Top 10 Essentials for Men's Wardrobe

Top 10 Essentials for Men’s Wardrobe
If you are at all like me, attempting to find “your style” was a struggle for many years. You went through the “Mom-Clearly-Bought-That-For-You” phase, the “Preppy” phase, and the “Rock-Band-All-I’m-Missing-Is-GuyLiner” phase. The last few years I have been able to nail down a style that I think represents me well. Below is a list of the “Top 10 Essential Items” I have discovered are versatile and serve well for many different looks.

1. Basic White Tee
The basic white tee is the most versatile piece in a man’s wardrobe. This tee can be worn simply as a base for which the rest of your outfit is built upon or can serve as the main top. Be warned - it is important to find a well-fitted white tee to keep it working as versatile as possible. No one wants to see a man wearing an ill-fitted white tee that makes him look like the missing sail from a sailboat.

Available from Target

2. Denim Button-Up
I recently acquired one of these bad boys for my own wardrobe and it instantly became a staple item in what I wear. The denim button-up is extremely versatile and can be worn with black or khaki bottoms, styled with buttons closed or open, sleeves worn rolled-up or down, and can easily be paired with one of your favourite sweaters as a base layer (it also pairs well with that basic white tee serving as the base layer - YAY mix&matching!) 

Available from the GAP

3. Dark Wash Blue Jeans
I recently saw someone post a picture of a pair of light wash jeans and dark wash jeans with the question “Which pair looks better for going out?” I immediately responded with “THE DARK WASH!” Why? Dark wash jeans can be dressed up or down-they are the most versatile jean wash out of all jean washes. When going out for the evening, most people tend to lean toward a darker color pattern (I like to think this shows a bit of sophistication) with a pop of color or fun pattern. With a dark wash jean as your base, you have more flexibility in what you wear up-top and down below (hello, fun socks!). Dark wash jeans also pair well with either a leisure shoe (such as a basic tennis shoe, Chuck Taylor, or Sperry) as well as a dressier shoe (such as a loafer or oxford.)

Available from: American Eagle

*BIG NOTE: Unless you plan on wearing boots or wrangling cattle later, opt for a straight-leg, slim-fit, or skinny cut jean. Boot-cut jeans are OUT! Slimmer fitting pants elongate and (wait for it) make the leg appear slimmer, giving your overall figure a more tall and sleek finish.

4. Black Jeans
Living alongside that pair of dark-wash skinny jeans should be your go-to pair of black-wash jeans. For a long time I refused to own a pair of black jeans. I thought they did not look good and that jeans should be the color of, well, jeans. Boy was I missing out. Two years ago I found a pair of skinny black jeans at a Target, tried them on, and was HOOKED. This purchase has probably been one that has served me the most over the last couple of years. I love my black jeans because of all the different ways I can style them. Going for a rugged, casual look? Pair these jeans with a denim button-up (yes, the same denim button-up from above!), and a pair of lace-up boots. Need more of a classic, evening out look? Pair these jeans with a well-fitted turtleneck or sweater and a Chelsea boot. Running errands but still want to look ‘put together’? Throw on a basic white tee (oh look-another mix&match) and a pair of chuck taylor’s or vans. You honestly cannot go wrong with a black jean.

Available from: American Eagle

*BIG NOTE: Please see BIG-NOTE in #3 for my rules on boot-cut jeans vs. every other possible cut jean ever.

5. Patterned Tee or Button-Up
While plain and basic are important schemes to have in your wardrobe, as they typically serve as the base of your ensemble, it is also important to have that one shirt that is bold and beautiful and really highlights your personality. A fun patterned shirt can really take an ensemble to the next level, make you feel confident, and be an great conversation starter. You want to look for a pattern that is not too distracting, but allows you to let your inner-joy out. My favorite patterns of choice include stripes, polka-dots, and muted Hawaiin florals. If you’re feeling really confident and frisky, look for a fruit pattern (such as a lemon print) or an animal pattern (such as an elephant or tiger print.)
Available from: express

Do NOT be confused by the animal print. This is not me granting permission for you to wear zebra stripes or leopard print; rather, look for literal images of an animal printed on the shirt.

6. Solid-Color Button-Up (Dress Shirt)
Every man should have at least one solid-color dress shirt with a button front and collar. I suggest going for a darker color, such as black, navy blue or maroon, or sticking with a solid white. This shirt should be your “job-interview” or similar circumstance apparel. Pair this shirt with a non-distracting patterned tie, blazer, and khakis and you will be dressed to impress.

Available from express

7. Pair of Khakis
Just like much of what we are discussing, Khakis are versatile and can be worn with almost any other color and be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. There are different styles of khaki pants i.e. chinos, slacks, jeans, etc. I like to opt for a khaki chino as this style of pant seems to be the most adaptable to any situation you might find yourself in. Use your choice in shirt and shoes to dress your khakis up or down.

Available from: American Eagle

8. Converse Chuck-Taylor Sneaker
If there is anything that is timeless, that would be the Converse Chuck Taylor sneaker. I love a good pair of Chuck’s and have owned several pairs throughout my lifetime. When looking to purchase a pair of Converse, I encourage you to stick with the classic Black-and-White color scheme or an All-White color scheme. This will allow you to pair your Converse with multiple outfits without having to worry about colors clashing. Also-aim for the low-tops. While high-tops may be considered “hip” and “vintage”, the low-tops will serve you better over the course of multiple seasons. Low-tops look better with shorts in the summer-period.

Available from: Journeys

9. Belt
A belt is a necessity for those of us who struggle with finding pants that fit us really well in the waistline.  Not only does it serve looks, but 9/10 serves a function! If you are able to have two-to-three types of belts, that is great! Think casual belt (opt for dark brown or black), and at least one dressier belt (if only one, go for a black leather-if you have the option for two, make the second one a brown leather.) If you are constrained to being able to purchase only one belt, I encourage you to seek out a reversible belt. Though this may sound childish, a reversible will give you two color options, one in black and one in brown. With a reversible belt you are able to accessorize according to your ensemble’s overall color palette.

Available from: kohls

10. Ball-Cap
Some days we wake up and the last thing we want to do is do our hair. A ball-cap can be the perfect way to stylishly cover-up that bedhead. A solid color, sports team, or college/university - pick your favourite and enjoy a day without having to wash, blow-dry, and style!


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