Men's Fashion: 3 Classic Items for Nearly Any Occasion
This men’s fashion article is for guys of all ages, and the women who shop for them. It features three separate items that not only work individually, but look great paired together. Better yet, these three items don’t just work on boys ages two to twenty, but on dads and grandfathers as well.
This post began nearly six years ago, during an encounter I had with a grandmother at a thrift store in Arizona. We were shopping the racks standing next to each other, when she asked me where I thought she could find dress slacks for her grandson that would match the excellent-condition navy blazer she had just found for him to wear at an event where he would need to be on stage and looking sharp.
I took one look at the blazer and was reminded of an outfit I’d seen at various airports on my way home from a recent business trip to the Middle East. Navy blazer. Pleated, khaki pants. Plain-toe oxford dress shoes. My answer was simple and immediate. “Go to Target.” Why? I knew, having reviewed their flyer that very morning that they were having a sale on tan casual dress pants in both the men’s and boys’ departments. For ten bucks, I told her, she could have the remaining item she needed.
Over the years, I’ve paid attention to just how many times I’ve seen this particular men’s dress uniform in use. It’s universal and worn by men from a variety of income levels, albeit with an equal variety of price tags. I’ve seen it in airports, country clubs, dinner parties, and business meetings. As I recall, even Matt Damon’s character in The Talented Mr. Ripley used the navy-blazer-from-a-thrift-store trick to land a paid piano-playing gig at the garden club style event that launched his long-term double life.
Having to replace an entire suit to keep up with pant wear and tear and the latest styles can get expensive. Factor in rapidly growing little boys needing dress outfits for various events, and things get even pricier. This outfit’s been in style for as long as I can remember, and likely will be for years to come. Bonus? Each of these classic men’s fashion items is a power house multi-tasker in its own right.
Navy blazer or sport coat
In addition to looking fantastic with a pair of pleated khaki dress trousers and dress shirt of choice, a classic navy blazer looks nice with other colors of dress pants as well. For boys, it doesn’t need to be worn that often, making it a great item to hand down to younger brothers. You also don’t need to waste time shopping when your oldest boy needs a new one. Just go for the same brand and style in his current size to keep the stair-step fashion grooving frugally on the home front. For men full-grown, this classic piece is a great investment, and can hang in your closet for years as a go-to item. My husband is coming towards the end of his online science teaching degree, and needs something to wear to interviews that is not a military dress uniform. Guess what we’re shopping for?
We’d previously narrowed it down to a wrinkle-resistant navy jacket from Travel Smith for just under two hundred bucks. However, I noticed that Amazon now has Ralph Lauren navy blazers (normally close to four hundred dollars) for an even better price.
Pleated khaki dress pants
I’ve seen some rather popular brand name men’s slacks at the warehouse store, which is where we just stocked up the hubster recently, along with a Van Heusen dress shirt or two to round out a limited, but well-chosen professional wardrobe. These Haggar brand pants on Amazon are also an affordable way to go, particularly for an outfit you’ll only need to pull out from time to time. Just make sure you select one of the tan shades, if you’re going for this particular look.
For moms with little men of school age at home, boys khakis are generally affordable, even when they’re not on sale. These too can be handed down when the time comes and still be in excellent condition. (This post from Linsey Knerl has tips on getting the best deal at Target, where I've seen these types of pants go on sale repeatedly for a great price.)
Plain-toe oxford dress shoes
At the risk of being accused of pushing a particular brand, I really can’t say enough about Timberlands. My husband bought a pair of these just before we met, and they are still going strong as we start our eleventh year of marriage. They are one of only two pairs of civilian dress shoes he owns, the other being a nice black leather pair we picked up in Italy. His happen to be brown leather, but if you want to stick to only one pair of dress shoes, you could get them in black. They are not a shiny shoe, but are of good quality leather and go the distance with durability and cushioning. I don’t believe they make his exact style anymore, but here is a similar pair I found on Endless.com. Many of their shoes fall into the “rugged outdoorsy” category, but they have several plain-toe oxfords that would do the trick for this outfit, and work with many other ensembles as well. Bonus? Many of their styles come with great tread. Something those who live in northern locations with icy driveways need to worry about.
This is a great classic outfit for all men to have in their closet, particularly if most of their time is not spent in a suit. It looks nice, let’s people know you “get” the unspoken rules of the big money network without emptying your bank account (see this “fake it till you make it” post for ideas on thrift where it doesn’t show), and is a stylish look for any generation.
Do you have another favorite look when it comes to affordable men’s fashion? How about a favorite brand of any of the items mentioned in this article that you feel represents a good buy for the money? As always, you have an open invitation to share the love in the comment section below.
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