It’s a simple fact that men need to own certain items: a good hammer, a decent record player, a really warm blanket that potential mates will totally dig. And the same principle applies to your wardrobe too.
While menswear’s not a game of Paint By Numbers, it’s always good to know you’re on the right track. Which is why we rounded up ten more menswear items you should consider for safeguarding your style against the vagaries of time.
1. The Barbour Waxed Jacket
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the Barbour jacket was once worn solely for practical purposes; the uniform of upper-class gents in strides and wellies walking the grounds with a shotgun over their arm and a lineage cleaner than the rear window of their Jag.
Both lightweight and heavy duty, the jacket’s 6oz waxed cotton fabrication makes it the perfect option for taking Jasper for a walk, but also, as it turns out, the ideal piece of outerwear for those of us who wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a hoe if we tried.
Although it’s now available in a range of styles each subtly tuned to keep up with the trend du jour, the basis has stayed the same and the finer details – metal hardware, a corduroy collar and stitched branding to the front left pocket – look just as iconic now as they ever did.
2. Clarks Desert Boots
The old Desert boot has been through a lot since British mainstays Clarks began crafting the pioneering design in the 1950s. Picked up by practically every subculture that’s emerged over the six decades since it was born, it’s proved itself one of the most versatile footwear silhouettes going.
While in 1968 you might have spotted them on Steve McQueen on the set of The Thomas Crown Affair, today you could catch a glimpse of them on currently-incarcerated dancehall legend Vybz Kartel, whose immensely catchy track ‘Clarks’ pays homage to the brand that bore the boot.
With an exceptionally comfortable crepe sole, minimal lacing system, and smart leather and suede uppers, the Desert boot hasn’t changed a beat since the fifties – and it hasn’t needed to, being equally suited to casual tailoring as the streets of Kingston Town.
3. The Alpha Industries MA-1 Jacket
Once known as something that surly doormen of bad clubs wore to cover their steroid-swollen arms, the MA-1 flight jacket has recently been welcomed back into the menswear fold owing to its authentic military aesthetic and unbeatable insulation.
Still boasting some of that Jet Age cool from the time when fighter pilots were considered the coolest guys alive (in movies, at least), the MA-1 is ideal for pairing with a tee and jeans and also lends a bit of credibility in the ‘could possibly beat you up’ stakes which – let’s be honest – is still a hit with potential significant others.
4. Dr. Martens 8-Eye Boots
Ever had your toes trodden on at a gig by someone and you turned to shout blue murder at them but they actually looked quite cool so you didn’t? Sure you have. They were totally wearing Docs, weren’t they?
Assimilated punk iconography can sometimes make the skin crawl (distressed patching, shoddy DIY safety pin customisation) but the British brand’s classic 8-eye boot will bring an instant edge to any outfit.
With a Goodyear-welted construction and clean, trendproof design, a pair of Docs is the perfect choice for smart-casual looks that show your muso credentials – just make sure you brace yourself for wearing them in.
5. Dockers Alpha Khaki Chinos
Think chinos are naff trousers for 1950s-era dads? Think again. Dockers is a quality imprint of San Fran heavyweights Levi’s and their Alpha Khaki chinos are everything you’re looking for in a pair of casual trews.
Made from hardy cotton twill and coming in a timeless slim tapered cut, Alpha Khakis easily weather the effects of frequent wear. Which is good because they can be combined with nearly everything else in your wardrobe.
6. Gucci Horsebit Loafers
The shoe of choice for discerning men from Pitti Uomo to Garage Nation, Gucci’s horsebit-adorned loafer is intrinsically linked to London’s Garage scene of the late 1990s and early 2000s, but its decidedly classier pedigree (mid-century Florence) is also undoubted.
Steeped in Italian flair, it’s born to be worn sans sock with a neatly rolled-up trouser or pair of nattily tailored shorts once the sun’s out.
Its upper’s clasped metal detail is a subtle but instantly recognisable mark of distinction, while its low-profile silhouette and smooth sole make it equally suited to sprinting the steps of Fortezza da Basso and dancing around spilled JD and Cokes to DEA Project.
7. The Levi’s Denim Trucker Jacket
A well-fitting, solidly constructed denim jacket complete with metal buttons that only gets better with age. That’s it. We could just end it there, really. But we won’t. Because we love it too much.
The trucker evokes cowboys and The Warriors and, most crucially for 2015, on-point layering. It’s an endlessly versatile item that never goes out of style, looking just as good thrown on with a T-shirt and hoody as it does buttoned up over a twill shirt.
If you don’t own one already, open up a new browser tab and sort yourself out quick smart.
8. The John Smedley Merino Crew Neck Jumper
There’s a reason John Smedley was awarded a Royal Warrant. The British label’s beautifully crafted merino jumper is pure minimalism – no bells and whistles here – and the material used is of the highest quality, with Smedley sourcing all its merino wool ethically and fairly from a select number of wool growers in New Zealand.
Fusing merino’s natural moisture-wicking benefits with temperature regulating properties, this time-honoured knit shows natural materials can be practical too. It’s also a bit like wearing a hug. A big, flattering, crew neck hug.
9. The Omega Speedmaster
Did you know that the Speedmaster was worn by Buzz Aldrin on the moon? Literally the moon. Since then, this classic line of chronograph timepieces has gone on to feature in pretty much every iconic watch magazine spread and wristwatch collection worth its salt.
Although originally introduced as a sports and racing watch in 1957, you’re now just as likely to see it on Daniel Craig’s wrist at a red carpet event as you are at the Olympic Games.
Superbly tuned and fantastically detailed, this qualified-for-spaceflight timepiece is also made of materials strong enough to live through Armageddon. The movie and the, you know, rapture.
10. The Borsalino Felt Fedora
Up there with leather coats and velvet dinner jackets, the fedora is widely considered one of the toughest items to pull off. It’s hardly surprising it scares off most men – you need a whole lot of style, panache, and perfectly on-point facial hair to wear one of these without looking like a total #jemble.
But if you do it, better your chances and do it with a Borsalino. Masterfully crafted using premium materials such as rabbit felt, Italian label Borsalino’s fedoras bring a rakish elegance to any tailored look you throw together.
Founded in 1857, the Alessandria-based milliners have been going for well over a century; here’s hoping they keep going, and save the fedora from the MRA’s grubby, Doritos-crusted clutches.
Picking items that everybody loves isn’t playing it safe. These iconic pieces are the building blocks of a solid, unfailingly stylish wardrobe and, besides, it’s how you use them that sets you apart from the pack.
Are there any other men’s style heroes we’ve missed out on?
Share them below.