Side Note: The basic Urban Gentleman look is partially classic/preppy and partially fashionable/trendy. To be an urban gentleman is to be a modern gentleman- a man of style, class, culture, and of course one must have “swag”.
The core wardrobe pieces consist of clothing that you absolutely require. These items are timeless and really capture the essence of any well dressed gentleman’s look. You literally can’t live without your core items and they should be a combo of (your) personality and practicality.
The next section or layer of your wardrobe should be 90% of you and your style and 10% trend. Sometimes trends end up being a part of your style and that’s okay. This section of the wardrobe should also include signature items. Basically these are the clothes that really make your look and captures the essence of your personal style.
The third section is all about finishing touches and extras- items that you don’t need, but really want.
+ 2 pair quality dark denim jeans.
Straight, relaxed, or skinny fit and one boot cut ( needed for dress shoes and boots). [$250]
Example: Sevens for All Mankind and Express/Levis (one top quality brand and one good less expensive good quality brand).
+ 1 pair of khakis/chinos/trousers
Flat front or pleated depending on your size. Navy or khaki. [$65]
+ 1 cardigan in a neutral color
Navy, black, or heather gray. [$50]
Example: Ralph Lauren, Lacoste.
+ 3 quality white or black t-shirts
V or Crew neck (whichever you prefer). [$35]
Example: Slight v-neck Calvin Klein or American Apparel.
+ 2 polos – 1 neutral 1 bright
Choose your favorite brand. [$125]
Example: Ralph Lauren and/or Penguin, one black one red.
+ 1 button-up
Any style, color, or brand. It should be one that you really like and it should coordinate with the colors of your other core items. [$55]
Example: 1 Sean John long-sleeve plaid button-up.
(*The shoes you pick for you core are totally up to you, they should reflect your style and they are potentially shoes that you could wear everyday with everything.)
+ 1 pair of casual shoes
Example: navy Vans, black Chucks, white Pumas, brown Sperry boat shoes, neutral colored moccasins, driver, casual oxford-type shoe. [$75]
+ 1 pair of dressier/less-casual shoes
Example: oxfords, wing-tips, mid or ankle boots, dressy pair of drivers, tassel- loafer, slip-on. [$135]
That is your core and it is timeless… meaning all of the above will never go out of style and can easily coordinate with any trend.
very casual: slight v-neck tee, dark denim jeans, and moccasins.
everyday living: polo, cardigan, dark denim jeans, chucks.
weekend relaxing: v-neck, cardigan, khakis, boat shoes.
dressier: button-up, cardigan, khakis, boots.
+ 1 pair of colored skinny/baggy skinny jeans
Red, green, blue, or purple.
Example: LRG, Uniqlo, Levis.
+ 2-4 graphic tees
Choose your favorite type and brand. It should basically fit your overall look. If you have a dressier style then choose tees that would be the “dressed down” version of your look (if that doesn’t work then get a t-shirt from your favorite brand ex: Lacoste tee).
Example: Vintage (go to local vintage and thrift stores), funny, retro, etc.
+ 2 jackets (light coat)
A signature jacket and a neutral yet stylish jacket or light coat. Jackets can really set-off the look, it’s the frosting on a cake- the cake taste good without, but it taste even better with it.
Example: bright colored aviator jacket, vintage jacket, designer jacket like MCM, or sport coat.
+ 4-6 shirts/tops
In the style of you choice.
Examples: plaid button-ups, bright colored graphic tees, etc.- whatever gives you your look.
+ 3 pants/bottoms
In the style of your choice.
Examples: chocolate colored corduroys, light-washed jeans slashed at the knees, black jeans, black flat-front trousers, etc. (again, whatever gives you your look)
Choose a pair of shoes that are really hot to you, they can be sneakers or dress shoes or a hybrid of the two. These should be your “stuntin” shoes, the ones that really stand out and make your look.
Example: Limited edition Creative Reactions, Marc Jacob sneakers, Kanye West Louis Vuitton shoes, or a pair of Supras.
2 scarves, 2 hats (1 fitted, 1 fedora), 2 skinny ties, 1 pair of glasses.
Just like a jacket can be seen as the frosting on a cake, accessories are the sprinkles and toppings- they complete the cake. Choose accessories that enhance your look.
1 of these items should be signature, like signature pair of Oliver Peoples glasses or your signature damier LV bookbag, or a signature skull scarf.
