Today I’m here to tell you that I get it. I get that the stresses of knowing what to wear, what haircut to get, and what is going just a little too far can be overwhelming if not debilitating. But I’m here to tell you there’s an easier way. In fact, I’m here to tell you that that one friend you have that always looks like he’s just walked out of a magazine and seems to always have the newest look without dropping a dime, well I’m sorry to tell you this, but he cheats.
Although most people might think that looking like one of the Jonas brothers might break your wallet, there’s actually a million little tricks and cheats to get you to your dream look without selling your organs.
So without further ado, here is your guide to the perfect Fashion Toolkit, all the essentials you need to look your best, and still pay off your student loans at the same time:
The Basic Wardrobe
The best advice I ever got was rather simple: invest in your basic clothing, the things you’ll wear a ton and can go with anything, and the rest you can buy cheap. To simplify, that white t-shirt that will go with any occasion? Pay a hefty 30 bucks or more for it. Those cargo print sweatpants? No more than $15.
So with this in mind, what can we spend a pretty penny on? What things count as basics? What things make any man’s wardrobe a dream? Well here’s just a few.
A White Button Down
This seems kind of obvious for most people, but just in case you haven’t invested in one yet, a quality button down is a necessity. Even if you aren’t in a job that requires a formal dress code, a white button down can be a great way to bring a little class to a first date or even look a little more put together on a night out. It’s so versatile that it can literarily work for any occasion, so make sure you have a blazer, jumper, or form-fitting pair of jeans to bring it to the next level.
Crew Neck Jumper
Another great versatile piece, the crew neck – especially great in dark colours like black or blue – can be an easy addition to your closet. Perfect for any season and great for layering, this is a must have.
I’m sorry to break the news, but you can’t wear jeans for every occasion. In fact, even just one pair of these trendy trousers will liven up your wardrobe and give you some options. I’ve always been a big fan of the cream coloured pair, which will give you that cleaned up look.
Another obvious one, having a nice suit that fits you well should be the key investment of your wardrobe. Although it’ll be the harder one in your wardrobe to keep on the cheaper side, try digging around in your connections to see if any of your friends have a tailor that can give you a nice discount. If not, mix and match at your local high end men’s clothing store to create a trendy suit at a cheaper price.
As we all know by now, my favourite piece is the white t-shirt. I firmly believe that if you are going to spend any money on any piece of clothing, this should be the first and most expensive. Obviously, nothing doesn’t go with a white t-shirt and I can promise you won’t regret dropping a couple dollars on this one.
Another staple, the rule of thumb here is to get a cut that fits best with your body type. Taller and leaner men should look for straight-cut jeans with a low rise, according to Men’s Fitness, while the shorter and bulkier types should look for slightly slimmer jeans. Whatever your type, get the store attendee to help you find the right pair for you.
A Flashy Tie
Another staple of my wardrobe is my favourite red tie. It can be whatever pattern or colour you desire, but the outcome should make you feel James Bond-esque for any of those important interviews or cocktails parties that you want to feel your best at.
The key, again, is to spend money where you know your investment will pay off. If you don’t think the item will go with at least 75% of your wardrobe, then don’t spend more than $20 on it.
The Grooming Essentials
The pantry full of products is no longer just for your girlfriend and little sister, now you need to be aware of just the right hair products and toiletries for you too. If you want that perfect hair and to smell like a god, it’s about time you walked away slowly from the generic shampoos and body spray.
I know, no ordinary guy thinks they need to choose cologne over antiperspirant, but again I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. We aren’t talking anything crazy, though, in fact a lot of cologne can come with cheap price tags and less aggressive scents. The trick is to use sparingly and in the right circumstance, don’t waste your bottle on your 8am Monday lecture, but bring it out for that anniversary dinner.
This is becoming a pretty common one, especially those that have longer haircuts or undercuts. A good pomade with strong hold and a good finish, the favourite of many old-timey barbers everywhere. This can take nearly any haircut and make it Instagram worthy with just a small dollop in the morning. Make sure you ask your hairstylist for the right type and how you should be styling your cut for the best effects.
The myth of acne being exclusive to your teens is a long and perpetuated one and frankly quite a surprise for the twenty somethings looking in the mirror everyday hoping clear skin will come our way. That’s why a good face wash or acne scrub is an essential for every guy. Even if you don’t have bad acne, getting into the habit of washing your face regularly will do wonders for your complexion and can even help you feel fresher and more ready for the day.
My little brother has a huge problem with excessive sweating and foot odor and by far the best thing he ever discovered was Gold Bond. A quick spray of this completely changed our entire lives as we no longer had to lock him down in the basement until he showered and could live our lives in scent-less peace.
The Right Shampoo and Conditioner
Believe it or not, when our hairdressers tell us that we need to stop using store brand hair products, it isn’t a capitalist scheme. In fact the reason they say that is because they don’t want all their good work to go to waste and by using shampoos and conditioner that contain harsh cleaning agents we can damage our hair to a point of no return. But if you don’t want to invest in high end products, then start looking more closely at the ingredients in your products to ensure you aren’t doing more harm than good when you’re washing your hair.
The trick to the right pantry is to find products that make sense for your routine. If you like to sleep in late before work, consider picking products for your face that are night-time friendly or invest in a hair dryer so you don’t have to go to bed with wet hair. Whatever you do, try out a few different brands and find what works best for you.
The Perfect Shoe Rack
My dad was always a firm believer that no man or woman needs more than two pairs of shoes: a pair of sneakers and a pair work shoes. Sorry, Dad, agree to disagree I guess. Because to be honest, if you only have two pairs of shoes not only does that not give you a lot of wiggle room it also means you’re going to be buying new shoes a lot because of wear and tear. Personally, I’m a big fan of having a few options, not having to shop for new shoes every year, and finding something budget friendly.
With that said, there are some essentials (and some more optional) choices that you should have at all times of the year.
A good classic pair of canvas or leather sneakers are a must. Good for school, casual work days, and a quick trip to the grocery store, these will be your favourite pair. To make them last longer, choose a colour other than white so when they get a little scuffed and dirty they don’t start looking old too early into their use.
Summer is an interesting time for men as there has been quite a bit of controversy on whether or not any type of sandals look good on men. But whether you opt for canvas-tied flip flops, espadrilles, or the very comfy (and highly recommended by yours truly) Birkenstocks, find what you like so you aren’t stuck with sand in all your favourite sneakers all season long.
Nike’s are my life, but I guess the brand doesn’t actually matter (but you’ll have to convince me). These should most likely be the biggest investment on your shoe rack as you’ll ideally get the most use out of them. Plus who doesn’t love that it’s now trendy to wear your workout shoes everywhere? Fashion is funny that way.
Brown or Black Tie-ups
Or longwings I guess? Not entirely sure what the technical name is, but they’re the shoes that aren’t quite tuxedo-fancy, but classy enough to wear with a suit. Not totally necessary to drop a ton of money of them (in my opinion) but still essential to have in your wardrobe so you aren’t pairing your tailored suit with sneakers.
I’m a big fan of a good combat boot that are literally great for any adventure that may befall you. Another pair that might get a bit more wear and tear than your average shoe (depending on your lifestyle) so you may want to drop a pretty penny on them.
Like all my tips in the article, it’s essential that you find the pieces that you actually need for your lifestyle. Feel free to pick and choose what are considered essentials for your front door.
In all, make sure you have at least these basics and essentials down for everyday fashion and spend your money in the right ways. Stock up early and buy pieces that will last you for years and that can walk in stride with all of the craziest trends. Good luck and happy styling!