Men's Fashion Essentials - Guest Post by Ryan Shaw
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Like any other popularity-hungry teenager in middle school, my sense of style consisted of poorly-sized boot leg jeans, horribly ironic graphic tees, point-and-shoot selfies, and some sort of ‘sick’ running shoe, all exclusively from Hollister, American Eagle, or Abercrombie and Fitch (it was mid-2000’s people). And whether we want to admit it or not dudes, everyone went through some sort of phase like this. It may have been to impress your crush or just to fit in but let’s not lie to ourselves.
Here is the thing though: at some point you grew up (as in you physically got older). This means a couple of things but the main one is that it was time to get rid of the ironic tees and the things that aren’t really your size and invest in some true pieces for your closet.
I’m not proclaiming to be any sort of style guru, and generally my sense of style favors the absurdly bold, which I know is not for everyone. But over the years, through travel, work, and just a vested interest in the fashion world, I have become something of a style consultant to most of my friends, and even a few strangers. In truth, I’m not really sure how I ended up in this role because really I just wear whatever I want, but I guess it works a good amount of times, and it’s been a lot of fun getting to throw clothes at my friends and force them to try all of it on.
But I do think that there are a few essential pieces that all modern millennial dudes should own. Keep in mind that this list may not be for everyone.
So I know that of all things that are unique to everyone’s personal style, shoes are probably one of the biggest items every man holds in fairly high esteem, especially with the sneaker-head explosion in the last decade. But I think a solid pair of desert boots can fit into almost every dude’s style. They have a very classic-and-clean look to them but can be made as simple or as edgy as you choose. Clark’s by far has the best selection in terms of color and price range. Find a nice grey or tan pair to start and remember suede stains easily.
There are few things that actually are better with age: whiskey, wine, and denim. The denim jacket is something that has and will always be a classic. Denim comes in just about every color and shade you can think of so let your creativity and style run wild with this choice. A recommendations that my mom always told me that has stuck with me "Jackets last a while so don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more on them" and these are definitely words to live by. The other thing is that size matters (well, actually, fit matters). Make sure when you try on your jacket to have a thicker undergarment in consideration of the winter months. A great place to start looking for a denim jacket is your local thrift store, because they tend to have quite a few and you can peruse and get an idea of what wash/color you like, as well as maybe the fit you prefer.
Before anyone freaks out about seeing the word ‘skinny jeans’ let’s get a quick update as to what the modern day version of skinny jeans means. We are talking new age skinny where your junk has a little bit of room to breathe. So once again, find what style/fit looks best on your body, skinny jeans aren’t for everyone. I’m a pretty slim dude so skinny works for me, but if you’re a little stockier then straight fit might be for you. If you’re feeling bold, go with a little more distressed look and don’t be afraid to cuff, or pin roll to switch things up. I know I threw some shade earlier but Abercrombie & Fitch really does have some of the best denim for a great price, especially with their athletic fit that features stretch denim without looking like meggings.
White Button Up
I feel like this should be a given because the men’s button up shirt is the go-to staple for “going out”. But this is may be one of the easiest most versatile items any dude can own. It can be dressed up with a tie; semi-casual with your top couple buttons undone, edgy with a long line t-shirt underneath, and the possibilities keep going. Do yourself a favor, find one that you like, get it tailored to fit your body (tailoring is cheaper than you think and makes all the difference, aka FIT), and take care of that sh*t like it’s your baby. In summer, have one that is linen because it breathes better and is lighter than your usual. Final tip of the trade, and don’t ask too many questions: unless your white button up is super thin (aka linen) wear a black t-shirt underneath. I repeat: Do not wear a white t-shirt. You’ll thank me later.
Plain Color T-Shirt
Again, I feel like this a ‘duh’ kind of moment. But let’s get a couple things out in the open here. First off, that Hanes undershirt you’ve been attempting to wear as a plain white t-shirt. Yeah, it’s gotta go. Second, I don’t know why so many guys are against the color black but it looks good on LITERALLY everyone, so no matter how many times Netflix tells you Orange is the New Black, Black will always be the New Black. Lastly, if you invest in some solid jeans as previously mentioned, and invest in some good t-shirts, you can absolutely rock just jeans and a t-shirt out on the town. So keep some of those undershirts just in case of emergency but find some slightly higher-end plain t-shirts that are a good material, drape (this means: how it hangs off your body) nicely, and fit just tight enough to give everyone a taste of what’s underneath without painting the whole picture.
Alright so this one is straight from all of my female friends. Because of the style of a baseball shirt, with the alternating colors of the sleeves, and where that line is drawn on your shoulders, it basically makes every dude look broader than they actually are. Girls, (and guys) are into this. And you should be too. Lesbehonest, every guy wants that v-taper from their shoulders down to their waist. This is an easy way to accentuate what you already have or fake it until you make it. My only word of advice is to stay away from crazy colors. Neon colors are a bit eye assaulting, so try and stick with the classic white body and maybe navy or red/maroon sleeves.
Ever heard a girl say that suits on men are like lingerie on women? Well if not, they are definitely all thinking it. So yes, you should definitely own a suit, but moreover, you should own a blazer (or two). Here, more than anywhere, fit is a huge deal so find one that you like and take it to a good tailor to fix the chest, shoulders, and sleeves (always go for something that is a little bigger because it is easier to tailor something to fit smaller than make it larger. I think everyone should own a minimum of two blazers: a classic color (black or navy) and a slightly bolder color (light grey, maroon, olive, etc.). A blazer is incredibly versatile. You can wear it to a work Holiday party that you’re not sure exactly what the attire is, to dinner with the t-shirt, jeans, and the desert boots you've invested in, or maybe just out for drinks. But have no doubts, no matter what color, a good blazer will have all eyes on you no matter where you go.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last five years, you know that the sneaker head invasion has been real. With a new Yeezy drop every couple months, and every single brand doing some sort of celeb collab; it is safe to say that sneakers are here to stay. Now there are definitely a lot of sneakers that favor the extremely bold but those aren’t for everyone. What is for everyone? Well you can hop on the Stan Smith Adidas band-wagon (no hate at all), or maybe some classic Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops. In truth it doesn’t really matter as long as they are fresh and clean, and stay that way. A solid pair of sneakers can be paired with just about any outfit (even a suit if you have the right fit). Invest in some waterproof/stain protectant (Jason Markk makes some of the best in the industry), and pay attention to the weather for the day/evening, but a good pair of sneakers is a must-have in the style-hierarchy these days.
I will keep this one short because if there is one thing that every dude shies away from in their style arsenal it is the idea of accessories. This is an all-encompassing word dudes, so chill out. But a pair of sunglasses that are right for your face shape, a simple watch and a simple and slim leather wallet are really about all you need. If you feel like branching out a little more, I think that some rugged metal cuffs, a leather wrap bracelet, or some sort of simple dark metal necklace can be a solid addition. There is a rule about how many things you’re supposed to wear at any given time but instead we will just say: less is definitely more.