Our new series enlists expert help to pinpoint every new piece your budget should buy. This week, we show you how a moderate £500 budget can build a money-looking wardrobe.
1 Decent Pair Of Jeans
As the backbone of most outfits, every man should own at least one decent pair of hard-wearing jeans. “Never skimp on jeans,” says stylist Jenna Riddle. “And don’t be afraid to try on lots of pairs in the quest for a perfect fit.”
Which means a straight- or slim-leg (not spray-on skinny or oversized) style that sits naturally on the ankle, if you want maximum wear.
As for colours to look out for? “Stick to a darker wash to ensure your denims look newer for longer – they’ll go with almost anything and require little thought.”
541 Athletic Jeans, available at Levi’s, priced £85.
1 Pea Coat & 1 Bomber Jacket
Thin summer jackets are only viable for a couple of months a year. For the remainder, you’ll need something robust. “A versatile coat will last you for years,” says Riddle. “Stick with a classic black or navy short pea coat that can add an instant edge of smartness.”
Wool-Rich Borg Collar Pea Coat, available at Topman, priced £90.
Decent battle armour requires a few variations though, and a transitional jacket is still a must. “In-between pieces that offer protection are difficult to find. Stay away from the dad windbreakers and opt for a well-lined bomber jacket or that can be layered up for winter.”
The oversized trend will die off quick. Better is a bomber with room for a couple layers, not every jumper in your wardrobe.
Bomber Jacket, available at ASOS, priced £25.
3 Plain White T-Shirts
“The optimum tee is high necked with a round collar and a good cotton mix,” says Riddle. “Look out for high cotton content that has weight – they’ll fare better after numerous wears and washes.”
Which brings us onto quality. Primark multipacks may be pocket friendly, but you’ll be buying a new bunch every time they don’t survive the washing machine. Once you’ve found your perfect match, pledge your allegiance with bi-annual visits – you can never have enough tees.
Fine Jersey Crew Neck T-Shirt, available at American Apparel, priced £15 each.
1 Grey Sweater
As men perfect the art of layering, certain pieces are becoming more and more essential. Exhibit A: the grey sweater. “Opt for a slight marl effect for added texture and depth to your look, with the emphasis on a regular, flattering fit,” Riddle says. “Brands such as COS are worth the extra pounds as pieces will retain their shape for longer.”
The grey sweater sits well beneath staple jackets and coats, but can also double up as your summer overlayer. Extra versatility, which means extra wear. In short, you need one.
Lightweight Knit Sweatshirt, available at COS, priced £45.
1 Pair Of Adidas Originals Gazelles OG
There’s a reason Gazelles have OG in the title. As one of the most iconic sneakerss to ever tread the streets, they’ll always be cool. “Black sneaks will match anything in your wardrobe,” says Riddle. “The Adidas Gazelle is a woman’s perfect man trainer. It says you’re cool and classic without caring too much for fashion trends.”
Or, as Riddle succinctly puts it: “the perfect balance”. Wear with plain white tees, smart trousers, jeans, jackets – whatever your heart desires. Adidas Originals Gazelles work with everything.
Adidas Originals Gazelle OG, available at Surfdome, priced £59.99.
1 Pair Of Smart Trousers
Denims are versatile, but they don’t always cut the dress code mustard. Which makes a smart pair of trousers a must-have. “Still comfortable and easy-to-wear, but they add a neatened edge,” says Riddle.
Look for softer fabrics, like wool, and a straight-legged silhouette, which gives even that sweatshirt and trainers some sharpness. So long as they sit on your shoe, not three inches above it.
Smart Suit Trousers, available at Zara, priced £49.99.
1 Cashmere Mix Jumper
Despite the pros of a grey sweater, there are more luxurious choices available, which will dress up your jeans while still matching your trousers.
“Cashmere is one of those adult wardrobe milestones,” says Riddle. “But it’s expensive, which means wool mixes are the perfect midway point.”
You’ll find decent options for around the £50 mark, with forest green, burgundy and navy the most flexible colourways.
Tog24 Plateau Cashmere Mix Jumper, available at JD Williams, priced £60.
1 Black Backpack
You’ve got the essential clobber, but where exactly do you put all your essentials? There are only so many pockets for your mobile, wallet, cardholder, empty cigarette packet, bit of string, old train ticket etc.
“A choice backpack lets you incorporate the kudos of a streetwear brand,” says Riddle. “Navy, black, cream and dark autumnal colours will work with the rest of your wardrobe.” If you can’t stretch to leather, look to minimalist canvas options instead.
Herschel Supply Co. Classic Backpack, available at MyBag, priced £40.