The way men dress has always been a bit underrated. The importance of fashion in men’s life is as much as in women’s; it just varies from person to person. In today’s age when we’re fighting some conventions created around genders, it is very important to fight those conventions in this particular arena as well. As rightfully said, love, career, and fashion can not and should not be based on gender.
Let’s take a brief look to draw a rough image of what factors influence men’s fashion; and how certain articles have become one of mens wardrobe essentials today.
1. Origins: A Brief History of Mens Wardrobe Essentials
Fashion has always been highly subjective. It has always been affected by various factors such as culture, climate, and most importantly, time. Fashion as well is not immune to it. Time has largely influenced it, and showed a great phenomenon where we moved from formal knightly outfits to shorts, tees and jeans in a period of, roughly, a century.
Let us see how time has influenced fashion over the years.
1.1. The 1800s: The Tailor and The Hatter
The glorious 19th century was all about finding the best tailor and the hatter who knows what you need!
Apart from some notable events, such as the Napoleonic wars, the advent of technology, the establishment of The Coca-Cola Company, the Abolition of Slavery, and the European Revolution; the 1800s also created new standards in men’s fashion.
These 100 years led to a hefty amount of tailcoats, pants, and hats in mens wardrobe essentials. The most basic outfit that can be used to describe the majority of fashion in this century consisted of a white dress shirt worn under a black tailcoat, with a black top hat and dress shoes. The dress also varied upon the station of men; for instance, men from high stations carried a cane, while those from a middle-class background wore lesser frills and bow ties.
However, in the early 1800s, 0utfits majorly took influence from 18th-century fashion, consisting of knee-breaches, waistcoats, and frilled collars.
1.2. The Early 1900s: Crisp and Stripey
The early 1900s fashion was not very far from the 1800s fashion. The first two decades saw a decent switch in the fashion; tails from coats and frills from necks disappeared; long coats with more colors and stripes became a common sight. Checkered coats and pants also started making an appearance. A silk knit tie was seen around every other neck, and visual interest rose as colors found their way into mens wardrobe essentials.
1.3. The Mid 1900s: Things Just Got Casual
By the Mid 1900s, lighter colors, mostly pastels made an appearance. White and creams made their way into every guy’s cupboard and mens wardrobe essentials.
The lengths of coats became shorter, and the particular ensemble was tagged to be ‘reserved‘ for important and professional events. With this tag, came a clear distinction between what was considered professional and what was not. Thus were birthed two whole new vibes of clothing: casual and semi-casual.
White shirt stumbled upon a painting palette, and the palette took it to the house of subtle designs, with stripes and checks as family members. Shirts, which were now available with both long and short sleeves, were worn without coats for casual and semi-casual events. Collared T-shirts also saw the light of the world and were reserved for casual events to give an easy-going vibe.
1.4. The Late 1900s: Where the Magic Happened
Mens wardrobe essentials not-so-slowly were hit by the revolutionary fashion of the late 1900s. The first pair of Denim Jeans, Shirts, Overalls, and Jackets; Boots, Trousers (both straight and bell-bottoms), and bold and darker colors with very prominent designs shook the men’s fashion industry like storm.
Disco and hip-hop Fashion completely changed what was considered to be mens wardrobe essentials; lighter colors were out of fashion, and boho and disco styles rocked the streets. The revolutionary change is, today, remembered to be one of the most fashionable and iconic periods of the fashion industry.
All these ages of fashion left us with a legacy and provided us with a firm ground to build a glorious future full of fashion and colors upon. These ages gave us an insight into the power of fashion and what it actually is: a means of expression.
1.5. The 2000s: No Bounds
A collection of these subtle and not-so-subtle changes gave us what we define as men’s fashion today. Fashion, today, has broken all barriers: be it of gender roles or of what is called ‘normal‘. Fashion, as we know it today, is not only limited to clothes or makeup articles; it has become a way of expressing oneself and means more than what you wear. Thus, today’s fashion cannot be defined. It is everything, and at the same time, nothing at all.
2. Top 10 Mens Wardrobe Essentials
After the brief timeline, let’s see what we’ve retained over the years. Following are some of the mens wardrobe essentials the past years have left behind, be it as-it-is, or with a twist.
It can be colorful or printed; short sleeve or long sleeve; circular neck or V-neck, collared or uncollared: a good T-shirt never gets old and is capable of turning a man’ wardrobe into a minimalist wardrobe, but with style. This article of clothing evolved from an undergarment that was worn till the early 1900s and became an article of general use in the mid-20th century, making them very apparent in mens wardrobe essentials.
T-shirts can be paired with anything, to give a comfortable yet chic vibe to your outfit: from jeans to coats, these are highly versatile. No wonder these are among mens wardrobe essentials today!
