Each season may usher in a few key pieces and some must-have looks, but the best-dressed men are those whose wardrobe is stocked with the classics – the failsafe, never-out-of-style garments that are as desirable as they are timeless.
So, whether you’re a young executive seeking to steal a sartorial march on your mates, a father-of-two wanting to up his style game or a more mature gentleman that still likes to look his best, the following 10 items are essential for your wardrobe.
What one thing looks effortlessly stylish on pretty much everyone and with almost everything? A crisp, white, well-fit Oxford.
The brilliance of this shirt is that because of its collar it's naturally smart; but being slightly softer in construction than stiff-collared shirts, it also has a smart-casual vibe, allowing it to stylishly straddle the line between informal and formal.
Get one. Get multiples if you can.
Worn with grey woollen trousers, cream chinos or your favourite denims, the navy blazer is the great go-anywhere, do-anything jacket; always smart and body-defining with either a collar and tie, roll-neck sweater or V-neck tee.
Few things are more timeless than a great pair of jeans. However, make sure it’s a no-nonsense pair with a slim fit sturdy construction and in dark blue – there’s literally nothing they won’t go well with.
Whether in cotton or cashmere, a classic crewneck is a brilliantly versatile bit of wardrobe kit – it can be worn with jeans, chinos and cords. It also acts as a smart yet functional layer in winter and a feature piece in summer.
Whether it’s for business meetings, weddings or smart restaurants, the formal shoe is the footwear that adds a smart finishing touch to any ensemble.
Wingtips are a time-honoured classic but suffer (perhaps unfairly) from rather stuffy connotations. If all those swirling perforations make you dizzy, show some visual restraint and opt, instead, for some black cap-top Oxfords. No fuss, no showboating - just an understated classic.
If you only have one suit in your wardrobe, make it a single-breasted, well-cut navy one.
Solid navy implies professionalism and respectfulness. It’s also dark enough to wear in the evening but still appropriate for the daytime. Plus, rather handily, navy looks good with just about every colour complexion.
Focus on fit and the quality of material. Buy the best you can afford. After all, if you buy cheap you buy twice.
Whether you’re north of 40 or a fashion-conscious 20- or 30-something, you’ll always be well served with a pair of classic smart-casual boots.
The leather brogue boot is particularly popular this season and, thanks to the distinctive punch hole design on the upper, allows for a dressier take on rugged. You’ll never go far wrong with a trusty Chelsea boot, either.
Just take care to select the right silhouette, though – too high and they can dominate an outfit, too low and they run the risk of appearing feminine.
For those in-between occasions when you should wear a jacket but don’t need to wear a suit, a smart blazer is the nailed-on option.
Teamed with grey slacks or cream chinos, tailored jeans or pristine cords, the trusty blazer is the great go-anywhere, do-anything jacket; always smart and body-defining with either a collar and tie, open-neck shirt or roll-neck sweater.
Alfred Dunhill memorably proclaimed the blazer to be “the pivotal link between the worlds of formal and casual menswear attire” and referred to it as the male equivalent of the little black dress. And who are we to argue?
Worn with a shirt and tie, teamed with a blazer or simply paired with a crewneck jumper, a pair of well-fitted, grey flannel trousers is the ideal bridge between casual and formal.
The key is finding the perfect shade (mid-grey is the most adaptable), the ideal weight and texture (a premium fabric will look best and, crucially, endure) and – as ever– the most appropriate fit for your body type.
Keep it classic — a trusty trench, a chic Crombie, a dapper, three-quarter length double-breasted or a smart single-breasted — and you’ll not go far wrong. Colour-wise Camel will give you the ultimate luxe look, navy is a failsafe option, while grey, which is arguably more accessible, will never be out of fashion.
Pick yours wisely and it will be one of the best wardrobe investments you’ll ever make.