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List of Bare Necessities

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by unbelragazzo, Oct 4, 2012.

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  1. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Well-Known Member

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    There may have been other threads/articles here similar to this one, but since I wrote this up for my Tumblr, I figured I might as well post it here too. Manton's excellent thread covers what we need to be well-dressed. This is more like what you need to avoid being poorly dressed:



    iGents have spilled a lot of webink discussing what the minimum wardrobe necessary to be “well-dressed” might entail.

    That discussion does have some value, but falls prey to something of a Catch-22. These lists are compiled by people who are well-dressed. My view is that in order to be well-dressed, you have to be able to compile your own list of what you need to be stylish. So that once you are well-dressed, you have no need for someone else’s list.

    But not everyone aspires to be “well dressed”. However nearly every man in the Western world will at some point face a “dressy” occasion which requires him to wear something between a jacket and a suit and tie. Too often I hear of men who are suddenly faced with such an occasion (say, they are invited to be someone’s date at a wedding) and are forced to decide between wearing a pinstripe suit or a white cotton jacket, and only have a fuchsia tie and a multi-striped dress shirt to wear it.

    Perhaps a more useful list would describe the bare necessities required for these men who does not wear a jacket, much less a tie, daily, and has no intrinsic interest in clothing, but would prefer not to look like an idiot in situations that have some kind of dress code. Here would be my suggestion for such a list of ingredients (and note that it’s a subset of Manton’s list of things required for a well-dressed gentleman):

    - a navy blazer such as the one above

    - either a navy or a charcoal suit

    - two barrel cuff (i.e. not french cuff) white dress shirts, one with a button-down collar

    - either dress chinos or some mid-grey trousers

    - black cap-toe oxfords, such as the Allen Edmonds Park avenue

    - a black belt (not the karate kind)

    - some kind of reppe striped tie

    - a solid navy tie (grenadine is a good choice) if your suit is charcoal, a black and white glen-plaid tie if your suit is navy

    - solid navy socks

    Instructions for use:

    Never wear the suit without a tie. When wearing the blazer and odd jacket without a tie, wear the button-down collar shirt. When wearing the suit (and this will be with a tie, since you never wear the suit without the tie), wear the non-button-down collar shirt. When wearing the blazer with a tie, either shirt is fine. When wearing the blazer with a tie, wear the reppe stripe tie. With the suit, either tie is fine although the non-stripe one will usually be better. Wear the jacket and pants from the suit together or not at all - do not wear the jacket from the suit with some other trousers or the trousers with the blazer.*

    That’s it. Own those things, and you will be ready for any situation from business casual cocktails to weddings and funerals. Just make sure it’s clean and well-fitting, take a shower and trim your fingernails, and you will look great.

    As I said earlier, these items are all things that you’ll need on your path to being truly well-dressed. So don’t think of it as an alternative path. It’s just a respectable stopping point if you have no desire to go further. If later you want to add to your wardrobe of tailored clothing, you don’t have to start over. You can just add to it with some brown shoes (and a brown belt), some light blue dress shirts, and whichever odd trouser you didn’t include in your first purchases. Before you know it you’ll be bespeaking three piece tweed suits.

    *A possible exception if you’re on a tight budget is if your suit is more of a mid-grey than charcoal, then you can wear the pants with your navy blazer - but a charcoal suit is a better thing to have for your only suit than a mid-grey suit for your only suit
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
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  2. VinnyMac

    VinnyMac Well-Known Member

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    Eliminate the navy blazer. The rest is solid.
     
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  3. Rich0116

    Rich0116 Well-Known Member

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    Really? The OP has a thought about what people should have to "avoid being poorly dressed" and, in that light, the navy blazer becomes even more essential in our modern "Casual-FridayEveryday" world. Any reason for dropping the navy blazer or just a generic anti-Brooks stance?
     
  4. hendrix

    hendrix Well-Known Member

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    If you wear a navy blazer in a casual environment you are probably poorly dressed. EDIT: replace "poorly" with "over"

    Not to say that a navy blazer isn't useful, but, as someone who works in a casual environment and does have some limited occasion to dress up, I'm confounded by why people constantly propel the navy blazer as an essential.

