47 Men’s Wardrobe Essentials Every Guy Should Own in 2024

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When it comes to getting dressed, we tend to rhapsodize about the virtues of “men’s wardrobe essentials” as if everyone knows what we mean. Sure, they’re marginally more complicated than the type of “essentials” you need to function on a regular basis: keys, wallet, phone, charger. Forget those and you’ll have a miserable day. But the clothes we’re talking about here are just as fundamental, in their own way; in aggregate, they constitute the foundation of a rock-solid men’s basic wardrobe.

If you’re looking for the just-arrived-on-Earth necessities, we’d point you to five or six categories almost useless in their abstraction: underwear, socks, shirts, pants, shoes, maybe a jacket depending on where you call home. So in lieu of that nonsense, we took the mandate to its logical extreme, pulling together a highly specific starter pack of everything you’ll want—nay, need—to wear in the year of our lord 2024. (Unless you happen to be a regular on the black-tie-gala circuit; you’ll need a separate guide to navigate those.)


Table of Contents

The Men’s Wardrobe Essentials Hit List

  • The Plain White Tee(s): Lady White Co. Our T-Shirts (2-Pack), $110
  • The Go-To Jeans: Levi’s 501 ’54 Original Fit Jeans, $118
  • The Leather Jacket: Buck Mason Bruiser PCH Jacket, $598
  • The Trusty Canvas Sneakers: Chuck Taylor All Star 70 Sneakers, $85
  • The Cinematic Trench: Percival Waterproof Auxiliary Sherlock Coat, $360
  • The A-List Knit Polo: Abercrombie & Fitch Crochet-Style Sweater Polo, $90
  • The Throwback Chinos: J.Crew Giant-Fit Chino Pants, $98
  • The Hard-Working, Easy-Wearing Coat: Le Mont St Michel Work Jacket, $275
  • The Foul-Weather Boots: Blundstone Classic 500 Chelsea Boots, $210
  • The Double-Duty Swim Trunks: Bather Ash Tidal Current Swim Trunks, $100
  • The Denim Shirt: Levi’s Western Shirt, $70
  • The Yacht-Lolling Shorts: Todd Snyder Office Shorts, $148
  • The Movie-Star Shades: Warby Parker Bowley Sunglasses, $175
  • The Striped Button-Up: Mfpen Generous Striped Shirt, $250
  • The Sporty Steel Ticker: Bulova Jet Star Watch, $695
  • The Razor-Sharp Navy Blazer: Reiss Double-Breasted Cotton-Blend Blazer, $515
  • The Go-With-Everything Loafers: G.H. Bass & Co. Weejuns Penny Loafers, $195

The Plain White T-Shirt

A plain white T-shirt can be worn as an undershirt, standalone with some vintage jeans, or—if you want to get DIY—screen-printed into a work of art. Looking for an indie version no one else has? Check out our guide to the best white tees.

Gildan

Gildan T-Shirt (2-Pack)

Lady White Co.

Our T-Shirts (2-Pack)

The Upgrade Undies

Slim, abbreviated trunks or boxer briefs that keep everything in place are the foundation of every rock-solid wardrobe. Luckily, the folks at Calvin Klein have perfected them, so all you have to do is start buying these in bulk.

Calvin Klein

Cotton Stretch Boxer Briefs (3-Pack)

CDLP

Boxer Briefs (3-Pack)

The Go-To Jeans

There’s a reason that the Levi’s 501s is at the very top of our guide to the best men’s jeans: it has been, is, and always will be the jeans you come back to again (and again, and again). If you dig your denim light and a little retro, though, Buck Mason’s is a close second. Can’t think of what to wear? Here’s your answer, seven days a week.

Levi’s

501 ’54 Original Fit Jeans

Buck Mason

Japanese Loomstate Selvedge Full Saddle Jeans

The Sporty Steel Ticker

Not ready to take the plunge on a serious diver from Rolex or Omega? You’re in luck: Seiko’s much-heralded 5 series gives you everything you could want in a dive watch—an automatic movement, a day-date display, water resistance, and a near-indestructible case—at a price that won’t require a second mortgage. (If you’ve got a few more dollars to play around with, Bulova is no slouch, either.)

Seiko

Seiko 5 SRPK29 Sports Watch

The Classic White Crew Socks

Plenty of high-energy socks were born to peek out from under a pant cuff (or from the back of a mule), but a crisp white pair looks unimpeachable wherever they’re doing their noble work.

