as well.
Next, you should also already have a bomber jacket, whether it be navy or black, in your closet because as I’ve said before, bombers look great on every man, regardless of your age or body type. You can easily switch out the bomber for a zip-up hoodie if you want, but I wouldn’t change a single thing in this outfit.
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.
So here it is: These are the quintessential shoes that every man should have in his closet for year-round wear. Anything outside of these are specialty items, like snow boots, so they’re not included in this article.
There’s nothing better than a sleek pair of athletic shoes. Not only can they function as your gym shoes, but they can be worn with your casual outfits, as well.
I recommend sticking with a black/white, black/grey/white (like above), or navy/white color to ensure that your sneakers compliment all your outfits. Other crazy colors like neon green or a bright red will only draw attention away from your outfit which is why I’m not recommending those colors. You probably wouldn’t know it, but these shoes are one of my clients and almost a year old.
Since all of the shoes I’m recommending have white soles, I highly recommend Jason Markk’s Essential Shoe Cleaner Kit. Just give the soles a quick scrub with the included brush and soap every few weeks and they’ll look good-as-new for a long time.
Under no circumstance should you wear these with a suit, though. That’s a trend that’s been floating around for a few years and I just think you’re not doing a suit justice by dumbing it down with sneakers.
A quick note, because it’s been brought up in the comments of my White Sneaker Video – Jordan’s and Air Force Ones are not the same as these – even if they’re white – because the shape and profile of those shoes are completely different. Notice how sleek and simple the profile of the above shoe is – THAT’S what makes all the difference. Jordan’s and Air Force Ones are chunky looking and have a very specific look that a lot of men can’t pull off.
The third pair of shoes you should own are suede driving moccasins. I’ve already covered these in my Summer Essentials Ebook, but they’re also great shoes during the other parts of the year, depending on your climate.
If you’ve never worn a pair, then you really should try them because they’re the most comfortable middle ground between a dress shoe and a sneaker and after they’ve been broken in a little bit, they’ll feel like you’re wearing a pair of socks.
I have these ones here by Tod’s that I really love. Stick with dark brown first, then you can add a tan color and then navy which will cover you for any outfit you can wear outside of a suit – which you should never wear driving mocs with. The construction is fantastic and they hug your feet nicely – which is important because a lot of cheaply made driving mocs tend to look loose around your feet which is to be avoided.
There’s three things to remember about driving moccasins:
Only wear no-show socks with them. I did a whole video about socks so check out the link in the video description. Before you wear them for the first time, make sure you Scotchguard them in order to protect the suede from dirt & liquids as much as possible. They’re going to get dirty, it’s inevitable with suede. So buy them knowing they’re going to have a shorter shelf life than the rest of your shoes, but trust me, you won’t care because they’re so damn comfortable.
The fourth pair of shoes you should own are Oxford or Derby dress shoe with a sleek profile and round toe. I’ve covered these extensively before, but every man needs at least a black and possibly brown pair of dress shoes in his wardrobe. They go well with all outfits outside of a super casual outfit (think: t-shirt and jeans). And since you should at least own one suit, these are necessary because you can’t get away with wearing any other shoes with your suit. Remember: the goal is to have you looking amazing, no matter the scenario or outfit.
I prefer plain toe, but you can also get cap toes, but I will grab a pair of plain toed Oxfords or Derbys over any other kind of dress shoe 99% of the time.
As for brogueing, burnished toes, oxblood or other unique colors, don’t get me wrong, I love them, but that’s like two levels down the road if you’re new to dressing better. They’re very specific and won’t go with a lot of your outfits, so grab them after you’ve invested in a classic black and dark brown oxford.
The final pair of shoes – in this case – boots you should own are a pair of brown leather boots. They’re utilitarian in that you can wear them in a lot of adverse weather situations as well as in more elevated casual outfits. I prefer brown because boots are usually more geared toward the cooler months, and brown is a great fall/winter color and it goes AMAZINGLY well with the dark wash jeans and wool trousers you should already own. But don’t be mistaken, you can also wear these year-round.
It’s been asked this a few times by viewers, so unless you’re going for the lumberjack or American/Japanese worker-style look, don’t wear these boots with a suit because these ARE NOT DRESS BOOTS.
I love the pebbled brown leather and goodyear welting of the Purdey boots above, which is why they’re my top choice. Trust me, I spent a lot of time finding the best boots out there and these are hands down my favorite.
If you want to know how to tie your boots properly like this so don’t have a bunch of excess laces flopping around, check out my video about how to properly tie men’s shoelaces.
Crockett And Jones Galway 2 Apron-Toe Boot
John Lobb Alder Boots
Frye Jones Lace Up Boots
Red Wing for Brooks Brothers 4556 Iron Ranger Boots
Lots of readers/viewers have been asking me to do an article and video about how to roll or cuff men’s pants, so I’m finally doing it! The article is great and all, but the act of rolling your pants is not something easily shown in still images, so do yourself a favor and watch the video below for the fully experience.