    Black or brown or grey seems more useful to me. If I really need to dress up I'll wear a suit. I could see myself maybe wearing one over an OCBD if I'm going out for dinner. Maybe. I'd prefer a black one though.

    Then again, I also don't understand repp ties (ever), so perhaps this is because I'm not American.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
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  5. ColdEyedPugilist

    ColdEyedPugilist Well-Known Member

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    I'd say navy odd jacket or blazer.

    I believe that such a garment is required for those 'in-between' events such as Casual Fridays, Smart Casual functions, a night out with the gf / wife etc.

    Also, striped ties might be tricky in some countries where certain patterns are associated with specific clubs, educational institutions and military units. A neat with a navy ground might be a better idea.

    And guys, enough with the Internet Tough Guy BS eh?

    Let's keep this thread clear of clutter.
     
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  6. in stitches

    in stitches Well-Known Member

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    are you cereal? navy SC with jeans, WIN. navy SC with khakis, WIN. navy SC with ivory trou, WIN. navy SC with gray flannel, WIN.

    there are few things that do not look great with a navy SC. i dont see how it is not a staple item in a wardrobe. yes, it took me forever to get one in my wardrobe, but that was not for lack of understanding its value.

    if a person doesnt want/like a navy SC, fine. most people would say a good pair of jeans are a neccesity, and its probably true, but i dont like jeans on me, so i dont wear any, and am selling the ones i have. that doesnt mean i dont recognize them as a staple item in most wardrobes.

    no one should be forced to wear anything. but at that rate, forget the whole idea of staples in a wardrobe. just wear what you want. i think its more than fair to say, that for a person building a wardrobe, with no disposition against a navy SC, it is without a doubt, a staple/bare necessity. i think these terms are semantics btw, and mean the same to me.

    lastly, while your situation may limit the need for a navy SC, being that this thread is in MC, i think daily dress for most people here would likely call for strong use of SCs. in which case, navy is certainly a staple for most people. and any crafted list like this, addresses most people. there will always be exceptions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  7. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Well-Known Member

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    I also don't care for the reppe/regimental tie choice, can we replace this with a wedding tie instead?
     
  8. hendrix

    hendrix Well-Known Member

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    I think you misinterpret what this thread is about


    There are many things that don't look great with a navy SC. Many things that look awful, in fact.

    Can you name some real life scenarios when any of the above combinations would be particularly appropriate for the man who usually wears casual clothes?

    Honestly the only scenario I can thing of to wear a navy blazer would be if I'm going out to dinner. I'd wear it with grey flannel pants, perhaps. Even then, I'd rather have a textured odd jacket in charcoal, grey, black etc.


    I accept that navy blazers can be a nice choice, I just don't see why it's a staple.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  9. Gauss17

    Gauss17 Well-Known Member

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    I would never say an individual wearing a blazer in a casual environment is poorly dressed, but in today's environment, he may look over dressed, but not poorly so. I certainly think a navy blazer is a more versatile choice over say black/brown/grey (That said, I do think a brown, textured SC looks best with jeans), but from an essentials standpoint, it may not actually be essential. As you point out, from the work standpoint, all you probably need is: a functional suit and 1-2 dress shirts (white or blue, OCBD or not), and perhaps a pair of dress pants (chino or slacks). Oh, and black shoes of some kind. I would be willing to wager you could get away with just that. Will you be the well-dressed at work? Likely not, but no one will see you as "out of place". As for ties, I am fairly convinced you only need a solid navy and solid burgundy, perhaps a black grenadine.

    Unbelregazzo's appears more of a truncated list of the previous thread "You must own these or you are not well dressed". I suppose it comes down to how you interpret what are bare necessities, which may differ from person to person. If you only need to "look presentable" for work, you probably are only interested in what I listed above. If say, you attend other events that call for heightened dress, then the navy blazer becomes more useful.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  10. ColdEyedPugilist

    ColdEyedPugilist Well-Known Member

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    Just to clarify, do you mean blazer as in a navy odd jacket with metal buttons or just any navy odd jacket.