If you’re aiming for a more subtle look, you can choose a solid-colored shirt; if you’re wanting to go artistic, a graphic tee can be your way to go! Just pair your T-shirt with a chore jacket, a good pair of jeans, and a practical accessory, such as a basic beanie or a bracelet; and you’ll be good to rock the streets!
2.1.1. What You Should Consider While Styling T-shirts?
T-shirts are more suitable for casual atmospheres, as they give a cool and laid-off vibe. A T-shirt is not considered to be a suitable article of clothing if worn in highly-formal atmospheres. However, T-shirts are being actively worn under coats instead of button-up shirts in semi-formal settings.
2.2. Dress Shirts
Well-fitted dress shirts with good pairs of pants or the best jeans can win the room.
Trim-fit (slim fit) solid dress shirts with a brightly-colored tie and the right pair of well-fitted pants are worth a million bucks. In more informal settings, you can style a sport shirt that is patterned and loosely-fitted, with jeans and a Chelsea boot to run free. From darker colors to neutral colors and plain white, every guy must have and wear dress shirts. No wonder these are counted among mens wardrobe essentials!
2.2.1. What You Should Consider While Styling Dress Shirts?
Since these are more actively worn at formal events, little details are what matter. The fit, collar style, cuffs, sleeve length and folds, and most importantly, the fabric.
The fit should be according to what hugs your body the best, and to figure this out, use those try rooms to the fullest! The collar style should complement the collars of your coat (if you’re wearing one), and according to, again, what goes best for you. You can also consider wearing cuff links if you’re attending a highly-formal gathering.
The fabric, which is the most important, should compliment the fabric of your suit and should be apt according to the weather. In colder months, you can choose PrimaLoft or silk; and in summer, you can choose a fine cotton or Linen.
2.3. Dress shoes
Any event is incomplete without good dress shoes. If you have at least one suit among your mens wardrobe essentials category, you must own a classic pair of dress shoes too. A good high-quality pair of dress shoes goes a long way, both literally and figuratively. These never go out of style, and will definitely make your look worth it. Just pair these with a good suit, shirt, and a watch with a leather strap; you have yourself an eye-catching look.
2.3.1. What You Should Consider While Styling Dress Shoes?
The style of the shoe and the way it fits you are of course, of the utmost importance. Keep in mind the style of your shoe: lace-ups, or slide-on; if they have a subtle pattern, are glossy, or matter looking; all matters as it should be in tune with your outfit. At formal events, solid colors are preferable as they look more classy than subtle pattern shoes.
Also, make sure that the shoe fits you well. If you’re uncomfortable throughout the night, it all makes no sense. So, wear what matches and comforts you, but also remember to pull it all off with style!
2.4. Denim Shirt
After denim was popularized in the fashion world, it was impossible to stop a denim shirt from entering mens wardrobe essentials. The comfortable fabric which stood the test of time and was available in a variety of shades and fits was bound to find its way in almirahs. These are available in short-sleeve- patterns and long-sleeve patterns as well, and can be found in a variety of styles. Though these are often understood to be synonymous with boho and informal apparel, the accessories, add-ons and small details can make a huge difference.
If you’re vouching for strong boho vibes, you can pair a light blue denim shirt with pocket squares, with a white tee underneath, and a similar colored pair of jeans of the least two pairs of the perfect ones you own (yes, it’s a necessity). Complete your look with a Chelsea boot pair and you’re good to go.
In colder weather, you can pair a denim chore coat (dark-washed) the perfect white t-shirt you own, and dark-shade jeans. Complete your look with your favorite casual shoes you own and radiate that smart casual vibe! You can also wear a solid color shirt or tee, with pants that complement your shirt, and top it off with a denim chore coat.
2.4.1. What You Should Consider While Styling A Denim Shirt?
These articles of clothing are considered, as mentioned above, to be in the category of informal apparel. Wearing them in a professional environment can sometimes turn out to be unsuitable, as they do not fulfill the formal dress code.
2.5. Dark Wash Jeans
One article of clothing that every guy must own is a perfect pair of Dark wash jeans, an undoubted contender among mens wardrobe essentials. If you do not, your next round of new clothes must include these, because these will never fail to keep you comfortable, and that too, in style!
The most minimalist and classic look that you can create with this pair is a white t-shirt (short sleeve) and dark jeans. Wear these with the white casual shoes or white sneakers you love, and include a silver bracelet to finish your look. You can also replace the white t-shirt with an oxford shirt, slim fit shirt or a rugby shirt. If you are feeling more experimental, you can wear a white oxford shirt, with one of the white t-shirts you own underneath!
2.5.1. What You Should Consider While Styling Dark Jeans?
This article is also considered to be under the casual to semi-formal category. A casual look can be created with t-shirts and polo shirts, while a more formal look can be created with a dress shirt or other collared shirts. While, in tough formal events, these might be deemed a bit ‘too informal’.
