A New, More Stylish You
Yesterday, in part one, we began running down thirty key items that any man can use to completely reinvent his wardrobe. We kept a strong focus on pieces that are simple, versatile and classic that you know will never fall out of style.
As we are set to break down a further twenty pieces today, the following list will assume that you already have a basic understanding of how clothes should fit you. If you don’t then we suggest taking a read through our men’s fashion basics series, before you start.
So, let’s dive back into it, shall we?
11. A Neutral Seasonal Suit
The style you pick will depend on where you live and the weather you typically experience.
As I live in the UK, I’d go with a cold-weather fabric like tweed or flannel. Those of you who reside in warm or tropical climates may opt for linen, seersucker or cotton.
Either way, keep things classic with a two-button, notch lapel design and look to split this into separates as much as you wear it as a whole.
Key Brand Suggestions: T.M.Lewin, Marks & Spencer, Next, Suitsupply, J. Crew, Reiss, Charles Tyrwhitt, Gieves & Hawkes.
- J. Crew Ludlow Suit Jacket In Japanese Seersucker
- Lazio Brown Plain
- Reiss Miami B Patterned Two Button Blazer Stone
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In Herringbone
- Topman Premium Blue Tweed Suit Jacket
- Topman Brown Flannel Heritage Suit
12. Light Oxford Button-Down Shirt
A preppy classic, this piece works just as well paired with jeans and trainers as it does your navy/grey suit and black shoes.
They also look awesome fresh out of the dryer, which is great if you’re terrible at ironing/lazy like me.
Opt for pastel hues such as sky blue, pink, mint green or yellow to really inject some life into both your smart and casual looks.
Key Brand Suggestions: Uniqlo, ASOS, Gant, Ralph Lauren, J. Crew.
- J.crew Button-down Collar Cotton Oxford Shirt
- Uniqlo Men Easy Care Oxford Long Sleeve Shirt
- Polo Ralph Lauren Oxford Slim Fit Long Sleeve Shirt Forest Green
13. A Neutral Polo Shirt
Arguably the ultimate smart-casual piece, a neutral, well-fitting polo shirt can be dressed up or down with ease.
Opt for timeless shades such as white, black, grey or navy to cement its versatility and then nail the fit: the sleeves should hit around mid-bicep and the shirt should end halfway down the trouser fly, allowing it to be tucked in, if necessary.
You should also pay close attention to how the neck opening sits on your body. It’s important to make sure that when it’s unbuttoned it does open properly, as it aids in framing your face.
In terms of style, keep the design as simple as possible with minimal branding. Use it to dress down your suiting/tailoring or combine with jeans/chinos/shorts for casual nights out or weekends spent shopping/drinking in the beer garden.
Key Brand Suggestions: Reiss, Uniqlo, HE By Mango, Ralph Lauren, Fred Perry, Sunspel, Orlebar Brown, Lacoste.
- He By Mango Button-down Collar Polo Shirt
- Uniqlo Men Dry Ex Short Sleeve Polo Shirt
- Sunspel Cotton-jersey Polo Shirt
14. Brown Brogues
Because a man cannot live on a single pair of shoes alone.
Look to get them in a hue as close to chocolate brown as possible and wear them just as much as your black Derbies/Oxfords, especially with navy.
Key Brand Suggestions: Church’s, Grenson, Cheaney, Loake, Barker, Crockett & Jones, John Lobb, Trickers.
- Churchs Enmore Leather Brogues
- Cheaney Romney Suede Brogues
- Churchs Brown New York Punched Wing Oxford Shoes
15. A Solid Neutral Tie
Smart choices for a novice would be solid styles in navy, grey, black or burgundy (often classed as a new ‘neutral’).
Pick one up in a textured fabric such as grenadine or knitted silk and it can be worn formally with a suit or dressed down with an Oxford shirt and some jeans.
When you are ready to experiment further, take a look through our beginners’ guide to shirt and tie combinations.
Key Brand Suggestions: T.M.Lewin, Reiss, Drakes, Marwood London, Hackett, Charvet.
