The average man spends more than $50,000 on clothes in their lifetime. If you’re constantly stumped on what to wear despite a closet full of items, that can mean a lot of money going down the drain.
Getting that effortless pulled-together look every day is much easier to achieve than it seems. As long as you stock your closet with classic, well-made basics, you’ll be able to throw together a stylish outfit without too much thought.
If you’re in the process of updating your wardrobe, or you want to refresh your current style, consider investing in a few of the following basic pieces.
Crew Neck Sweater
Crewnecks are super versatile. They can be dressed up or down and go with pretty much any type of bottoms or footwear. The best silhouette for a crewneck is snug around the waist and hips and a bit looser across the chest. The bottom hem of the sweater should hit just past the top button of your pants to prevent unintentional flashing.
Crewneck sweaters look sharp on their own, or can be placed over a collared button down for a more business casual look. Basic crewnecks come in a wide range of colors and a great way to insert a bit of personal style into your wardrobe.
Long Sleeve Button-Down
There are few pairings more classic than a long-sleeve button-down and trousers. Button-downs come in a variety of styles and fabrics. For example, Oxford shirts are known for their light materials and formal cuts, while flannel button-downs have a more rustic look suitable for colder weather.
Button downs for business settings tend to have tighter weaves and softer textures that give off a finished appearance. Fitted button-downs can be tucked in with a leather belt for a stylish office look. More casual events may call for a looser fit over a graphic t-shirt. Men’s undershirts made from breathable fabrics are the perfect layering piece for adding warmth without additional bulk.
Men have a surprising amount of options in this category. Blazers and sportcoats can seamlessly take a casual crewneck or button-down from day to night. You can go with a monochromatic look, or pair a dark jacket with light bottoms and vice versa.
For an edgier look, try on a shearling or leather jacket. Either look goes well with dark denim. On the more casual side, consider a bomber or button-down cardigan over dress pants or jeans.
No basics list would be complete without mentioning t-shirts. Fit is key to styling a t-shirt. Oversized tees with wide sleeves can look sloppy. The best shapes fall nicely along the body and snuggly around the upper arms.
T-shirts come in a range of fabrics, but some are better than others. If you’re particularly active, avoid man-made blends like nylon and polyester and go for natural fibers. Not only are they better for the environment, but they also allow airflow and prevent the fabric from sticking to your skin.
Jeans are a staple in any wardrobe, and dark-tinted denim has incredible versatility. Dark washes can range from deep navy to black. The denim itself comes in multiple varieties. Raw denim is stiff while blended fabrics may have a bit more stretch and give.
Consider your build when choosing denim cuts. Broad and heavy-set men should stick to straight-cut styles, while slimmer guys can choose a tapered style that narrows at the ankles. Skinny jeans, in general, should be avoided, as the best-fitting jeans allow at least 1.5 inches of space along the leg.
On the opposite side of the casual jean is the preppy Chino trouser. Chinos are distinct from other types of dress pants. They are made from pure cotton and have three or fewer pockets. Some modern designs are made from a blend of organic and synthetic materials that provide the stretch and comfort of athletic wear, but the clean look of a chino.
Chinos come in any color imaginable and pair very nicely with t-shirts, crewnecks, and fitted button-downs. Chinos are equally versatile when it comes to footwear. You can tie a dressed-up look together with a pair of chinos and simple dress shoes, or opt for more casual canvas sneakers instead.