Nike

Everyday Cushioned Dri-FIT Socks (6-Pack)

The Trusty Canvas Beaters

We get that canvas sneakers aren’t exactly the type of kicks you lust after on StockX, but there’s no denying the rush of dopamine you get when you break out a fresh pair. Pristine. Gleaming. Scuff-free. And that new sneaker smell! Sure, there’s a little sadness when you thank your old, roughed-up kicks for their long and distinguished service and set them free. They delivered hundreds of wears; held down hundreds of fits. At less than a Benjamin for the platonic version, though—that’d be the Converse Chuck Taylor, a mainstay of our sneakers coverage, since, uh, always—don’t lose too much sleep over replacing your previous pair. And when you’re ready to upgrade, swap the Chucks for Buck Mason’s revamped deck shoe, made in conjunction with the cult-loved sneaker gurus at Japanese brand Moonstar.

Converse

Chuck Taylor All Star 70 Low-Top Sneaker

Buck Mason

Herringbone Moonstar Deck Shoe

The Do-It-All Navy Blazer

The navy blazer is the Swiss Army Knife of tailoring: it works in almost any situation, from job interviews (with a tie) to weddings (someone else’s or your own). Bonus points if you opt for a double-breasted number with strong shoulders, brash peak lapels, and an unmistakable sense of what Italians—and menswear guys—call sprezzatura.

Reiss

Double-Breasted Cotton-Blend Blazer

Loro Piana

Milano Double-Breasted Brushed Cashmere Blazer

The White Oxford Shirt

No button-down works harder than a stark white Oxford shirt. A truly great one, like Gitman Vintage’s throwback joint, only gets better with each wear as the sturdy cotton begins to soften.

Gitman Vintage

Classic American Vintage Slim Oxford Shirt

Thom Browne

Logo-Appliquéd Cotton Oxford Shirt

The Yee-Haw Belt

Belts are often an afterthought, bu they really shouldn’t be. So don’t waist (sorry) the opportunity. Much like cowboy boots, the western belt is riding high right now—hop in the saddle, and don’t get hung up on wearing it with blue jeans.

Madewell

Leather Western Belt

Anderson’s

Anderson’s Suede Western Belt

The Bigger-Is-Better Chinos

As far as chinos go, we’re have enough of the slim-fits. We’re all for going wide and pleated, but these both present a happy-ish medium if you’re still escaping the clutches of those target-marketed joints.

J.Crew

Giant-Fit Chino Pants

The Go-With-Everything Loafers

The right loafers can be casual, dressy, even messy. Their versatility can’t be understated. Wear ’em with socks or without, and count yourself lucky when they get truly worn in—then keep wearing them.

G.H. Bass & Co.

Weejuns Heritage Larson Leather Penny Loafers

Gucci

Gucci Roos Bit Loafers

The Upper Body-Positive Tank

Take it from the admirals of the A-shirt, Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber—a clean white tank is the easiest way to look hot in hot weather. Pair it with a purposely unbuttoned shirt, and you’ve got a go-to beach vacation outfit.

Calvin Klein

Cotton Classic Tank Tops (3-Pack)

CDLP

Rib Tank Tops (2-Pack)

The Sporty Ball Cap

In 2019, GQ style editor Yang-Yi Goh broke the biggest story in millinery since this Bruno Mars spread: everyone at GQ HQ was obsessed with a nondescript Nike tennis hat. Chalk it up to Challengers mania or tennis’ fashion-pilled crop of new stars, but that hat’s smaller brim, sleeker finishes, and sportier bent look spot-on again. Even the Italian fabric maestros at Loro Piana are getting in on the action: Their signature wooly baseball caps—New Era snapbacks for the .01%—now come done up in a lightweight waterproof fabric, and in a range of discreet hues. Time to give that musty trucker a break.

Nike

Nike Dri-FIT ADV Fly Reflective Cap

Loro Piana

Logo-Embroidered Storm System Shell Baseball Cap

The Throwback Sweats

Sweatpants should be cozy, sure, but the best of the genre are so much more than mere lazy-Sunday garb. Spring for a pair that oozes Rocky-level charm, and they’ll become the bed-to-bodega bottoms you can’t stop wearing outside of the house, too.

Trumbull

Vintage Wash Classic Sweatpants

Ghiaia Cashmere

Tapered Cashmere Sweatpants

The Red-Hot Sneakers

Who knew that the humble and comfy walking sneaker would become a hot-ticket item? Despite the unrelenting push for futuristic kicks, the retro dad sneaker has stood its ground, going from under-appreciated to ubiquitous (see also: Birkenstock and Uggs). Who says you have to suffer for fashion?

