Last Saturday at Tunnel City, my friend’s boyfriend asked me if I would give him some advice on how to dress. I told him that it’s actually not that hard to look pulled-together on a daily basis. You barely even need to know how to match colors together. All a guy needs are a few basic, versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched into many different outfits. So, guys, that is what I’m here to do for you today: to give you a clothing checklist of sorts – a few pieces that every man should have in his sartorial arsenal. Since half of the fun of talking about clothing is putting outfits together, I’ll also suggest a few that you can throw on without much thought and still look good.
One of my favorite pieces in my closet is my grey crewneck sweatshirt. They are ubiquitously available (mine’s from J. Crew), and they’re incredibly easy to work into an outfit. I love to pull it over a white button-down shirt and put on khakis with a pair of tennis shoes. It’s such a clean, simple look that channels the revival of 1960s classic American style that seems to be so popular in men’s fashion. The other pieces in that outfit, the white shirt and khakis, can be worn with pretty much anything (wear the khakis and shirt alone, unbutton the top button, wear a skinny tie with a looser knot and you have a completely different look). Just make sure to keep them on the slimmer side in terms of fit (we don’t want to lose your body under a tent of fabric). What I especially love about this outfit is that it shows how you really don’t need to think about color. All you need to know is that neutral colors (white, grey, tan, brown, etc.) match everything – even each other. What I might do is use a navy blue tennis sneaker, just to add a little bit of color, but truthfully, I’m partial to just using a white pair.
Now that you’ve mastered neutrals, we can move onto outfit number two: jeans, a t-shirt, a cardigan and a pair of desert boots. Every guy needs a pair of dark, straight leg jeans in his closet. The Gap 1969 slim fit jean is arguably the best, most affordable one out there. Dark wash denim can be paired with everything from as simple as a t-shirt to as formal as a tuxedo jacket. Grab any solid color t-shirt – I like grey, since neutrals are a good base to layer on – then throw on a cardigan since it’s getting colder outside. Guys have often asked me if wearing a cardigan makes you look like a grandfather. The way to avoid this is through keeping the fit slim. The cardigan is a great place to add some color, too. The easiest way to create a cohesive, seasonably appropriate outfit is by sticking to a darker, more saturated color, like a dark red or green. I especially love cardigans because I think they’re a little more unexpected than the regular sweater. Finish the look off with a pair of tan desert boots – footwear that’s just as versatile as those jeans.
Fashion advice from me wouldn’t be complete without recommending plaid in some way. A flannel shirt paired with corduroys and those desert boots from the last outfit is a great way to channel that trend of rugged masculinity that labels like J. Crew and L.L. Bean Signature are promoting while also staying warm as the temperature drops. Corduroys are a great way to break up a streak of wearing jeans or khakis. As always, keep the color more neutral, like a brown or a tan, so you can wear whatever color combination of plaid you’d like. Remember to keep the shirt fitting close to your body. Shirt tucked in or left out? If your shirttails hang longer than the back pockets of your pants, best to tuck them in, but if you find a shirt with a hemline that is not too long, then it’s entirely up to you. You could even throw on that cardigan and roll up the sleeves for a little more warmth before heading to Sawyer at night.
So to guys suffering from sartorial conundrums, I hope this has inspired you to start trying different combinations of clothing when you’re figuring out what to wear to class. Don’t over-think it, just remember that if you base your outfit in neutrals, it’s really easy to introduce color and pattern and create a cohesive look.