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How to Pick the Perfect Basics

 Men have a stigma of giving too little thought when they buy clothes. They just slap on whatever is cheapest and call it a day. We know better. The modern man puts care into his look, and that includes his wardrobe. If you’re new to the game or just want a refresher course, this is a basic guide to picking the perfect basics: T-shirt, sweater, and jeans.

In General

Before we dive into the nitty gritty for each clothing type, let’s cover some general ground rules. First, let’s discuss a proper fit. Men’s clothing is measured in precise units. These units are not the number of x’s before an L. If you don’t know your inseam, waist, neck, back, chest sleeve sizes, it’s time to visit a tailor. You need a proper suit anyway. Aside from proper measurements, choosing clothes of any type requires mindfulness.

In particular, you need to know what will be on your feet when you wear the new clothes. Tennis shoes, loafers, boots and oxfords all have their place. One pair of jeans or a single sweater can go great with multiple pairs of shoes, but only if you plan it that way. Finally, clothes shopping should be deliberate. Bulk buys are for clothes you plan to trash while painting or working on the car. Your wardrobe requires more care. So, with these things in mind, let’s discuss the specifics.


Tees are fickle. Getting a good fit is a challenge in itself, but tees are one of the few clothing pieces that include content. So, when it doubt, monochromatic choices are the safest. They are timeless and easy to match. As for content, offensive tees are juvenile. Bands and sports teams can adorn your shirt on game day or an equally casual setting, but if you’re trying to look good, then remember this: a tee says the most when it says nothing at all.

The other lesson in T-shirts is neck line. Mostly, you’ll be choosing between V-necks, drop necks and crewnecks. The only rule is to go with the line that suits your body type. Also, if you’re going to expose some chest, make sure you’ve done the necessary maintenance. Curly hairs should never creep over the neck line.


Sweaters are a whole different animal. Monochromatic choices are still timeless, and in the case of sweaters they tend to be more formal. Generally speaking, darker colors are also more formal while lighter, brighter or patterned looks trend towards casual. The real test of a sweater is in picking the fabric.

Cashmere is the ultimate choice. It’s light, warm and beyond comfortable. If you wear cashmere, you will be touched. That said, it is equal parts pricey and high maintenance. When you buy cashmere, you’re committing, but it can last for years with proper care.

Wool is the classic. It is thick, warm and classy. When function is a concern, it’s the premier choice. Just take a few minutes to learn how to wash it as many machines destroy a lot of wool products.

Cotton is made for comfort. It’s cooler than other fabrics and can lend a stylish look to warmer weather. It’s also easier to clean and quite comfortable.

Synthetic choices are also available. They’re usually designed to a purpose, so be sure to read the labels before making a purchase.

Finally, we come to blended fabrics. These are meant to mix and match the benefits of each component, so you might get a cooler sweater or softer touch with that classic wool aesthetic. Again, check your labels.

Finally, we come to styles. Turtlenecks are super stylish and quite professional. Think: Steve Jobs. V-necks are designed to draw attention to your face. They are great business attire as long as you remember that they reveal the clothes underneath. Crew is the most common style, and it reveals virtually nothing underneath. Polos are the typical casual option, and when appropriate they can be worn solo.


Finally, we come to jeans. Assuming you have your measurements, jean selection is actually pretty easy. There are a bunch of different cuts and fits out there. You job is not to pick a favorite. Instead, you are a slave to your body type. Relaxed, loose, tight and other fits are not intended to give you variety. They are a means to catering to the diversity of men’s bodies. Find the fit that compliments your form and stick to it. Other than that, wash/color is pretty basic. Darker is more formal and lighter/patterned is more casual. When it doubt, go dark as it is the versatile option.

This concludes your guide to getting great clothes. Now get out there and get dressed!



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