Pick up just about any women’s fashion magazine, and you’ll probably find an article on which must-have pieces a stylish female should have in her closet for the upcoming season or year. That’s great for us girls, but what about the guys? It seems to me that guys have men’s magazines that show them “stuff” but don’t dispense much good advice. In general, they’re being left out. And as an image consultant, I think that’s a shame. I’ve spent plenty of time working with male clients so I know what works and what doesn’t. That’s why I’ve put together a list of seven things every man should have in his closet. If you’re a guy who’s interested in sharpening his look or a woman who’s wondering what to buy a man—maybe for his birthday or Christmas—I hope that my top picks will point you in a good direction.
1) Blazer. No, I’m not talking about just any blazer. I’m talking about one that’s well-fitting (possibly even tailored) and in the best fabric you can afford; preferably gabardine or light wool. Whether you choose navy or black, you can pair this stylish and versatile piece with wool trousers, khakis, or even a fabulous pair of jeans (which I’ll get to later!). Plus, a nicely tailored blazer can go just about anywhere, from casual Fridays to Saturday date nights.
2) Casual shoes. An adaptable pair of casual shoes—think loafers—in a warm, medium-to-light brown will see you through all seasons. They’ll be a wonderful accent for blue jeans on the weekend, khakis in the summer, and darker colors in the cooler months. Plus, loafers are the perfect shoe to wear when traveling, out with friends, or with your new blazer. As you begin to wear your new shoes more and more, make sure that you pay attention to keeping them nice—their condition can say a lot about you.
3) Belt. Every man needs at least one classy belt in the best-quality leather he can afford. Choose from crocodile or brown or black leather…or all three. And keep in mind that a wider belt (a minimum of 1.25 inches) will give you a modern look no matter your height or size.
4) Perfect shirt. Many men make the mistake of choosing shirts that are too big, which can make them look sloppy. Focus on fit rather than color. If you’re lean, choose an athletic fit, and if you carry more weight, make sure that the buttons aren’t pulling open. Also, be sure to press your shirt (including the collar) before going out, whether you’re going for a casual or dressy look.
5) Jeans. The “perfect” pair of jeans isn’t an article of clothing that only women should look for. Every man should also have denim in his closet that isn’t too tight or too loose—and that includes the rear! As with shirts, men tend to buy jeans that are too big, so pay attention to your body type and avoid bagginess and dragging cuffs. And if you’re splurging on one pair (perhaps raw denim, which conforms to your body), choose a darker wash so that you can dress them up.
6) Coat. Specifically, I’d recommend looking for a trench raincoat, which is useful, versatile, and good for traveling. Depending on the prevailing colors in your wardrobe, choose between khaki (my number-one pick) or black. Make sure to leave a little extra room in the fit since you might be wearing it over a suit.
7) Watch. Sometimes commercials hit the nail on the head—a man’s watch really does say a lot about him! After all, it’s the male equivalent of classy jewelry. Don’t worry, though—there’s no need to clean out your bank account. Simply choose a piece that’s not too small, but also not so big that it draws all eyes in the room. Avoid overtly trendy watches, too—one that’s simple and understated will fall into the “timeless” category.
No matter your size, style, or age, I promise that you’ll fall in love with these seven pieces. Once they’re in your closet, getting dressed for any occasion will be a breeze.