This list was inspired by a similar, if not superfluous list, by Mr. Porter (you do not need me to recommend underwear as an essential item). Your style is just that, your own. Adapt this list to your lifestyle and taste.
1. Two- Button Navy Suit
A two-button navy suit looks appropriate in any season. You wear a variety of colors with both formal shirts and ties. My golden rule is to never mix patterns. If I’m wearing a plaid shirt, I’ll wear a solid tie. Patterned tie? A basic Oxford will suffice underneath. I’ve heard it said that a machine woven navy suit will look pretty much the same regardless of price. I have a blazer from Zara that I adore, but barring a mid-twenties growth spurt or a surge in appetite, I’ll be the same measurements for awhile. I recently invested in a navy two-button suit from Varvatos and I don’t regret the purchase one bit, regardless of price.
2. Dark Boots
Dark leather boots first came into my consciousness when Varvatos made his convertible boot the most ubiquitous footwear choice in menswear magazines years ago. While they looked hip rolled down, and all of my boots similarly unzip and provide this option, I’ve never worn them in this manner. Instead, I’ll tuck the boot inside my denim. The result is a masculine leather shoe with a strong heel that is more casual than a dress shoe but fancier than sneakers. I own a variety, but my favorite are the Aldo Benyo in dark gray, as they pair perfectly with black and blue trousers.
3. Neutral T-Shirts
Find a brand that fits you and stick with them. Buy colors that are neutral and compliment your coloring. For me, I love army green and dark grey and an American Apparel size large fits perfectly. I still wear vintage graphic tees when running errands or exercising, but for social gatherings, a simple cotton v-neck paired with dark denim is casually elegant.
4. Raw Denim
Our blog includes raw denim in the title so yes, we might be biased. That said, no wash of denim looks as crisp and sharp as dark indigo raw denim. Cuffed with a selvedge seam, it’s like wearing a pocket square with a suit, an extra bit of thought and class to your ensemble. As your denim fades and breaks in, it will become more casual, but it will also tell your story. If I find a fit I like for the right price, I’ll buy two pairs, one with the intent of breaking in and wearing on a daily basis and one reserved for dressier occasions where I want the dark look.
5. Polo and Rugby Shirts
Tailored polo shirts with a nice banded sleeve perfectly compliment chinos on a spring/summer day. I personally prefer rugby shirts, as they are a bit sturdier and more rugged, but either exudes sophistication and transitions well from day to night. I’ve recently started wearing them to the gym and love the sporty look.
The Henley shirt was born as a workout garment for rowers, so it is decidedly casual in nature. A grey, black or white henley paired with dark denim is an easy, effortless look for the weekend. I’ve seen it dressed up with a blazer, but if you feel the need to layer something on top, I prefer a linen shirt of a complimentary color.
Every man needs at least one good tie. If you could only buy one, I’d recommend a thin charcoal solid tie, as you could wear it with virtually any suit and shirt combination. That said, I really love the look of preppy collegiate ties. My brother attended Cambridge and will always be jealous that we can wear their crested ties and actually back it up when inquiring minds want to know.
8. Canvas Shoes
The canvas shoe is sporty but adult. I adored Adidas shell-toe sneakers growing up, but now that I’m in my mid-twenties, it doesn’t make sense for me to be wearing athletic shoes in a non-athletic setting, regardless of how basic and neutral they are. Interestingly, my favorite canvas shoes are historically athletic shoes, re-imagined by the fashion world. I love Chuck Taylors and Jack Purcell’s, but if you’re not a tennis shoe man, try a canvas boat shoe in white or grey.
Sunglasses is important not just because it completes a spring/summer outfit, but because the bright sun of Palm Springs can do damage on your skin and eyes. You need to protect yourself and you can look great doing so. I love the retro cool of black Ray-Ban Wayfarers, but I’ve found that tortoise shades complement my coloring much better. I snagged these lookalikes at Forever21 for $3, so there’s no excuse for not wearing protection this summer.
10. Chambray Shirt
There is a pretty iconic image of my style icon Paul Newman rocking a chambray shirt that has stuck with me over the years. If it was good enough for Paul, it is good enough for me. A chambray shirt it American cool, a masculine work inspired shirt that looks great with dark denim and even better with khaki chinos and white canvas shoes. Some might say it’s inappropriate for an evening out, but put one on and dammit if you don’t feel like you’re capable of taking on the world, if not a night out.