Nike

Zoom Vomero 5 Sneakers

The Impenetrable Duffel

A good duffel bag needs to do only one thing: hold stuff. A great duffel bag, though, needs to check off a few more boxes. It should still carry your clothes, kicks, chargers, toiletries, and everything else in the most space-efficient, easy-to-find way possible. But it should also be designed to outlast your passport—or better yet, you—despite years of being stuffed in an overhead bin and thrown in the trunk of your car. We’ve tested hundreds of ’em over the years, and the two below offer all that and more.

Porter-Yoshida & Co.

Tanker Nylon Duffle Bag

Filson

Medium Twill 51L Duffel Bag

The Leather Jacket

Wearing a leather jacket is like eating a mushroom in Super Mario Bros: it makes you bigger, tougher, and practically unstoppable. Most leather jackets will give you the same effect, but the leather blouson, a cropped version with very few frills, is our silhouette du jour.

Buck Mason

Bruiser PCH Jacket

Our Legacy

Boxy Mini Leather Jacket

The Hearthrob Button-Up

The humble button-up shirt is back in a big way (though we’ll be the first to tell you that it never really left). Reach for one with a touch of ’90s heartthrob energy and see what the fuss is about for yourself.

Alex Mill

Ticking Stripe Mill Shirt

Mfpen

Generous Striped Seersucker-Trimmed Cotton-Poplin Shirt

The Movie-Star Shades

Contrary to popular belief, sunglasses are a year-round necessity, whether you’re basking in summertime rays or trying to block out the wintertime glare. Bonnie Clyde’s chunky, light-lensed shades will have everyone asking for your Bandcamp link.

Bonnie Clyde

Karate Sunglasses

Warby Parker

Bowley Sunglasses

The Yacht-Lolling Shorts

At a certain point every summer, we take a hard look at our swishy nylon shorts and mesh-lined swim trunks, and think to ourselves: Is this really the best we can do? What if, we continue thinking, Jeff Bezos is so taken with our Prime Day coverage he invites us to spend a carefree weekend circling the Mediterranean on his mega-yacht? We can’t show up to Ibiza in jorts! That moment of neurotic navel-gazing tends to catalyze a glorious epiphany: When it comes to shorts, we can all do better—by upgrading to a pair that feels as indebted to John-John as it does Harrison Ford in Cannes. The shorts our epiphany conjured this summer look a lot like the ones below: a couple of inches longer than you’re used to, and rendered in every shade of lightly-toasted meringue.

Polo Ralph Lauren

Distressed Garment-Dyed Denim Shorts

Todd Snyder

Officer Shorts

The Statement Jewelry

You wouldn’t press send on an important email without proofreading it first, right? An icy piece of jewelry is more efficient than Grammarly at letting you know your outfit is absolutely impeccable—and a heck of a lot more fun to play around with. (That fiery missive to your boss, on the other hand, might need a little rejiggering.)

Jaxxon

Figaro Chain Bracelet

Miansai

Cash Lapis Pearl Necklace

The Woven Sandals

Speaking of vacation: the next time you’re on one, a breezy pair of woven leather sandals are the move. Go from cabana to playa with Chris-Pine-approved huaraches, or level up your summer shoe rotation with a pair of fancified fisherman sandals.

The Hard-Working, Easy-Wearing Coat

It’s hard to think of a jacket more useful, more handsome, more versatile—heck, more all three at once—than the chore coat. These days, the original design still retains its utilitarian charm, but the hammer and nails that used to accompany it have long since been replaced by a cell phone and ear buds. Thanks to fashion’s ongoing workwear fixation, there’s never been a wider range of luxe designer versions available, but the OGs—like Le Mont St. Michel’s genre-defining joint—still set the standard.

Le Mont St Michel

French Moleskin Work Jacket

Carhartt WIP

Michigan Canvas Coat

The Swanky Dress Watch

In 2024, “dressing up” means basically whatever you want it to. Tux with a skirt? Go for it! Green velvet suit with a gingham shirt? By all means! Canadian Tuxedo as an actual tuxedo? Big mood! So as the era of the steel sports watch winds down (sorry), dress watches seem poised to dominate in their place—just not quite the way anyone expected. Plenty of GQ staffers are swapping their steely divers for dressier fare, and then pairing ‘em with faded jeans, rumpled button-ups, and all manner of dainty shoes. Which, incidentally, is exactly the approach you should take, whether you opt for Seiko’s eminently affordable riff or JLC’s legendary Reverso.

