There is nothing as fascinating as a man dressed well for any occasion. The key to dressing is to know the essentials and understanding what kind of dressing an occasion calls for. It is not about how much an item of clothing or accessory costs, as much as how a man wears them and accessories the look to give it an edge.
In order to succeed in business or life in general one has to be conscious that dressing creates an impression whether one wants it to or not. So whether you are going for a meeting, going out on a date, going for a social event or just taking it easy with your friends you still need to create an impression.
Carol Odero gave a few tips as to what should be essential items in any man’s wardrobe. These include; 2 dark suits in black, navy or charcoal grey, 2 white shirts, 2 pure leather shoes, 2 casual shoes/sneakers, a good quality trench coat, a good watch, a leather belt with a classic buckle and dark blue jeans. We have expanded on that list.
1. Dark suits in black, navy, or charcoal grey.
Some men may think that it is not necessary to own a suit especially if they don’t have the traditional white collar jobs. But it is essential to have at least one quality suit for formal occasions. Solid navy suits should be the cornerstone of your wardrobe. Look for fabrics that are dark enough to be used for different events. A great, quality suit can be broken and the coat worn as a blazer and the pair of trousers won on their own. A charcoal grey suit is elegant and sophisticated. Chose suits with the classic single button or two-buttoned suit.
2. Navy Blazer/textured Blazers
A navy blazer is an essential item in a man’s wardrobe. The best thing is that it can be paired with any kind of outfit and it is great for men who don’t like suits but want to get that formal look. You can wear it with a pair of denim for a casual look, or a white button shirt for a more formal look. The blazer should work with jeans, your navy suit trousers, chinos etc. You can also get one which has some patterns/texture. The textures and patterns should be subtle so that it can be worn with anything in your wardrobe.
3. White Button up shirt
The classic white button-down shirt is the fashion world’s equivalent of a blank white canvas. The white button up shirt is a button-up shirt with a collar and long sleeves. It is designed to be worn open-necked and looks awkward with a tie. People may label it as boring since it is a little bit uptight and seriously formal. The advantage of white button-ups is that they go well with almost everything. It can be worn with a suit jacket, sweater or teamed up with a pair of slim chinos. Get the thick, soft cotton type. To create a casual look, try wearing it with a jacket or a round neck sweater.
4. Solid crewneck sweaters
A solid crewneck sweater is a must for every wardrobe. It is one of those items that are versatile. You can get it in cotton, wool, or cashmere. For a casual look, Wear it with jeans and a t-shirt underneath with the sleeves pushed up; mush it together with a button-down underneath for that preppy look. You can wear them with jeans, suits, or even khaki pants. In this part of the world where we have the cold season during July and also when it’s raining this is a great way to keep out the cold. The recommended colours are navy, beige, light grey and shades of red.
If you find suits a little bit boring and traditional, opt for cashmere sweaters that are either solid crowned, with recommendable colours like beige, light grey, or maroon.
5. Stone Grey Chinos
This is one item of clothing that is versatile and goes with everything in your wardrobe. They should be flat front and a slim fit.
6. Khaki Pants
These are a great addition to a man’s wardrobe as they are made from 100% cotton and offer a comfortable fit. They usually feature two, three, or four pockets, standard loops, and casual styling which make them great for semiformal and casual events. Go for black, navy, beige or grey.
7. Slim Dark Denim
Look for a pair that fits perfectly. Avoid skinny jeans but wear slim straight jeans or with a slight taper. Break in the jeans and then after that have them tailored if they don’t quite fit you. Pair them up with a well-fitted t-shirt for a casual look, or a white buttoned shirt and khaki jacket or woollen jacket for a business casual look.
Try to get fabrics that are colour fast and that don’t run very easily because they will start looking washed out after a while. Apparently, you should try to avoid washing them if possible so I guess this means you wear them a couple of times between each wash. This is very easy in the west where they don’t have too much dirt or dust but I am not sure that would work in Kenya.
You can also have a pair of faded/ vintage denim. That is very popular in Kenya but a pair of dark denim is a must for your wardrobe. You can either do black or dark blue. The good thing is that there are tailors/designers who make jeans to order so if you don’t find what you are looking for then you can go to a tailor.
8. Plain, solid-coloured crewneck t-shirts/hoodie
Plain tees are basically aimed to make a more casual look, when it comes to tees go simple and avoid tees that have funny names or jokes on the T-shirt. These are good when you are trying to create a semiformal look. They can be paired with a jacket or blazer. To get that hoodie look, that makes you look a little bit classier, get one that has no logos and avoid hoodies that are very long that go beyond your hip, get one that is a bit fitting and not at all buggy.
If you are a creative or artistic kind of person ignore the plain t-shirt advice. You can have multicoloured t-shirts with different designs if it makes you happy.
