Our new series enlists expert help to pinpoint every new piece your budget should buy. This week, how to get more from a modest £250.
1 Pair Of Black Slim-Fit Jeans
Black jeans are the most versatile option available. “Dark denims will sit with everything in your wardrobe,” says stylist Jenna Riddle. “That includes tailoring. A slim fit in a dark colour is the closest thing to a smart trouser and, if you’re on a budget, they can easily flit between formal and casual.”
River Island Black Dylan Slim-Fit Jeans, available at River Island, priced £30.
1 Borg Trim Bomber Jacket
The bomber jacket is the most recent entry to the Menswear Hall of Fame. Which means everyone’s got one. “They’re now a staple,” says Riddle. “And while there’s merit in the shape, they’re no longer groundbreaking.”
But there are ways to break from the crowd. “Subtle design details, like a borg collar, twist the formula. Plus, they’re still in line with the bomber’s heritage roots.”
New Look Navy Borg Trim Cotton Bomber Jacket, available at New Look, priced £39.99.
1 Pair Of Black Leather Loafers
Leather doesn’t come cheap. But if you can’t afford Berluti, you can still step into hide. “Most own brand collections feature leather footwear and they often cost much less than heritage labels,” says Riddle. “Just ensure you maintain them.” A fortnightly polish keeps even mass produced shoes watertight.
But what shoe should you be polishing, exactly? “Again, focus is on versatility. A tasselled loafer can be dressed up or down at will. Brogues are solid, but forgettable.”
Red Tape Tassel Loafers In Black Leather, available at ASOS, priced £35.
2 White Slim-Fit T-Shirts
Whether worn alone or layered, a white tee is an essential. “Unlike graphic tees or experimental fits, a basic white tee will never go out of style,” says Riddle. “While a high cotton content is elusive on a moderate budget, you can still opt for a crew neck in a slimline fit. Which ensures an easy combination with other pieces.” Here are 10 easy ways to put yours to use.
Topman White Slim Fit T-Shirt, available at Topman, priced £7.
2 Oxford Shirts In White And Pink
If the white tee is the ultimate menswear staple, consider the Oxford shirt a step down on the podium. “Every man should have at least two Oxfords in his arsenal: one white, one coloured,” says Riddle. “The former will cater to every smart-casual event in the book – office parties, wedding receptions, even job interviews when worn with a blazer. And the latter delivers a colour pop when layered with sweatshirts, jackets and left unbuttoned over tees.”
Uniqlo Oxford Slim Fit Long Sleeve Shirt, available at Uniqlo, priced £19.90.
1 Pair Of Black Vans Authentic Trainers
While leather loafers are a classic, one Friday pub session gone awry will commit them to the graveyard. Which is where off-duty kicks step in.
“Trainers are the more durable option,” says Riddle. “A few scuffs and marks add character to a pair of Vans, and they’ll provide a foolproof, no-stress anchor to every single look.”
Vans Authentic Shoes, available at Surfdome, priced £42.29.
1 Navy Blazer
If you can’t stretch to a three-piece, get the one piece that works hardest. “A navy blazer is the ultimate smart-casual piece – one of the trickiest dress codes in the book,” says Riddle. “It sits comfortably with a shirt and tee, and the contrast with dark jeans stops short of funereal.”
It isn’t just the colour that can kill a look, though. “Fit is everything with tailoring. While budget shopping only allows for off-the-peg pieces, try out a few sizes to find the most flattering shape. Super-skinny cuts died with The Libertines and oversized will make you look like a child at a wedding.”
ASOS Skinny Blazer in Navy Wool Mix, available at ASOS, priced £50.