With the exception of jeans and boots, you should only be rolling your pants in the spring and summer, unless you’re in a climate where it’s warm all year-round. This is very much a warm weather flair to add to your dark wash jeans, chinos or khakis or even wool pants and trousers. But it is a little odd to wear during the colder, winter months.
How To Quickly Measure Cuff Width
Before we begin, let me show you a quick and dirty way to figure out the proper width of your cuff by using your finger joints. The each joint of your index finger is roughly an inch long.
So if you need the cuff width to be about 2″ wide, the top of the cuff would hit right around the second or middle joint, like in the picture below:
The Simple Cuff
This cuff works especially well with slim fit jeans. I like to use this cuff when I’m going for a cleaner, sleeker look with a client. I’d caution against using it with chinos or other pants, as the fabric can be a little floppy around the ankles.
You also want to avoid using this cuff if you’re wearing straight fit jeans because your ankles will be swimming in a bunch of fabric. Use the pinroll cuff in the next section, instead.
Before you start cuffing, you should already have your jeans and shoes on. Otherwise, it’s harder to tell what the finished product looks like and if you’re showing the right amount of ankle. Hopefully you’ve already seen my men’s jeans fit guide so you know that your slim fit jeans should have a slight break at the hem. This cuff won’t look right with any other type of pant break.
How to Cuff
Low Top Shoes
If you’re wearing low top shoes, roll up your jeans’ cuff once. The cuff width should be between 1.5” to 2”. If you’re on the shorter side, get the cuff as close to 1.5″ as possible. If you’re on the taller side, go for 2″. This will maintain the proper promotions for your body type.
Make sure that the roll is the same width or thickness on the front and back of the pants before you do the second roll. After finishing the second roll, the bottom of the cuff should just hit the top of your outer or inner ankle bone, like in the image below:
Boots or High Top Shoes
It’s the same as low tops: do at least 2 rolls and make sure to maintain the 1.5″ to 2″ cuff width, depending on your height.
The bottom of the cuff should either lightly graze the top of the shoe or boot or go a little bit past the top of the boot or high top. The image below, has the pants rolled up 3 times on the left and 2 times on the right. Both are equally acceptable lengths. I prefer 2 rolls, as 3 makes it look a little too military for my tastes, but 3 is just fine if that’s what you prefer.
The Pinroll Cuff
This cuff is great for any cut of jeans, as well as chinos. I like this roll because it eliminates the issue of your pants swimming around your ankles when they’re cuffed.
Again, start with your pants and shoes already on. Check my men’s jeans fit guide and chino pant fit guide for details about the type of break your pants should have before cuffing. If your pants aren’t fitting properly or they’re too long at the hem, the roll will look big and chunky around your ankle, which you don’t want.
How to Cuff
Low Top & High Top Shoes and Boots
To start, pinch the fabric on the inside of your ankle so it feels slightly snug against your leg or ankle.
Now fold the fabric over towards your heel. The reason why we do this is because it hides the fold better than if you folded the fabric towards the front.
With your thumb still holding the fold against your ankle, start rolling the cuff up with both hands. Make sure the roll is between 1 to 2 inches wide. If you’re on the shorter side, keep it around 1″ and go closer to 2″ wide if you’re taller. This will maintain the proper proportions for your stature.
Now roll up the cuff a second time. You want to roll at least twice to make sure that excess fabric that we folded over won’t come undone. It won’t stay with just one roll.
if you’re wearing low tops, you want the bottom of the cuff to hit around 1.5 to 2” above your outer ankle bone, like the image below. If you need to roll 3 times to get there, do that.
The only exception to the 3 roll maximum is if you’re wearing boots or high tops. Then you need the cuff to just cover the top of your boot or lightly graze the top of your high tops when standing up. The image below has the cuffs rolled twice.
If you’re reticent about white sneakers, I get it. My clients are a little freaked out by them in the beginning, too. But the reason I prefer white is they look super sharp and literally go with everything you’d wear casually. A pair of white sneakers instantly elevates an outfit to be a little sharper than it would be with other casual shoes. In my book, that’s a good thing.
As a woman, when I see a sharp-looking guy, I want to learn more about him. It’s impressive and intriguing. I’ve been busted for staring a few times because of this 🙂
If you really, really don’t want to get white shoes, go for a navy color then. They’ll still go with a lot of the other essentials on my list, but not as well as white.
High Tops or Low Tops?
For a foundational piece like this, leave the high tops for later. They’re not appropriate in many occasions where low tops are. High tops are definitely more sporty looking and with pants will bunch up around the ankles and can create a lot of stacking.
Canvas vs. Leather
This is when I’ll leave it up to your preference. Either one will work for the same occasions and outfits. Some people prefer natural fibers over leather. I prefer leather because it doesn’t stain as easily and they’re easier to keep clean, but they’re also (slightly) more costly. It’s entirely up to you. I’ll provide both options below.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness
I’m always shocked to learn that most guys don’t know that women look at 3 things, in this order, when first meeting a man: