When it comes to menswear, separating the sartorially superior from the fashion rookies is no easy feat. Before you even ask yourself why, let’s face it: In 2017, most men have the same printed button-downs, high-octane polos, and khaki pants. Fortunately, all hope for securing your reputation as a stylish man is not lost yet. Simply adding a few fashion-forward pieces will help foster your well-dressed reputation. Intrigued? Read on for the wardrobe essentials every stylish man needs.
1. A pair of dressy sneakers
Want to tell whether a guy is stylish? Check his shoes. A stylish man doesn’t need to know the difference between fancy Italian brands such as Boglioli and Brioni, but he will know one piece of fashion knowledge: wear good shoes. The rest of your outfit may suggest stylish gentleman, but strolling around in a pair of dirty gym shoes — read: The ones you wore earlier today on your morning run — screams childish. Don’t fret, sneakerheads: ditching your favorite kicks for all non-exercise activities doesn’t mean you must sacrifice your comfort. Instead, opt for a clean pair of dressy sneakers. Whether lace-ups or slip-ons, a pair of low-maintenance shoes in a neutral color — think a crisp white or versatile grey- is the perfect balance of dressy, casual, and comfortable.
2. A pair of brogues
Your polished sneakers may fill a large footwear void, but they’re not the kind of shoe you can sport to any and every occasion. Unless you’re an alternative rock star circa 2005, coupling a suit and pair of Converse sneakers together is a fashion faux pas. For those formal soirees and boardroom meetings, invest in a well-made pair of brogues. With strange defining terms such as wing-tip and monk strap, the quest for the perfect dress shoe may become a little intimidating. Our advice? Narrow your choice down by color and select the style you most gravitate toward. While black is a great choice if you’re looking for the finishing touch to your tuxedo, brown is a less-harsh alternative that will look great with a pair of tan work slacks or jeans.
3. A chambray shirt
Behind every great man is a wide selection of button-down shirts. After all, they’re appropriate for almost all occasions: work, happy hour, meeting your significant other’s parents, and your grandmother’s birthday party. Need we say more? But every so often, you find yourself attending an event where a classic button-down is too formal. What’s a stylish guy to do? Opt for a tee and look like the rest of crowd? Absolutely not. Behold: the chambray shirt. Defined as a woven shirt with a denim-like appearance, a button-down chambray top is a great way to give your outfit a laidback vibe without forgoing your trust dress shirt. Available in what feels like an infinite amount of shades, wear this to your next barbecue or movie date.
4. A pea coat
Let’s face it: Though your borderline archaic puffer jacket may supply you with all the warmth you need during the chillier seasons, it’s not the most stylish piece of outerwear. Stylish or not, we strongly suggest layering your warmest gear during your town’s polar vortex; however, go ahead and sport a polished pea coat on the days you’re not engulfed in a full-fledged blizzard. Whether accessorized with a scarf and hat or a chunky sweater, this jacket can be worn to both the office and the bar. Available in a variety of lengths and colors, a surefire option is a basic black or dark grey pick that hits the top of your quad.
5. A bomber jacket
Have you always wanted to dress as cool as your favorite celebrity? You’re in luck: sporting an A-Lister- approved look is as easy as throwing a bomber jacket over a basic T-Shirt and jeans. Once a key piece for World War II pilots, according to Complex, this jacket is now worn by a bevy of leading men from immortalized style icon James Dean to Hollywood’s contemporary roster of Chris Pratt, Adam Levine, and Kanye West. Simply put, investing in this frills-free jacket is the easiest way to transform an outfit from ordinary to extraordinary. From pricey suede to athletic nylon, this pick is available in a range of colors, textures, and prices. Since you’ll most likely wear this piece to spice up an otherwise ho-hum outfit, this will look super stylish in subtle pops of color such as olive green, light brown, or maroon.
6. A pair of cuff links
Jacket, pants, shirt, tie, and shoes — everything you need for a polished work outfit, right? Not necessarily. In 2015, most men may decide against adding cuff links. We can only imagine that “They look very old money,” and “I’m too masculine to add jewelry to my suit” are two of many excuses. But would fictional character-turned-style icon Don Draper be seen at Sterling Cooper without a set of cuff links? We doubt it. Though they may feel outdated, adding a set of cuff links is a nonverbal way of showing your bosses and colleagues that you are stylish even when you’re confined to a very basic suit and tie. When it comes to selecting a trusty pair of cuff links, the options are virtually endless: menswear retailers have everything from minimalist circles to pairs in wacky shapes, patterns and colors. If you’re not looking to create a statement with this accessory, opt for a simple pair of silver bar or circle links as a gentlemanly finishing touch.
7. A tailored suit
Ever doubted the importance of a suit? If so, think back to the costumes from Crazy, Stupid Love — we’re sure that your mom, best friend, or significant other either dragged you to the theaters or has the film playing in the background occasionally. Dressed in a polo, pair of jeans, and childish pair of New Balance sneakers, Steve’s Carell is a sad father of two who is on the brink of a divorce. According to Jacob, Cal’s younger swag mentor, the sulking protagonist “lost sight of who he was a man.” Jacob, who is played by Ryan Gosling, is a modern-day Casanova with a great apartment, bustling social life, and a carefully curated selection of suits.
So, with that in mind, would you rather be a Cal or a Jacob? Exactly. A suit has powers beyond an easy solution for your formalwear woes. Consider a suit your way of telling the world that you’re sophisticated, masculine, and style-conscious. While suit aficionado James Bond is known for rocking a black jacket and trousers, an equally neutral grey and navy are great alternatives that up the sartorial ante. Regardless of the color and fabric, the key to a perfect suit is a great fit. If you’ve found an almost-perfect suit that has a few flaws, save time and money with our selection of affordable and easy hacks to fake the perfect fit.
8. A sports jacket
We know what you’re thinking: If I just invested in suit, why should I pick up an additional few sports jackets? Similar to the bomber jacket, a textured blazer is the perfect way to add some much-needed energy to a button-down shirt and pair of pants. Whether you wear this piece to the office or an anniversary dinner with your significant other, this piece is a dressier way to stand out amongst a crowd. Unlike your suit, which you will probably buy in a subtle neutral hue, exercise your creativity by selecting sports jackets in interesting textures and prints. For fashion novices, herringbone or windowpane plaid printed jackets are great first-time investments. Looking to add some more pizazz to your wardrobe? Try a jacket of the bright-colored or striped variety.
9. A pair of corduroy pants
Besides an ultra-preppy pair of khakis, men don’t have a wide variety of pants that perfectly rest on the sartorial spectrum between casual jeans and formal trousers. While you associate the fabric with that curious, personified bear, corduroy is a stylish, not to mention less preppy, alternative. Perfect for the cooler months ahead, corduroy pants are sold in a variety of colors and will look fashion-forward with a lightweight sweater or simple T-Shirt and blazer. The color-adverse will most likely invest in a neutral pair — think black, brown, or navy — but feel free to opt for a zesty red or green if you’re up for the sartorial challenge.
10. A pair of wayfarer sunglasses
Although you may find yourself reaching for your UV-blocking eyewear more in the summer, let’s get one thing straight: sunglasses are a necessity all year-round. Sure, there’s a wide variety of aviators and sporty shades, but no frames are as effortlessly cool as the wayfarer. Popularized by Ray-Ban, these glasses usually boast a slightly rounded bottom with a straighter, more rectangular top. Translation? With several brands, sizes, and iterations to choose from, this general shape looks great on most faces. Whether you couple these rims with cool motorcycle jacket or a proper polo, your newest accessory is bound to add a stylish vibe to any ensemble.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs