Sure, spring may not have quite sprung yet. But if the bounty of Easter eggs currently lining the supermarket shelves is anything to go by, it soon will – and so begins another season of brands churning out new pieces and trends, lobbying for your attention and hard-earned cash. But here’s a thought: why not give faddy fashions a miss this SS15 and refresh your wardrobe with some timeless basics instead? Whether you’re a slave to the latest drops from your favourite retailers, or you already adopt a more pared-back and reserved approach to style, there’s a lot to be said for equipping yourself with an arsenal of next level basics. Not only do quality staples provide a solid foundation on which you can build your daily looks, integrating classic, versatile pieces into your wardrobe will allow you to effortlessly pull together outfits for any occasion that arises. Take a look at the five basics we think every man should consider adding to their collection this season, below:
1. The Sky Blue Oxford Shirt
The ubiquitous Oxford shirt forms the cornerstone of a man’s smart and casual wardrobe. In a slim-cut, it’s a style with adaptability at its core, and one that looks just as sharp under a blazer for a day at the office as it does on its own with jeans for a night out. Although white is the default option for many, sky blue is arguably just as versatile and particularly appropriate for the warmer months – try pairing with slim chinos and a linen blazer for a smart Riviera-inspired ensemble. Uniqlo provides plenty of bang for your buck, offering a range of shirts that score high for quality (and still give change from £20). However, if your basics budget stretches further than that, look to Ralph Lauren for Oxfords in premium fabrications and a wide range of warm-weather hues.
Value Option: Uniqlo
Oxford Shirt, available at Uniqlo, priced £14.90.
Premium Option: Ralph Lauren
Polo Ralph Lauren Oxford Shirt In Slim Fit, available at ASOS, priced £85.
2. The White Crew Neck T-Shirt
The white crew neck T-shirt remains as much a wardrobe mainstay today as it was back in the 1950s when James Dean elevated it from workwear essential to sartorial classic. Of course, nowadays, it’s not worn with a packet of cigarettes tucked into the sleeve, but a crisp white crew neck paired with well-fitting jeans and a bomber jacket is one of the quickest ways to effortless cool. Although you may not think it, head to Marks & Spencer for a range of basic tees in excellent fits. Not only are they affordable, they also boast the brand’s innovative StayNEW technology, which helps material retain its shape and brilliant whiteness, so you stay looking fresh all summer long. At the other end of the scale, brands such as Sunspel and James Perse have redefined the luxury white tee, producing it in premium, super soft pima and sea island cottons that are worthy of their higher price tag.
Value Option: M&S
Pure Cotton Stay Soft T-Shirt, available at M&S, priced £7.50.
Premium Option: James Perse
James Perse Crew Neck Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt, available at Mr Porter, priced £45.
3. The Navy Crew Neck Jumper
Few items evoke the same sense of timelessness as a navy blue crew neck jumper. Favoured by style icons from past to present – including JFK and Steve McQueen through to David Beckham and Ryan Gosling – a navy merino wool, cashmere or pima cotton pullover is the definition of fuss-free style. And, like its basics brethren, it has adaptability at its heart. To channel a preppy aesthetic, layer it over your Oxford shirt and team with chinos and driving shoes, or for a more modern take, wear it with a pair of structured joggers and a longline shirt. John Lewis is stocking a superb merino-cashmere blend option this season that belies its affordable price point, while John Smedley has long been considered the leader in the sector and is offering a wealth of luxury options in a range of neutral colour ways.
Value Option: John Lewis
Moss Yoke Crew Neck Jumper in Navy, available at John Lewis, priced £59.
Premium Option: John Smedley
John Smedley Marcus Crew Neck Merino Wool Sweater, available at Mr Porter, priced £130.
4. The Indigo Slim-Fit Stretch Jeans
A good pair of jeans can be worn day in, day out without falling apart or losing their shape. Slim-fit denims with a bit of stretch retain their fit best, and a pair in a classic dark indigo wash are great for guys who want a fail-safe option that can be dressed up or down with minimal effort. Topman ticks all the boxes on this front, with its raw indigo jeans just one of many styles that could act as a base layer for the majority of your spring/summer looks. The bonus with this cut is that they offer a nice, streamlined silhouette without being too figure-hugging. At the other end of the scale, the original purveyors of jeans, Levi’s, are offering its 522 tapered slim-fit model in a firm-stretch selvedge denim this season, which are ideal for those that have slightly larger thighs.
Value Option: Topman
Raw Stretch Slim Jeans, available at Topman, priced £30.
Premium Option: Levi’s
Levi’s Jeans 522 Slim Tapered Fit Selvedge Dark Wash, available at ASOS, priced £100.
5. The Washed Denim Jacket
Unlike a leather jacket, the price you pay for a denim one isn’t necessarily directly proportional to the quality of the garment. Sure, every man lusts after a Levi’s number, keen to show off that covetable red tab. In reality, though, budget options from the likes of ASOS and River Island fit just as well – and often come in more supple denim that quickly achieves that highly desirable worn-in look. As a rule of thumb, when buying a denim jacket, opt for a size smaller than you’d usually go for. They’re supposed to fit snugly, and there shouldn’t be any excess fabric bunching anywhere. Opt for a light washed version so you can combine it with your indigo jeans and nail SS15’s big double denim trend.
Value Option: ASOS
ASOS Denim Jacket In Skinny Fit, available at ASOS, priced £40.
Premium Option: A.P.C.
A.P.C. Washed Denim Jacket, available at Mr Porter, priced £200.