Manly Fashion Advice

5 men’s wardrobe essentials as dictated by fashion master

5 men’s wardrobe essentials as dictated by fashion master

John Varvatos dark suits
You can't go wrong with a well-fitted dark suit. Photo courtesy of John Varvatos

Not so long ago, a lot of men didn’t care much about appearances. But that’s changed, says John Varvatos, who has built a thriving business offering men hip clothing options in his Houston store and around the globe.

"The world is so small today, with the Internet and magazines and television and movies and all that. Guys are much more aware," Varvatos says. "Guys care about their grooming, they care about their physique, their physical shape. And those things mean a lot more to them."

So what are five staples that every well-dressed man should own and wear often? Varvatos weighs in:

1. A well-fitting dark suit
"A lot of guys will say, 'I bought this suit on sale,' but I look at them and they look a little sloppy," Varvatos says.

A suit doesn’t have to be expensive, he adds, but it needs to be well-tailored, with pants tapered properly and a shoulder and body fit that looks appropriate to a man’s physique. "Whether you are slim or heavy, you can get a well-fitting suit," he says.

He doesn’t have a preference whether it’s black or gray or navy, but "something dark will be very versatile."

Varvatos has a high-powered attorney friend who works at one of New York’s biggest firms. Varvatos calls his friend "brilliant" but admits, "I always feel like he looks a little sloppy, even down to his shoes.

"So I told him, 'Come to the store, and I’m going to take care of you.' And he felt transformed [looking] in the mirror. He had himself in loose-fitting, baggy, pleated pants, and all of sudden he had something cleaner — not tight at all, but clean and sleek.

"And he said, 'Wow, I feel like I’m 20 pounds less.' And I said, 'When that suit is altered, wait till you see what your wife and your friends are going to think when you walk into the office.'"

2. A great-fitting pair of jeans
"The girls used to always care about how their ass looked in jeans. Now the guys do too," Varvatos says.

3. A nice pair of boots
"Whether it’s a simple boot that you can wear with a suit or a pair of jeans, it’s kind of a staple thing," Varvatos says. "We have a big shoe business, and I would say boots are 70 percent of that. They’re not all tough-looking boots; some are elegant."

If you’re not into boots, look for a pair of lace-ups or a cool set of sneakers. "I remembered when I started the company 15 years ago, someone said, 'Wow, you really have a big shoe collection,'" Varvatos says.

"Shoes are the one thing that guys can make a statement in. Today, guys have closets full of shoes. And closets full of sneakers. It’s really changed."

4. A hip motorcycle jacket
Varvatos believes every man should own some type of leather jacket. "It doesn’t have to be all belted and zippered and all that kind of thing," he says. "Just a cool leather jacket.

"I have one that I got in high school that I still wear. It actually fits me better [now], because back then I probably bought it a little big. It’s so beat up now, but it’s the one possession that, if my place were on fire, I’d want to get it out."

5. A white shirt
A white shirt works, particularly for busy travelers, because it goes with just about everything. "If you have a dark suit and a pair of jeans, and you have that white shirt and the boots, you can really mix and match a bit," he says.

"They’re pretty simple. It’s not that complicated."