Examples: scarves, glasses, buttons, suspenders/braces, ties, hats, pins, “manbag”. You should own all different types of accessories, but you will have more of one type of accessory depending on your look.
** This is also where you would include your dressy attire. Every man should own atleast one tailored suit in black or navy blue. A suit can cost you anywhere from $200-$2000 depending on where you purchase it.
(these are just the extras, most will probably be trend items).
+ trendy coat/jacket
Military or Marching band inspired jacket.
Wayfarers or aviators.
Example: Ray-ban, Tom Ford.
Plaid, animal print, or designer logo.
It’s all about gold jewelry these days, but choose a material and color that fits your wardrobe and style. Examples: one watch and one gold chain.
Accessories that are different or uncommon to the vast majority.
Example: buttons, broaches, pins… like the lego Dee & Ricky brooches.
+official trend items
Remember the must-haves of 2009.
Velvet, bow ties, and plaid.
+ more basics
Add more basics/core items into wardrobe.
Examples: more solid colored cardigans, polos, and shoes.
*Other items not accounted for, but are important:
-underwear, black and brown leather belts, socks.
1. Macys/Bloomingdales (if you’re in America)
2. Harvey Nichols/Harrods/ Debenhams (if you’re in the UK)
3. GAP/Heritage 1981/Urban Outfitters
Those are great stores to use if you want to purchase everything in one place. But if you want to save money and want more options then shop from a variety of stores online and in store.
+ Best celebrities to use as inspiration when building a wardrobe:
1. David Beckham
2. Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, or Pharrell Williams
3. (your best dressed star)
4. Friends of yours whose style you admire.
+Best designers to use for inspiration when building a wardrobe:
1. Ralph Lauren
3. Dolce & Gabanna
4. Basically whichever designer you feels captures the essence of your style the best.
Now more than ever (with this worldwide recession) you really need to tap into your personal style and utilize vintage and thrift stores. If you shop there you can find the same trendy garments, but they’re authentically from the 70s or 80s or 90s and they cost less than half the price. You should mix up your vintage finds with the new clothes you purchase.
You should invest in your one main signature item, if you can afford to.
1. signature watch
2. signature frames
3. signature jacket
4. signature bag
Be confident in your wardrobe, put thought into it, but don’t over analyze it to confusion. Remember one important Urban Gentleman rule: keep it simple or go hard. (either or only- to keep it stylish). When in doubt on how to coordinate always resort back to the Congolese Sape rules of 3, never match more than 3 colors.
Here’s a few looks random looks, that can help you mix and match your wardrobe items.
1.vintage tee, colored skinny jeans, thick frames, converse, aviator jacket
2. button up, sweater, tie, dark denim, oxfords
3. v neck, cardigan, khaki or cords, vans or lace-ups
4. button up, jacket, skinny tie, tie clip, dark denim, solid trainers or oxfords
Oh and don’t forget, a gentleman is always well-groomed.
1. haircut every 2 weeks, shape-up in between cuts
2. nails should be cut, long nails are for women only.
(this is technically more important than the clothes you wear).
2. skinny jeans
3. skinny ties
I think it’s safe to continue to purchase those items for the most part, but I would minimize the purchase of “arab scarves” if you live in a stylishly advanced city. And as far as skinny jeans go well I know some of you would love for me to predict that they’re out, but that just simply isn’t true. There are way too many celebrities that sort of just caught on to the whole skinny jeans thing and they’re just now feeling comfortable with even wearing them, so you should see more of those in 2009. I personally don’t think all guys should rock skinny jeans, you should wear what makes you comfortable and what fits well (without a belt)… but skinny jeans do look great on some guys.
There were a few “trends” in 2008 that I feel are no longer trends: The “nerd” and “50’s worker” look have really transcended “trend status”– there are pieces in both looks that are actually very very classic and should be in the wardrobe of any well-dressed gentleman… so you should continue with this “look” if you already rock it.
– boat shoes
those are a few of the items that aren’t “trends”, they are classic staples. Meaning you can always wear them from now til your 75, no matter how much the trends change.
