Many of us have items in our wardrobe that we never wear or struggle to pair together to make an outfit. And in the era of fast fashion, it can be very easy to build up a collection of random clothes that we quickly forget about or go out of style.
One of the best ways to avoid this is to create a capsule wardrobe – full of timeless clothing that you can always trust to be fashionable, no matter what the latest trends are.
Not only can this make piecing outfits together easier, but it should also help to reduce spending on unnecessary items and help you live more sustainably.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 must-have fashion pieces for men that are timeless, versatile, and stylish.
1. Black jeans
Black jeans are simple, pair well with almost anything, and can be styled in a variety of ways to suit different occasions. There’s a reason that they’re a solid go-to base for everyday outfits.
While ripped and distressed jeans may be trendy among younger generations, most mature men find that slim or straight leg, solid coloured jeans are the most flattering style. And since the colour black rarely clashes with anything, you’re free to wear almost any colour combination with confidence.
Many people find that black jeans fade after a few wears and washes, but to help maintain the deep colour, there are a few hacks you can follow. For example, washing your jeans inside out, or soaking them in vinegar. Check out this guide on the Levi’s website for more tips.
2. Blue Oxford shirt
A blue shirt is hardly the most exciting or groundbreaking item of clothing. However, it’s by far the one of the most reliable pieces you can have in your wardrobe. Oxford shirts feature a button-down style collar and get their name from the Oxford cloth fabric used to make them.
Whether you decide to wear it with a navy-blue suit, underneath a stylish wool knit, or unbuttoned with a white t-shirt underneath in summer, the blue Oxford shirt can be worn just about anywhere, with anything.
According to this guide from FashionBeans, mid or sky blue is the most versatile shade and goes perfectly well with navy, beige, grey, or brown. However, if you don’t like wearing blue, colours like white, black, and light pink are also versatile options.
You can find more advice on styling the Oxford shirt – including advice on matching different collars to your face shape – on FashionBeans. You can buy good quality Oxford shirts from retailers like Boden, M&S, Next, and Charles Tyrwhitt.
3. Tailored suit
Every man should own at least one great suit. For the workplace, weddings, and celebratory dinners, there are some occasions where only a suit will do.
However, while a well-fitting suit can instantly make you feel (and look) sharper and more sophisticated, a bad-fitting one can do just the opposite. At the end of the day, no matter how much it costs, a suit is only as good as its tailoring. This article on what to look for in a well-tailored suit from Fielding and Nicholson has plenty of useful tips.
Suits can be expensive, so if you’re looking to have just one, darker colours like charcoal grey, navy blue, or black are advisable. Suits in these colours tend to be more formal but are also quite versatile, as they can be dressed down when paired with something like a t-shirt or a turtleneck jumper.
Other features to consider include whether you want your suit to be single or double breasted, which you can read more about on Gentleman’s Gazette.
If you’re looking for a smart-casual pair of shoes that you can wear with multiple outfits, loafers are a stylish all-rounder. Coming in a wide range of designs, they have a few defining features – including the fact that they’re a slip-on shoe without any buckles or laces.
Loafers are also a solid mix of high-end style with an understated desire to have fun. Generally, a semi-smart look is your best bet when it comes to loafers.
They come in a variety of styles and materials including leather, tasselled, suede. Penny loafers (featuring a decorative leather strip on top) tend to be the most versatile, and you can pair them with most outfits – even jeans. For tasselled loafers, try opting for more fitted trousers with a crisp shirt and blazer.
You can read more about different types of loafers, including how to style them in this loafer guide from Man of Many. Or, if you’re looking to buy some loafers, retailers like Charles Tyrwhitt, OFFICE, and Kenneth Cole sell them in a variety of styles.
Alternatively, if you’re after a pair of reliable smart-casual shoes but loafers aren’t for you, why not consider getting some driving shoes (the sporty, European cousin of the loafer), boat shoes, or slip-on boots instead?
5. Coloured chinos
Chinos are a handy alternative to jeans and suit trousers. They’re essentially the perfect in-between trouser choice and can be dressed up or down accordingly. Plus, they’re remarkably easy to style.
