25 Men’s Basic Pieces to Build a Wardrobe

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Basic Pieces to Build a Wardrobe

What basics do I need in my wardrobe? What would some of the pieces be that I would start with if I had to rebuild an entire closet?

This list contains approximately 25 items, give or take a few, and I say approximately because there are a few optional pieces and colors that I’ll discuss.

Be aware that the items I’ll be discussing are representative of my own personal style, which leans toward the casual to smart casual range.

You should keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list of the items you must have in your wardrobe. These are the basics and a good place to start, although obviously everything depends on you, your way of life, and your job.

I won’t mention a suit, t-shirts, shorts, joggers, or athleisure, for instance, in this article. All of those items are fantastic, and you should probably have a few t-shirts, a sweatshirt, and a hoodie.

However, I’m going to omit those items from this article in favor of the essentials of a daily wardrobe.

Just to be clear, I have a lot of experience recreating my own wardrobe. I lost roughly 30 pounds seven years ago and had to rebuild my whole wardrobe.

Consider this: If you lose 10 pounds, clothes start to fit you differently, but if you drop 30 pounds, virtually everything in your closet will no longer fit and you will need to buy new.

I looked for clothing that was not only attractive, modern, and comfortable, but also suited my age while still making me appear relevant.

That is my point of view in this article.


Starting with the pants,  I’m going to discuss dress pants, chinos, and jeans.


I’d think you’d need at least two pairs of jeans to start. One with no distressing in a medium wash blue, and the other in a darker wash blue.

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The medium wash will be your everyday, casual pair, while the dark wash will be your dressier pair.

I would suggest an alternative hue, like gray or black, as an optional pair or two.

With this, you’ll essentially be prepared for any circumstance in which jeans are appropriate. Just keep the amount of distressing on each pair of your jeans to a minimum, if not none at all.


Then there are the typical brown or khaki chinos. This is where I would start because that hue is so versatile and easy to dress up, dress down, and be very casual in.

You can absolutely do so if you need to wear dress shoes, a dress shirt, and a tie. But you could absolutely well wear a t-shirt and sneakers if that’s what you wanted to do.

As I stated, highly versatile.

Try colors like gray, navy, blue, or even olive green, though, if you wanted to add an extra pair or two.

The same is true of those hues because they are simple to dress up or down.

Dress Pants

This brings up dress pants, sometimes known as slacks. If you only have one pair, I would suggest choosing something in a medium gray or charcoal color.

When you want to dress things up a bit or when you have a more formal occasion to attend, this will be the pair you choose to wear.

Look for something that is made of good wool and keep the color solid.

However, if you want to add pattern, keep it extremely light. Although I like patterns, if you only have one pair, I would keep it really simple and uncluttered.

Choose something in navy blue if you wish to add another pair. Black would be better avoided because it’s a touch too formal.


On to shirts now.

Casual Shirts

One or two long sleeve button-down shirts with a casual pattern would be my recommendation for casual shirts. A dark solid polo shirt and one or two short-sleeved button-down shirts.

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When you want to dress much more casually, you’ll pair these shirts with medium wash blue jeans and your chinos.

Smart Casual & Dress Shirts

Your dress shirts and smart casual shirts would come next. I would suggest solid white and solid light blue for these.

I would choose a button-down collar for the smart casual shirts because it lends the garment a more casual appearance.

Keep it more formal with solid white and solid light blue for your dress shirts.

But if you want to add one more optional shirt, I would suggest choosing something with a soft, unobtrusive striped design.


I suggest four distinct pairs of shoes for the next category.


Two pairs of sneakers will be our first choice.

A pair of all-white sneakers would come first, followed by a pair of black sneakers with a white sole.

Brown sneakers are optional; nevertheless, white and black are likely to be the two colors that work with the most things.


I would then mention boots and suggest a pair of brown suede chukka boots.

Dress Shoes

And last, I would suggest brown Oxfords with some brogue detail for your dress shoes.

Oxfords can be dressed up a little bit more than Derbies can, and the brogue design on that shoe makes it a little less formal, so you get the best of both worlds.

If you’re unsure, an Oxford and a Derby differ in that the Oxford has a closed lace design while the Derby has an open lace design.


Next we have sweaters. Over a crew neck, I suggest wearing a light wool v-neck sweater.

I believe that the v-neck looks a little more intentional and allows you to see more of your shirt below the v-neck, whereas the crew neck can occasionally look like a sweatshirt.

But it’s okay to do whatever you like.

I’d choose black, gray, or blue for colors.

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I would most absolutely suggest a cardigan or anything with a quarter-zip design if you want to add an optional garment. Cardigans and quarter zips are my favorites since they are so versatile.

But once more, I’d choose something in a darker hue, such as navy blue or even a deeper shade of burgundy.


This brings us to jackets.

Bomber Jacket

At least one bomber jacket, I would suggest. Black or navy blue are good choices if you only have one.

I would pick something like a brown suede if you have more than one.

Puffer Jacket

Next, I’d suggest a thin puffer jacket. Once more in a solid dark hue.

Naturally, all of this will depend on your location and climate. I’m going to keep some fundamental generalizations here, so bear that in mind.

Sports Jacket

The sports jacket is the next item on the list.

I’d definitely suggest something with a subtle gray or subtle blue pattern if you just have one. Whichever you like, go ahead.

When you want to dress something up, this will be the jacket that you wear. You may simply pair it with your chinos, dark-wash jeans, or even dress pants.

As I already said, feel free to add a pair of running shoes, joggers, or whatever else fits your unique lifestyle and, of course, your climate.

What basics do I need in my wardrobe?


  • Christopher

    Christopher has 9+ years of experience as a creative fashion designer who stays current with the latest trends.

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