Ten items every man should have hanging in his closet.

Welcome to the Blake McKay Journal. We believe style is about more than just wearing the right clothes. It’s about having an awareness of what’s going on around you, but also having the confidence to blaze your own trail. Which is why every two weeks, we’ll publish a feature exploring everything from picking the right suit, how to make the perfect Aperol Spritz, to new destinations you should add to your to-do list.

This week, we look at wardrobe staples.

It's important for every man to have these ten staples in his wardrobe. Let's start this off with something classic that can be worn with anything.

1. The Oxford Shirt

A.P.C. Slim-Fit Button-Down Collar Cotton Oxford Shirt

The Oxford shirt, the backbone of any formal wardrobe. Originally made in 19th century Scottish fabric mills, the fabric was used as a long-sleeve shirt for English polo players.

Today however, its distinct texture makes it an incredibly versatile piece of clothing that can be smart or casual. Woven in a basket-weave pattern using two yarns, it gives the shirt a very subtle check that makes it an instant classic.The classic white is the most versatile but don’t be afraid to try a pale shade of blue for something extra. A.P.C. slim-fit button-down is a prime example.

2. Selvedge Jeans 

Levis Original Shrink-to-Fit™ Selvedge Jeans

There’s nothing more American than a great pair of jeans. But not all jeans were created equally. Selvedge denim is often regarded as the high-water mark for quality jeans. Most jeans on the market are non-selvedge - which isn’t necessarily a bad thing - but selvedge jeans tend to last longer and fit to your shape with time.

Manufactured using shuttle looms, the edges on these strips of fabric come finished with tightly woven bands running down each side that prevent fraying, raveling, or curling. Because the edges come out of the loom finished, denim produced on shuttle looms are referred to as having a “self-edge,” hence the name “selvedge” denim.

Japan is the leader in the manufacture of selvedge denim, Levi’s has a timeless classic.

3. The Navy Suit

Etro Blue Slim-Fit Reversible Stretch-Wool Blazer

Although many office dress codes no longer require you to wear one to work, the suit remains the ultimate sartorial investment. Black suits outside formal situations can feel a bit severe. A navy blue suit however, can fit into any situation with a few tweaks.

As we’ve outlined before in a previous post buying a suit can be daunting. But once you’ve understood the fundamentals, it’s all about finding the right shade of blue. Darker hues of navy can often be more versatile, but don’t be afraid to go lighter. Etro’s Blue Slim-Fit blazer is an excellent example.

4. The Trenchcoat

The Brighton Extra-long Car Coat from Burberry

Originally created as an alternative to the heavy serge greatcoats French and British soldiers wore during the First World War, the trench was designed to be lightweight, durable and versatile, thanks to the collection of pockets and attachments for maps and other military paraphernalia.

Today however, the coat has left the battlefield and become an essential part of a modern man’s entourage. Two British luxury clothing manufacturers, Burberry and Aquascutum, claim to have invented the coat. Both continue to make the coat today, and can be worn casually with a t-shirt, or as an overcoat to a business meeting.

5. The Derby Shoe

Blake Mckay Plain Toe Derby

The derby shoe goes by many names. In the UK it’s commonly referred to as a Gibson, and in the US, some call it a Blucher. No matter the label, it’s a style of shoe characterized by distinctive side panels or ‘quarters’ with the show holes cut into the top.

First used by the sporting and hunting crowd in the 1850s thanks to its lightweight and durable construction, it became just as suitable for men about town in the 20th century. Its enduring silhouette makes it adaptable to almost any situation - unlike an Oxford which leans towards the formal - allowing it to be worn with jeans, chinos or a suit with ease. Our very own plain toe derby is a fine example.

6. The Everyday Bag

Barbour Men's Prestbury Holdall Bag

The everyday bag is best described as something that is as versatile as you are. It can be used to stuff your gym kit in, carry your laptop, and ease you into the evening with style. It’s not a rucksack, it’s not a briefcase and it’s not a gym bag. It’s all three.

They come in a number of styles, but we prefer the holdall style bag as it’s the most versatile. Barbour, the iconic British men’s brand’s Prestbury bag made from waxed cotton keeps it light but durable, while the optional shoulder strap allows you to switch things up and turn it into an overnight bag if necessary.

7. The Pea Coat

Officine Generale Melton Wool-Blend Peacoat

While the trench coat was created as a lightweight overcoat for inclement weather, the pea coat was designed to keep seaman warm on the harshest of seas.

Characterized by short length broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, big pockets and oversized buttons, it’s a classic for anyone’s winter wardrobe. Historical versions were made with heavy-weight wool (30 ounces) while modern versions have lightened the weight of the fabric to make it more versatile for different body shapes.

Officine Generale’s wool-blend pea coat stays faithful to the original, while adding modern touches like the shearling collar and slimmer silhouette.

8. The Crewneck T-Shirt

Supima Cotton Crewneck Short Sleeve T-Shirt

Another thoroughly American staple, the T-shirt has made its way from proletariat uniform to everyday classic. Originally developed as an undergarment for football players to prevent chafing from the shoulder pads, the US Navy saw its versatility and brought into service use.

Thanks to those rugged origins, the crewneck, with its high fitted neckline, looks great on just about anyone and can be paired with a blazer, open shirt, or sweater with ease. Our favorites made by Japanese brand Uniqlo, who take a no-nonsense approach to this classic cut, is a great place to start.

9. Gray Crewneck Sweater

Everlane Cashmere Crewneck Sweater

We all have sweaters. Heck we probably have one or two gray crewneck sweaters. But what we’re talking about is a sweater that slides in between styles and still manages to look good. 

A fine gauge sweater is the perfect in-between layer for when it’s not cold enough for a jacket but not warm enough for one layer. It’s a thin layer, that lets heat move through the material easily without leaving you cold.

While many are made from wool, we insist you go for a cashmere version. Why? It’s better at regulating body temperature than wool, it can be spun finer giving it an incredible soft finish, and it just screams quality. Everlane’s $100 Cashmere Crew is an essential.

10. The Plain White Sneaker

Blake Mckay S1 Luxe Sneaker

You thought we missed these out didn’t you? Well, the purpose of this list is to build a solid base for all your other choices to build on, and the plain white sneaker is one of those foundations.

Simple, versatile, and designed to look better with age. While Converse has dominated this space with its iconic Chuck Taylor sneakers, there are more refined versions out there that we’d recommend. One would be our very own S1 Luxe sneakerEqual parts dressy and sporty, these sleek leather sneakers help refine your off-duty style and will look good with anything.

No matter what you choose to hang in your wardrobe, having the right footwear is an absolute must for the modern man. Which is why Blake McKay only selects the best shoes from around the world to make wearing the right footwear effortless.