Five Essential Items for Every Man’s Closet

When it comes to your clothes, it’s worth investing time and money in key pieces that will last a lifetime.

by Yale Breslin

ONCE UPON A TIME, men’s fashion was simple. A few pairs of jeans, a few good suits and you were set—not just for a season but for years. Talk about the good old days. Today, popping into the shop, or even browsing online (the preferred choice of the shopping cognoscenti), is no small task.

The meteoric expansion of men’s fashion over the past decade has brought a bounty of benefits—men are finally dressing their age and body type, understanding what shapes and silhouettes work best for them, and realizing that less is more—but it has also created one big dilemma: a paralyzing amount of choice. Each season, an ever-growing number of menswear designers add to the list of wardrobe “necessities.” After all, who doesn’t need a gold lamé tracksuit, a scarf the size of a picnic blanket or a hat that looks like something Smokey Bear would wear—and that only one of the world’s biggest rap stars could actually pull off?

This fall, it’s time to get back to basics, sticking to what you know best and are most comfortable in: the classics. Whether you follow every trend with the consuming passion of a teenage crush or still bum around in the same Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt you wore at uni, when it comes to your wardrobe, it’s worth investing both time and money into a few key items that will, with proper care, last a lifetime.

THE CAMEL COAT

A common thread that wove its way through the men’s fall collections was the camel coat. Little wonder. This longtime closet staple is about as easy as they come. Sharp and simple, it looks good on just about everyone, from Prince Charles to Kanye West.

If you don’t already have a vintage coat you can resurrect or are simply looking for a quick way to update your look, you’re in luck. This season, almost every menswear designer out there put their own unique spin on this most classic of coats.

Marc Jacobs ’s classical interpretation comes in ultra-soft baby alpaca and wool (£1,310; marcjacobs.com ), while Marni’s slightly furrier version seems to reference “Where the Wild Things Are” (£1,170; +44 (0)245 9520). Perfect for the urban jungle. Ralph Lauren styled his like a trench, with a tonal belt (£1,195; ralphlauren.com ), while AMI’s Alexandre Mattiussi created a modern classic with his double-breasted version (€580; mrporter.com ) and Burberry updated its Chesterfield in a luxurious double cashmere blend (€3,095; burberry.com), for an easy transitional piece that will take you from the nip of autumn through the chill of winter.

THE CLASSIC BLAZER

The blazer isn’t just the most classic item a guy can own, it’s the most necessary. Season after season, it dominates the runways—not to mention the boardrooms. But it can also be the piece that’s least likely to succeed in your closet. One of the most common mistakes men make is wearing a blazer that doesn’t fit. You know the ones: The shoulders are too bold, the sleeves too short and the hemline goes way further than it ever should.

This fall, the blazer is shrinking and it’s time to get on board. Emporio Armani gives you exactly what you want—a black cashmere jacket that masters fit, proportion and comfort (€1,500; armani.com ). Playing with subtle texture, Fendi’s navy flecked-wool version is a keeper (€875; farfetch.com ), while Jil Sander shakes things up with a midnight-blue version in textured brocade (£1,050; jilsander.com ). But Scott Sternberg ’s cult label, Band of Outsiders, trumps them all with a youthful tuxedo blazer with sharp lapels ($2,200; bandofoutsiders.com ). Dress it up with a fitted chambray shirt and your favorite tie, or dress it down with your favorite jeans and Chelsea boots. You’ll look debonair regardless of your direction.

THE BLACK JEANS

It’s not the easiest thing, finding the perfect pair of slim-cut black jeans. Fit, as we all know by now, is key. Add to that the challenge of buying denim that can make the transition from day to night, while still maintaining that masculine feel, and it may feel hopeless.

But this season, designers have eliminated the excess—so say goodbye to zippers, extra pockets, patches, fades, rips and tears. Jeans are being streamlined, tailored to the idea of “what a guy really wants.”

Who did it best? Levi’s is a tried-and-true brand whose authenticity still reigns supreme in the denim marketplace. Try the 510 skinny fit (€99; levi.com ). For a more rock ’n’ roll edge, you won’t find a better way to channel Jagger than to put on a pair of Saint Laurent’s Hem jeans (€290; ysl.com ). J.Crew, meanwhile, under the design direction of Frank Muytjens, can be relied on for a solid pair that won’t break the bank (€113; jcrew.com ).

