Men’s Style Essentials: Start With Your Pants

Most guys would probably do just about anything besides shop. You name it, it probably trumps shopping. So naturally, this first post is about shopping, or rather, what should be hanging in your closet. And on your legs. There are actually a myriad of reasons why guys should take an active interest in clothing. From improved confidence to better overall attentiveness and performance (particularly in college), the benefits are certainly noticeable. Plenty already adhere to that thinking, but for everyone else, it’s become a lot easier to improve the way you dress just by using the Internet. The explosion of the Web has made #menswear more accessible than ever. It’s also made it more confusing to follow rules and stick to fundamentals in a barrage of trends. The biggest key with trends is to know what works for you, in what situation. That’s another matter entirely. First things first, though.

It helps that there are items that can help ease the confusion of shopping. Items that most anyone can turn to, in nearly any situation, and dress up (or down) with relative ease. These items, one might say, are Style Essentials. Every guy should own them, every guy should wear them. Most of the time, they’ll work wherever you want to go, in nearly any situation. And the little details or improvements that come from changing one individual piece at a time (or simply wearing more of an item that you already have) add up to a much better overall picture. These aren’t expert tips or rules by any means, just a take on what can probably help most guys improve (or change) about their style. There’s a good chance many already have mastered these fundamentals. If so, good for you … and maybe you need a refresher? Either way, let’s start with your pants. Specifically, something that could help you wear better pants. Or just more of the same type of pant. Ultimately, these are only guidelines or suggestions to be followed … if you feel like it, that is.

Style Essential #1: Dark denim

Standard Cloth jeans by Urban Outfitters.

Standard Cloth jeans by Urban Outfitters. Distressing by Michigan fall and winter.

If I had to pick one item from my own closet that I couldn’t live without, it would be a pair of dark jeans from Standard Cloth. Available at Urban Outfitters, they’re a pretty solid template for a basic jean. They’re slim (just like the ideal pair of jeans), they have a tapered cut to the ankle (a matter of personal preference), and at purchase, they were a perfect, inky blue color. The inky blue creates a uniform visual appearance throughout, although these have since been beat-up quite a bit. Jeans in a darker color, overall, look much more polished and are much more versatile than the average pre-distressed pair. That doesn’t mean lighter-wash jeans are bad, because you probably need a pair of those too. And plenty of people love light-wash jeans — I have a pair in the closet, myself. However, they’re just not as versatile or polished (well-suited in terms of color and weight for the warmer months in particular, to be sure, but not as versatile).  Dark jeans, on the other hand, can be dressed up with a slim polo or a v-neck sweater, and stand out from a standard pair of pre-distressed denim in all the right ways. Unlike pre-distressed denim, dark jeans pair more closely with desert boots or clean, canvas sneakers. They work with a slim dress shirt, knit tie and desert boots or brogues as well as a pocket T-shirt. They can be worn in virtually all seasons, every day. Besides a nice pair of suit trousers or some casual chinos in a season-specific color, nothing can beat slim, dark denim. Heck, even James Bond wears denim. (Situationally appropriate handgun not included).

Any day wearing dark denim (here, by Scotch & Soda) is indeed a good day.

Any day wearing dark denim (here, by Scotch & Soda) is indeed a good day.

If you’ve got the right pair in mind, at the right price (Macy’s and JC Penney sell classic, dark Levi’s jeans for low, low prices) , the right cut — either a slim or slim-straight cut — is key. It can make or break the jeans. A slimmer cut creates a much more flattering silhouette than a baggy relaxed fit, or even a baggy or regular straight cut-jean. Try it sometime; there’s  few people who will look bad with less fabric hanging around the ankles. A jean with a slight bootcut can work if you’re taller and larger because it evens out body proportions, but the fact that these jeans are still available off the rack at most major retailers doesn’t mean they’re necessarily “in,” and it doesn’t mean you should buy them if you’re particularly slim — they just won’t look as  flattering as a leaner silhouette.

And once you have those jeans, there’s little they won’t go with. Charcoal polo? Wear those jeans. Pocket tee? Throw ’em on. Long-sleeve t-shirt on a casual day? Yes, of course. They could turn into the most important item you own, because the foundation of a guy’s wardrobe starts at the bottom (more on shoes later).

Most importantly, there’s nothing too outrageous-looking about a simple pair of jeans. Black-tie ready? No. Groundbreaking or fashion-forward? Certainly not. But there’s little that can be said against pairing those jeans with something simple, day after day. There’s also something to be said for creating a personal uniform, and jeans can be a great way to start. In fact, one could say owning a good pair of jeans is… essential.




  1. I like these posts about “Men’s Essentials” posts. I also appreciate the “5 ways to wear it” posts as well. These are what I read the most.

    Personally I’d love to see a “Complete starter kit for $X00.00” From start to finish.. shoes, pants, shirts, etc.

    Thanks for the blog. I’ve added you to my feedly.


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