9. A simple, dark tie.
Not all suits require suits but that does not mean you should avoid ties altogether. It is always good to have ties just in case you need them for formal or semi-formal occasions. Go with solid grey or dark red if you are a traditional man. You can also go for subdued prints in dark colours if you’re daring.
10. Leather belt
You should have leather belts as part of your accessories. One black belt and another in brown should be standard items in your wardrobe. Most fashion stylists agree that that you should always match your shoes with your belt. Go for good leather material that is built for any kind of trouser or denim pants. Get a leather belt with a classic buckle not those with funny designs.
11. A dark wool jacket
Get a short wool jacket in either grey or navy or camel, a double-breasted pea coat works. Make sure it hits where your hips start, for a little more serious look.
12. A grey sport coat
This is for men who really want to go less formal but still keep their ‘A’ game intact. It is recommendable with colours such as dark grey, which will match navy, black, brown, khaki, denim. The advantage is that it can go with just about anything.
13. Perfect Black Leather Jacket
A leather jacket is an essential item for any man’s wardrobe. There is something about a leather jacket that is sexy and makes a man look good. Get something that is light in weight and trim fit. Avoid too many detail designs. The jacket should be symmetrical with a classic collar. It shouldn’t have too many zippers, biker padding etc.
If you like jackets with designs like biker jackets you should get a secondary jacket. But have a plain black leather jacket as a priority.
You should get a watch that is sleek and stylish. Apparently, you should avoid gold unless you are over fifty. Get something with genuine leather straps. Pick a watch that is sleek and stylish. There is no rule that you should have only one watch so you can change your watch depending on what you are wearing.
The acceptability of casual footwear is steadily rising and we are now in the age of the sneaker. It has to some extent been accepted for wearing at semi-casual and casual occasions. Get Black low-top leather Sneakers as your first pair. These can be worn with anything including a suit. They make a suit look less formal but still look sophisticated. They are great with jeans and khaki pants. They should be simple and well made. Sneakers are particularly handy when you want to have a casual but sporty look. Fashion: 3 Sneakers You Need In Your Collection
16. Slim Dress Shoes
Getting the appropriate footwear is key to making or breaking an outfit. Opt to go for real leather shoes. A black pair is a must. You should also get a pair in brown, a dark brown is preferable. But you should get a pair in a lighter Carmel colour and not a dark chocolate feel. Go for slim dress shoes that are a perfect match, especially one with a rounded or pointed tip.
17. Lightweight Scarf in Cotton, wool or Linen
A scarf for the cold is an essential item for your wardrobe for when it’s raining or when it’s cold. You should get patterns and colours which are not overwhelming. Men: How to look stylish in a scarf
18. Desert boots
In the US they have desert boots but in Kenya, we have Sahara boots. They are basically the most versatile shoe and if you can you should have a pair. The lace-up shoes, featuring a flat sole and a slight high-top over the ankle, strike that elusive note between casual and formal. The advantage of opting to have these shoes is that they come in suede or canvas and they look absolutely amazing.
19. Brown Penny Loafers
They are timeless shoes that go with everything. Look for a classic penny shape with a round toe and medium vamp.
20. Neutral Trench or Mac
It is good to note that it’s not a must to get a trench just for the rainy season. It is so important to get a trench when you want to bring out that sleek and edgy look. Make sure it’s waterproof, neutral in colour, and classic in design. Get something that is well fitting and can be slipped over a jacket, length should hit around mid-thigh.
21. African Attire
This is for men who dress to impress and dare to go the extra mile since not all men are willing to move out of their comfort zone. For the man who demands high quality, bold, brocade embroidered attire is sure to set you apart with a style that celebrates your African roots. Be a scene-stealer with sophisticated African style garments. If you are bold and confident in African designs you can get yourself a complete suit, or just get shirts, pants or ties or even jackets for a touch of African. Dress to impress while making a bold cultural statement.
If you are not really into African prints you can go for a jacket which has patches of Kitenge or African prints so that you don’t get overwhelmed. There are really great African designers who can make you look good in jackets or African print shirts. It is better to get a tailored shirt that fits your frame as opposed to buying that one outfit that fits all. This will also give you a chance to get something that suits your personality.
22. A stylish perfect laptop bag.
Now that technology has become part of daily life, men usually have gadgets with them that they need to carry with them. Whether you are going for a meeting where you need to carry your laptop, or you want to carry your gadgets and books as you move around, a stylish laptop bag is a necessity. Keeping your laptop safe is essential and crucial to your machine’s lifespan; opt for a chic, stylish, fashionable, and practical laptop bag. One that has a laptop compartment that holds even the most sizable 15″ laptops, with a special suspension system, thus keeps your laptop away from bruises and scratches. Also, try to get one that is waterproof.
23. Leather sandals
Living on the African continent summer is almost all year round. It would be impossible to wear closed shoes all year around. For that casual look for a weekend or evenings when hanging out with friends get some leather sandals. For a stylish African look, you should get some Maasai sandals.
Article by Shelmith Wangari and Rayhab Gachango