There’s also a new kid on the block that looks likely to dominate the denim space, and that’s Frame Denim. The London-based brand, which has already managed to get the girls’ attention with its hip-hugging styles, is tackling the guys’ market with its L’Homme Noir Slim-Fit, recently unveiled on Mr Porter (€228; mrporter.com ). Long and lean but with room to move—it’s as if they read your mind.

THE PERFECT TEE

White or gray. When it comes to a solid crew-neck T-shirt, these are the colors that should dominate your drawer. The classic, clean silhouettes seen in other sectors of fall fashion should also be applied to this wardrobe staple.

Yet for such a simple item, many get it wrong. The hemline should sit just below your waist, the shape should err on the fitted side and the sleeves should fall somewhere between the middle of your shoulder and the elbow. Easy in definition, difficult in practice.

Fruit of the Loom is a guaranteed success—who doesn’t love a three-pack (£11 for a three-pack; outdoorlook.co.uk )? The award for the most bang for your buck goes to Gap, whose white and gray essential tees stand the test of time without fading (€10; gap.eu ).

If you’re looking to go more upscale, T by Alexander Wang has a version in solid heather gray (€105; mrporter.com ), while ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo ’s sophisticated T-shirts are worth everyone’s investment (€63; eastdane.com ).

Roll the sleeves up slightly if you’re feeling playful. If James Dean did it, so can you. Just be sure to keep it subtle.

THE DRESS SHOES

When it comes to footwear this fall, be bold and buckle up! The most advanced of all dress shoes, the monk strap, is making a comeback. Gone are the days of pairing your “fancy” monk straps with a suit. Instead, treat them like the rest of your kicks—wear them every day. Try Bottega Veneta’s double-strap boot (€850; bottegaveneta.com ), or Dolce & Gabbana’s single-strap version with bold silver hardware (€475; dolcegabbana.com ). For the fashion-forward, Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane blurred the line between a creeper (another runway favorite) and a monk strap—creating a covetable mashup (from €695; ysl.com ). Or play it safe with Saint Laurent’s simple Université 30 (€595; ysl.com )

THE GUIDE // Three Style Icons

You’ve got role models to help guide you in life and business—why not in style? Start your sartorial lessons on the silver screen, where the likes of Eddie Redmayne, James Dean and Ryan Gosling provide fashion choices to match their acting skills and good looks. They’ve each taken risks, but always erring on the side of a classic sensibility.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Layering

Here we are, halfway through October and the weather should be cooling down over the next few weeks. But, just because it’s fall/winter doesn’t mean you don’t have to still look your best at work. So how can you look great and still stay warm? Layering my friends. Layering.

Now, you don’t want to walk into the office (or happy hour or church or anywhere) looking like four random racks from the Goodwill so you have to have a plan of action when it comes to layering in the winter. Here’s a pretty good formula for making sure that you stay warm and still remain stylish. (If you’re in a moderate region, it may not be cold enough for this full outfit until December so bookmark this post and come back to it later).

First layer: Underwear

I don’t care what season it is, you CANNOT skip out on the underwear. Whether you’re a boxers or a briefs guy, please put on some underwear. And a tank top/A-Shirt may work to your advantage too just to provide some extra insulation if needed.

Second layer: Thermals
Thermals/Long Johns are a great way to insulate the body during the coldest times of the year. They are worn in place of a regular undershirt and a must-have in every man’s wardrobe if he lives in or plans to ever travel to an area where the temperature drops below 40 °F.

Third layer: Slacks/A Suit and a ShirtRandom Inspiration
You’re still going to work. You still have to wear pants. You still have to wear a shirt. But, since you have two layers clothing on underneath this one, you may want to opt out of wearing your most well-tailored shirt and suit. It will create for a pretty awkward day for you and those in your office. Just my suggestion.

Fourth layer: Sweater
You can wear a sweater between your suit jacket and your shirt. Make sure that it compliments your outfit though. You don’t want to be wearing a sweater the color of split pea soup with a black suit (or any suit that I can think of for that matter).

Fifth layer: Outerwear
In the event that you are dealing with unbearable cold and more than a suit jacket/blazer is required, it is time to pull out a top layer. In a formal business setting, I recommend a peacoat or a 3/4 length as a winter coat. Anything else will take away from your shirt and tie. However, if business casual is the dress code, you can get away with a well-kept jacket. Also, gloves, hats, and scarves are acceptable until you sit down at your desk. Then they need to be removed unless there is some kind of heating malfunction in the office that day.

