Wardrobe Foundations: Round Two

We covered the top ten foundational pieces that a man should have when building a wardrobe (click here to re-read).  These are the pieces that create a baseline, and will get your through 80-90% of situations where shorts aren’t allowed.

Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?  The next ten pieces are where your style starts to develop.  These pieces start to define the type of man you are, and should be a compliment to your lifestyle.  I tell people this all the time: it’s impossible to buy your entire wardrobe from one store.  Don’t be defined by a single catalog, as that’s too restrictive.  Enjoy all the options out there.  Let your wardrobe reflect your interests, as most of these 11-20 pieces are made to be worn.

So let’s get to it, shall we?  Here are my suggestions for 11-20 for a man’s wardrobe.  I look forward to the debate.

11. A Waxed Jacket

A waxed jacket is an extremely important, three-season piece in a man’s wardrobe.  It shows that you respect the Monarchy, but also shoot birds.  Waxed jackets aren’t too stuffy, and they can be dressed up or down.  They patina very well.  In fact, there is a huge secondary market for used waxed jackets on second-hand sites and eBay.  I have a few, and wear them quite all quite a bit- even here in Georgia.

There are a few waxed jacket options that cover a pretty wide spectrum.  Barbour is the standard bearer, and I’d advise sticking with the Bedale or Beaufort (maybe the Ashby…).  All the others feel like souped up models of the originals.  If you want to go a little more high-style, the Belstaff Roadmaster is a great option.  This waxed option dresses up very well, and the deep navy color looks really cool with greys and blacks.  Don’t sleep on Tom Beckbe.  Their Tinsaw jacket is their more rugged option, or the Blakely, which is more refined.  The best part about any waxed jacket: the patina.  Wear it well, keep it clean, and get it re-waxed every couple of years.

12. Belts – Dress & Fun

Belts can make or break an outfit.  A great suit loses all it’s luster if a worn out belt is at the front and center.  I’m a huge proponent of multiple belt options, as they are an easy way to add a little flare to an outfit.  I believe that man should own a nice dress belt (black and dark brown), a good casual belt, and a fun belt.  While they aren’t all interchangeable, it gives you enough options to cover any outfit. Buy 2-3″ larger than your waist size to give yourself a little extra slack – and it makes you look skinny.  Belts should be taken care of like shoes.  Since they are made of leather, they should be conditioned regularly.

A dress belt is easy: black and dark brown in shiny leather or an exotic hide with either a regular buckle, or a monogrammed engine turned buckle (preferred).  A good casual leather belt is a must.  I prefer a shotshell belt, as it suits my lifestyle, but other options are countless.  As for a fun belt, I really like the JT Spencer/Peter Millar options, the Smathers & Branson custom needlepoints, and the Matthias Kaupermann belts.  They all have a place in my lineup.  The more custom, the better.  It shows you’ve been somewhere.

13. Sport Shirts

We talked about dress shirts in Part One, which deserve a spot in the top ten.  Just behind them would be sport shirts.  What do we mean by ‘sport shirts’?  Plaids, ginghams, checks, and the like that are cut like a dress shirt, but give a little bit more of a casual vibe.  These are the shirts that you can wear with jeans or khakis, a sweater or vest, and look like you know what you are doing.

The key to finding good sport shirts is all about fit.  A baggy shirt kills the outfit.  Since a lot of sport shirts come in S-M-L sizing (rather than neck/sleeve), it’s important to know your size.  Don’t be afraid to spend a little money to have it tailored.  If you are between sizes, buy the larger of the two, and have it cut to fit.  It’s the best $20 you’ll spend.  I really like the sport shirts from Ledbury and Peter Millar, as they have extensive collections online, and their sizing is consistent.  Your favorite mens store will have a good selection, usually on the upper end.  A personal recommendation: make sure you have a great Black Watch Plaid shirt.  This will be a go-to in the colder months; they look great with everything, and give off a classic vibe.  Brooks Brothers has a really nice one on sale now.

14. Brown Leather Shoes

You’ve already got a good pair of loafers, now you need a good pair of brown leather shoes that are an upgrade to your New Balance 992s.  I’m not saying that your casual browns need to be dress shoes, but they need to be something nice that will get you through an adult happy hour or a date night.  Think about your style, and adapt.  Here are a few options:

 

Pictured are a pair beef roll loafers from Rancourt.  These are a good option for the guy who tends to dress it up just a bit.  These are a great option for an updated Ivy look, or bumming around on the weekend in a pair of khakis and a sweatshirt.  Camp Mocs like these from Oak Street Bootmakers are a good option instead of drivers, and can be worn with jeans, khakis, or even shorts.  Finally, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Clark’s Wallabees.  I wear mine all the time.

