Men’s Closet Essentials and How to Style Them



Men’s polo, Henley, and button-down shirt for mix and match clothes ideas

Tired of throwing on the latest trendy tops and shorts, only to throw them out at the end of the season and start all over again?

Instead of shopping for the moment, explore a world of timeless closet staples and men’s basic fashion essentials that every stylish guy should own. Discover everything you need from shoulders to toes for a closet full of versatile clothing you can wear for years to come. The best part? We will even walk through the best mix-and-match clothes ideas for those wanting to go the extra styling mile. Unlock endless outfit possibilities with these fashion basics.

Collared and Casual Shirts

Man posing in a navy button-down shirt and dress pants which are fashion basics

Formal: No matter what your job is or where you live, every man should have two to three collared button-down shirts in his wardrobe. Not only are these the peak of men’s closet essentials, but they are also ageless and sophisticated. 


If mix-and-match clothes are your priority, be sure to invest in neutral colors that can pair with any pants or jacket. Fashion basics are all about timeless pieces, so avoid any bright, seasonal patterns that are likely to phase out of popularity.

Man poses on white background with Henley shirt, a men’s closest essential

Casual: As much as we love a dapper dresser, everyone needs a casual side, too. Invest in three to four nice (well-fitted, soft fabric, non-graphic) relaxed shirts for weekends or informal events. While shopping for shirts that can work into coordinating outfits easily, try shopping for solid-colored crewnecks or henleys. For more dressy-casual, polo shirts are versatile clothing staples that can be seamlessly dressed up or down. 


Like with formal shirts, neutral colors are best for mix-and-match clothes shopping, though adding a brighter color can add more personality to your look. When shopping for casual shirts, try adding at least one pattern for variety.

How to Style

Man in a polo and chinos

Creating effortless, coordinated outfits is what shopping for men’s closet essentials is all about. Pair formal shirts with any pair of dark dress slacks and a belt for an instantly tailored look. Further elevate the outfit by adding a blazer, tie, and/or watch. To dress down, wear an untucked button-down with chinos.


For laid-back gatherings, match a henley or V-neck shirt with jeans or chinos and comfortable sneakers for a complete but approachable appearance. Dress this look up by swapping the top for a polo, perfect for a nice brunch or a family BBQ.


Sports Jacket

A man in versatile clothing, including a light sport jacket walks through a hall

Though men’s basic fashion tends to swing more casual these days, it is always a good idea for every man to own at least one sports jacket. A 1 or 2 button, single-breasted jacket in a solid neutral shade, such as navy, black, gray, or beige, will match with a wide variety of shirts and pants. Go the extra mile and have this jacket tailored. It will not only fit better and feel more comfortable, but it will also elevate your appearance. This is a piece worth investing in.


How to Style

Man straightens his navy sports jacket

Coordinating outfits with a sports jacket is easier than you think. This layering piece was meant to blend into a variety of looks. For formal and business occasions, pair with a collared shirt and dress pants, then accessorize as desired. For smart casual attire, mix-and-match clothes ideas such as a sports jacket with jeans or a sports jacket with a V-neck shirt underneath to loosen up the outfit while remaining suave. 


Jeans and Pants

Alt text: Man sitting on a stool in coordinated outfit of a white button-down shirt and  medium-wash jeans

Jeans: Jeans are common and comfortable, and everyone should own at least two reliable pairs of jeans. One in a medium wash and the other dark. For true versatile clothing, shop for jeans without holes or tears. Holes and tears tend to fade with trends and can never be dressed up for business-casual events. Timeless pieces that will outlast a single season also mean avoiding any bright or trendy washes, such as acid-wash.


Pants: Dress pants are fashion basics well worth the investment. If shopping for your first pair of dress pants, aim for a dark color such as gray or black. For those looking for a semi-casual option, try shopping for the tailored silhouette that chinos bring to the table.

How to Style

Man sitting in a button-down shirt and dress pants

The good news is that it’s nearly impossible to go wrong with jeans. Coordinating outfits for a casual day can be as simple as adding a T-shirt or Henley, sneakers, and a ball cap. Meanwhile, pairing with a button-down and blazer can easily dress your outfit up while remaining comfortable for dates or nice outings.


When styling dress pants, we always recommend adding a belt for a polished look. Pair dress pants with a more fitted top such as a polo to complete the outfit. No matter what top is paired with the outfit, be sure to tuck in your shirt.



White sneakers


Casual: Aside from a pair of athletic shoes for running or working out, men should also find one pair of casual sneakers they love. Lace-up shoes made of canvas or leather are perfect for coordinated outfits no matter what the situation. Loafers are a great addition to your wardrobe as they mix the comfortability of the sneaker with the elegance of a dress shoe. Take your time and find the right pair. Fit and comfort are just as important as style (arguably more) when it comes to footwear.


Formal: Now for the formal option. Be sure to invest in at least one nice pair of dress shoes. Trust us. Match your dress shoes with the color of your belt to build easy, cohesive outfits. While one pair will certainly get you started, a second pair in another color will provide more mix-and-match clothes options later down the road. We recommend one in black, dark brown, and cognac. 


How to Style

Men’s formal brown dress shoes with black socks


Shoes are simple to add to any outfit! Casual lace-up shoes can match jeans, shorts, pants, or even suits if you style them right. Meanwhile, for anything leaning formal, always opt for dress shoes. And remember, casual or dress style, your socks will be visible. For a more modern look, try no-show or low-profile socks. For traditional sophistication, wear mid-calf dress socks. Use this blank canvas as an opportunity to explore colors and patterns. 

Finding Your New Staples With Stately

Men’s basic fashion essentials laid out on a gray background

Shopping for men’s closet essentials can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to! No one needs to haul their entire wardrobe to the dump overnight. Instead, focus on the most critical pieces missing first. This might be a second pair of dress shoes or a sports coat, and find the right new item for you before removing anything from your closet. Follow our mix-and-match clothes ideas above to assemble the right set of clothing over time. 

When in doubt, let our experts help! Start receiving curated men’s clothing boxes and let our team do all the hard work for you. Or, shop our new Out of the Box to find single pieces at a time. You’ll be covered with men’s basic fashion staples in no time.

Sebastian O’Hara
Writer based in Los Angeles, CA