The ultimate men's fashion essentials
It is often said that a man should invest in a well-fitting suit and a good quality pair of dress shoes. These standard investment pieces are well understood; they both reward extra spending and are seen as the pinnacle of a man’s serious wardrobe. But are they really worth it? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t invest in a luxury suit and matching shoes, but if you’re strapped for cash, there are much more efficient ways of investing your money.
When you meet a man who you consider well dressed, what strikes you? Undoubtedly those things we’ve already mentioned – but not just that. If a man had only a nice suit you would think, “he has a nice suit”. The step between appreciation of what he is wearing and how he dresses is made when you consider all angles. It may sound obvious, but detail counts. A nice suit, a nice belt, a nice shirt. Then the next time you see him; nice watch, nice sunglasses, nice shorts… That gives the impression a lot of us want to give. That consistency is the basis of being well dressed.
So what are the top 3 items every man should invest in?
1. A classic leather belt
Perhaps because of the necessity of wearing one, belts are often overlooked as a fashion accessory. However, a belt is not just for holding trousers up, it pulls an outfit together to create a polished look.
As with most leather accessories, the more you spend, the better the quality leather you’ll get. High quality leather will both look better and last longer which gives you greater cost per wear value in the long run. This is especially important considering it’s an item that you wear every day as cheaper quality leather belts stretch a lot quicker and more vigorously with regular use.
To get the most wear out of your investment belt, stick to a classic style with smooth black or brown leather and a simple silver-coloured buckle. That way it can be worn with both formal and smart-casual outfits.
2. A timeless leather manbag
Like a luxurious belt, a good quality man bag also has the power to lift an average outfit out of the mundane. Man bags are also subject to intense scrutiny so it’s important to get it right.
Like shoes, man bags are noticed because of social convention. We look at shoes to avoid eye contact, and we look at bags for much the same reason. They are about as far from the person as possible and are probably the most detached thing you have on you. Therefore you can look at a man bag much in the same way as you would a pair of shoes – to size up someone without the mutual discomfort of staring at their face.
Next time you take public transport, notice how you and other people pay much more attention than is warranted to other people’s bags! Women spend money on handbags because they are good status indicators – we might learn something from them.
When choosing your man bag, it doesn’t matter whether you go for a briefcase, satchel, messenger, backpack, tote or holdall. What matters is that it is made from good quality leather in a simple style. Try to avoid huge logos or fussy designs. You’re going to spend a fair amount of money on this bag so you need to make sure that it still looks fashionable for the next five years at least!
3. A sophisticated leather wallet
The leather wallet is the ultimate classy item. If you’re at the bar or at a table after a meal and pull out a scuffed wallet with Velcro or gaudy logos, you’re not going to impress. A stylish gentleman will always pull out something refined and simple.
I am amazed how many people neglect the one item they carry around with them constantly? It makes absolute sense to spend on a wallet, in the same way you would spend on a watch. Both are small, functional items that you have on you most of the time and both can make what you wear ‘complete’.
As far as what you should look for in a wallet, I think a beautiful exterior is obvious. However, beyond plain leather or whatever design you’ve chosen, what makes an investment wallet? It’s not just the brand that counts. Look for fabric linings, strong stitching and robust fittings (zips, poppers etc.) Of course there is a strong element of personal choice involved here; just remember that this is a wallet and not a peacock tail.
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