Navigating the world of fashion can be a tricky affair regardless of your gender. Many men, however, tend to think that concerning themselves with the latest styles and trends is an activity better left not pursued. This may be because of actual indifference, lack of time, or apprehension.
Dressing well can not only be expensive, but also mentally overwhelming due to the myriad of choices available.
This is why I decided, through my own pursuit of updating my wardrobe, to create the following basic guide to men’s fashion.
For any journey to be successful, you need a destination in mind. In the case of upgrading your closet, I recommend picking a “fashion icon”. For me, David Beckham fit the description of the type of look I was hoping to emulate and then make my own.
Tons of pictures of Beckham can be found on the internet where he shows off his varying styles. In some, he is dressed in athletic casual wear with joggers and a t-shirt, in others he can be seen in street clothing comprised of slim fit black jeans and an untucked button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and of course his magnificent suits when he is conducting business or making a special appearance.
What I love most about the way Beckham dresses is that he does not seem to conform to a singular style. Instead, what he wears shifts depending on his mood and the occasion. Best of all, everything conforms to his body making his appearance look crisp and clean.
As he was the inspiration behind nearly all of my choices while on my fashion upgrade quest, you will find that much of my list adheres to the styling principles Beckham exhibits. If this isn’t your cup of tea (get it?), I would still encourage you to read on as it could trigger some ideas of your own.
Let’s get started!
The biggest rule you need to adhere to is that size matters. When it comes to clothing, you need to pick out shirts, pants, and jackets that fit your body type. Today’s biggest trends involve slim to ultra slim fit clothing, so do your best to buy in this range. There are many options out there for larger men that will still allow you to meet this criteria.
The average guy needs a wardrobe that will enable him to dress appropriately for three different occasions:
- Business Casual
Casual clothing can be worn on your basic everyday outing, hanging out with friends, running errands, etc. You can wear essentially any t-shirt you want as long as it doesn’t look too baggy (or too small), faded, or messy. Graphic tees are ok, but do without if you want to exhibit a higher level of sophistication (relax, I said they were ok). Depending on the weather, you can wear shorts or pants. In the case of shorts, stay away from cargos. Shorts with a length of 5-9 inches are ideal and can be worn in a variety of colors including navy, varying shades of beige, gray, salmon, etc. If you choose to wear pants, go for jean
Business casual clothing is what you would wear to the office, a date night, or night on the town. Button up shirts, short sleeve or long sleeve, are ideal. I prefer to wear long sleeves and roll them up with the top button unfastened. Depending on the shirts (and situation), you can either tuck or untuck. Pants are an absolute must. You still have some variety to choose from as you can either wear dark tapered jeans, chinos/slim fit khakis, dress pants, or wool pants. In cooler weather, layer this look with either an oversized unbuttoned cardigan, a thin buttoned cardigan, a tweed sports coat, or a blazer in some shade of gray, navy, or black. You can get a bit creative and wear a slim fitting sweater or turtleneck paired with a blazer. The shoes you wear can be determined with how casual a setting you will be in. For more relaxed, wear similar shoes to what was mentioned in the casual paragraph. For a dressier look, wear dress boots, brogues, or balmorals. Remember that brown shoes are to be paired with a brown belt, as black shoes go with a black belt.
Business wear is the final scenario you should be prepared for. It is also, in my opinion, the easiest. All you need are dress shoes, mid calf socks, an oxford shirt, a tie, and a suit. The rule of well fitting articles of clothing is the critical for business/dress wear as you do not want to look like the stereotype of a tired used care salesman. The shoes you wear are to be either brown or black (oxfords are the most common). While some more like to be a bit more edgy or modern with wearing no-show socks with a suit, I much prefer the more classic look of mid-calf socks (although you do not have to stick to boring black socks unless it is a super formal affair). Pants and jacket should match, which is why a well tailored suit is the (only) way to go. Black and varying shades of gray or blue are all good options. A super classic and slick looks calls for a white oxford shirt, but you can change it up as long as it is not at odds with the suit color. You can have some fun with a tie and handkerchief combination as long as it incorporates the color of your suit but is not too “matchy-matchy”.
So those are the main looks! You can accessorize with watches, hats, and sunglasses. I do not own a watch, but do enjoy a good hat. My preference is for flatcaps and Greek fishermen hats. I also recently purchased a fedora that I am looking forward to wearing at the right occasion (definitely will rock it when the weather gets a bit cooler).
A lot of the more casual clothing can be found in most big box stores. I had some good finds at Gap, but Macy’s, Kohl’s, and other stores have plenty of variety. For the dressier clothing, I would recommend you try Charles Tyrwhitt. They can be a bit expensive but offer some good deals if you buy 3 or more shirts. Socks are another item you can find at mainstream stores, but I came across some good quality ones at Bombas. I would definitely recommend them for the no show socks, as many brands are a hit or miss with how well they stay on your ankle.
For your convenience, I also have a bulleted list of items you may want to invest in below.
Let me know your thoughts and any style tips of your own!
- Fitted white and black t-shirts
- Slim fitting crewneck sweaters, henleys
- Slim fitted black jeans/pants, distressed jeans
- Shorts (not cargo)
- White/black (minimalist) low top trainers (converse,vans, etc), boots, desert boots
- Button up shirts (rolled up long sleeves or short sleeves)
- Slim fit (dark) jeans, slim fit khakis, chinos (beige, grey, navy), wool pants
- Thick oversized cardigan (unbuttoned) or thinner cardigan to button
- Tweed sport coat, blazer (charcoal, navy, black)
- Dress boots, dress shoes (brogues), balmorals, chukkas etc
- Button up shirts (oxfords)
- Dress shoes (oxfords)
- No show socks
- ankle socks (for athletics)
- Mid calf socks
- Casual belt (different textures and materials, usually matte)
- Formal belt (plain, leather, sometimes shiny)
- Solid blues and grays
- Patterned (cotton and wool [tweed and herringbone])
- Leather bomber
- Denim jacket (bomber or normal)
- Harrington jacket
- Sport/performance jacket
- Sun glasses
- Watch (metal or leather strap)
- Caps (baseball)
- Panama hat (summer only)