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25 menswear items every guy needs

25 menswear items every guy needs

Say you lost all of your clothes in some sort of freak accident – it’d be pretty hard to know where to start when building your wardrobe back up again. Heck, it's hard enough to know where to add to your still-in-tact wardrobe. But one thing you're unlikely do is pick up the latest issue of GQ, see what’s trending right now, then pick up a few iterations of that, right? Instead, you’d prioritise the basics to build up a versatile and timeless wardrobe that’s got you covered for just about anything. Well, at least that’s what we’d hope you do. We can help with that. 

If ever you find yourself repeatedly thinking "I have nothing to wear today", it’s likely because you're missing a few key missing pieces that help to make any menswear wardrobe feel complete. Below, with the help of stylist Toby Standing, we’ve shortlisted the 25 menswear items every guy needs – and trust us, we’ve covered everything. 

A cardigan 

For when you want something a bit smarter than a hoodie, but not as full-coverage as a sweater, enter the cardigan. And there are endless variations – from lightweight knit styles that look great under a suit to shaggy mohair styles that make you look like you’re fronting a ‘90s grunge band. And, there’s plenty on site, so join the cardi-gang. 

A plaid flannel shirt 

Getting items that work across more than one season is the best thing to bear in mind for your wardrobe. Spotting a pattern yet? We love throwing on plaid shirt over a t-shirt in cooler late summer evenings and to wear as a contrasting layer in winter to add texture and pattern underneath an overcoat. 

A selection of staple t-shirts

The power of a good t-shirt can't be undervalued. Getting one or two in a variety of colours (white, grey, and black are a good starting point) is really one of the first things you should do when building your forever wardrobe. Our go-to brands would be Arket and COS for inexpensive, great-fitting options that last wash after wash.

A pair of winter boots

Winter can be a treacherous time if all you wear is canvas shoes. Instead, investing in a pair of boots that will stand up to anything the elements throw at them. Our stylists suggest looking to brands like Grenson for a pair that will last a lifetime (or at least many many winters). 

A long-sleeve tee

This one’s kind of a dealer’s choice – for some, a perfect long-sleeve tee is a baseball inspired raglan top, or something with a graphic or print; for others it may look a little more plain. But getting something that falls midway between a t-shirt and a sweatshirt gives you endless outfit options to play with as the seasons start to change.

A cotton blazer 

Blazers have been a mainstay in men’s dressing for a very long time, and it’s true that nothing will make you feel more put together than a well-cut piece of tailoring. An important thing to remember is to not just buy half a suit. Buy a blazer that confidently works solo, so it doesn’t look out of place when you pair with some chinos or jeans.

An Oxford shirt

Like most items on this list, Oxford shirts are a stone cold classic staple item of men’s dressing – whether worn open over a t-shirt with a pair of jeans (Jerry Seinfield style), or buttoned with a knitted tie under a cotton blazer. An Oxford shirt is versatile, timeless, and endlessly available: the perfect trifecta. 

A classic pair of chinos 

Jeans may be the MVP of trousers, but don't underestimate a solid pair of chinos. Pretty much every brand has a chino style on offer – from pleated, to drawstring waist and from heavy twill to lightweight linen – and we're particularly partial to a pair that fits classic and straight-legged. GANT, M&S, and COS have some great options available right now. 

A pair of cotton shorts 

Come summertime, it’s always nice to switch up your silhouette to something a lot more laid-back – cue a pair of drawstring cotton shorts. Make sure to avoid anything slim-fit that’s just going to trap heat in, and opt for a neutral colour so you can wear them all summer long. 

A denim jacket 

Denim jackets have been a symbol of rebellious attitudes for decades, but their roots lie in workwear (as does anything denim). This is a style that’s way easier to bring into your wardrobe than you might think as, thanks to its heritage, lots of brands have interpreted this style in many different ways, so you’re bound to find one that feels like a bit of you. 

The perfect pair of sunglasses

Again, subjective one here. To find your perfect pair, read our guide to finding the sunglasses to suit your face shape. But as a general rule of thumb, stick to a classic shape, like Wayfarers or Clubmasters, as these will stand the test of time (trust us, they’ve been cool since the ‘50s, you’re good). 

A long-sleeve polo shirt

A stand-in for a shirt anytime you want to feel smart, a long-sleeve polo shirt looks just as put-together, while feeling all the more comfortable. Our suggestion here would be a knitted style, made from a fine wool like merino, as this will feel like a far cry from the cotton pique kinds you might have worn in P.E.