Don’t be afraid to have fun with layering. It can really help you find your fall/winter style and add a whole new weapon to your arsenal of style. And, if you have any other suggestions, let me know. The more, the merrier.

Selecting Your Supsenders

Suspenders are pretty neat, aren’t they?  They’re becoming more and more popular but there are those of us who will wear them long after the trend passes.  And, if you’re one of those people (or if not), I have some advice for you: Wear them right.

Clip on suspenders are all well and good… when you’re 10.  But, gentlemen, at the age of 20, you should really be looking for a more classic look.  My suggestion is that you have all of your suits fitted with suspender buttons and purchase those old fashioned suspenders.  You know, the one that your granddad had your grandma sew buttons into all his slacks for?

What’s the difference you may ask?  Well, though clip on suspenders serve the same purpose as buttoned ones, ones that are buttoned into your pants are sturdier, provide added support to your pants, and they look much more professional.

Brown Handcrafted Western Leather - Plain w/CreaseIf you’re wearing jeans, you can go either way.  Personally, I dig the snap-style suspenders with the leather straps.  Not professional in the least but certainly far from lackadaisical.

Homecoming 2014 – What to Wear?

Welcome to October!  Though autumn officially started a few weeks ago, no one really takes that seriously until October.  September is that weird in-between month that is kind of summer and kind of not.   But there’s no questioning October.  It and November are the quintessential autumnal months.  And one thing that makes October so great is it is the time of most homecomings across the United States. For all of my upperclassmen and recent graduates, homecoming isn’t just a great time to knock back a few beers and watch your school pummel a slightly less than formidable opponent.  It is also a great time to catch up with old friends and network with older alum to see if you can secure that job or internship that can place you on the fast-track to success.

Preppy Look Men | Preppy style for men - PaperblogThin Brown Tweed Blazer, black Sweater Vest, Chambray Shirt, and Cognac Leather Accesories. Men's Fall Winter Street Style Fashion.

 Takes me back to my "days" (day dreams that is) in Korea ;^)Tan jacket, button up shirt, sweater, dark fitted jeans, boots, and a nice city day. Who could ask for more?

All of that being said, you don’t want to only pack a ratty tee shirt with the school’s logo or a frat shirt that could use a dry cleaning (or two).  There definitely is a time and place to wear that, like at the big game to show your school spirit.  But make sure your weekend wardrobe also has a pair of loafers and a nice jack, sweater, or blazer in it.    I don’t know how everyone’s homecomings are set up but at UNCG’s, we have a parade and then a big festival in front of the Elliott University Center (our student union) with a beer garden.  This is the perfect time to throw on your khakis (or even a nice pair of jeans), a collared shirt, blazer, and a pair of shoes.  And nice necktie or bowtie never hurt anyone either.  That way, if you run into a  professor, campus official, or an alumnus who has some pull, you don’t look like you’re on your 18th semester of undergrad.  And, if you are, please stop reading this blog right now.  You need to be reading a book.   With a tutor.  Preferably a tutor who is also your professor and who can be bribed.

Of course, I didn’t post a photograph of what I’m wearing because that would let people know how they can (try) to out do me.  But I did give you some pretty solid examples of outfits that would be a great look for the homecoming season.

And this isn’t just restricted to your college homecoming .  I’d make the same recommendation for those of you heading to your high school homecoming game.  You never know who you might run into and there is no such thing as overdressed unless you decide to wear a tuxedo.  Then you might look like a pompous buffoon.   So I guess there is such a thing as overdressed.  Don’t be that guy.

By the way, I recommend a blazer and pair of loafers on any and every trip you take where there is any chance of you going anywhere outside of a house, hospital (God forbid it is a bad trip), or fast food restaurant.  Just my 3 cents.

Don’t forget to follow the new account @DanDailyReader on Twitter and Instagram.

Forget the Alliteration

#FallFashion is going to be trending for the next few months but I prefer #AutumnStyle.  See, fashion is all well and good but it is temporary.   Style is a part of your personality.  It is natural and intentional.  It is classic but not stagnant.  The more I learn, the more it evolves.  So, during this autumn season, I challenge you to figure out your style.  Examine what you feel most comfortable in.  Mix and match styles.  Be and individuals, even within the parameters of your job’s dress code.  Recognizing your own style is the only way you will move past the tiresome task of keeping up with the Joneses, a practice that will likely place you in the poorhouse before you’re place on a pedestal.

