It seems like everywhere you click on the web, there is some f*cking list of “essential items EVERY man must have!”
Well, to be honest, they’re pretty much the same. If you’re older, live on either coasts, then most likely you may like the style of Clooney or Steve McQueen. If you’re younger, then you might like Ryan Gosling’s or Adam Levine’s style. Maybe you’re a jeans and flannel guy. No matter. Each has their own style and shape but all know the value of dressing well-be it casual or upscale.
Before you run out and blow your wad on another list of “essentials”, understand that all this starts with knowing the real essentials. Here are some of them.
Know your body type and develop a style that flatters it.
If you have an Alec Baldwin type body, dress accordingly. A bit more fit like GC? Then that’s good too! Are you more like a greyhound like Depp, Levine or Gosling? Great! Know your body type and dress accordingly. Skinny jeans will not look as good on Alec as it will with Adam Levine. Get the point? Good, moving on.
Fit, Fit, Fit!
Most off the rack clothes are made so that overweight cubicle cowboys can fit in them after their 3 martini lunches with pasta. Shirts are square cut and pants have pleats. AVOID AT ALL COSTS! Go for fitted. This may be difficult for athletic guys. I’m 6’2, 203, 17% BF( right now) and when I do pull-ups, my back and shoulders grow fast. It is often hard to find a size that allows me to have room in the shoulders and a waist that is closer to my actual size 33/34. But don’t worry about that, you just have to look! I find good stuff at Banana Republic, J. Crew and Club Monaco.
Learn proper laundry techniques!
It f*ckin’ amazes me how many guys don’t know how to properly wash their clothes. It’s simple. Wash whites hot, colors cold. Gentle cycle for both. If you use a dryer, dry them on gentle/low heat and check for dryness after 20 min. If they’re dry, pull them out- they’re done. Air dry your jeans. When I lived in France, we used a rack outside on the patio. My girlfriend and I hung most of our shirts and pants outside to dry in the breeze. This alone will allow your clothes to last much longer as the heat from the dryer really breaks down fabric.
View buying clothing as building a foundation.
You don’t need everything you see. You don’t need much to affect variety in your wardrobe. Think about this- if you have only six shirts and six pants/jeans/chinos with two pairs of shoes, you effectively have 72 changes of outfits! (6x6x2) That’s over two months of wearing a different outfit before repeating it again. Add in some cool colorful socks, two lightweight blazers and a couple of plain tee’s and a belt or two, and you have a wardrobe that can go a long time. Oh yeah, and that one suit is essential to own. Black is the standard ‘go to’ but navy blue works as well and is less formal or you can go with a gray suit.
Buy clothes within a color palette so that when you mix and match, they all compliment.
But don’t be afraid of a little color. I prefer black, gray and blue tones for most of my cooler months wardrobe but I add white and khaki for the summer along with lighter blues and faded color shirts. I try to effect a laid back Mediterranean/Italian look. Italians are not afraid of color.
Feel the material.
Remember, you are wearing it against your body for 18 hours. Don’t buy something that looks cool and is cheap but feels like stiff rough burlap. Whatever you do end up buying, hand wash it in Woolite, air dry then wear for the first time. It also gets the chemicals that are in the fabric during processing out.
Plan for the future.
Most of us put on a few pounds in the winter. It just happens. So maybe you might want to go up a size in the waist for those pants you’re buying that you are going to wear in cooler/colder winter months. (Mostly applies to seasonal climates, not tropical or desert climates.) If you buy something for the summer, get a size down (waist wise) so that you will be motivated to do the work so you can fit in them.
That’s enough for now; and as you minimize and pare down your life, realize that when it comes to wardrobe, less can actually be more!
More freedom, more choices and far less shit to lug around.