A wool overcoat

A wool overcoat is something you’ll wear year after year during the cold weather season, no matter what outfit you’ve got on. Suit and tie? Wool overcoat. Sweatpants and hoodie? Wool overcoat. 

A pair of canvas sneakers

Sneakers are a given – but not the hyped, queue for three hours to cop kind, but the classic never going out of style kind. Think Converse Chuck Taylors, Adidas Sambas, or Nike Killshots – the ultimate off-duty footwear choice that won’t break the bank but still packs a lot of style clout. 

A rollneck jumper 

Come the colder months, nothing feels better than slipping into a rollneck on a particularly freezing morning. Like most knitwear, your options are varied. A merino iteration is a solid choice if you’re after something fine and lightweight but with a bunch of insulation, while a heavier wool style comes in strong for when you’re in the real depths of winter. 

A chore jacket 

For that time of year when it’s not quite hats and scarves weather but not arms-out weather either, a chore jacket comes in strong. It’s shorter in length than an overcoat and available in lots of different fabrications, from classic styles like a Carhartt Detroit jacket to more contemporary offerings from brands like Arket

A crew neck sweatshirt 

A well-fitting sweatshirt is a style that works successfully across lots of different aesthetics, so it’s a good idea to have one in your day-to-day rotation. If your style leans smarter, choose one without any extra details, then you can layer it over an Oxford shirt. If you’re more of an athleisure kind of guy, embrace a more relaxed cut in a bolder colour. 

The perfect pair of jeans

A fundamental building block of any wardrobe, a great pair of jeans should never let you down. Remember, perfect is totally subjective – for some, it’s a super-washed out really baggy pair of Levis, for others it’s a tapered black pair. But whatever your denim poison, it’s a hole that should be filled. 

A hoodie 

Whether your style leans smart or casual, it’s hard to argue that there’s never a time where everyone needs a good hoodie – flights, sofa Sundays, and corner shop runs all spring to mind. Pullover and zip-through styles work just as well, just avoid going for anything too snug – you don’t want to feel like you’re stuffed into your more relaxing garment.

A versatile bag 

Accessories are often an underrated category when it comes to menswear, and bags even more so. We’re always going to recommend not stuffing all your belongings into your pockets. Instead, buy a bag that will last you years and works with your personal style. Similarly to your overcoat, this should be something you can add to any look without it looking out of place. For some guidance, read our guide to the dos and don’ts of wearing bags.

A waterproof coat

In the wise words of Wainwright (fell walker, author, wearer of great boots), “there’s no bad weather, only suitable clothing.” When the heavens open, a good coat is invaluable. From classic mac styles from brands like M&S, to Stutterheim’s rubberised hooded coats, functionality is key here so be sure to read the details and look for ‘waterproof not ‘resistant’, unless you want your coat to only last about an hour in a light misting. 

A pair of loafers

Loafers are the shoes that cross that smart to casual line really easily, looking just as good worn with a suit as they do with a pair of jeans or shorts. They’re also a perfect summer shoe, but also something you can wear into the colder months with ease, especially if you opt for a leather option with a lug sole. G.H. Bass is arguably the best bang for your buck in terms of quality. 

A versatile belt 

Belts serve 2 purposes. The first is to ensure your trousers stay up, and the second is to act like an accessory that can help to break up an outfit by adding a contrasting colour or texture. We’re not big fans of rules like matching your belt to your shoes; instead, we’d suggest choosing a belt that can work across a number of different outfits and settings. 

A suit

Of course. This is probably the most iconic item in menswear, there really is something kind of magic that happens when you put on a suit, even when worn in a more casual way – we love them styled with a graphic tee and boots. Plus, it’s a ready-to-go outfit that takes little thought or effort to look really good. Like most things, we’d avoid going for trending silhouettes and stick to a classic stick that has a slight taper in the leg, but isn’t skin tight. 

An inexpensive watch 

Watches do more than just tell the time – they’re also a great way to subtly accessories an outfit and add some personality to your wardrobe. And unless you’re making an important investment or you’re Brad Pitt, there are plenty of great inexpensive styles that will do more than enough – brands like Braun and Timex are really solid.


Words: Yasmine Kennedy
Styling: Toby Standing