For a more casual look, you could opt for a linen shirt tucked into slim chinos. Or for something a little dressier, try adding a formal shirt and blazer on top. Fitted chinos, which are neither too tight nor too baggy, are generally recommended. Stylists also suggest making sure that your chinos aren’t too long, as this can really take away from the look.
The range of colours available also makes chinos a great option for anyone wanting to experiment with a bit of colour, while avoiding anything too ‘out there’. Staple colour favourites include khaki, navy, white, and maroon. While navy chinos are arguably the most versatile, don’t be afraid to try something new. You can find more tips on how to style different coloured chinos on The Trend Spotter website.
Many men have plenty of suits in their wardrobe – but what about blazers? A blazer can be the perfect addition to almost any smart or casual outfit.
One important rule to remember when styling blazers is that they’re not suit jackets. This means that it’s generally best to avoid wearing matching colours as you would with a suit. For example, a navy blazer doesn’t tend to go with navy trousers.
Instead, you could try pairing it with grey trousers and crisp white shirt, or perhaps some tan trousers and brown shoes for a more laid-back look.
Some of the most favoured blazer colours include navy, grey, and patterned. Though, if you’re looking for something a little different and unique, why not try a check, houndstooth, or windowpane blazer? These styles look good paired with dark jeans or chinos.
7. Turtleneck jumper
Turtleneck-style jumpers are both comfortable and flattering. They’re helpful for elongating the face and can be worn in a variety of ways.
For a casual look, you could wear a chunky turtleneck jumper with a pair of chinos and boots. And for something a little more formal, why not try wearing a lightweight wool turtleneck with a smart pair of trousers, or use it as a layer underneath a suit or blazer? You’ll find different style ideas in this guide to wearing a turtleneck from The Fashion Wolf.
Retailers like Burton, UNIQLO, M&S, and Hugo Boss have a wide selection of turtleneck jumpers and sweaters on their website. Ranging from around £10 to £160, hopefully there’s something here to suit every occasion and budget.
8. Smart overcoat
During the colder seasons, a smart overcoat is a must-have for any man’s wardrobe. And luckily, the overcoat is a universally flattering style that looks good on anybody. Popular colours include tan, grey, and black. But similar to blazers, overcoats can be used to experiment with different patterns like check and houndstooth.
How your overcoat fits, particularly around the shoulders, sleeves, and lengthwise, is important. Thread’s article, How an overcoat should fit, is full of useful tips to make sure your coat is the right size and shape for you.
A good quality overcoat can be pricey, which might make it tempting to go for cheaper options. However, if you’re after a reliable coat that’ll stand the test of time, it’s often worth investing a bit more money.
9. Polo shirt
There’s a timeless feel to the polo shirt that makes it the perfect cornerstone for any outfit. Because of their signature collar, wearing a polo in place of a T-shirt can help to give casual outfits a bit of a polish.
For maximum versatility, it’s worth stocking your wardrobe with a few of the basic colours first. This includes your whites, greys, navys, and blacks, as these work well with any skin tone and body type and can be layered easily. After this, you can have fun experimenting with other colours.
For more inspiration on polo shirts, including outfit inspiration and how your shirt should fit, check out this guide from Ashley Weston.
10. Dress shoes
When it comes to more formal occasions, pressed trousers and ironed shirts don’t mean anything without the right pair of shoes. It’s true that dress shoes really can make or break an outfit.
Examples of dress shoes include black leather Oxfords, brown leather brogues, and wholecut leather shoes. Black leather Oxfords are perfect for most formal events – including black tie, weddings, funerals, and job interviews.
Brown leather brogues are slightly less formal. You’d expect to see them in more laid-back office environments. And wholecut leather shoes are a real all-rounder that can be paired with smart jeans or accompany you to dressier evening events.
When looked after properly, a pair of well-made shoes should last between 15 and 20 years, so they’re well worth the investment.
While fashion trends go in and out of style over the years, there are always a few timeless clothing items that’ll never go out of fashion.
From blue shirts, loafers, and polo shirts to blazers and overcoats, lining your wardrobe with these versatile items is a sure way to be prepared to dress in style for any occasion.
For more fashion and styling tips, head over to the fashion and beauty section of our website. You can also read more about further benefits of building a capsule wardrobe in our article; 8 tips for creating a timeless and sustainable capsule wardrobe.