If you are a well–dressed man, or at the very least aspiring to be one, there are some staples you really should have. Your wardrobe doesn’t need to be bulging but it does need to be carefully stocked.
What follows is not exhaustive but represents a minimum expectation.
Sometimes only a white shirt will do. And it can be used for the most formal occasions and work equally well with a pair of jeans or chinos. Make sure it’s crisp. Make sure it’s starkly white. And preferably in slim fit.
- Plain navy shirt.
Typically men wear light shirt and darker trousers. A Navy shirt is of those moments when you want to turn tradition on its head and operate like a photographic negative. It works with khakis and light coloured trousers. For a more colourful combination pair with coloured chinos.
- Tailored Blazer
At some point you are going to want to wear a jacket without going the whole hog of wearing a suit. That’s where a Blazer comes in. You’ll want it to be tailored though, by which I mean that you’ll at the very least want it to be adjusted to your measurements so it gives a flattering fit. Navy is probably the easiest colour but be open to other possibilities too.
- Classy Black Oxfords
You may not wear them every day; perhaps not even every week. But when you need to be formal there is no more appropriate footwear than a pair of well polished black oxfords. Leather uppers and soles. Cap toes rather than wingtips. Better yet, wholecuts. And I do mean Oxfords, not Derbys.
- Go To suit
You may not wear a suit often but you need at least one killer suit that fits you just so. Get it adjusted to your size so it fits you perfectly, unless you are one of the rare few lucky enough to find on that fits you perfectly off the rack. Ideally you’ll have more than one suit, but you need at least one go to suit that is your default when you need to be sharp. Charcoal grey, Navy or light grey are the staples.
- Bow tie
People can sometimes feel self conscious about these. But even Dr Who recognised that Bow ties are cool. Ideally this should be self-tie rather than pre-tied. Give it a go.
- Brown Brogues
- Formal watch
You can’t really be well dressed if you are still wearing the beat up Casio you got for your 12th birthday, Bar Mitzvah or confirmation. I know it tells the time but lets face it if you really need the time your mobile phone can offer that. A smart watch makes a statement that you are no longer an adolescent. It doesn’t need to be expensive but it does need to be classy.
9. Classic Fit Chinos
On the less formal occasions for which jeans are too informal chinos come to the rescue. Especially in classic fit, which are not only more comfortable they are also far more classy. Try burgundy, khaki or navy.
10. Well tailored formal trousers
These are not suit trousers. They are formal trousers that stand on their own and can be combined with a blazer or smart knitwear. They need to be tailored to your size so they are neither too long nor too short, to loose or too tight.
11. Beautiful cufflinks
So much more interesting than buttoned cuffs, these add a splash of colour and class. Forget novelty cufflinks. Wear more tasteful items in enamel, stainless steel, or sterling silver. Avoid gold.
12. Dinner Jacket
A must if you attend the occasional black tie event. And if you don’t you might want to find an excuse to attend one in order to get your dinner jacket out, at least occasionally. When else do you get to pretend to be Bond? James Bond.