Fashion is a beast. It morphs and evolves and lets everybody in the room know what you’re all about without saying a word. Fashion separates the men from the wishful. It commands attention, whether they know it or not. It’s your stamp and the impression you leave. But like any visual and deeply personal expression, these are essentials. Arm yourself with these items and you have yourself a canvas on which to work with.
Chinos are the epitome of utility. They come in any color imaginable and go with anything. They’re the all-cotton workhorse of the fashion world. They’re not the pleated pants your grandfather wears to every function ever. They’re meant to be comfortable and add a bit of casual to your everyday. These are your go-to pants when you don’t know what to wear. The general rule for chinos is to make sure they are tailored as perfectly as possible. Take a bit of time to measure yourself out and really look at the dimensions of the garments you’re buying. It takes 5 minutes and saves you a whole lot of grief. Make sure they fall midway to your shoe when completely unfolded and the crotch area isn’t too tight or too loose.
Blazers are tricky. A bad blazer can make you look like you clearly have no idea what you’re doing. On the other hand, a good one can land you the job, get you that date, and immediately turns heads in a crowded room. When it comes to blazers, get to know your patterns. If not, a solid navy does wonders. For a modern look, make sure that the sleeves fall right at the far end of your wrist and don’t cover the palm. About 1.5cm of your shirt cuff should show. As far as length goes, trends tend to dictate. But you can never go wrong with the fly rule: length should be equal to the bottom of your pant fly.
The term “shirt” is so generic that it should be replaced. For the purpose of this list, we’re referring to a button-down shirt. A good shirt is your anchor. Don’t hide behind the blazer. This makes your body language uncomfortable enough for people to notice. The great folks at Engineered Garments say that having the perfect shirt is just the first step. Although they’ve made them both authentic and deeply personal, how a shirt fit is reliant on your body shape and how you match it with the rest of your clothing. Quick test: the shoulder seam should be at the end of your shoulder. If not, don’t wear it.
Your go-to conversation piece should always be a watch. Get a watch with a story. Don’t just throw on a run-of-the-mill piece with no depth behind it. This is where you get to open up and actually talk because people notice watches. Bosses notice watches. Find a good vintage watch online. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be worth something to you.
The undying king of the shoe world is clean, white sneakers. In recent years they’ve caught a second wind, but in all honesty, they never left. They’re the original sneaker. In a casual setting, you can’t go wrong choosing them, and keeping them clean is easier than you think. Think you need boat shoes? Go with the sneaker. A little iffy about whether your tie-dye high tops go with your blazer? Choose the sneaker. They’re never wrong.
There’s your guide to the essentials. But don’t feel bound to any list. Explore your fashion and see what you like. Break rules. Make rules. Be the standard by which you measure up. That’s the beauty of your statement. As long as it looks good, are made well, and fit, you’ll always look like a winner. But please don’t do the T-shirt and tie combination. See you later, innovator.