Jaeger-LeCoultre

Reverso Classic Large Duoface Watch

The Indestructible Flannel Shirt

In cooler temperatures, a reliable flannel shirt is more than a wardrobe essential: it’s a no-brainer. Most versions will be plaid, but all of them should feel substantial enough to double as a light jacket, thanks to their lightweight wool or thick cotton make.

3sixteen

Crosscut Flannel Shirt

The Hardworking Pants

Skater teens, construction workers, and no-nonsense dads agree: Dickies makes a mean pair of pants. Even if you don’t fall into any of those groups, though, you need a pair, too—if only to give your jeans a break.

Randy’s Garments

Logo-Appliquéd Cotton-Ripstop Trousers

The Sleek Black Lace-Ups

Black derbies can pull through when you need shoes for more formal occasions—and elevate a quick-and-dirty jeans-and-tee outfit. Dr. Martens is a great entry-level choice, and you’ll get a lot more mileage out of the Mono pair, which forgoes the brand’s signature yellow stitching for discreet black thread.

The Cinematic Trench

What, you didn’t have Inspector Gadget on your 2024 mood board? The propellor-hatted PI swore by the classics, but the trench coats we’re talking about here are more like heavy-duty macs: long, single-breasted, and mercifully devoid of the epaulets that used to define the silhouette. Bogart would be proud.

Percival

Waterproof Auxiliary Sherlock Coat

The Row

Flemming Cotton Trench Coat

The No-Nonsense Tie

A solid navy tie is the Switzerland of neckwear. It doesn’t go with some of the collared shirts in your closet—it goes with all of them.

Drake’s

Hand Rolled Grenadine Tie

The Razor-Sharp Black Suit

You’re going to need a black suit at some point, but don’t wait for an occasion to bust it out of its garment bag. With the right shirt and some groovy slacks, the jacket can be divorced from its other half for a raucous night out on the town. We dig the double-breasted shape of Banana Republic’s scandalously affordable riff, but we’ve got more options in our guide to black suits.

Banana Republic

Signature Italian Hopsack Double-Breasted Jacket

Banana Republic

Signature Italian Hopsack Wide-Leg Pants

The Real-Deal Handbag

Trust in Jacob Elordi, gender-construct destroyer and handbag evangelist. A great tote—a decided upgrade from the canvas free-with-subscription joint—takes a going-out outfit to 11, while also sparing your pockets an unsightly phone bulge.

Banana Republic

Millers Nylon Tote Bag

Bottega Veneta

Medium Andiamo Bag

The Statement Cardigan

A delightfully fuzzy cardigan will keep you looking sharp (and feeling cozy) sans the constraints of a blazer. Opt for a funky print or stick with staple neutral tones, and watch it become the Most Valuable Layer in your closet.

Beams Plus

Striped Cotton Cardigan

Corridor

Hand Crochet Pima Cotton Cardigan

The Pared-Down, Party-Ready Camp Shirt

Sure, it’s a long-held truism around these parts that camp shirts make any ol’ day feel like vacation. But when every guy at the park hang is wearing a bright, brash riff on the silhouette—all psychedelic prints and woozy graphics—wouldn’t you rather be the dude having just as much fun in a much subtler alternative? Don’t sweat the details: The cool-again prepsters at J.Crew (to say nothing of their West Coast counterparts at Buck Mason) have you covered in superlative fashion.

J.Crew

Short-Sleeve Textured Cotton Camp-Collar Shirt

Buck Mason

Draped Linen Camp Shirt

The Double-Duty Swim Trunks

You don’t need to go swimming in swim trunks just to wear ’em. In fact, swim trunks should serve dual functions, since you probably won’t find yourself near a body of water all that often. Bather remains a GQ favorite—we’ve put the Canadian swimsuit brand in everything from the GQ Box to our first-annual GQ Recommends All-Star line-up of the best…everything.

Patagonia

5″ Baggies Shorts

Bather

Ash Tidal Current Swim Trunks

The Back-Saving Wallet

If you elicit gasps at the dinner table when you haul out your behemoth of a billfold (and it’s not because your friends are jerks who think you never pick up the tab), it’s probably time to trade in for a newer, fresher model. So ditch that overstuffed, Constanza-sized number indefinitely: A good wallet should give you a blissful feeling of organization every day of your life, when you head out into the world unencumbered by all the needless junk polluting your pockets.

Bottega Veneta

Intrecciato Zippered Card Holder

The Bodega-Run Slides

We could give you a million reasons Birkenstock’s flagship slip-on deserves to see so much more of the world than the litter-strewn street that separates your apartment from the corner store. (In fact, we have!) But if you’re still not convinced, try Marni’s gloriously shaggy spin out for size. We have a nagging suspicion you’ll never look at a humble knockabout clog the same way again.

