Trends come and go and, because of their very nature, often repeat years later. But the true men’s wear classics have stood the test of time – decades even, remaining an essential fashion staple for the contemporary men’s style canon. Whether the year’s 2020 or 2055, the following nine pieces will continue to infiltrate into the stylish man’s wardrobe, his workplace and finally, the weekend.
Don’t have all on the list? There’s only one thing for it – shopping.
Chambray / Denim Shirt
The summery chambray shirt can be traced back to the French actor, Alain Delon and the Nouvelle Vague movement in the Sixties. The Euro heritage met with that of America’s Paul Newman, and both showed the world just how good the casual, cotton shirt could look for smart casual purposes.
In either dual pocket of single pouch, pick a chambray with perfect fit and a light blue colour. Then, when in the city pair with a linen blazer and mid-blue wash jeans or with chino shorts and leather brogues for a more relaxed feel by the sea.
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Wayfarers (Well…. maybe these come in waves)
Wayfarers were a hit in 1956 with their debut release Ray Ban, and are said to be the best-selling eyewear of all time. After a brief demise in the Seventies, the Eighties saw them feature again in films like Risky Business, with Tom Cruise’s killer moves slipping them back into the fashion spotlight.
Today, most luxury eyewear makers have their own versions in a multitude of types: tortoiseshell, dark brown and even leather frames making an appearance. But the original gloss black and matching black lens are indeed the most stylish and timeless of all them. Wear them with everything.
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No longer reserved for member’s clubs of preppy business types, the navy blazer – made iconic by Ralph Lauren – has become a men’s wear staple.
In two general types – structured or unstructured – the role of the blue-hued blazer differs depending on its fabrication; the former being more traditionally tailored compared to the more relaxed version.
Whatever the occasion, the navy blazer still follows the rules of fit: sharp on the shoulder and slim down to waist. Keep the details minimal with tonal or brass buttons, a slim lapel and single-breasted; ensuring the jacket can fluidly transition from casual Fridays to the weekend with a pair of khaki chinos and leather lace-ups.
Leather Oxford Lace-Ups
A solid, sleek pair of leather shoes are the very anchor of every stylish man’s outfit. For timelessness, the Oxford and Derby are the go-to varieties, whatever the season. Oxfords and Derbys are distinguished by their lacing mechanism.
Dumbed down, the Oxford has a closed lacing system that is a more streamlined look; while the Derby boasts an open lacing system, is a slightly more relaxed fit, giving it a more casual look.
You can opt for the brogue versions of each, recognised for their punch-hole perforations in decorative patterns on the shoe’s surface. Stick to black, dark brown and tan for hues that will serve your wardrobe needs for years.
While the plain white tee will always take premier place in men’s style canon, the Breton shirt is just as essential. Made famous by the fishermen in the French region of Breton, the summery tee hit it off with James Dean, who loved the shirt for its simple horizontal stripes in white and navy.
Designed to be worn with an air of je ne sais quoi, the Breton – in short or long sleeve – can be dressed up with trousers and a blazer or paired with linen shorts and slip-ons for a vrai interpretation of the local seafaring gents, sans rod and straw hat.
The Trench Coat
The trench coat was created for British officers in 1895, with the intent to dress the soldiers who went to war. More than a century later the classic piece, birthed by Burberry, remains very much the same with military epaulettes, throat latch, hook and bar, as well as a D-ring on the belt, cuff straps and the storm flap on the right shoulder – designed to button over the coat to keep the rain out.
Many luxury brands have crafted their own trench, offering the outerwear classic in updated colours such navy, black and beige. It’s a timeless, light-ish piece when made from cotton to wear over a suit for work. And it looks street cool over denim, a tee and sneakers for the weekend.
Dark Raw Jeans
The origins of denim are rooted in 1873 when the sturdy cloth became official workwear for men in the U.S. But it was in the Fifties, among the likes of Brando and Dean, that denim formed certain subcultural attachment that still influence its acceptance in fashion today.
The original minimalists, the mid-century men taught proceeding generations just how well denim could work as a fashionable pant; effortless in presentation and equally as versatile as trousers.
The plain white tee is an obvious choice for jeans; rolling the cuffs slightly and pairing with leather Chelsea’s for rockabilly vibe. Or, dress up the jeans with a button down shirt and jacket; the shirt tucked in for formalities, and then framed with a leather tan belt and matching brogues.
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The Classic Grey Suit
Grey is the most versatile of the coloured, non-black suits. The grey suit works timelessly in a plethora of different shades; appearing light and breezy in a pastel hue or corporately driven yet refined in charcoal. As a work suit, work a light pink, blue or lilac shirt under a dark grey three piece with brown shoes.
Meanwhile, the weekend looks dashing with an open collared white shirt and stark white sneakers – always no socks, for a perfect rendition of how to mix casual and formal pieces.
No longer reserved for sweating, the sneaker has been officially set free the gym and looks to be remain a staple footwear piece that lasts beyond the trend of sportsluxe.
There’s been a shift in men’s wear toward a comfortable chic in recent years, that sees the white sneaker pair with clean, slim jeans and tee, or with a textural blazer and chinos for a bouncier smart casual outfit.
Rules do apply: keep the sneaker low-cut and always in leather, with little-to-no coloured panels or prints for a minimal feel that makes the sneaker feel dressier than it actually is. No socks is a better option; running with the sporty vibe. Now, go get ’em.
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