    If it's the former, then yes, I agree, it may not be appropriate for certain more casual environments, the blazer being a garment you can ratchet up to citified very easily.
     
  11. Claghorn

    Claghorn Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't the Park Aves be a bit too formal when wearing the blazer/chino/button down?

    I'd say throw a pair of J&M "dress" loafers into the mix. It's for the more casual outfit, so it doesn't need to be an expensive pair of shoes (also keeping in mind that this is supposed to be a list of bare necessities...though I guess that doesn't necessarily imply budget constraints).

    Regardless, I like the list.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  12. Gauss17

    Gauss17 Well-Known Member

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    In the context of these forums, yes it would be. In the real world, no one will know the difference between a blucher and balmoral. That said, a more versatile choice to go with both may be a sleeker blucher such as the Derwent from G&G.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. hendrix

    hendrix Well-Known Member

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    Yes, thanks, that's what I meant.


    Yeah, this is part is also part of what I mean. I just can't think of that many occasions when a navy blazer is the best option, and it's not particularly versatile either.


    Not necessarily with metal buttons, but certainly a plain weave with little texture. I.e. a blazer is not the same thing as a navy odd jacket that could be a tweed or texturey pattern.

    I think we're in agreement here. When it's that plain weave (often with metal buttons) and looks like a "blazer" in the traditional sense, it's a bit too formal, but not really formal enough to take the place of a suit.

    [quote name= Will from A Suitable Wardrobe]It is odd how the blazer exists in a no-man's land of formality between the lounge suit and the odd jacket, but there it is. Too casual for the suited office and too formal much of the rest of the time...
    ...So that then is the blazer. It should probably not be the first odd jacket in a wardrobe. Tweed for example is useful more often and a suit will do on the remaining occasions when the blazer would be an option...[/quote]

    source

    This is a guy who dresses way more formally than me, but I agree with his sentiment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
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  14. in stitches

    in stitches Well-Known Member

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    au contraire broseph :)

    i think you are looking at this thread from the POV that a casual dresser does not need a navy SC for daily or occasional regular wear. maybe, but this thread is aimed at the guy who in fact does not usually wear SCs, but has occasions where at times he needs to attend a function that requires a suit OR a SC and trou (occasions where a suit woud be too much, and there are plenty of those).

    for such a person, i think he will find wearing a navy SC a much easier and simpler way to look good, than another color SC. much harder to botch a navy SC, than a brown or gray. not to mention the gray SC is generally frowned upon around here, even though i still like them. (VIVA LA REVOLUCION!!)



    i think my above point really answers this.

    lots of real life scenarios would be appropriate for what i mentioned. regular dude goes to a semi formal restaurant with family. is wearing nice jeans but needs to spruce up a tad. throw on navy SC. east peasy lemon squeezey, and hard to eff up. same for khakis. admittedly, most people dont wear ivory trou, that was just an example of the versatility of a navy SC. gray flannel SC with navy SC, one of the best combos all time, always a winner for a nice event that you have to look sharp but dont need a suit.

    while you may/are from what ive seen, very good with understanding clothing colors and textures, most dudes that are not familiar with MC, are not. and could easily screw up grey flannel pants with "a textured odd jacket in charcoal, grey, black etc," or with other gray trou. gray on gray can be quite tricky.

    that is why i think it is staple. you are certainly free to disgree as long as we can still be friends. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  15. SamSpade

    SamSpade Well-Known Member

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    I'm surprised a pair of gunboats/longwings in black or burgundy wasn't mentioned as a bare necessity in footwear. Goes with jeans, khakis, and suits.
    It's called the OneShoe for a reason :foo::nodding:, esp. given that you can actually get away with one (sic) pair..

