Build the Basic Wardrobe: Part 1

I get a lot of questions asking me what basic items people should have in their wardrobe. These are what I consider the most important items to have as a solid style foundation.

If you’ve got these ten basic items, you have at least 80 different outfit combinations that you can add your own style with your other pieces and accessories. This is Part One: style for the everyday guy. (Stay tuned for parts two and three!)

Build the Basic Wardrobe: Part 1

The ten essential items

  • Dark wash jeans – clean without distressing; these can be dressed up or dressed down.
  • Khakis – like with the jeans, dressed up or dressed down, but these are great because they open up more possibilities to your wardrobe.
  • Leather belt – get one in black and one in brown. If you’re on a budget, get a reversible belt. These two colors are essential for matching with your shoes and looking professional.
  • Black t-shirt – throw it under any button up for a variation of a look. Or, wear it alone on a relaxed day.
  • White shirt – a necessity in anyone’s wardrobe, this shirt can be made formal or casual depending on how you accessorize it with the rest of your outfit. This shirt could be an oxford, linen, or dress shirt, whichever you need.
  • Grey oxford – a versatile color in a versatile material. Oxford is a thicker fabric (which is good for hiding binder lines) that has a casual appearance. Dress it up by tucking in your shirt and wearing a blazer, or dress it down by untucking it and rolling the sleeves up.
  • Light blue oxford – same as with the grey oxford; this color is another necessity.
  • Plaid flannel shirt – for the casual and cold days, this shirt is great. Flannels are known to instantly boost the wearer’s attractiveness, plus they feel awesome. Wear one buttoned up, or open with a graphic tee underneath. Pick one up at a thrift store if you’re on a budget.
  • Grey crew neck sweater or sweatshirt – you can layer these over shirts for a great put together look in the fall and winter, or wear them by themselves. Perfect for both the lazy days and the snazzy days.
  • Blazer – get a wool or herringbone blazer in navy, brown, or charcoal. These are the most casual colors for a blazer, which gives you more room in deciding how formal you want to look. Wear it with an oxford, your sweater, or your black t-shirt, some dark jeans, and you’re good to go.

So now that you know what you need, where you can pick up some of these basics for a decent price?

Here are some of my favorite places to get clothes for a decent price. Always watch the sales and the clearance sections; you don’t want to be spending more money than you need to be!

American Eagle logo1. American Eagle: They’re great for their stretchy jeans, and their basic shirts/flannels. Keep an eye on their website; they have frequent sales and deals and if you’re on the mailing list you will get extra discounts!

Buffalo Exchange logo2. Buffalo Exchange: They’re a thrift/consignment store chain across America, so shopping there will require a bit of searching, but they do offer good stuff at reasonable prices. I’ve picked up a couple of shirts from there, and they’ve been in really good condition. You can find a lot of good patterned shirts here.

Uniqlo logo

3. Uniqlo: They have all the basics in a ton of different colors and fabrics. Pick up your jeans and your shirts from here. I only have one shirt from them and I got it at a buffalo exchange, but the quality seems good, reviews have been great, and the sizes go small.

J Crew logo

4. JCrew Factory: Slightly less high quality than the regular JCrew, but for a fraction of the price. Shop the factory clearance section, and you can get shirts and sweaters around 15 dollars. They have frequent sales, so check up on their site every once in a while.

Forever 21 logo

Forever 21: This is the cheapest quality, but also the cheapest in price. Their sizes go down to extra small, and you can get a lot of basic shirts and pants there.

Old Navy logo

Old Navy: Another low budget option that offers all of the basics you’ll need, keep an eye out for sales here too. Pick up your t-shirts from here; if you can’t fit the men’s section, then shop the boys section and get a great fitting tee for less than five bucks.

Take a look at this article by Jack Threads for which shoes to get for your wardrobe. For more style advice, check out my blog, The Dapper Matter (, where I feature rugged, modern menswear modeled by both trans men and cis men alike. If you have any questions or want more specific tips or advice, drop on by and I’ll answer them within a day! Stay dapper, Point 5cc!

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