The modern man’s wardrobe isn’t something that should evolve by accident. But for most of us, that’s how it happens: A piece here, a piece there, in various styles, sizes and seasons. This year, do some spring cleaning and take a serious look at your closet. Do you own one of each of these pieces that you love and want to reach for, no matter what the occasion? If not, it’s time to invest. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to kick your style up to the next level, we’ve picked the best brands that’ll give you maximum style and ultimate mileage.
1. A four-season navy suit
The foundation of your wardrobe, the navy suit can be dressed up or down — the jacket can be worn as a sportcoat — and in an all-season fabric (look for 100s wool), it’ll take you literally anywhere.
Entry level: J. Crew Ludlow suit, $650 at jcrew.com
Executive suite: Ralph Lauren Purple Label Drake Wool Twill Suit (above), $3,995 at ralphlauren.com
2. A gray suit
Is there anything more classic? Ask Cary Grant.
Entry level: Suitsupply Napoli Gray Uni suit, $499 at suitsupply.com
Executive suite: Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Solid 1818 Suit, $998 (above) at brooksbrothers.com
3. A cotton trenchcoat
Fewer top layers look sharper. Ideal for wearing over a suit or jeans, a good investment will pay serious dividends.
Entry level: Banana Republic double-breasted trench, $250 at bananarepublic.com
Executive suite: Burberry cotton twill trenchcoat (above), $1,795 at mrporter.com
4. A gray wool overcoat
Another dress-up-or-down classic, buy one that’s trim but spacious enough to wear over a suit.
Entry level: Suitsupply Gray Overcoat (above), $699 at suitsupply.com
Executive suite: Paul Smith wool and cashmere overcoat, $1,229 at mrporter.com
5. White spread-collar shirt
The go-to layer for a suit jacket, with or without a tie, or under a sweater. Don’t cut corners; better to buy one of the high-quality brands below than four of the shirts that got you through college.
Entry level: Twillory White Sea Island Cotton Shirt, $99 at twillory.com
Executive suite: Brunello Cucinelli Cotton-Jersey Shirt (above), $665 at mrporter.com
6. Blue button-down shirt
Give a casual spin to a sportcoat, or layer under a sweater.
Entry level: Bonobos Unbutton Down shirt (above), $98 at bonobos.com
Executive suite: Eidos Napoli slim fit sport shirt, $325 at nordstrom.com
7. Black cap-toe shoes
Perfect for a suit or with jeans or chinos, at the office or after dark. The only thing they won’t suit is white socks.
Entry level: Allen Edmonds Park Avenue cap toe oxfords, $385 at allenedmonds.com
Executive suite: Church’s Dubai polished-leather oxford shoes (above), $650 at mrporter.com
8. Oxblood boot
This polished style couldn’t be more versatile — pair it with black, gray or brown.
Entry level: Jack Erwin Carter Wingtip Combat Boot, $220 by jackerwin.com
Executive suite: Alden 9-Eyelet Perforated Cap Toe Boot (above), $718 at The Shoe Mart
You know what people notice even before shoes? A watch.
9. Cashmere crewneck sweater
Choose a light weight that’s layerable in winter and wear-by-itself on chilly spring nights.
Entry level: J. Crew, $199 at jcrew.com
Executive suite: Ralph Lauren Purple Label, $995 at ralphlauren.com
10. Dark jeans
Let your distressed denim fade away. You’ll get the most wear out of a dark finish and trim fit.
Entry level: Uniqlo selvedge regular fit jeans, $50 at uniqlo.com
Executive suite: Tom Ford regular fit deep indigo jeans (above), $570 at neimanmarcus.com
Do yourself a solid with casual pants that have just enough polish.
Entry level: Club Monaco Davis chino, $89 at clubmonaco.com
Executive suite: Incotex Slim Fit Brushed Cotton chinos (above), $295 at mrporter.com
12. Luxe polo shirt
When taking your cues for grown-up casual, go with the Rat Pack. In the summer months, wearing it under a suit is more impressive than a tie.
Entry level: Polo Ralph Lauren Pima Soft Touch Classic polo shirt, $89 at bloomingdales.com
Executive suite: Tod’s Slim Fit Silk Knitted Polo Shirt (above), $745 at mrporter.com
13. White sneakers
Steve McQueen kept a pair in his closet for decades; so should you.
Entry level: Converse Jack Purcell leather sneakers, $65 at zappos.com
Executive suite: Common Projects Original Achilles sneaker (above), $410 at mrporter.com
14. A clean and simple watch
If the first thing people notice is your shoes, the watch is a close second. When polishing off your look, less is more.
Entry level: Skagen Ancher Leather Watch, $145 at skagen.com
Executive suite: Omega Speedmaster Professional (above), $4,500 at omegawatches.com
A briefcase that means business