- Reiss Darcy Slim Silk Knitted Tie Black
- Drakes Silk-grenadine Tie
- T.m.lewin Grey Textured Slim Silk Tie
16. A Handful Of Pocket Squares
Think whites, blues, reds, browns and pinks.
Never match your tie and pocket square exactly – it comes across as slightly too contrived. Instead, since you have opted for a solid tie, you can look to inject a bit of pattern into your looks here.
The key is to bear in mind your colour matching basics and pick out your tie colour with your pocket square. For instance, why not try a navy tie with a pink and navy polka dot print pocket square?
Of course, if you’re in doubt, a classic white version can be matched with any tie colour and always lends a timeless, gentlemanly touch to any ensemble.
Tip: Keep your eye out for hand rolled edges, which are a hallmark of any great pocket square.
Key Brand Suggestions: T.M.Lewin, Reiss, Drakes, Marwood London, Hackett, Charvet.
- Pink Navy Spot Pocket Square
- Charvet Silk Pocket Square
- DRAKE’S PAISLEY-PRINT WOOL AND SILK-BLEND POCKET SQUARE
17. Tailored Shorts
An obvious summer essential, a pair of tailored shorts in classic block-colours such as navy, grey, beige, olive or white will never fall out of style and can be dressed up or down effortlessly.
They should be cut slim through the leg and ideally finish an inch or two above the knee. Any longer and we’re starting to approach three-quarter length territory. Any shorter and we’re moving into the zone that only your swimming trunks should be in.
Opt for materials like cotton, linen-blends, madras or seersucker to not only help keep sweat at bay but also reinforce that you are a stylish gentleman who understands the importance of seasonal dressing.
For a complete primer on wearing shorts as a modern gent, read our Dos & Don’ts Guide.
Key Brands: Uniqlo, ASOS, Reiss, Oliver Spencer, Ted Baker, Paul Smith, Ben Sherman, HE By Mango, J. Crew.
- He By Mango Contrast Shorts
- Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Stone
- Asos Skinny Fit Shorts In Cotton Sateen
18. Neutral Boots
These could be chukkas, desert or even brogue boots.
No matter what style you go for, pick up a pair in a neutral colour like brown, grey or black and wear the hell out of them, especially with casual ensembles.
Key Brand Suggestions: Grenson, Clarks Originals, Trickers, ALDO, Hudson, Loake, ASOS, AllSaints.
- Clarks Originals Suede Desert Boots
- Asos Chukka Boots In Leather
- Grenson Fred Triple-welt Pebble-grain Leather Brogue Boots
19. A Classic Watch
Every guy should have a timepiece they can rely and fall back on when the situation arises. Whether you prefer a timeless and refined black/brown leather strap or a durable and masculine stainless steel bracelet, stick to a classic round face design and you won’t go far wrong.
Consider buying an alternative warm-weather strap at the same time; I often keep a canvas/nato version ready to be tagged in for the summer to avoid any sweaty wrist scenarios.
Key Brand Suggestions: Rolex, Daniel Wellington, Uniform Wares, Tag Heuer, Tissot, Hamilton, Seiko, Baume & Mercier.
- Daniel Wellington St Andrews Rose Gold Brown Leather Strap Watch
- Tissot Le Locle Mens Leather Strap Automatic Watch
- Uniform Wares 203 Series Brushed-steel Wristwatch
20. A Classic Pair Of Sunglasses
Some sunglasses never go out of style. Wayfarers, clubmasters and aviators are as popular today as they’ve always been and there is good reason for this – they’re timeless shapes.
It’s important to buy the right silhouette for your specific face shape and invest as much as you can – they will be worn for many years to come and the higher quality lens, the more protection you will receive from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
When it comes to colour, gold/silver metal and tortoiseshell/black acetate frames are all classic options that suit all men.
Key Brand Suggestions: Ray-Ban, Cutler & Gross, Oliver Peoples, Garrett Leight, Persol, Han Kjobenhavn.
