It’s our firm belief that every man should have certain wardrobe staples in the closet.
Perhaps it’s your first professional job and you need to dress up. Perhaps you’re undergoing a career change and with it a wardrobe change. Or, perhaps you haven’t updated your wardrobe in some time and it’s missing some key pieces.
Whatever your situation is, a few staple wardrobe items can give you the confidence to traverse any situation, from the boardroom to social occasions. Hold your head up and look good while you work – here are our professional wardrobe staples:
A tailored suit
We really can’t overstate the importance of a tailored suit. A good suit becomes the foundation of your wardrobe and helps you to convey that important, professional look. We suggest you choose a suit in either navy or grey for a classic color that will last over time and fashion trends.
Why go for a suit fitted by a tailor? Primarily because you can’t beat the quality and fit of the suit. By definition, a tailored suit is made to fit you, therefore you don’t have issues with length and fit that you do from a suit off the rack. Fit means flattering, and flattering means you’re creating a good impression.
A tailored suit also offers you quality materials which often aren’t the priority in off-the-rack suiting. Cost effective and fast tends to be the aim of the game for those, meaning you end up with something that doesn’t last the distance or simply isn’t as well-made. A custom tailor takes pride in every stitch, valuing quality and precision.
Lastly, a tailored suit is never out of fashion. If you choose a timeless style and color, your suit can last you a long time, making the investment worth the money.
A blazer is an incredibly versatile piece of clothing. No, it is not worn as a substitute for a suit, but sits somewhere in between suit and business casual. A blazer is usually worn with complementary, but not matching trousers and can be dressed up with a tie, or down with an open collar.
Blazers are more formal than sports jackets and come in different styles, attributed to different countries of origin. The American-style blazer tends to be a two-button jacket with soft shoulders. It is usually in a classic color such as navy. The weave of the blazer is finer than that of a sport jacket tends to be.
The versatility of the blazer is why it belongs in a professional wardrobe. You can move seamlessly between different settings, particularly those that are slightly less formal. If you’ve chosen the classic navy color, this pairs well with grey trousers or even a quality denim for business casual.
A blazer bridges the space between a formal suit and business casual wear Click To Tweet
Besides the matching trousers for your tailored suit, you’re going to need at least a couple of pairs to coordinate with your blazer. It’s also worth giving thought to what you might wear for a business casual event.
A perfect pair of trousers tends to follow the shape of your body – wider at the waste and tapering down. There should be no excessive fabric or ballooning areas. Trousers should be fitted, but not so tight that you can’t move naturally. They should rest comfortably above your hips.
Consider the fabric of your trousers and the weather you will be wearing them in. Heavier fabrics tend to hang more smoothly, but they won’t be so comfortable if you’re in a warm climate. If you travel for work, it may be useful to have trousers in different weights.
In terms of business casual, khakis or even dark wash denim may be acceptable – the key is to know what goes at your workplace. Generally speaking, you will need trousers in a color different from your blazer for that business casual look.
Dress and sports shirts
We would recommend you have a selection of six dress shirts, as well as a couple of sports shirts in different colors and styles. Importantly, at least three or four of your dress shirts should be a good match for your tailored suit.
Your shirts are also worth having tailored, to help give you a sleek profile. A well-fitted shirt should allow two fingers in the collar when buttoned. The shoulder points should fit perfectly at your shoulder and not extend any farther. Of course, you need a little room to move too – at the chest and waist, you should be able to pinch out no more than one to three inches of fabric.
In terms of fabrics, consider quality that wears well throughout the day. Cheaper, off-the-rack shirts are often made from polyester that not only wrinkles, but doesn’t breathe very well. Natural fibers such as cotton tend to wear well and some blends look good too. If you’re worried about creases, try shirts that are crease-resistant.
You may have cause to wear sport shirts for casual occasions too. Look for something that still gives you a polished look, even if the situation is informal. Something like a sport shirt (as shown below) is a good option.
Dress shoes and belt
At least one quality pair of dress shoes are essential. There are many different styles to choose from, but one overall suggestion from us is to avoid any that are square-toed or pointy. These are dated looks that haven’t weathered well.
On the other hand, some classic styles are relatively timeless. The Oxford is one of these – a round-toed shoe named for their origins among students at Oxford University.
The Oxford with its closed lacing provides a slim silhouette and a minimalist look that is versatile enough to go from business to casual. There are a few different styles of Oxford, for which this article provides an excellent rundown. For business wear, dark brown or black tend to be your safest choices.
Loafers are another popular style, especially if you travel through airports for work, necessitating the removal of your shoes. The slip-on style has been acknowledged as acceptable business-wear since the 1960s.
As for a belt, choose something that is a good match for your shoes. It should complete your outfit, but not draw the eye.
There’s often a lot of confusion over ties and how to wear them well – one tip we have is to buy the ties last. They should be a good match for the expensive suiting you have in your wardrobe. It is a mistake to buy a tie just because you “like it,” then find yourself scrambling to match it to an outfit.
The right tie is about proportion. A man of an average size should choose a tie of three to three and a half inches in width. Men who are very tall may get away with a wider width, while men who are shorter may need a narrower width to be in proportion.
Have at least two ties in your wardrobe, chosen because their colors and patterns complement your suit and shirt ensemble.
Patterned dress socks
When we say “patterned socks,” we are not talking about novelty socks in loud patterns. Patterns might be formed by the knit style, or be a more subtle sort of pattern.
A “safe” rule to follow is to match your socks with your trousers. This way there is no contrast to draw attention to your socks. As you develop a sense of your own preferred style though, a pattern can add interest (without heading into the realms of “loud” or “tacky.”)
One thing to note with socks is the quality. Mass-produced socks that you pick up for just a few dollars at a chain store tend to be of much lower quality and won’t last long.
Better quality socks tend to have more time spent on their construction, including stronger seams and more hand-guided sewing. They’re also usually made of better fibers, such as fine knit wool socks. You’ll pay more for them, but they look better and last longer. Socks made in places like the UK, USA or Italy are often of better quality.
With these wardrobe staples, you can effectively build a sort of “capsule wardrobe” that takes you from the office, to the airport, to a business casual occasion.
We recommend choosing quality clothing built to last over time, rather than “fast fashion” that is made cheaply and not constructed as well. You can end up going through several “off-the-rack” pieces in the same period of time that one quality, tailored suit from a specialty store that wants to get to know your preferences. Helping you to solve your professional wardrobe needs with properly tailored clothing by experts.
Need help putting together the perfect wardrobe? Set up a wardrobe consultation with us, either in-store or online. We can help you to coordinate your wardrobe and complement your personal style.