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Menswear Essentials: Building Wardrobe Basics


From new grads to CEOs, men often ask me how to build a great wardrobe and have no clue where to start. No matter your stage in life, you will need a wardrobe that empowers your lifestyle. I believe the fundamentals of a great wardrobe start with a collection of basics. Whether building your wardrobe for the first time, or trying to rebuild your wardrobe to create a brand new look for yourself, you will value the simple style and ease of wardrobe basics. Continue reading on to learn how to build a great wardrobe of basics that will make you look and feel like a million bucks.

You may be wondering, what exactly are wardrobe basics? They are the essential building blocks of your wardrobe. Basics include high-quality pieces that you can wear every day, dress up or down, and fit you well. Basics are easy, go-to garments that you can throw on and instantly feel good about yourself—including button-up shirts, polos, slacks, and sport coats. If you invest in high-quality basics, they can last for years of wear, providing you with a handful of simple yet stylish outfits.

The Classic Button-Up

The first wardrobe basic that every guy needs is a great button-up. You should start with a white or blue color, or both if you anticipate wearing a collared shirt often. It’s important for a button-up to fit you well. If you aren’t happy with off-the-rack options, you can have your shirt custom made or fitted to your physique, which will significantly elevate your look. Take your time to try on different sizes and invest in a high quality shirt. If you start off with one button-up in your wardrobe and find yourself wearing it twice a week, you will know it was money well spent, and it’s time to buy another one. You can start to introduce cool prints or new colors, depending on your personal style.

Even if you don’t think you have a need for a button-up shirt, it’s important to have one on hand—you never know when a formal business dinner, an invite to a wedding, or even a spontaneous weekend in Vegas will pop up… Then you’ll wish you had one in your wardrobe ready to go!

The Stylish Sport Coat

The next wardrobe essential is a stylish sport coat. Everyone needs at least one high quality jacket, even if you don’t regularly wear sport coats. I recommend buying at least one suit in a simple color, such as blue or gray, because a two piece suit can translate into several looks. You can wear the suit together, or the jacket and pants on their own. You can pair the jacket with a t-shirt or button up, and jeans or dress slacks, to dress it up or down. The same goes for the suit pants—you can style them with various shirts and accessories for countless outfits. It’s crucial that your suit jacket and pants are well fitted—you should have them personally tailored to flatter you. If you have the budget, you can even have a suit custom made, which can be pricey but is worth the investment.

Timeless Trousers

Next, consider the pants in your wardrobe. You need a couple of go-to pants, including dress slacks and good fitting denim. I recommend dark denim pants to start, because they can be dressed up with a blazer or worn in a casual way as well. 

For slacks, choose a versatile style you can wear for various occasions, from the office to a night out in the city. Everyone needs a good pair of black or dark colored slacks for formal to semi-formal wear—even if you work remotely and won’t wear them on a weekly basis, you will not regret having a pair of essential dress slacks in your closet.

Lastly, you can add a pair of dress shorts to your wardrobe for warmer weather. High quality dress shorts are a versatile and easy option. My clients love the Ballin shorts in my shop, which are made of polyester, an easy fabric to care for. You can wear them to golf or dress them up for a date. Stick with dark colored shorts to maintain a polished and professional look.

Keeping It Casual

Now, let’s touch on some more casual options. Every guy needs at least one polo shirt in a classic white or blue. Choose a crisp, clean polo, such as the Greyson and Omaha polos I sell in my shop. Polos look great on every body type. You can also try a long sleeve polo, which can be worn under a jacket and paired with jeans. Styling a long sleeve polo with a pair of slacks is a great outfit for a nice restaurant, or even the office with a leather belt. When selecting a polo, it’s important for the collar to be the same material as the shirt. The collar frames your face and makes the shirt look more polished and presentable, so pay attention to the collar when purchasing a new polo. 

For pants, dark denim is the most versatile, but once you have a dark wash in your wardrobe, you can experiment with different shades of denim to suit your personal look. Another great casual pant option is a pair of khakis. Although more casual, your khakis should still be tapered, tailored, and good quality. You can pair your khakis with a woven shirt, and you’ll be ready for a casual business lunch or day on the town.

Remember, you don’t need to buy all of your wardrobe essentials at once. Take your time to try on different pieces, live in them, and see what makes you feel and look your best. Consider the fit, quality, and your personal style when building out your wardrobe essentials. A capsule of high quality, tailored basics can reduce the stress and uncertainty in planning your outfits. With a wardrobe of basics, you will have countless stylish options to choose from.

If you still aren’t sure where to begin in building or refreshing your wardrobe, be sure to visit me in the shop for all of your styling and tailoring needs. I guarantee you will leave with wardrobe basics that make you look your best and empower your lifestyle.

Watch my video below, for my 10 Building Blocks for Men's Wardrobes:

Q. Contrary

3168 East Camelback Road

Phoenix, AZ 85016

Online shop: QcontraryShop.com


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