10 Wardrobe Basics for Men

Published: November 15, 2014

Newly single, in need a wardrobe makeover, or just completely clueless about fashion? This list is a beginner's guide for men looking for easy mix-and-match basics on a budget.

What you wear tells is a reflection of the person you are. It's time to stop relying on your wife or girlfriend or mother to dress you. While these basics may seem generic and plain, feel free to mix up your look with color, pattern, and/or accessories.

When in doubt, remember that the key to looking good is more about finding the right fit than anything else.

Look to shop at Target or ASOS for affordable prices.

  1. Tshirt

    Whether you prefer crew necks or v-necks, you should aim for solid colored shirts. White, grey, navy, and black should give you a solid foundation. There's something nice about a crisp white t-shirt paired with dark wash jeans.

    More important than color though is the fit. The sleeve's hem should hit mid-bicep with enough room for one or two fingers to fit underneath. The shirt's bottom hem should hit mid-fly.

    Stay away from logos unless they're of something that truly interests you (i.e. a band). Throw out those old random shirts from high school or ones you've gotten for free from random companies looking for free advertising.

  2. Button-Up

    If you're feeling like dressing it up a bit more, why not try a button-up? These can be extremely versatile. Plaid is great for casual outings, solid colored oxfords (shown) are great for the summer or a casual date.

    Again, find one that is well-fitting. Not too big, not too small. Leave it untucked, and shoot for solid colors (or subtle patterns if you're feeling bold). The trick: roll your sleeves up mid-forearm or to the elbow.

    You can even venture into the realm of short-sleeve button ups as long as you stay true to the basics of a good fit. Again, the sleeve should hit mid-bicep (if they're longer, roll those babies up!).

  3. Jeans

    Find a couple pairs of jeans that fit. The pant hem shouldn't bunch up around your shoes.If you can afford it, have them tailored.

    Avoid anything too embellished or the destroyed look. Less is more. It's good to aim for a dark wash for more formal outings and lighter washes for casual days.

    As far as cuts go, I prefer straight-leg or tapered/slim-fit. Too baggy screams 90s, and too skinny screalms high school hipster.

  4. Everyday Footwear

    Reserve your Nike/Addidas/K-Swiss trainers for the gym! Shoes say a lot about a person. Everyday footwear should be clean and casual. Converse are fine for casual everyday wear (black on black), but I also like Fred Perry-esque plimsolls for more dressy occasions. They're versatile enough to be worn for any occasion. These seem to be quite popular nowadays and should be easy to find. If you want something sportier looking, you an opt for black Sambas or dressier Nikes.

  5. Dress Footwear

    For even more formal occasions, I would recommend a desert shoes. They come in a variety of styles (high top, low top) and casual colors. Feel free to choose between suede and leather.


    If you're feeling even more adventurous, try a pair of oxfords. Lady killer Ryan Gosling knows how to rock these classy shoes. If you're new to this, try a rounded toe first before venturing into pointed toes.

  6. Sweaters

    If you live somewhere where it tends to get chilly, a sweater is always a nice addition. Choose between a crew neck or my personal favorite, the V-neck. Not too deep of a V though. Again, neutral colors are good to start out with, but feel free to show some personality with patterns or stripes. Small subtle logos are fine.

  7. Outerwear

    Again, winterwear! A good staple to have for those frosty winter days is a wool pea coat. Look for one that has a slim fit and isn't too square or blocky.

    If you're looking for something lighter, you can dress up a t-shirt with a blazer or leather jacket.

  8. Shorts

    Toss out those tacky cut-off shorts. Instead, opt for neutral solid-colored shorts. Camel brown, dark grey, dark blue, and black are good for beginners. Shorts should ideally hit mid-knee, but feel free to opt to ones slightly shorter (just above the knee) or slightly longer. No pant shorts though...you know what I'm talking about!

  9. Jeans Alternatives

    Chinos! What exactly are chinos? Chinos are a twill fabric usually made from cotton blends. They come in a variety of colors (khaki being the basic) and are usually slim-fitting.

    They're great in the summer and the leg hems can be rolled up for a casual look.

  10. Accessories

    In a world of iPhones, the concept of a wrist watch is foreign to many of us. However, a nice watch can really bring your look together. Make sure to find one with a band that fits properly (not too loose).

    Bags are always a nice way to accessorize, especially if you're a student. Dark worn leather is a classic and is durable enough to last years.

And there we have it, 10 wardrobe must-haves for men. In case you need a short and sweet version:

1.) Absolutely look for the perfect fit...it can mean the difference between sloppy and suave.

2.) When in doubt, shoot for simple, clean, and versatile.

3.) Avoid mixing patterns.

4.) Match your belt to your shoes.

5.) Avoid logos unless you're a true supporter or they're small and subtle.

6.) Wear low-cut socks with shorts.