We live in a world that presents us with overwhelming choices. One less choice to make is going to result in better focus where it counts.
Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and a growing list of influential leaders have shared that decisions on what clothes to wear is not something they want to waste energy on. They simplify their wardrobe choices by wearing the same outfit every single day.
A grey t-shirt with jeans – Zuckerberg’s uniform – is not going to suit everyone’s work and lifestyle choices. A better approach would be to select a go-to outfit from a few versatile items of clothing.
One of my readers asked me, “Antonio, could you please give me tips on clothing that is both functional and stylish.
I go out a lot to parties and social gatherings, travel to hot and cold climates and like to go on hikes and mountain climbs.
Is there an outfit that is multi-purpose and suits all these activities?”
There isn’t an outfit that helps you survive the mountain top as well as the rigors of a boardroom meeting. The next best solution is creating an outfit that would be appropriate for most social situations.
Start with the list of five items I’m about to list here. The outfit you create from them will be relevant for the situations mentioned in the reader’s question above. This can be your go-to outfit using five versatile clothing items.
Your versatile outfit needs to be comfortable and stylish for most situations.
Creating a Versatile Outfit Using Classic Pieces of Menswear
1. Dark Colored Sports Jacket
A sports jacket is a sensible choice for a majority of occasions when a suit would be overkill and a shirt is too casual or plain.
Navy blue, charcoal grey or dark brown are versatile colors for a sports jacket. Darker colors present a more formal appearance than lighter colors.
The men’s sports jacket was first used for hunting over a hundred years ago. Its design is suited for outdoor activities while maintaining the aesthetic of a smart jacket.
Other style elements that set a sports jacket apart from a suit jacket or blazer are the easily accessible patch pockets, leather patches on the elbow to avoid tears and the choice of an expandable pleat on the back to allow for flexibility in movement.
A sports jacket can be worn in multiple ways. For the purpose of a versatile outfit – wear a navy blue or dark grey jacket with a pair of dark denim pants, a button-down shirt and dress boots.
Leave it in the back of your car for those times when you are invited to a last-minute meeting or social gathering.
You won’t wear it in the field but after a hard day’s work – you can dress up any outfit just by throwing on a stylish sports jacket.
2. A Blue Button-Down Men’s Shirt
Button-down shirts have the points at the end of the collar fastened down by buttons on the front of the shirt.
Introduced in 1896 by Brooks Brothers, button-down shirts were inspired by the shirts worn by polo players. Until the 1950s – they were used exclusively on sports shirts in America. These shirts are still considered a more sporting style.
A colored shirt with a button-down collar can be dressed up with a tie or dressed down by leaving the top buttons of the shirt open.
For the purposes of a versatile outfit – I especially like the slightly rough, lighter material of the blue chambray shirt. Made from a lightweight cotton – a chambray shirt is tough and long lasting.
On the dressiness scale – a chambray shirt is quite neutral. Layer it with a jacket for an evening out or wear it plain with a pair of dark denim jeans and dress boots.
For a versatile outfit – you need a pair of trousers that require the least amount of washing. What you need is a pair of straight fit, non-faded, dark wash denim jeans.
Dark denim jeans look elegant with a jacket and rugged with an untucked shirt. You can wear them in just about any social situation. They can be worn casually or dressed up – making them the most versatile pants a man can own.
Lighter colored jeans are more casual, while a darker color has a more professional look to it. The fit makes a significant difference to the comfort and how it looks on you. Spend a bit more on this item – you want quality.
Avoid looking like a college kid in jeans and sneakers and instead pair your denim jeans with a pair of smart leather boots.
4. Dark Brown Leather Boots
A versatile outfit for men takes into account inclement weather. You need protection for your feet while maintaining a smart appearance. From a business suit to a jeans and shirt – ankle length dress boots are a man’s most versatile option for footwear.
Dress boots are built to withstand the rigors of working outdoors and hiking but their appeal is in their aesthetic style and not just their function. They complement a formal outfit as well as a casual one.
Dark brown is a more versatile color than black for dress boots. Brown leather boots add some extra variety and color to your outfit.
The 6 Inch Iron Ranger Boot made by my friends at Redwing is a rugged heritage boot – the perfect pair of boots to complete a versatile outfit for men.
The most basic of accessories for a man – a stylish watch is an item that is inversely proportional in effect compared to its size. A classic style instantly adds flair to your outfit.
Purchase a timepiece that is rugged and classic – something you could wear on the beaches of Bali to the mountain tops of Chile and back into a work meeting in New York.
A brown leather strap is preferable because you can wear it on the field or in a boardroom meeting. In general, leather bands look more relaxed than metal.
In Conclusion – How To Put Together A Versatile Men’s Outfit
This is probably the closest you can get to a versatile outfit. Your default, go-to combination of clothes when on the move.
A sports jacket and fitted denim jeans in dark colors, a blue button-down shirt, brown dress boots and a classic dial watch with a brown leather strap.
Store a dopp kit with some hair product, a comb and a small towel for those emergency situations when you haven’t got time to go home before an evening event.
There isn’t an outfit that suits all situations, but with a little bit of foresight and preparation – you won’t look out of place.
Check out my related video and article on the essential items a man needs to have in his wardrobe: An Interchangeable Wardrobe
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