15. Exploding Jacket

I did a post on these jackets a while back, and it generated a ton of good feedback.  Exploding jackets are a workhorse in my wardrobe.  I have a bunch, and really enjoy wearing them.  They are statement pieces that show you have command of your style.  This is the boldest piece of your outfit, so pair it with basics: solid shirts, dark -or- white jeans, good loafers or brogues, and a nice belt.  These jackets mean business.

As with any piece, you don’t want to go TOO bold.  I know, a ‘subtle explosion’ is contradictory, but I mean to say go with classic patterns in tonal colors.  Gun checks, glen plaids, windowpanes, etc.  Your favorite men’s store is going to be the best bet, with the most variety, but also the highest price.  I’ve had a ton of luck on Yoox, which is my source to find Boglioli on sale.  NOTE: It’s taken a lot of trial and error to get dialed in with mail-order jackets.  Be ready to do a bunch of returns…  Lastly, Goodwill is an option, but tread very lightly here.  If you do go this route, be sure there aren’t any holes/stains, that the quality is good, and the fit is close.  You’ll have to alter, so remember that the shoulders and length can’t be touched.

16. White or Cream Jeans

While I’m glad there has been positive movement in the white jeans thing for guys, there is still some apprehension.  Let me help: they look great on guys.  My wife tells me all the time, and she’s the smartest person I know.  They are a classic look that works best when dressed up a bit.  Pair them with a navy gingham shirt and drivers, or with a blue OCBD under a navy blazer and bit loafers.  It’s a very sharp look, and easily pulled off by any guy.  Just make sure they fit well – more like dress pants rather than baggy jeans.

The go-to is going to be Levi’s 501s since there isn’t a better deal to be found.  However, there are quite a few options out there.  It’s all about your favorite brand and fit.  Whether it’s Levi’s, APC, J. Brand, or someone else, add these to your arsenal.

17. A Vest

Quite a few of us have been wearing vests for quite some time.  I remember getting my first – a navy Patagonia Synchilla fleece vest back in college.  I wore it quite a bit, and have been on the vest bandwagon for quite some time.  I really like their function – they serve as an extra set of pockets at the office.  They have really become a fashion statement via #midtownuniform, and I don’t see it slowing down.

While the Patagonia Better Sweater is a very good option (and we all own a couple already), there are a few more out there.  Just be sure to remember the following: a) nothing neon/over logo’ed, b) nothing too thick, and c) nothing too outdoorsy.  Orvis’ Drift Vest is a really great alternative for a puffer-type vest that doesn’t make you look like the Michelin Man, and the Barbour Lowerdale is a great option for a quilted vest.

18. A Good Watch

I am absolutely NOT going to say that it’s a requirement for a man to own a super expensive watch, but I WILL say that a man should own a nice watch.  There are so many options out there that work in almost every price range, there really isn’t an excuse for wearing a G-Shock with a suit.  A good watch completes the outfit.  Since it is one of two pieces of jewelry that a man wears (the other being a wedding ring), it should be thoughtful and a symbol of being a man’s man.

There are so many examples of good, everyday watches that it’s impossible for me to list them all here.  If you wanted to find a standard to club off of, go with the Rolex GMT Master II.  It’s largely considered the ‘man’s watch’, and is a fine option – one that you will wear forever.  The Tudor Heritage Black Bay line is extremely nice, and what I would call a value-play.  Looking for something affordable?  The Hamilton Khaki King Day/Date is a GREAT option for a good watch and an incredible price.  You can keep the current band or upgrade to something a little more fun (like this).

19. Your Hat

Let me clarify: what is YOUR hat. Not the hat you got from the Masters last year, or that Patagonia hat you picked up on sale, I’m talking about the hat that is synonymous with you.  The hat that all your friends recognize as YOUR hat.  It’s probably beat up, old, and hanging on by a thread.  My (old) collection of Game hats…MY hat is the red circle Georgia hat…it’s hanging on…

20. A Tuxedo

Follow the rule of three when thinking about tuxedos: if you wear one more than three times in 1-2 years, or if you are over 30, you should own a tuxedo.  And not the wash-and-wear version that fits like an umbrella: a classic, well cut tuxedo that will last you for the rest of your life.  It’s an investment, so use it as incentive to stay that size.

I would suggest getting a tuxedo done right.  A good men’s store will take care of you, and you’ll be assured of a proper fit and all the fixin’s.  Diplomat Outfitters is probably the best value proposition for a tuxedo, and where I’ll go when I need to re-up.  I have the J. Crew version, which is nice, but there are some things I wish I did differently.  I recommend a shawl collar, black, and don’t skimp on the formal shirt.

This is my take.  I get questions all the time on ‘what should I do in this occasion, etc.’; conversations I enjoy immensely.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  Cheers, JRS.

