Here are my picks for the 7 must-have menswear essentials, guaranteed to equip you with a solid foundation in which to build the rest of your wardrobe. Think of them as primary building blocks that click together to form countless varieties of new looks, or a blank canvas that offers the ideal backdrop for expressing your personal style. These pieces will work well in most semi-dressy/business casual situations that call for something a bit more polished, but not too strict or fussy – kind of like the Goldilocks Zone of modern-day dressing.
All you need are two tops, two bottoms, two jackets, and a great pair of shoes. Let’s go:
1.) White Button-Front Shirt: Whether it's a dress shirt or sport shirt, a white, collared, button-front shirt is never an option. This shirt is the carte blanche of all shirts. Make sure they’re always at the ready, spotless, crisp and well-pressed. Whenever you're in doubt, put one on and you're money.
2.) Lightweight Crewneck Pullover: A finely-knit top is like a luxurious t-shirt. Trade it in place of your normal everyday t-shirt and you instantly amp up your style quotient. Wear it alone or over that white button-front shirt. This is also where a little color goes a long way – choose one that shows some personality (like this pink one), and it’ll take you so much farther.
3.) Dark Straight-Leg Jeans: These should have none-to-minimal washing/distressing with simple stitching. It's a versatile staple that grounds pretty much any casual/semi-casual look, and has become as essential as the ubiquitous chino. Wear it whenever you usually grab for your chinos, but when you need the dark color and a little more kick to your style.
4.) Slim Plain-Front Chinos: The chino can either be the most boring item in your wardrobe, or the most perfect basic you can ever own. You obviously want to aim for the latter, and that all depends on the style and fit. Slim means exactly what it means. Plain-front means no pleats – ever – please.
5.) Navy Blazer: An absolute essential in order to dress up any outfit in a pinch. You could be in a t-shirt and old jeans, but the minute the blazer gets added to the mix, you'll manage to look respectable, even if you're in a hurry. For maximum mileage, go for the two-button, with dark buttons that match the jacket.
6.) Grey Blazer: The addition of an alternate grey blazer to the navy one packs a powerful one-two punch for any occasion that calls for a jacket. You’ll be fine with having just one (either one will do, but start with the navy), but you’ll never regret having both. The two options together will exponentially increase your wardrobe possibilities.
7.) Lace-up Oxfords: No matter your shoe situation, you’ve got to have one really good pair. Make it a lace-up oxford in either plain or cap toe. Dark brown gives you lots of versatility and is more interesting than black, especially in context to the rest of the 6 pieces we’re focusing on today.
Put it all together: Not only are these 7 items integral to every man's wardrobe, the beauty of these timeless basics is that, when combined together, it's an absolute fail-proof ensemble that will take very good care of you, season after season. Add extra flair with accessories, like punchy pocket squares or handsome belts, and you’re big time.
Lastly, about that white shirt... tuck the damn thing in!