Designing the perfect wardrobe can be a challenge — though there’s plenty to choose from for men, the daunting task is honing in and narrowing down on select pieces that work for your size, shape and personal style.
But men’s fashion does not need to be overly complicated and often the most stylish men among us are those that favour simplicity. Where women’s fashion trends towards bold silhouettes and full use of the colour spectrum, neutral colours and sleek designs dominate the men’s department; which is why men’s tailoring continues to set the benchmark for masculine elegance.
The sure-fire uniform for the well-dressed man is a simple white t-shirt and jeans. Countless stylish men have championed this elegant and straightforward look, from classic stars like Marlon Brando to modern actors such as Austin Butler and Jacob Elodori. Their outfits blend timeless chic and effortless cool, decorated minimally with purposeful accessorising.
The “dressed down” look has been recently popularised notably by Jeremy Allen White. The actor has been a focal point of mens fashion by piecing together no-frills shirts and T-shirts with a basic: jeans/Nike Air Forces combo. Best known for playing Carmy in The Bear, White’s Merz b. Schwanen's white muscle fit T-shirt became a mainstay in Carmy’s wardrobe throughout the show.
But simplicity is a difficult skill to master. Often it comes down to finding the right silhouette; just as a poorly made or ill fitting suit can tarnish your appearance, so too can the wrong jeans and tshirt. All too often men’s Jeans are too skinny, and their shirts and T-shirts too tight or too long.
It is a delicate balance and just as many men get it wrong as there are who get it right. Here are some recommendations.
Vintage Levi’s 501s are as American as apple pie, a sturdy staple of the western cowpoke. With a subtle flare and made with heavier cotton than modern denim brands, these jeans could stand unaided.
The barrier for entry is slightly higher — they do take longer to break in and shrink to fit over time, but once they have, you’ll never want to take them off.
Alternative cuts include the Levi’s 550s for an all around wider fit and the 505s for those who still haven’t quite managed to shake skinny jeans. Fashion influencer Albert Muzquiz recommends The Wrangler Cowboy cut for a great everyday jean and the vintage Lee’s straight cut and bootcut jeans.
Pair this with a Los Feliz half crop muscle tee, inspired by Jeremy Allen White’s, or a Buzz Rickson’s chambray work shirt for the cooler months and a classic pair of Chelsea boots for the complete cowboy look.
A tassel loafer is probably a perfect all-round shoe — dress them up, dress them down, formal or informal, they will pretty much go with anything. Their popularity dates back to 1950s Ivy League students and have cropped up in various fashion trends since.
But these casually elegant shoes endure. Alden are perhaps best known for bringing them to the mainstream and their tassels are certainly an option. However, the Solovair Hi-Shine Tassel Loafer offers the perfect balance of modern, casual and dress shoes.
While the Doc Martens Adrian Loafers are the more popular alternative, Solovair boasts a better quality shoe. Made in Northamptonshire (in the factory that they used to make Doc Martens, before Doc Martens shipped their manufacturing overseas), Solvair’s offerings have a higher build quality, while maintaining the soft suspension sole and chunky design of the DM’s.
To capitalise on the old money preppy look, Solovair tassel loafers look best when paired with a wide or classic fit pair of vintage Ralph Lauren chinos/corduroy trousers, a linen blend shirt and Sawyer Mohair cardigan by bound.
And when it comes to summer, opt for Crockett & Jones – the shoemaker's Cavendish in brown calf suede is one seriously classy pair of loafers.
Workwear has come a long way from hard factory labour. Though they still keep our blue collar workers dressed, brands like Dickies and Carhartt have disseminated among fashion-minded men.
These work shirts by P&Co offer a casual, versatile and boxy shirt for everyday outfits. They are made from 100% mid-weight cotton canvas and their subtle embroidered patches allude to the manufacturing companies of yore, without making you feel like a blue collar cosplayer.
For something a little different, try Anerkjendt (pronounced Anakin – as in Skywalker) – a workwear brand from Denmark. Inspired by the garments worn by working fisherman and dock workers , the aesthetic of the brand incorporates older, more traditional silhouettes with playful fabrics.
For a more traditional workwear brand, see Ben Davis. Based in California, they are less popular than Dickies or Carhartt but no less stylish. Their short sleeve ½ zip shirts offer a unique twist on a classic silhouette. You can effortlessly craft a stylish weekend fit out of a workwear shirt, Ben Davis’ classic work pants (which get sold out in the blink of an eye), Adidas Country or Sambas, a chunky buckle belt, and a key belt clip — the ultimate cool guy move.
Of course, no wardrobe is complete without a touch of refinement. Wide-fit pleated trousers are a popular choice amongst the confidently cool. Evoking 1950s and 60s era Carey Grant and feet up in the French Riviera, the Wide Boy trousers by the Scott Fraser Collection are not for the faint of heart. These smart trousers are wider than what you would typically find on a high street and offer a high waist for vintage cred. So they’re not the easiest to pull off.
Nevertheless, their classic simplicity makes for a timeless fit, especially when paired with their 60s inspired White Wing collar ‘Henry Hill’ shirt for a touch of vintage American gangster. Percival Menswear also offers a similarly timeless collection of smart trousers and tailoring which lean closer to cleaner lines and on the slightly more affordable side if you're not yet ready to take big risks.
With all these looks subtle accessorising goes a long way here. Harness the simplicity of your white t-shirt and jeans with a classic timepiece or maybe something a little sportier. Then take that to the next level with a thin chain and a simple silver bracelet the likes of which frequently adorned Paul Newman's wrists can easily and tastefully elevate any outfit without coming off garish or flashy.
WHO TO FOLLOW
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Want further guidance? Follow these influencers who specialise in teaching men how to find the right silhouette while championing timeless simplicity — they’re taking the internet by storm.
Albert Muzquiz (@Edgyalbert) is a popular mens fashion influencer. Racking up 523,000 followers and millions of views across Instagram and Tik Tok, his reels are gospel among so-called ‘hot boys’ of the internet.
Though his style has a flare for 50s, 60s and 70s retro, the key to Muzquiz’s success is tastefully piecing these items together. Again, you don’t need to over complicate things. Muzquiz is a big proponent of buying vintage or new old stock (NOS), frequently citing modern companies’ design practises as doing very little to compliment men’s shapes.
His peers include @jonsjawns, @willhalbert, @therealprofessorx, @fitting_in_now and @gabriel_mor. Their lookbooks draw from a simple rugged Americana: work pants, classic cut jeans, wide fitting trousers, plaid, denim jackets and vintage tailoring.
Where to shop
Depop, Vinted are great platforms but can be a little overwhelming. eBay is usually a great place for buying NOS and the Vestiaire Collective has a tremendous collection of curated vintage designer pieces by trusted sellers.