The times of white collars are long gone, and professional men are now more dapper than ever. A successful man is always a noticeable one, and what he chooses to wear reflects his esteem, accomplishments and diligence. A big shot or not, a modern man is ever hungry for his professional goals, and not a lot of things can stand in his way towards achieving them. Such a man is presentable and memorable, and with a little help from his wardrobe, stylish and upscale. From head to toe, his appearance reveals his position and determination.
What we wear doesn’t define who we are, people often say this, but nobody can deny that a road to success starts with a sleek suit (and usually finishes with a fancy watch). Being well groomed is, therefore, important for acing the job interview, closing a business deal and conciliating new clients and partners. Also, it’s easy and fun and it doesn’t always have to be expensive. Here’s what you need to look modern, fresh and professional.
1. Dark Two-Piece Suit
Let’s start with the basics. A traditional two piece suit in darker tones is a necessity in every working man’s closet. Whether it’s black, navy blue or dark grey, shiny or matt, a suit is the foundation of a professional look. Since a dark suit can be paired with pretty much everything, you should establish it as your go-to item. But just because a dark suit is a safe choice, that doesn’t mean you can’t play with it when you feel a bit bolder. For a little pop of color, complement it with a vibrant pocket square or a patterned tie. And, if you’re not afraid of making strong fashion statements, wear it with a chic turtleneck.
Dress sharply with Nordstrom, Armani Exchange or Calvin Klein, but be prepared to pay a price that goes from $500 to over a $1000. Low-cost suits that still look like a million bucks can be found with Topman, J. Crew, DKNY and Banana Republic. If on sale, they can even cost under $100.
2. Light Two-Piece Suit
For a gentleman that finds pleasure in being daring and dandy, a light suit is absolutely essential. It brings variety and shows attitude. Dove-grey, pale blue or chino variant is brilliant for sunbathed days, and you’ll certainly get noticed wearing one. A traditional business pinstriped suit can also be freshened up with brighter colors like tan and white. Since this suit is the heart of your outfit, complete it with nothing more than a white shirt and a black or a grey tie.
If you choose to go chino, your choice of shirt can be a bit darker, or even gingham.
Once again, you can find your perfectly tailored suit at Dolce and Gabbana, Jil Sander and Michael Bastian at a higher price (around $1000), or turn to equally stylish, yet inexpensive designers like DKNY, Perry Ellis and Claiborne for prices around $200.
3. White Button-Down Shirt
Exactly like the dark two-piece suit, a crisp white button-down shirt is a fashion must-have for every classy man. Besides being wordperfect with any type of suit, a white shirt can unmistakably contribute to the more casual looks. You can wear it with a pair of jeans, combined with an accentuated belt. For a statement piece, you should consider suspenders or a bow tie. Also, a plain white shirt is trim and elegant when coordinated with a V-neck sweater.
In addition to being amazing and practical, a white shirt is incredibly easy to buy. Gap, Eddie Bauer and Guess? offer their shirts with a price that goes around $50, which is just the right amount of money for a quality bargain.
4. Colored Button-Down Shirt
When we propose a colored shirt, it doesn’t include just solid tints, but also patterns and multicolored pieces. Solids can basically be of any color, from pale blues to vibrant oranges. Pairing them with a dark suit is not a big challenge, and it surely makes the look a lot more creative. When it comes to patterns, nothing is more exciting than madras, but polka dots and gingham are equally playful. Color blocking is a huge trend that men can best incorporate in their daily outfits through shirts. An amazing, sharp way of wearing a colored button-down shirt is underneath a waistcoat, with a complementary tie.
Colored shirts are usually the same price as plain whites, and designers like Benetton, Sisley and J.Crew charge around $40 for them. Stunning, well-priced pieces can be found at Club Monaco and Armani Exchange for about $80.
5. Tweed Jacket
For breezy autumn days, choose tweed. It’s offbeat, European, and a bit eccentric. Tweed suggests different shades of yarn incorporated into the weaving, and therefore can be paired with pants of the same color as one of the minor shades the fabric offers. The most popular choice of tweed blazers are glen-plaid, broken-check, and district-check, and all of them are great with brogue boots and messenger bags. Pick a dark gingham shirt or one of bright solid color for the authentic history professor look.