    Also, the debate over whether a navy blazer is an essential can be easily resolved by simply replacing it with a navy suit. Then, the coat can be worn separately as a navy blaz., assuming ok fit. Close enough.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  16. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Well-Known Member

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    A note on the purpose of this list: Think of it as, a friend comes to you who is just graduating college and says, I don't have anything more formal than a polo shirt in my wardrobe, but I don't want to look like an asshole on adult occasions. But I don't want to break the bank, and I don't have any intrinsic interest in clothing. Tell me what to get.

    On the navy blazer: I stand by including it as a necessity. Wearing a navy suit jacket isn't completely horrible, but I think the navy blazer represents a major improvement. To me a suit jacket worn as a blazer sticks out as exactly what it is. I know that outside of SF people don't realize that consciously, but I think they notice it as something not quite right. As an added advantage, you don't then need to worry about differential wear between your suit jacket and trousers, and you don't need to worry about ruining a whole suit if you ruin the suit jacket.

    I think there are plenty of occasions where a blazer is appropriate but no jacket would be too informal and a suit too formal. Some holiday parties. Many "business casual" events. Going to dinner with your girlfriend's parents for the first time. A matinee at the opera or theater (Yes I know people wear shorts to these things but c'mon, have some class). Et cetera.

    On the reppe tie: I don't think it's the only good choice, but it's a good choice for a tie to go with your blazer, for an American. I should have made that clear. A neat was suggested, but some (including Manton) find this too formal for a blazer. I wear neats with odd jackets all the time and don't really mind it, but a neat is a bit more formal than a stripe. For people on the level that this list is pitched to, it doesn't matter that much, but why eff with it? A knit is a decent answer too, but it's a little bit "fashiony" in that you don't see one every day. A reppe stripe is, from an American point of view, very much playing it safe and a classic choice to go with a navy blazer. It looks a bit collegiate maybe, but it's never in poor taste, provided you have any sense at all in the colors you pick. As far as the suggestion of a wedding tie, 1) that's already my suggestion to go with the navy suit 2) wedding tie is too formal for a blazer IMHO.

    On shoes: black cap toes aren't ideal for a blazer. But it's not terrible. I'd rather wear black cap toes with a blazer than a suit jacket wear a blazer should be. Remember, we're talking bare necessities. If we could convince this person that they could wear a nice pair of brown derbies or loafers for much of their non-coat-and-tie situations as well, and that the investment in a second pair of shoes is therefore worth it, then I'm very much in favor. But shoes are expensive, and supposing that sale couldn't be made, they would not look like a doofus if they only had black shoes. At least they won't be duck-billed rubber soled loafers.
     
  17. davesmith

    davesmith Well-Known Member

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    Credit card holder/wallet is missing. I can't live without mine!
     
  18. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Well-Known Member

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    Yea but everybody already has one and expecting someone to buy a "dress wallet" for use on sime occasions is too much...
     
  19. davesmith

    davesmith Well-Known Member

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    I see what you're saying. Will think and repost.
     
  20. FlyingMonkey

    FlyingMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Generally, the list makes a good go of things. The fact that I don't most of the things on it is neither here or there because it isn't for me.

    However, I too disagree on the Navy blazer as a basic. I think blue blazers are actually hard to get right and many people end up looking unhappily semi-formal or like a security guard in them. I'd actually go Hendrix's route for the beginner and suggest a good quality odd jacket (probably with a bit less structure to it than was traditional, and perhaps soft-shouldered) that they actually like to wear in a colour, texture etc. that is both versatile enough to be dressed up or down with a variety of pants etc. and which suits them. For some people this may end up being a blue blazer but only for some. Insisting on the blue blazer as the jacket of first resort is, I think, wrong.

    I also disagree about the black shoes. Although I am British and black shoes are traditionally the only thing to wear with a navy or grey suit, as a 'universal' basic, I would actually suggest a basic semi-formal brown shoe (and I am not going to be too prescriptive about whether it's a brogue or an Oxford or whatever), or even a similar boot, because they are so much more versatile and can more easily be dressed up or down. We already had a discussion thread about this not so long ago and this seemed to be the most widely shared conclusion.
     

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