Key pieces for a masculine wardrobe
Key pieces, must-have pieces, basic pieces, timeless pieces, essential pieces; call them what you will, but these are the garments that make up the foundation of a man’s wardrobe. They’re the pieces that hold up season after season, pieces that you never feel like pushing to the back of the closet. And for good reason, as they can be worn all year long, and be built upon, like the proverbial spinal column of a real wardrobe. It’s therefore legitimate to make the necessary investment it takes to procure them, knowing that these pieces are not going to be traded in every six months. It’s a good thing, too, because the fashion industry is one of the most polluting and consumers are adopting an increasingly sustainable approach in their buying habits. It goes without saying that essential pieces don’t depend on a certain lifestyle. And yet, certain garments, like a suit or wing tipped shoes, are often the privilege of the few. Hence, it seems logical for us to restrict the concept of “key pieces” to garments that are above all useful. Let’s take a look at this handful of pieces that will always -or almost- be useful for a man!
The solid coloured t-shirt
Usually white, the t-shirt is the men’s wardrobe essentiel par excellence. It goes with anything, it is extremely comfortable, and it can be worn day or night. If comfort is your top criterium, it’s generally better to look for cotton, and a crewneck. Indeed, a crewneck goes with more, if not all, styles, which isn’t the case with a v-neck. As long as it’s not too high-cut, this style constitutes a real basic that can be worn by anyone.
Right off the bat, there are two camps for this essential: the formal and the casual. Some men swear by a fitted shirt in poplin, while others, more casual, go for a thicker fabric like oxford, which allows the shirt to be worn either open - with a t-shirt - or closed. Then there’s the sleeve length. Long sleeves are vastly more elegant than short sleeves and above all, they’re appropriate for any season!
It may seem like a basic, but finding a good sweater is not always easy. Unlike the sweatshirt, which is really a sportswear piece, a good sweater is a savvy mix of chic and relaxed. Its fabric content is therefore paramount, with natural fibres like cashmere, wool, alpaca, etc., often being more comfortable and durable. Nonetheless, adding a bit of synthetic fibre can help the sweater keep its shape better. Whatever your taste, a sweater is THE versatile wardrobe piece par excellence, and it is important that it is well made.
Half of the year a coat is truly essential, and it must adapt the best it can to the lifestyle of the wearer. In terms of versatility, a pea coat looks good on most body types and goes just as well with a belted trouser as it does with sneakers. In spite of its sailor vibe, neither the navy blue color nor the wool it’s made of will never go out of style. Other choices are the jean jacket and the raincoat, both good alternatives but whose manufacturing processes are not quite the same.
What would we do without jeans? This garment, created in the1870s, is the incarnation of a key menswear wardrobe piece. We all know that the passage of time makes jeans even better, which is why a pair must be chosen very carefully. Generally speaking, a raw and relatively thick denim offers more versatility. The weight of the denim is taken into consideration as a sign of quality, but don’t overlook the importance of details and - especially - the cut, adapted to the shape of the body. Indeed, having a pair of good quality jeans is a pleasure, but having a pair of good jeans that look great on us is even better!
There are those who will say that chinos don’t suit every man, yet it’s a garment that goes with even the most elegant ensemble. The key here is to avoid loud colours. A navy blue or beige canvas version constitutes a perfect essential and will go with almost any style. It is, in fact, a key piece!
The same goes with these shoes, whose rather relaxed spirit can even look great with a suit. There are those who prefer the timeless Goodyear style, but there are excellent quality Blakes that will last just as long. There’s also an even more casual alternative: desert boots. A beige suede style can quickly become the favorite for any stylish and active man!
Sneakers are no longer reserved for athletes or kids. Indeed, nowadays they can be worn with anything from a simple pair of jeans to a suit. They bring a vibe that is relaxed, modern and very current. The great classic is still a white leather sneaker, but it all depends on personal tastes. What is important is to find a model that can adapt to the conditions of the wearer’s lifestyle.
Even if a belt is considered an accessory, it is nonetheless an essential accessory, one that can be worn in any circumstances! With chinos, jeans, or a more formal trouser, it can be adapted to any look, from a formal suit to a more relaxed outfit. For something in between, a brown leather belt is usually the ideal option. Not too wide, not too narrow; what is key is to choose one that is as versatile as possible, finished off with a metal buckle that is not too imposing. By holding the pant where it’s supposed to be, a belt automatically adds flair no matter what style you wear!
No, a knapsack is not an accessory for students only. Beyond the fact that it can add a great finishing touch to an ensemble, it has the principle advantage of being practical. Hands-free and safely stashed belongings - what more could you ask for? They come in various models, from simple cloth styles to smooth or grainy leather versions. The latter is often the chicest option, but one that also goes with chinos and sneakers. And let’s be serious: leather will last much longer than a thin canvas./div>
In a nutshell, building an essential menswear wardrobe is not complicated. Each piece goes easily with the others, in a harmonious range of tones and fabrics that should always be respected. Nonetheless, one key color should reign, as should an optimal quality, so that every piece will last as long as possible, with no problems in mixing and matching.
Photography : COMME UN CAMION / Pied de Biche