- Oliver Peoples Banks Acetate And Metal Sunglasses
- Ray-ban Wayfarer Sunglasses With Polarized Lenses
- Cutler And Gross Aviator-style Sunglasses
21. A Check/Plaid Shirt
A classic piece that transcends the wardrobes of men across the globe – from sharply dressed city boys to rugged, blue-collar workers.
Again, think seasonal. Flannel for cold weather, madras or cotton for warm.
I am particularly fond of red buffalo plaid, so that’s what I would go for, but any check with blue, green or grey base tones would be suitable. For ideas on how to style this piece, check out our article on reviving your check shirt collection.
Key Brand Suggestions: Uniqlo, Levi’s, Gant Rugger, ASOS, Lee, River Island, J. Crew, Barbour, Fred Perry, A.P.C.
- Uniqlo Men Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt
- Asos Oversized Shirt In Long Sleeve With Check
- Gant Rugger Slim-fit Madras Plaid Brushed-cotton Shirt
22. A Chunky Shawl Neck Cardigan
This is a versatile layering piece for the in-between seasons.
Go for something in navy or grey for maximum versatility and why not take the opportunity to inject a bit of texture into your wardrobe? Cable or waffle knits, when combined with the unconventional collar, will help inject character and depth into any ensemble.
Layer it over the top of a shirt and tie combination (in place of your blazer) for smart-casual occasions and wear it as a makeshift jacket for those off-duty days when it’s cold but not wet.
For other ways you can utilise a shawl neck cardigan, check out our guide here.
Key Brand Suggestions: Farah, Topman, Austin Reed, French Connection, J.Lindeberg, Lyle & Scott, Ralph Lauren, Ted Baker, Selected Homme.
- Ted Baker Emple Shawl Collar Cardigan navy
- French Connection Prague Knitted Cardigan
- Selected Homme Danten Shawl Neck Cardigan Grey
23. A Neutral Mac/Trench Coat
Again, another transitional season classic that will keep the drizzle and wind at bay.
I would suggest getting one in a timeless camel/beige hue as it is striking yet refined and contrasts nicely with navy and grey, which tend to be the most common colours within any capsule wardrobe.
Try pairing it with chinos, a button-down shirt and v-neck jumper for the perfect relaxed Saturday afternoon outfit.
Key Brand Suggestions: Burberry, Rains, Reiss, ASOS, Paul Smith, Stutterheim, Aquascutum.
24. Grown-Up Trainers
Sure, keep those New Balance or Vans for when you are smashing out a hard core leg day, but make sure you have a fresh, clean pair in your collection too.
Stick to white, black, navy or grey, opt for premium leather/suede construction and keep all branding and embellishments to an absolute minimum. If you follow this advice, you will have a pair of trainers that look just as good juxtaposed against a suit as they do with chinos and a tee at the weekend.
Key Models: Adidas Stan Smith/Gazelle/Samba, Converse Jack Purcell, Common Projects Achilles, Puma Suede, Lacoste Marcel, Nike Tennis Classic
- Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top Sneakers
- Adidas Originals Stan Smith Leather Sneakers
- Reiss Jack Purcell Jack Purcell Trainers Navy
25. A Reversible Leather Belt
If your trousers fit you perfectly, you shouldn’t even require a belt. That said, they offer the perfect finishing touch to any formal or smart-casual look.
Opt for a reversible black/brown leather version and you have something that will match both your brown and black shoes.
Key Brand Suggestions: Paul Smith, Austin Reed, Mulberry, Reiss, Ted Baker, Marks & Spencer, Hugo Boss.
- Ted Baker Bream Casual Reversible Belt
- Reiss Dart Classic Reversible Belt Black
- M&s Collection Gunmetal Rectangular Buckle Prong Reversible Belt
26. A Neutral Scarf
Because a gentleman is always prepared. If you live in a warmer climate, a cotton or linen version may be more appropriate. It will take the edge off crisp mornings and breezy evenings, and can even be used in place of a tie in the right situation.
