Getting dressed should never be an ordeal, said almost every guy, ever. No one wants to agonise in front of a mirror for hours, or be the unfortunate soul that cops a hard time for taking longer than his better half to get ready.
That’s why a solid understanding of the basics is important. And it works in our favour, gents – our wardrobe doesn’t change much year to year (fashion shows don’t count). The staples have been the staples for a bloody long time. Best of all, they’re not going anywhere.
We’ve collected what we believe are the top ten wardrobe basics that every guy should try to include in the rotation at some stage. They’re enviably cheap, won’t go out of style, and for the most part can be bought from your desk
Polo Ralph Lauren Basic Tee
The basic white tee is a wardrobe fundamental with which every guy should be readily familiar. Worn by the greats – Paul Newman, James Dean, McQueen – and never subject to the fickle cycles of high fashion, the white tee flatters everyone and works in every setting.
Made from 100% breathable cotton, the Ralph Lauren white tee isn’t sprayed-on-skinny, and it’s not so loose that you feel like you’re wearing a paint smock. Buy a few and rotate them evenly – white shirts are usually the first to suffer the ill effects of prolonged wear. Although the staple plain white is our pick, Ralph also do these in a variety of other colours.
Country Road V Neck Knit
Knitwear isn’t just for the old guys; you need something for those crisp autumnal mornings where a jacket is overkill but a shirt on its lonesome is a risky move. These V-neck sweaters by Country Road are versatile enough for corporate or casual wear – they look just as good with a shirt and tie as they do with jeans and a t-shirt.
They’re also made from merino wool, promising superior breathability and a soft texture. A navy or burgundy is a solid choice for winter and with the right treatment, should be something you can wear for more than a couple of seasons (just don’t wear it with nothing underneath in any circumstance).
ASOS Crewneck Knit
Originally something you’d wear on the couch or to the track, crewnecks have graduated from sportswear apparel to the big leagues of menswear. Crewnecks might not come to mind for work tailoring, but you would be cheerfully surprised to see how comfortably these can go with an oxford shirt, chinos, and chelsea boots for suit-free work attire. Again, the staple colours are at play here – navy and grey – but it’s worth getting a few different tones to ensure you’re not the most boring bloke in the office.
Adidas Originals Stan Smiths
Popular among every demographic from broke uni students to the bold and insta-famous, the Adidas Stan Smith sneaker has emerged as a staple footwear choice that can be worn for any sartorial contingency. Stan Smiths can run the gamut alongside shorts and a tee, to jeans and a button-down. But if you’re feeling brave, try pairing these with a casual cotton-linen suit in summer. They’ll run you a touch over one hundred dollars – by no means a hefty sum for something you can sneak into every outfit combination.
Burton Menswear/ASOS Navy Blazer
A quick look across the menswear blogosphere would demonstrate the consensus that a navy blazer still deserves its place as the key fundamental in the male wardrobe. This Burton navy blazer can go anywhere, from casual workplaces or drinks in town. Most importantly, it’s never at risk of being one of those things at the back of the wardrobe that makes you wonder just what you were thinking at the time of purchase.
If you’re a lazy dresser, all this jacket takes are cream chinos, loafers, and a white tee to finish an outfit. But there’s nothing wrong with incorporating a tie and smarter pants if you’ve got somebody to impress. Don’t worry, gents – while it says slim-fit on the tag, it won’t make you regret the pre-Uber burritos you’ve been sneaking in at the end of a big one.
Nudie Slim Jeans
Denim powerhouse Nudie Jeans have an impeccable reputation for workmanship and product quality, and it’s for this reason that we selected them for our denim of choice over a bunch of solid competitors. Nudies fit the description for most preferences – slim, skinny, or nothing remotely tapered – and produce everything from 100% organic cotton, with a regularly-audited and fully accountable production process.
Another distinctive bonus from the guys at Nudie is their garment repair service. They have a bunch of shops dotted around the world that can restitch embarrassing crotch tears and frays and return your Nudies good as new. Best of all, it’s free.
Brooks Brothers Button-Down Shirt
Although firmly entrenched in preppy lore, Brooks Brothers have something to suit the lifestyle of most guys (even those of us too broke to holiday in the Hamptons).
The button-down shirt is a wardrobe essential, whether it’s for a last-minute risky Tinder matchup or suit-free Friday in the office. Our house pick is a pale blue. Made from American Supima cotton in a slim (but not outrageously so) cut, this option can go with smart pants and a blazer, or with shorts and boat loafers in summer.
Polo Ralph Lauren Reversible Belt
We all know the rule: match the belt to your shoes. But the other rule – that you need a separate belt for each pair of stompers – no longer applies. With a plain silver buckle and a reversibility feature – one side black, the other brown – you can adopt this Polo Ralph Lauren belt as a mainstay accessory with your weekday tailoring and recreational kit. It’s unpretentious, classic, and an absolute steal given the fact you’re essentially getting two belts in one hit.
The controversial man-ankle thing still hasn’t gone away (to the collective groans of old men and tradies everywhere). If you’re onboard with the look, but like most normal people have a sense of hygiene, you’ll probably want to invest in invisible socks.
These are great in summer when linen shorts are dominating the wardrobe, and even in cooler months when you’ve finally decided to grow a pair and wear your cropped ‘Italian style’ pants to the office. Just make sure to buy a couple more pairs than you need – they don’t have a long life and manky socks will kill what little game you have left.
Daniel Wellington Watch
If you’ve surveyed the turf on social media, chances are you’ve seen someone’s pasty wrist with a Daniel Wellington on it, next to their avocado latte and copy of the Monocle.
The D.W. look embraces Scandinavian understatement, with a minimalist watch face in two sizes (38-40mm). With multiple strap options, you can wear a D.W. across a range of formal and casual settings.
A chocolate brown strap is perfect for work or a night on the tiles, and the preppy NATO straps finish off a casual outfit for the Sunday session that’s just a little too dangerous for your Submariner.