One of the questions I’m asked most is “what does my closet need?”. Generally the list doesn’t vary much from stylist to stylist, and given the number of books written on the subject, I’m not giving away any trade secrets by including my own recommendations here.

First I want to note that I’m not suggesting that anyone run right out and break the bank to gather all of these things. It’s just a starting place for making sure you shape your closet with the right style elements, and it’s also a weapon for battling unnecessary impulse purchases – those things that can cause buyer’s remorse and a closet filled with unworn items. Second, with the exception of basic t-shirts and tanks, these are things that are investment-worthy and I’ve included brand recommendations as examples. So while you don’t need to buy everything at once, the list should be prioritized based on your own needs and invested in from the top down.

Here we go:


  • Jeans: trouser cut, dark denim (Seven For All Mankind, Paige Denim, Joe’s Jeans)
  • Shirt: classic, white button down (J Crew, Banana Republic, Gap, Anne Fontaine)
  • Trench: black or khaki (London Fog, Burberry)
  • Dress: silk wrap (Diane von Furstenburg)
  • Boot: tall (Frye); rain (Hunter Wellies)
  • Underpinnings: bras/panties (Wacoal)
  • Slacks: black, trouser cut (J Crew, Banana Republic)
  • Wrap: pashmina, generous in size to wear a variety of ways (any good department store,
  • Tights: one good black pair (Wofford)
  • LBD: Whatever best suits your frame. Jersey is a great fabric that works well in most places year round and is virtually wrinkle free for easy travel
  • Basic tanks and t-shirts (long and short sleeved) in both black and white. These should be replaced each year (Gap, Cynthia Rowley)

Accessories – I’m going to do a separate post specific for all of the Sh’Bang in your life. Until then consider these classic treasures, investment-worthy for passing along to a beloved daughter, niece or granddaughter when the time is right:

  • An Hermès scarf, along with the stylish, collectible cards (and accompanying app) so you know all the ways to wear it
  • Sunglasses – at least one pair of classic aviators (Ray-Ban) and a pair of chic, round glasses (ah, Chanel)


  • Jeans: dark denim in a cut most suited for your frame
  • Shirt: classic, white button down (J Crew, Banana Republic, Gap); striped or printed button down with contrasting cuffs (Robert Graham)
  • Sport Coat: navy or midnight blue in a weight that works best for most seasons
  • Tie: If career-wear doesn’t include ties/jackets, it’s best to own a few basic ties in neutral colors (e.g., silver)
  • Shoes: black and/or brown dress/career shoes and a loafer or non-sport sneaker. Every guy also needs a pair of Frye boots
  • Trench: black or khaki (London Fog, Burberry)
  • Slacks: basic black in cut most suited to your frame
  • Belt: black and brown with classic, smooth finish
  • Socks: in your favorite color for a nice pop (red or yellow look great with jeans or slacks)
  • Basic t-shirts (long and short sleeved) in both black and white. These should be replaced each year