2.6. Leather Jacket
If you wanna survive cold weather in style, these are a necessity. Leather jackets came into existence in the early 1900s, when the members of the military wore them as flight jackets. Around the second world war, they came to be known as bomber jackets. In the later parts of the 20th century, leather jackets gained acceptance as articles of common wear, all thanks to Hollywood’s fashion.
If you’re attempting to create the most classic look with articles that are counted amongst mens wardrobe essentials, look in your collection of mens wardrobe essentials and pull out a black or brown leather jacket with solid color t-shirts, black or blue jeans, and casual boots.
2.6.1. What You Should Consider While Styling Leather Jackets?
This article is still considered to be strictly informal. Wearing these in semi-formal or formal settings might not be considered appropriate.
2.7. Versatile trousers
You can match these with a suit, polo shirt, collared shirt, or jacket. If you’re running out of ideas, these can prove to be your lifesavers. A pair of trousers that can be matched with anything to give it a slightly formal or business casual look is a necessity for your wardrobe. The most versatile colors for trousers that you can own can be blue, black, grey, tan, khaki, or cream. The diversity and the versatility this article has to offer includes it among mens wardrobe essentials.
2.7.1. What You Should Consider While Styling Trousers?
Trousers can create a look that ranges from casual to formal. What matters is what you pair these with; if you’re looking for a comfortable and casual vibe, a t-shirt can be a great choice, but if you’re looking for formal looks, a suit can be your way to go.
2.8. Denim Jacket
Another article that counts among mens wardrobe essentials and should be present in your closet as well as a denim jacket. These can keep you warm in winters but are also available in more breathable materials to save you the sweat. These can be paired well with everything, and give you a more laid-off and casual look. From polo shirts to tees, these are highly versatile, directly adding them to mens wardrobe essentials. You can match these with your favourite Chelsea boots to hit the streets in style!
2.8.1. What You Should Consider While Styling Denim Jackets?
These are also considered to be very casual, so they might not be suitable in formal environments.
2.9. Chino Pants
Chino pants are also highly versatile and count among the mens wardrobe essentials that you must own. These are lightweight, cotton blend pants that are available in a wide variety of colors. Typically, these are 100% cotton pants with a twill weave and are quite sturdy and long-lasting These pants have evolved to be an alternative to denim pants during hot weather since they’re made of cotton.
These pants are often worn in pastel colors but are available in a huge variety, making you scratch your head for once. From pure white to red, they have the whole palette!
This pair of pants can be used to create both formal looks and a more casual style. What gives it a tag is the accessories, shirt, and the color of the pants you are opting for. These pants are popularly paired with a sports coat and a woven belt.
2.9.1. What You Should Consider While Styling Chino Pants?
These are fit for all occasions, from formal to casual. Be cautious about your accessories and tops, and you will be good to go for any event!
2.10. A Suit
This article is present in the list of mens wardrobe essentials for a reason. If you don’t have a suit, you might be missing out on a lot.
This article belongs to the heavy wear category and is capable of completely changing others’ outlook towards you on special occasions. From Raymond to Ralph Lauren, everyone is in love with them for a reason! You can wear your favorite suit with suede chukka boots or the best dress shoes you own.
2.10.1. What You Should Consider While Styling a Suit
You must always keep in mind that suits are reserved for formal events and thus are worn with collared shirts. The shirt you choose should be solid-colored, as patterns are more suitable for informal events. Wear the coat with the best and most sophisticated articles of clothing you own, and top it with minimal yet sophisticated accessories (cuff links can be a great choice), and see those heads turn wherever you walk!
Men’s fashion has always been a bit underrated, but that does not mean it does not deserve to be appreciated.
In today’s world, fashion has become much more than being restricted to specific genders and identities, as it has become a way of expressing oneself and showing their creativity in the best way possible. Thus, it is no longer appropriate, or feasible to limit fashion within some gender tags or ratings.
What you have read so far was a reflection of the past, with us counting down the top fashion articles that we have retained over the years. It was what we have already seen, and what is incoming is a huge amalgamation of what we have and what we can be. Thus, it is safe to say, that the future of fashion is a rather bright and colorful one, as it is no longer confounded with some tags that define what one should be.
From what we have retained over the years, be it the formal age of the 1800s or the glorious late 1900s, during which disco fashion ruled the world; a few things stayed and stuck because of their elegance and sophisticated style. Be it something as dressy as a suit or as basic as boxer briefs or jeans; they never failed to amaze us with the effortless yet stylish looks these items managed to create. Thus, it is no wonder that these items scored well in the test of time, have still managed to find their way into cupboards and drawers, and have earned the status of mens wardrobe essentials. These items never seem to go out of style!
Do you have any interesting insights regarding men’s fashion and mens wardrobe essentials? Did we miss any of the mens wardrobe essentials that the past glorious fashion ages have left us? Let us know in the comment section!