No Sweat: 20 Best Men’s Style Basics

Sep 5, 2017

Category: Style

There is a common misconception that in order to dress well, men have to dress up. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All anyone needs in order to look sharp are solid, well made basic items of clothing. We’re talking t-shirts, jeans, a solid pair of sneakers, and a sweatshirt. Adding these types of clothes to your wardrobe can go a long way to making your casual, everyday outfit one that you can feel comfortable and confident in.

But, of course, everyone has their own slight variation on what they consider to be a ‘basic’ item of clothing. Generally speaking, it can be broken down to four categories; t-shirts, pants, outerwear, and shoes. With maybe the exception of t-shirts, each of those categories have their own very un-basic variations. So, in putting together this list, we tried to limit ourselves to simple cotton tees, chinos and jeans for pants, tried and true sneakers and boots, and some straight-forward pullovers and one hoodie for outerwear.

In common parlance, ‘basic’ has come to gain a kind of pejorative tinge to it. It’s essentially the contemporary version of ‘square’. But the thing about basic men’s clothing is that it doesn’t go out of style. Jeans, chinos, t-shirts, and a pair of sneakers have always been a staple – and will continue to be well after the next 10 trends come and go. So take a scroll through our list of the best basics for men and see for yourself what your wardrobe has been missing.

Taylor Stitch Heavy Bag Tee ($38)
Buck Mason Natural Costa Crew Tee ($42)
Iron and Resin Garvey Tee ($44)
Outerknown Typhoon Stripe Tee ($48)
Save Khaki Supima Jersey ($75)


A Simple Year-Round Staple

The fun thing about picking up basic items of clothing is that you end up noticing the finer detail in each piece. Even t-shirts that look similar can feel and wear completely different depending on the type of fabrics used and the cut of the shirt. Take Taylor Stitch’s new Heavy Bag Tee, for instance. The shirt looks like a plain enough pocket-tee on first glance, but it’s so much more. The fabric used for the shirt is a California-made upcycled and recycled yarn and polyester blend. This special material gives the shirt a thicker feel, as well as a more rugged look.

Buck Mason’s shirt, on the other hand has a much lighter and breezier feel thanks to its super light supima cotton fabric that was milled, cut and down in Los Angeles. Iron and Resin has a classic, American-made take on the raglan tee – featuring a 100% cotton knit jersey fabric. And for those who are more enamored with Henley shirts, we included this American made short-sleeve henley from Save Khaki. Like Buck Mason’s shirt, it boasts a lightweight supima cotton fabric – making it perfect a perfect pick for the summer. Feeling like you want a bit more color in your life? Outerknown’s typhoon stripe won’t let you down.

Everlane Slim Fit Pant ($68)
Mott and Bow Slim Crosby ($108)
Ministry of Supply Going Places Pant ($145)
Core 110 High Waisted Trouser ($160)
3X1 M3 Slim Straight ($295)


Chinos And Jeans For Everyday Wear

Blue jeans and a pair of chinos. That is just about all a guy needs when it comes to basic bottoms. Yet, within each of those categories there are hundreds of different variations. What kind of wash for your jeans? Prefer boot-cut, or slim? High-waisted or low? That isn’t even half of the options you have for cuts – and then there is fabric to consider. So. To put it simply, there is a lot you can chose from here.

Our thinking on this is to just keep it simple. When it comes to jeans, we like Mott and Bow’s slim Crosby. Made primarily with cotton – but with a bit of elastane for mobility – it has a classic enough look with a modern fit that most guys will dig. Of course, we couldn’t skip over a pair of black denim jeans either. 3X1’s M3 Slim Straight jeans are cut from a 13 ounce selvedge denim from Kaihara, Japan, and go perfectly with a simple white-tee. For those who prefer chinos, we picked out a classic pair from Everlane, a more technically driven pair from Ministry of Supply, and a pair of high waisted trousers from Basic Rights.

Polo Ralph Lauren Cotton Sweatshirt ($100)
NN07 Cotton Jersey Sweatshirt ($115)
Hartford Jersey Sweatshirt ($145)
Todd Snyder+Champion Crewneck ($188)
Aether Outerlands Hoodie ($155)


Pull Up In A Pullover

When it comes to keeping it simple while staying warm – there is no better way to go than a simple crew-neck sweatshirt. Far from complicated, these cotton jerseys serve as an ideal top-layer, or mid when the weather gets colder.

Our picks from Polo Ralph Lauren, NN07, and Hartford are all similar in their build. Each is made from a classic cotton loopback fabric, but each manages to retain a distinct look. The pick from Hartford has a more traditional cut, with seams along the shoulders, while the sweaters from Polo Ralph Lauren and NN07 have a diagonal seam from the underarm to the collarbone – similar to the cut you’d find on a raglan tee. Our pick from Todd Snyder has a similar construction and fabric to the first three mentioned but stands out primarily because of its birght coloring. And of course, we had to include a zip-up hoodie. A casual wear staple, this pick from Aether is a bit more sophisticated thanks to its minimalist design. But that being said – it isn’t too sophisticated to be excluded from our list.

Nike Cortez ($75)
Seavees Westwood Tennis Shoe ($78)
Clarks Originals Desert Boot ($107)
Adidas Stan Smith Primeknit ($110)
Red Wing Heritage Moc 6″ ($270)


Only The Classics

In our mind, the best kind of basic footwear are the classics. Canvas-top sneakers, desert boots, and old-school silhouettes from the early days of Adidas and Nike all go well with pretty much any basic men’s outfit.

So, in building out this section of the list we of course had to include classic leather boots like Clarks Originals’ Desert Boot and a pair of Red Wings Heritage Moc. Both of these are ideal for fall or winter wear, or for guys who are just not interested in wearing sneakers. For those who do love a good pair, we grabbed three solid picks; the Nike Cortez, adidas Stan Smith Primeknit, and the California-classic Westwood Tennis Shoe from Seavees. The three of these shoes have their roots back in the 1970s or earlier but have continued to endure thanks to their simple but attractive design. Trend-proof shoes to be sure.

50 Best Wardrobe Essentials For Men

Ok. So now that you’ve got the basics covered it’s time to start building out your wardrobe. From casual outfits to more formal attire, our list of the 50 Best Wardrobe Essentials For Men has it all.

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