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15 Comments

  1. Nem
    10/12/2018 / 8:26 AM

    Good list.  While I don’t assemble “outfits” daily for work or play, the tuxedo is a standard I’m happy you included.  Interesting to me this morning is that I’m wearing my low top Wallabees today and they could use a cleaning.  Any suggestions on technique?

    • JRS
      Author
      10/16/2018 / 2:38 PM

      You know, that’s a REALLY good question.  My Wallabees could use a bath as well…maybe a future post.

  2. GWM
    10/12/2018 / 9:57 AM

    Great follow up piece. Been looking forward to this one. Leaving off the Filson Mile Marker on the waxed jacket options was a miss but loved the commentary on “Your Hat”.

    • JRS
      Author
      10/16/2018 / 2:39 PM

      I don’t disagree with the Filson suggestion, as long as it’s 5+ years old…

  3. JCT
    10/12/2018 / 10:09 AM

    Solid, except for the white jeans. Come on man! I’m not hating them but they’re not part of the foundation. Suggestions: basic five pockets, sneakers, quilted jacket/vest, pocket squares…hell even exofficio boxer briefs are more foundational. Keep up the good work and let’s see Round 3 soon. 

  4. Trip
    10/12/2018 / 10:10 AM

    Great point about sticking with the Bedale and Beaufort. Those are some of the only ones that are still made in the UK, and have numbered chest sizing rather than S/M/L. Places like Orvis have really been pushing Ashby and other non-standard ones to younger buyers; I’m pretty sure they’re doing this because there’s a greater profit margin there since they’re made in places like Vietnam and Bulgaria. The Bedale and Beaufort can always be repaired, and will never go out of style.

    • JRS
      Author
      10/16/2018 / 2:40 PM

      They also hold their value better than any of the other styles.  

  5. Fritz
    10/12/2018 / 10:42 AM

    Like this list a lot, and agree with just about everything.  I’d say in Texas our version of light jeans are the “wheat” wranglers.  

  6. SJS
    10/12/2018 / 10:09 PM

    I stumbled into a flyweight Barbour coat in Orvis about 10 years ago now.  Its basically a Beaufort cut sans game pouch and weighs about 1/3 of a normal Beaufort.  It is the jacket of a Southern man’s dreams.  I’ve never seen another one and believe they are discontinued.  Orvis had them on sale for $180.  I have a Beaufort too, but the flyweight works for all but a few weeks in Atlanta weather.

  7. Nacho
    10/13/2018 / 9:51 AM

    Growing up/living in Va horse country, getting your first Barbour is a right of passage.  I’d swap out a good chambray shirt for the sport shirt, and invest in a good denim jacket (something raw denim, like Mr. Porter’s in-house brand or Taylor Stitch’s Cone Mills while you still can) versus the vest and wear the hell out of it.   Love the idea of “your hat” 

  8. GQ
    10/14/2018 / 9:53 AM

    Re: Barbour Jackets– another plus of the Beaufort (in addition to what TRIP notes below about numbered sizing) is that its long enough to cover a blazer/suit coat. That was a factor when I chose a Beaufort 6 yrs ago. Especially this time of year, its perfect over a Harris tweed or houndstooth blazer w/ jeans or khakis for a weekend or casual Fridays in the office and it looks especially great over a tweed shooting suit for any fall occasion such as an outdoor wedding that requires dressing up while still being prepared for cooler temps and/or inclement weather. 
    Glad to see Part II of this list. 

    • JRS
      Author
      10/16/2018 / 2:41 PM

      Very good call.  I’m not a topcoat guy, but I am a Beaufort guy.

  9. BTJ
    10/14/2018 / 11:07 PM

    I bought my Barbour jacket 8 years ago. It’s the Barbour Cassels Jacket if your tall and thin the Bedale and Beaufort look terrible in my opinion. It’s their Dept B line. Even London Trading Company and Nordstrom’s asked me where I bought it since it’s the best looking they’ve seen. Everyone is different though. 
    As Tripp notated it says made in Bulgaria and was over double the price of the regular Bedale or Beaufort. Whatever it’s my favorite piece of clothing. Ha. 

  10. Jeff L.
    10/16/2018 / 2:16 PM

    Haven’t had a pair of Wallabees in about 15 years.  I recently thought about purchasing another pair but have held off after seeing reviews on the Clark’s website that the quality is not the same with seemingly cheaper materials and a thinner crepe sole being used.  Anyone bought a pair recently who can shed some light on this?

  11. joelvau
    10/19/2018 / 7:18 PM

    as I commented a few months ago, you are referring to caps as hats.  you have zero pictures above of hats.  all are caps.   we have enough degradation of sartorial culture in America without getting the terms wrong.   also, despite what Macy’s pretends, there are no blue, gray, yellow, red or any color khakis.  

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