Others may find a scarf made from a heavy duty wool or cashmere better serving for when November rolls around, complete with bitter winds and snow. Either way, try to avoid any bold patterns or textures for the moment and choose a neutral hue that complements the jackets and knits you currently own.
Key Brand Suggestions: Drakes, H&M, Paul Smith, Topman, Loro Piana, Alexander McQueen, River Island.
- He By Mango Fringe Linen Cotton-blend Scarf
- Paul Smith Accessories Plain Logo Scarf
- Loro Piana Cable-knit Baby Cashmere Scarf
27. A Mid-Sized Holdall
Perfect for the gym or a weekend away. It can be leather or canvas but needs to be big enough to carry your essentials – 24- or 48-hour sizes should be right.
Remember, there’s nothing more depressing than seeing a well-dressed man with a tattered rucksack slung over his shoulder, one strapping it.
Invest in quality and this bag will last you for many years to come.
Key Brand Suggestions: Herschel, Eastpak, ASOS, Sandqvist, Filson, Mismo, Mulberry, Bill Amberg.
- Asos Smart Leather Look Holdall
- Mismo Dark Blue Ms Adventurer Weekend Bag
- Mulberry Clipper Leather Holdall Bag
28. Heavy Duty Boots
With increasingly erratic weather across the globe, I think it’s safe to say that you don’t want to be caught short when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
You could go all out with a pair of Wellingtons if you like – just take a look at photos of Nick Wooster at NYFW AW15 to see how awesome they can look.
Alternatively, you could opt for a pair of duck boots that are ideal for the sludge and snow, or even a pair of durable Red Wings. Keep your eye out for Vibram, lug or siped rubber soles, which will help keep you sure-footed no matter what Mother Nature throws at you.
Yet no matter what style you go for, be prepared and you won’t have to clean stains off those precious dress shoes that you invested in.
Key Brand Suggestions: Hunter, Fracap, Grenson, ASOS, Red Wing.
- Hunter Original Tall Wellies
- Lacrosse For J.crew Duck Boots
- Red Wing Shoes Rubber-soled Leather Boots
29. A Slimline Card Holder
Because that bulging wallet in your front pocket isn’t doing your look or trouser linings any favours.
Firstly, you definitely don’t need to carry all those receipts and loyalty cards. Take what’s essential for the day and leave the rest at home.
Look to get one in leather that can hold a few cards and a couple of notes.
Key Brand Suggestions: Mulberry, Smythson, Comme Des Garçons, Dunhill, Paul Smith, Burberry.
- Comme Des Garcons Wallet Blue Super Fluro Card Holder
- Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Burnished-leather Cardholder
- Mulberry Cross-grain Leather Cardholder
30. A Piece Of Jewellery
It doesn’t need to be flashy, fancy or financially bankrupting but it should have a personal connection to you.
A signet ring, necklace, bracelet or even an earring are fair game in my eyes, so long as they are tasteful and have a reason for being on your person outside of “I thought it’d make me look like Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love”.
Wear it with everything you own and it will quickly become your sartorial calling card.
Key Brand Suggestions: Trashness, Miansai, Tateossian, Seven London, Luis Morais, Tod’s, Reclaimed Vintage, Maison Martin Margiela, Stephen Einhorn.
- Tateossian Scoubido Double-wrap Leather Bracelet
- Seven London Life Feather Pendant
- Maison Martin Margiela 11 Mens Classic Ring
- Luis Morais Gold Turquoise And Glass Bead Bracelet
- Miansai Woven-cord And Metal Hook Wrap Bracelet
- All_blues Mens 1.1 Recycled 925 Silver Bangle
There you have it, thirty pieces a man should purchase to completely transform his wardrobe. Honourable mentions go out to items like the Breton top, compact umbrella, leather/denim jacket, short-sleeved shirt and leather gloves.
But menswear is all about sharing and collaborating, so I want to hear what you have to say. Did I miss something crucial out? Should I have expanded on some pieces more? Is it even possible to stick to a thirty piece wardrobe and be happy?
Let me know in the comments section…