Varsity jackets go in and out all the time, but they’re technically always sort of “in” to extents because all high school athletes have one- atleast you should… I’m gonna dig out my old varsity jacket at some point this month. But guys like Chris Brown and Kanye West rocked these hard at the end of 2008 and I’ve seen a few others already rocking them in 09, so if you have one I think it would be cool to wear it until it gets warm. And once it gets warm start searching for Varsity cardigans, alot of designers will have them for Spring: Ralph Lauren, Benjamin Bixby, and Lacoste just to name a few.
Note: It was hard to find good picture examples on the internet, so it took awhile to create pictures etc etc, and some of the pictures aren't exactly of "big" men, but they give you the idea. I'll try to visit a store with one of my big and or tall friends to show more precise pictures.
Like I've told many who have emailed me about the issue of finding clothes that fit their physique- the first thing you should do is find someone famous, who is about your size, and has a pretty good sense of style. For the tall you may want to use LeBron James, Will Smith, or Tom Brady as examples. For big guys you may want to use men like Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Knight (from Project Runway), or Joey Fatone (how he dresses more recently).
And it's also very very very important that you guys try clothes on– I know it's probably a pain in the ass, but it's a necessary evil if you want to look your best. I also suggest that you plan your shopping trips– go on a day like Tuesday or Wednesday… maybe even a Monday- on days that are slow so that the salespeople will pay more attention to you. Those are the days that they're in a more relaxed mood as well, so they're more friendly and chill oppose to being up-tight and slightly stressed. Which equals them being more willing to kind of act as your personal shopper, stores like Nordstrom are perfect for this treatment.
Styles to focus on: cardigans, button-ups, dark denim jeans, vest, jackets, suits with side vents, layers, dark colors, pleated pants (no flat fronts unless well tailored), the combination of a light button up or polo and dark sweater or cardigan- gives the allusion of slimmer, and the mixture of textures to give your body a better proportion.
For Suits: always always always get suits with side vents and pants with pleats. Vented jackets gives you room and makes your rear look smaller- this is especially important for men with wide hips. It's not a pleasant sight to see men with suit jackets on and its hugging their backfat. Pleated pants give your thighs more room and makes your body more proportionate. Flat front pants are okay if you are moderately thick and your stomach is relatively small (it may have a slightly slimming effect). You have to invest in suits with vents and you have to get them tailored- its sooooo worth it. Your figure its not regular size so you can NOT just wear clothing, mainly formal wear like suits, straight off the rack.
For Big Hips: if you hold most of your weight on the bottom half of your body, there are a couple of things you can do to help balance your shape. Wear these combinations: dark solid bottoms with patterned, dark bottoms with textured tops. The textured and patterned tops will even out your proportion and re-focus the eye to your top area, taking away the attention from your hips. Wear suits with vents (look at the suit area for more information).
For Big Stomachs: You basically do the opposite of the men with big hips… you wear combinations of dark solid tops and textured bottoms (like corduroy) or light bottoms (like khakis).
Styles to Focus on: vests, cardigans, flat front pants (mainly for tall slim guys), layers, patterned button ups, pin-stripes (thin vertical stripes) shirts– this elongates your torso giving you a more balanced look, bright colored tops and dark bottoms will also elongate the torso.
Like I said you don't really have a real issue, it's just more of a tailoring thing. But there are some things you may need to note– some tall guys have really long legs and short torsos, others have torsos that are too long and aren't as proportional to their legs. You just have to make sure your proportions are right- shirts and jackets shouldn't be too short or too long.
1. dark denim jeans
2. dark suit- (navy or black)
3. dark cardigan (navy, chocolate brown, burgundy)
4. white dress shirt
5. khakis (pleated for big guys, flat front for tall guys)
6. dark solid quality vest (like Ralph Lauren)- preferably 2 button up and pullover 7. sport coat/blazer (neutral color)
Specific TRENDS for Big Men: Preppy/Classically Simple Look, Jacket Fanatic
Specific TRENDS for Tall Men: Plaid, Preppy/Classically Simple, Jacket Fanatic, pretty much anything- just get it tailored.
Specific STORES for Big & Tall Men: Most stores have a big and tall section, and you should always begin in the big and tall sections if possible. Gap, Ralph Lauren, Old Navy, Casual XL (carries Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Levis), I found an online store for really big men: www.torrebigandtall.com. But you guys can virtually shop anywhere you just have to get it tailored.
Okay, I think the guide if complete for now. If you have more questions leave comments or send us an email email@example.com.
Cindy at THE URBAN GENTLEMAN