Herringbone or tartan, you can get a hold of your tweed jacket at various prices. At Asos, J. Crew and Marc Darcy, their average cost is $150 while Brooks Brothers, Hardwick, Aubin and Wills and A. P. C. will charge for them around $500.
Being one of the most versatile pieces of clothing, it’s a pure wonder that men often forget about a waistcoat. As a third piece of a black-tie suit, this dandy item is a privilege of every successful gentleman. However, a waistcoat can also be worn with style in a more casual manner, teamed with tan pants and black loafers, dark jeans and suede boots or formal pants and a tweed jacket. Whichever you choose, a waistcoat is just the right touch of bohemian every flamboyant man needs.
For the swanky piece of clothing that it is, a waistcoat is not very expensive. The most affordable pieces are at Asos, for under $50. Mid-priced brands are Topman, River Island and Reiss, and their price range goes from $70 to $150. Since a waistcoat is not something you are going to wear often, you can indulge yourself with a really extravagant one at Ted Baker for $250.
7. Dark Jeans
Getting to wear your favorite pair of jeans is the best part of every casual Friday. You can always complement them with dress shoes, but you can also insist on being relaxed all the way through with leather laced-up boots. The choices of shirts that go with dark jeans are endless, and can be tucked in and finished with a wide leather belt, or let to hang loosely over. Whether you round it up with a blazer or a sweater, a pattern or a pop of color, with jeans you can’t go wrong.
With some luck, fellas can find the perfect type of jeans at Nordstrom and Lucky Brand for under $100. Mavi, 4 Stroke, J Brand, Acne and Raven jeans costs go in range of $150 to $200.
8. Trench Coat
Speaking in a subtle and polished way, the Burberry trench coat is just what you need to stay handsome and trim in poor weather. This luxury fashion house made it iconic, but you can always try other designers that suit you well. Choose beige, black or navy blue as essentials, or be prominent with deep reds and greens. Apart from perfect shoes, you’ll need a luxurious scarf to complete your trench coat, a Humphrey Bogart hat to stay within a theme and an umbrella to round it all up.
When it comes to this evergreen piece, retailers like Topman and Zara hold charge for them under $150. Others, like Reiss, Agnes B, Paul Smith and Acne value their quality from $200 to $800. The celebrated Burberry approximately costs $1500.
9. Black Leather Shoes
When you go shopping for fashion essentials, the first thing you’ll need to be looking for are shoes. Black lace-ups are the key piece of any professional style, and the best of them are the oxfords. Keep their contour slim, and toe rounded, never square. They are downright with suits and jeans both, and can deliver in any occasion. For a little twist, you can try black penny loafers as well. Match your favorite pair with socks of a conservative or more flashy fashion (stripes and other patterns are not only acceptable, but dashing as well), or you can show some ankle with loafer socks.
Affordable brands of this requisite fashion item are Clarks, ASOS, Ted Baker, Dune and Topman (under $100) and you can find your luxury pieces at Church’s, John Lobb, Crockett & Jones, George Cleverley, Mr Hare, Berluti, Edward Green, Tod’s, Oliver Sweeney, J.Crew, Suitsupply and Paul Smith for about $500.
10. Brown Leather Shoes
Chocolate and chestnut dress shoes can do much more for your outfit than traditional blacks. Sophisticated and a bit dandy, they can still be pulled off with smart business suits and other formal wear. These hues are allowed with black suits also, but pair them cleverly with accessories of the same tint. They are exquisite when teamed with khaki pants, a white shirt with sleeves rolled up and a cockscomb panama hat. Being brighter, brown shoes demand more attention, and well-polished shoes are a hallmark of every slick gent.
