Essential Wardrobe Pieces for Men.
You cleaned out your closet and are ready to create a work wardrobe you love.
Ivan Martinez, style expert, image consultant, and Minneapolis-based menswear blogger, is here to share his 15 essential wardrobe pieces for men. He works with brands such as Target, The Tie Bar, Express and others. Follow him on Instagram @iammrmartinez and check out his youtube channel here.
THE 15 PIECES EVERY MAN NEEDS IN HIS WARDROBE.
Let’s be honest. As Americans, we have an issue with buying stuff we don’t need (aka: first world problems). But you don’t need to buy loads of stuff to dress fashionably. The key is to buy items that work for multiple occasions, especially when it comes to your work wardrobe.
Versatility is key.
Impressions last a lifetime. At work, you want to look as well put together as possible, regardless of your title. Here are the 15 essential clothing items any gentleman needs in their work wardrobe.
A Navy/Charcoal Suit
Gents, you need a nice navy/charcoal suit. Seriously. A good suit will keep you looking classy during interviews, weddings, funerals, etc. Not only does a suit fit many purposes, but if you opt for a three piece (adding a vest), you’ll have items that you can integrate with other outfits. You can wear the blazer to the bar, the pants with a button-up for the daily grind, and the vest with a white shirt and dark washed jeans for a brunch date; the variations are endless.
2. A White Button-down Shirt
The classic, white, button-down (meaning the collar buttons down) shirt is the best shirt for any man to have in his work wardrobe. It’s a classic, looks crisp, and is extremely versatile. You can never have enough of these. I’d recommend, at a minimum, to have two. One for more formal events (work, weddings, interviews), the other for more casual events (heading to the bar or a party). The former will likely be more structured, tuck in, with a button-down collar, while the latter might be worn untucked, have a different collar structure and might be made out of materials like linen or hemp.
3. A White T-Shirt.
Similar to your white button-down, a you can wear a white t-shirt with anything. Go with a classic, like a crew neck or v-neck, or if you’re more adventurous, try a scoop neck — this has been one of my favorite collar styles in the last couple of years. Throw it on alone or layer it with a jacket.
4. An Oxford Shirt
A light blue/white oxford shirt is the perfect shirt for work. Especially, business casual events. Add a tie or wear it alone. Either way it looks good. One of the biggest ways to distinguish a normal button-up shirt from the oxford is the cloth. Oxford shirts tend to be a bit thicker, and most of the times it will have a button-down collar. It’s the perfect option for a casual outing and even looks great under your navy or charcoal suit.
5. A peaCoat or overcoat.
If you wear suits often, and live in a colder climate, opt for the overcoat. They’re specifically designed to go over a suit jacket (hence, over-coat) and are typically hang a bit longer. Opt for the single-button and choose a timeless color such as, navy, black, dark gray, or camel.
If you’re looking for a dressier vibe, but don’t wear suits regularly. Opt for the pea coat. They’re perfect for all occasions and can be worn in the fall, winter, and early spring. Here you can opt for single or double-breasted, but stick with neutral colors, I’d suggest dark gray, or black.
Pro Tip: Make sure the coat fits. You do not want to look like a box.
6. Denim Jacket.
A denim jacket is the perfect layering piece year-round and you can rock it so many different ways. I recommend a dark denim, but a medium wash denim would suffice. Again, make sure that the jacket fits. Throw it on over a t-shirt, an oxford, button-down, or even a light sweater. You can even wear a shirt, tie, dress pants and use the jacket as a substitute for a suit jacket/blazer.
7. Leather Jacket.
A great leather jacket is an investment that will last you ages. Leather jackets are perfect for adding a bit of “bad ass-ness” to your look. In my opinion, brown looks better than black, but it’s a personal preference. Wear it the same way you would wear a denim jacket, and experiment with dressing it up or down. I love pulling off a nice shirt and tie with the leather jacket. Classy and cool, all at the same time.
The polo is a great option for casual days or formal days — especially in the summer. Pair polos with some chinos or dress pants and you’re ready for any occasion.
Layering is a great way to spice up your look and a cardigan, crewneck, or even a hoodie (depending on how formal your work is), are the perfect way to change-up the boring-jeans-and-button-up-shirt-uniform.
Invest in quality pieces. Look for items made of supima cotton, merino wool, or cashmere. They’ll hold their shape longer and lay nicer.
***fit is king. make sure you have your pants (including jeans and chinos!) tailored. This means they’ll be hemmed and tapered to you.
10. Suit Pants.
Your suit pants can also be worn separately. They’re super versatile. Pair them up with sweaters, t-shirts, and button-downs.
Chinos, also known as khakis, are great for any occasion. There are many colors of chinos, my suggestion is to purchase a pair of gray, khaki, black, and/or navy. If you choose a navy suit, you might opt for a contrasting color like khaki or gray for your chinos. By choosing neutral base colors you’ll be able to mix-and-match any color shirt or t-shirt pairing.
12. Dark Wash Denim.
Dark wash denim is a great substitute for your chinos or suit pants, you can always dress them up with a nice shirt, tie and a blazer. For casual Fridays you can throw these on with a nice polo or casual shirt, and you can bring a different perspective to your look (no uniforms, gents).
13. Dress Shoes
Choose a pair of brown and/or black. Buy quality. I prefer cap-toe shoes or oxfords. As either of these will work for a variety of occasions.
Pro Tip: Please don’t buy square toe shoes…
14. Tennis Shoes.
Sneakers are your substitute for any dress shoes. I personally tell gents to purchase a nice pair of white sneakers as they can work with your denim, chinos, and even dress pants (yes, you can break that rule!) Purchase the staples, then get those fly Jordans.
15. Dress Boots.
Boots give a different aesthetic to any outfit and add bit of ruggedness. They look great with denim, but they can also be worn with chinos. I suggest a nice pair of wingtips and/or some Chelsea boots.
And there you have it, 15 Essential items for any man’s wardrobe.
Worried about how to purchase all these items on a budget? Check out 4 Affordable Places to Shop as suggested by Ivan Martinez.