What every stylish man knows about getting dressed
There is one question we are always asked: what are the clothes every man needs in his wardrobe? The answer, of course, varies depending on what you do, where you live and your personality. But we do like to help out where we can. So, here we go. Stock up on the essentials listed below and you won’t ever be cautious
The ground rules
Pick it out the night before. The most important of all truths about morning dressing is that it starts 12 hours before you need to be out the door. By making your clothing selection the previous evening, you will not only have the time to make better, more considered choices, you’ll also afford yourself a few precious extra minutes in bed.
Think through the day. Your outfit has to last all day, so plan for it. What’s the weather going to be like? What meetings do you have at work? What are you doing after? It might sound obvious, but if you make a point of asking yourself these questions, you won’t end up wearing your favourite do-not-wash shirt to an Italian restaurant, or your expletive-strewn Vetements hoodie to your first meeting with a new client. And that is a good thing.
Focus on neutrals. Keep your wardrobe well-stocked with neutral shades – that is, garments that are white, black, beige or navy. All these colours go together and with other colours (even navy and black; just make sure the navy is light enough to provide a contrast), and can be mixed with wild abandon, taking much of the thought out of the whole process.
Tone it down to two. If you do want to add colour, do it with restraint. In our decade of sartorial experiments, we have discovered that most good outfits contain two main colours, in a 70:30 ratio. The leeway here is tonal variation. Light blue with dark blue with midnight blue, for example, still reads as blue, so you could afford a splash of red, pink or brown if you’re looking to make things a little more interesting.
Watch your mouth. Don’t go anywhere near your clothes until after you have brushed your teeth. Do we really need to tell you why?
The Oxford shirt. These shirts, which usually come in a thick textured cotton with button-down collars, are perfect for most day-to-day casual and smart-casual situations. Three is a good number to start with: one white, one light blue and one in a subtle pattern such as a Bengal stripe or micro-check.
The merino-wool crew neck. If you’re feeling fancy, you could swap this for cashmere. But merino – a breathable, moisture-wicking fibre – is a little better at adapting to the seasons. Navy is always a safe bet, but, as outer layers tend to be darker, you’ll also get a lot of use out of a brightly coloured variation here. Try orange, or even pink, if you’re feeling brave.
The coat. A single-breasted, knee-length coat in grey, black or navy can be worn in almost any situation. If you’re looking to make it a bit more fun … maybe don’t. A colourful scarf can do much work to this end, and won’t carve quite as big a hole in your bank account as whatever patterned or embroidered thing you’ve got your eye on.
The umbrella. We’re big fans of waterproof coats, but for an essentials-only wardrobe, an umbrella will suffice to keep you dry. Plus, if you get a hand-crafted example from the likes of Italian craftsman Mr Francesco Maglia, it can also make you look rather sophisticated.
The ‘dress’ sneakers. Yes, sneakers can be smart. Indeed, they have become the modern era’s most multi-purpose shoe, if chosen rightly. The typical example in this department is the high-end tennis shoe, a style currently offered by every brand from Common Projects to Givenchy to John Lobb. Keep them sparkling white with a protective spray and Jason Markk’s sneaker wipes.
Extract from The MR PORTER Guide To A Better Day (Thames & Hudson)