One of the female species favourite pastimes in all the world is to dress up. We agonize for ages over what to wear to certain functions, be it parties or weddings or even on a trip. I remember my friends and I had picked out our prom dresses months before the actual day, and for those making plans to get married, they may even have their wedding gown design selected a year before. We discuss these details with each other, describing necklines and hemlines and fabrics, deliberating over colors and skintone and embellishments, deciding what hairstyle and makeup and accessories would go with the outfit. And yes, we really really do enjoy it.
For the males, however, all this is an alien language. Many of them wouldn’t have the slightest clue what to wear if their mothers/sisters/girlfriends/wives didn’t pick things out for them, and many of them would happily wear the rattiest shirt they’ve owned for 15 years just because it’s comfortable. Such wasted potential! I can’t count how many times I’ve seen guys who would actually look like a million bucks if they only took some time to dress better. So today’s article is all about the wardrobe must-haves of every guy. Perhaps this can be of help to some poor unfortunate souls out there.
- An impeccably fit suit. This item is a fantastic investment. You will, of course, need a good suit at some point—attending formal occasions, weddings, awarding ceremonies, etc but you can also use the jacket and pants as separates. I love the look of a suit jacket over a polo and jeans for an edgy urban professional or sophisticated party boy sort of vibe. You can even replace the polo with a vintage T-shirt for a more hip, artsy look. And of course, the pants can be worn with any long or short sleeve polo for work and other day to day events. So don’t scrimp on this item—tailoring is everything, so you might as well have it custom made to fit you better, unless you are a perfect RTW size. Your first suit should be black, and then build up with gray, navy, khaki, and possibly even one with pinstripes.
- A crisp white long sleeve shirt. You will need several of these because it just has so many uses. Wear them with khaki chinos or jeans and folded up sleeves. As you build up your wardrobe, get other neutrals like black, beige, navy blue, gray and pinstripes. If you want to look extra preppy, get one in a pastel color like sky blue or light yellow. When buying a shirt, make sure the stitching is good and that you get the right size. Shirts that are too loose (like when the shoulder and sleeves portions extend further than the original intent) look slouchy, and shirts that are way too tight that it looks like you’ll pop out of them after a few bites of pasta are no-no’s. Take the time to try on the item and look closely in the mirror if it fits like it should.
- Black and brown leather belts and shoes. You really only need one of each, and the lifespan of leather goods are practically forever, so again pick quality items here. Get a good black belt you can wear from the office to a party, and a warm brown one for when you wear khaki pants and brown shoes during the day. Speaking of shoes, make sure these are cleaned and shined vigorously every day, and do make the effort to wear good socks with them. Black (or dark gray) with black, and beige with brown.
- Monogrammed handkerchiefs. A man can never have enough white, clean, well pressed handkerchiefs. If a guy offers me one with a monogram and a hint of men’s perfume, I would be rather impressed. You should never be without it.
- Silk ties. I am quite partial to plain ties, they look more elegant. Get one in gray, silver or matte gold, blue, and maybe one in maroon. Striped ones look a little academic, like Ivy League type. As for prints, if you must, be very careful and do not choose anything too bold or attracts too much attention. The key to dressing well is subtlety and restraint.
- Good jeans. Please, no ripped jeans or the super acid washed ones. Just keep one in plain, regular blue denim, and one in dark rinse. That’s really all you need. They must be ironed well before using and should fit just right—a cut close to the body, not too loose but please, not the skinny variety.
- Casual loafers/topsiders/sneakers. You need casual shoes for weekends when you’re wearing jeans or shorts. Just make sure to get them in neutral colors so they can be more versatile and won’t clash with your shirts. White shoes are acceptable during the day if you want to make a statement, just make sure they are really really clean and look like a natural part of the outfit (meaning it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb when you look in the mirror). Avoid wearing flip flops unless you are headed for the beach.
- Polo shirts. These are preppy boy weekend fare, worn with jeans and loafers/sneakers or shorts and topsiders. Here you can afford to be a little more colourful, with horizontal stripes, bolder colors or pastels.
- Golf shorts. When selecting shorts, the plainer, the better. White is ok, but it’s usually khaki that gets the most mileage here. I have to admit though, if a guy can pull off white shorts and keep them clean the whole day, that’s got to have some sort of plus point!
- Shades. I think I mentioned this in a previous article—for some reason, guys look 10 million times hotter in shades. So find out which style suits you best. Normally aviators look more distinguished and sophisticated, wayfarers are more laid back and hip, and Oakleys are athletic and edgy.
Needless to say, for this basic wardrobe to work, you’ve got to supplement with good grooming (regular haircuts and shaves), clean hands and trimmed nails, a tinge of mens perfume (I swear it makes such a difference), and a cute smile. Get all this down pat and you can’t go wrong.