For lower costs of brown leather shoes, turn to ALDO, ASOS, Ask The Missus, Ted Baker, Dune and KG by Kurt Geiger, where their price is around $200. Higher priced shoes can be found at Church’s, Grenson, Oliver Sweeney, Cheaney, Loake, Barker, Crockett & Jones, John Lobb, Tricker’s, Mr Hare and O’Keeffe.
A tie has crossed a long way from an obligatory piece of bureaucratic formal wear to a strong statement item every elegant man can take a lot of pride in. The ways of mixing and matching this timeless accessory to the rest of your clothes are unlimited, and they both complete formal and casual dress codes. Also, pay attention to the style of your collar, since not every shape complements every tie. Explore what lengths and widths go with which types of blazers.
You can play safe with solid ties on patterned shirts or vice versa, or be distinctive with different pattern-on pattern combos. Experiment with different types of knots, from classic balthus to swank eldredge, and include a tie pin for a prim look.
Unfortunately for gents, ties are a bit more expensive for a piece that needs to be changed quite often. The price range of designer ties goes from $200 to $300 at Charvet, Jay Kos, Ralph Lauren and Hermes. Paul Smith offers them for around $100, and the costs at J. Press go even lower.
According to its nature of work, every profession requires a functional bag. Still, its usefulness doesn’t have to hide your sense of style. Briefcases are no longer out of date, since a new generation of designers offer sleekness and versatility. Cross body messenger bags and vintage satchels can give you a less stern look, and provide needed space for your computer and papers. A leather folio is impeccable with a business suit, and practical for a tablet and necessities. When out of the office, you’ll need a perfect duffle bag to carry all of your gentleman’s indispensables in. Also, for those confident enough, man bags and totes are as masculine as they are practical.
Depending on their styles, sizes and material, bags can be found at prices for every budget. The most inexpensive briefcases are at H&M and B. R. Edward ($150), Visconti ($200), Reiss ($250) and Jack Spade, Michael Kors and Rag and Bone (over $300). Ernest Alexander, Asos and River Island craft amazing quality messenger bags and satchels for under $100. At Fossil, Ted Baker and J. Crew these bags cost between $150 and $300. Duffle bags are somewhat more affordable, and Asos and River Island value theirs from $50 to $150, the same amount of money you would spend here for quality crafted totes.
13. Leather Belt
If your choice of clothes is safe, something as simple as a leather belt can draw attention to your look. When picking the right one to go with your business suit, you should keep in mind that smart wear usually demands basic colors, like black, brown and tan. Also, the belt should match your shoes in color and hue, and in type of leather, if possible. The shinier the belt, the better. Keep the buckle minimalist and polished. For a more casual look, a belt can be wider or thinner than the formal one, and can even contrast the color of the rest of the outfit.
The prices of leather belts vary from $100 (Dsquared) to $600 (Alexander Mcqueen, Fendi and Dolce and Gabbana). In between are Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Lanvin, Saint Laurent and Armani.
14. Leather Wallet
Nothing better to accentuate your professional liability than your wallet. Once again, traditional colors are black, tan and brown, but this practical accessory permits other tints as well. The main thing about a wallet is its functionality, so choose a billfold with a lot of compartments for your business cards, credit cards and ID. The elegant way to go is with personalized engravings in the skin of the wallet, or over the top with snakeskin design.
This inexpensive, but much needed accessory can be purchased at pretty inexpensive prices. Merona, Kenneth Cole, Maxx & Unicorn, Corter and Chester Mox give you high quality and impeccable design for under $100.
Now that you have succeeded, it’s about time to reward yourself with a superb watch. There aren’t much rules when it comes to detailing your outfit with a wristwatch. Basically, the only thing this gear should match is your personality. You can choose minimalistic and simple styles, vintage or royal, yellow gold with brown leather bracelet or chrome black with complementary steel and a ceramic bracelet. A watch is the most refined and delicate accessory in a grown man’s closet, and you wouldn’t want to pass on the best one for your personal esthetics.
The watch shopping is certainly a time to go big – from Longines ($3000) to Chopard ($20000) – but if you are still determined in finding your piece for under $1000, try at Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Guess, Seiko and Breytenbach.