Men's wardrobe essentials - I thought it would be interesting to ask Kim Johnson Gross of Chic Simple Ltd what wardrobe essentials every man should have in his closet. I also asked her for some bargain shopping tips for those of us who want to stretch our wardrobe dollars. The advice she provided gives every guy the essentials he needs for a practical and functional wardrobe that will carry him though many different occasions.
Where to Start?
According to Gross, when it comes to building a functional wardrobe, the first thing a guy must do is assess his lifestyle. Does he need to wear a suit every day? If so, then he will need several suits. Is he in a more casual setting at work? If so, then perhaps he needs more khakis or jeans than trousers or suits. No matter what his particular situation though, there are things every man should have in his wardrobe.
Men's Wardrobe Essentials
- A suit (navy or gray) - Even if you only need a suit a couple of times a year, you're glad to have it on hand when those occasions arise. Navy or gray suits are classic and neutral and can be dressed up or down. You can even wear the blazer with khakis or jeans. This is an item worth spending some money on.
- Black shoes and belt - These can be worn with khakis, jeans and your suit. This is an essential combo. Before buying brown, get black. I think you will find you get more mileage out of them, especially when attending more formal or evening functions.
- White dress shirt (good for day and night occasions) - White dress shirts look good on just about everybody. They look sharp and are versatile but should not to be worn as a casual shirt.
- Solid tie - Solid ties are easy and versatile. If solid isn't your thing, try a classic diagonal stripe. Having several tie patterns on hand will ensure you are prepared for interviews, weddings and evening events.
- Blue blazer - A blue blazer is good for all year round and easily coordinates with khakis and other items. If that bores you, try a tweed sport coat but also keep in mind that tweed is really only useful in fall and winter. Either way a blazer or tweed sport coat holds a look together.
- Khakis and jeans - No explanation necessary here. Jeans are a staple of the American wardrobe. Khakis are the same.
- Overcoat - An overcoat doesn't necessarily mean a long coat. It also means 3/4-length or car coat length. This item really finishes an outfit and can be worn with everything including jeans. And everyone needs a coat in winter, right? Well, maybe not if you live in places like Phoenix or San Diego.
- Briefcase - A briefcase does not necessarily mean a hard case. It can be soft, or messenger bag style. In a man is has to carry files and other documents, this is an essential.
- Athletic wear - Even for non-athletic types, athletic wear is great for those lazy Sundays and dashes to the convenience store at wee hours of the morning.
- Casual shirt - A casual shirt such as a polo or button down is a must have to wear with jeans or other casual pants.
- Deconstructed suit - A deconstructed suit is great because it has a relaxed look but is pulled together. Also, the pants and blazer can be worn separately)
A word of advice: start simple and expand according to lifestyle. Classics don't mean boring.
Bargains Shopping Tips
There is only one thing to say - buy on sale! After Christmas or seasons end sales are best. But don't buy something just because it is on sale or is a great deal. It should be something you would want to wear anyway and coordinates with your wardrobe. Also, if you find something on sale that may not have a perfect fit, don't be shy about taking it to a tailor. Buy comfortable clothes that make you feel confident and fit your style.
Kim Johnson Gross is the co-founder of Chic Simple Ltd and Kim has also written monthly columns in InStyle magazine, and appeared on numerous television and talk shows as a leading consumer authority. former fashion director of Esquire and Fashion Editor of Town & Country.