Enjoy this autumnal season and take some chances with your wardrobe.  Make it your style and not their fashion.

Interesting Fact:
While we’ve been on the subject of seasons, you might have wondered about the word “autumn” compared to “fall.” In the British Isles, the term “autumn” has been used since the 1300s, and the phrase “the fall of the leaf” or just “the fall” was used from the 1500s until about 1800. After that time, “autumn” became the common seasonal term in Britain. According to The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, “whereas ‘the fall of the leaf’ (less frequently ‘the fall of the year’) and then ‘fall’ by itself gradually became standard in America from the late 17th century onwards” (5). However, one exception for American usage of “autumn,” instead of “fall,” is with the autumnal equinox. (Source: Grammar Girl)

Understanding the Dress Shirt: Custom Shirt

Great article from The Art of Manliness.

blue_herringbone_shirt_folded

A man’s dress shirt can elegantly frame his face during a presentation and later absorb his perspiration during a tough round of questioning. It can play a supporting role by enhancing his sport jacket or it can stand alone and be the centerpiece of his outfit. The dress shirt ranges in price from the $9.99 Wal-Mart polyester special to over $600 for a name brand custom shirt. But why would you want to read an entire article about dress shirts?

Because details matter. In any given day we only speak with a small percentage of the people we see; the shirt you wear, in the absence of a jacket, is the most powerful signal you are using to non-verbally communicate with those around you. Your shirt, whether you like it or not, is speaking for you; make sure it’s saying what you intend.

What is a Dress Shirt

A proper dress shirt is a button-up shirt with a collar, long sleeves, and wrist cuffs. It is usually made from a cotton fabric woven and dyed into various, non-obtrusive patterns and colors. By altering these characteristics, a dress shirt can either send the message its wearer is ready for sport or ready to meet the president.

Dress Shirt Fit

Most men wear dress shirts that do not fit them properly. The problem is that ready made garments are made to fit many; as a result, they fit no one perfectly. We all compromise somewhere if a shirt fits us in the neck it fails us in the sleeve length; if it fits well in the sleeves, it billows out around the stomach. So the fit  I’ll describe here is generally only achievable on a custom shirt or one that’s close to fitting and then tailored by a skilled hand.

A well fitted dress shirt should first and foremost be comfortable; this is different for every man. Larger men are usually complimented by a looser fit while petite and thin men are complimented by a more form cut. In general, though, a shirt should:

  • Allow two fingers in the collar when buttoned.
  • Be tight enough around the wrist so that the cuffs must be unbuttoned to slip them off.
  • Have long enough sleeves so that you can raise your arms like wings and not pull the cuffs down the forearm; they should be short enough so that you don’t have more than 1 inch of fabric bunching near the cuff when your arms hang.
  • Shoulder points that extend to the end of the shoulder and no farther.
  • Have room in the chest and waist to pinch out 1-3 inches of fabric (depending on fit desired).

Dress Shirt Fabric

Cotton. The undisputed king of shirt fabrics, cotton has been the choice of those in the know for centuries. A finely woven cotton fabric exhibits all the properties a man could want from a garment worn close to the body, good heat & moisture conduction, durability, smoothness, and the ability to take shape when ironed.

Man-Made Fibers. Although they do not exhibit the same desirable properties as cotton, man made fibers have made a huge impact on the shirt scene due to their ability to do an acceptable job at a rock bottom price. Often wrinkle and stain resistant, these fibers have and will continue to play a major role in menswear. Although I recommend staying away from shirts with more than 50% man made fiber, for the budget minded, they may be a viable alternative.

Silk. A luxury fabric easily recognizable because of its sheen and light drape, it is not recommended for most as, the maintenance costs are high and long term durability low. But that’s just my opinion!

Check it out in its entirety at The Art of Manliness.

How To Pack a Shirt

To all of my travelers, making sure that your shirts are packed properly is often a challenge.  Especially on a short trip, taking the time to unpack, iron, and repack can be a tiresome to say the least.  Generally, I use method 3, taught to me by my girlfriend, but the other two methods might prove to be helpful as well.  Try all three out and see which comes easiest to you.

The Right Way to Pack a Dress Shirt