Birkenstock

Soft Boston Clog

Marni

Fussbett Sabot Loafers

The A-List Knit Polo

Hybrid design is a tricky proposition (see: zip-off cargo pants), but knit polos are the exception to the rule. How, exactly, do they manage to pull it off? Simple: by combining the telltale elements of two reliable menswear stalwarts—the sweater and the polo—and ensuring that 1+1 really does equal 3. Don’t take our word for it: Take it from any number of buzzy A-listers who swear by the style—especially when it’s way cheaper than it should be.

Abercrombie & Fitch

Crochet-Style Button-Through Sweater Polo

Banana Republic

Cotton-Linen Resort Shirt

The Steezy Geezer Shoes

If there’s one thing your grandpa has figured out, other than how to fill a 401k, it’s shoes. Chief among the list of AARP-approved, fashion-beloved kicks is Paraboot’s Michael and Kleman’s Padror. Why not dress for a future where you’re older, wiser, and most importantly, swaggier.

Kleman

Padror VV Suede Derby

Paraboot

Michael Leather Derby

The All-Day, Everyday Hoodie

Reigning Champ’s best-in-class sweatshirts have the stamina to take you from a coffee run to casual Friday at the office (just put it under one of those chore coats we’re always telling you about). Visvim’s vintage-inflected version, on the other hand, look so damn good you’ll want to make it the showstopper.

Reigning Champ

Midweight Terry Classic Hoodie

Visvim

Jumbo Distressed Oversize Cotton Fleece Hoodie

The PR-Crushing Workout Shorts

Speaking of taking care of yourself: Exercise! It’s good for you. A pair of stylish workout shorts that can perform whether you’re on the treadmill, at the squat rack, or in tree pose are an absolute must. Here’s two we’ve vetted, tested, and thoroughly sweated through.

Lululemon

License to Train Linerless Shorts

Satisfy Running

Distance 8″ Shorts

The Boss-Level Topcoat

There’s no clothing item more dramatic than a long coat. And while trench coats are a great look year-round, a thick woolen topcoat shines in the fall and winter. You may not be starring in any blockbusters coming up soon, but, boy, will you look like you’re ready to.

Madewell

Double-Breasted Topcoat

Fear of God

Double-Breasted Wool Overcoat

The Fuzzy Fleece Zip-Up

Second only to a hug from mom on the “cozy warmth” meter is zipping on a great fleece jacket. Need we say more?

Abercrombie & Fitch

Pattern Sherpa Full-Zip Jacket

Kapital

Ashland Printed Fleece Zip-Up Sweatshirt

The Denim Shirt

Like a great pair of blue jeans, a classic denim shirt works with just about every outfit. On those mornings when you can’t figure out what to wear, pull one out and you’ll be miles ahead of the sleepy guys on the block.

Levi’s

Classic Western Shirt

RRL

Lot-93 Denim Work Shirt

The Dome-Swaddling Beanie

Having determined the threshold for beanie weather, you can move on to truly important matters: buying the best beanies to wear during beanie weather. The right one is the gloriously simple, cozy accessory that keeps your head warm (depending on how you choose to wear it) and your fits topped-off. Not all of them are created equal, and most GQ editors own a whole stack’s worth—soft cashmere for a buzzcut head, maybe, or a freaked-out version to offset the mid-winter blahs. Either of the below will never steer you wrong.

Industry of All Nations

Alpaca Beanie

The Retro Puffer

We love that iconic North Face puffer as much as the next guy (you know the one we’re talking about). But don’t let its objectively perfect design distract you from the avalanche of stellar, lesser-known alternatives on the market.

Buck Mason

Down Expedition Jacket

Visvim

Ulmer Quilted Wool and Linen-Blend Down Jacket

The Around-the-Clock Trousers

When your dress pants are this good—roomy and comfortable, statement-making but versatile—there’s no sense in saving them for special occasions. Wear them all the time, with anything, the way you would your jeans.

Abercrombie & Fitch

Baggy Trouser

Auralee

Cotton and Linen-Blend Twill Trousers

The Boots That Make Bad Weather Look Good

By now, you’re probably getting the idea that the name of the game here is versatility. While you don’t have to opt for Chelsea boots, the right pair will be able to withstand the elements—and any sideways glances from your office nemesis. Call it a funny case of fashion kismet or chalk it up to Australia’s topsy-turvy climate turbulence, but two of our all-time favorite versions hail from down under. Buy ‘em both and you’ll always be set, whether you swear by paint-splattered work pants or knife-sharp dress trousers.

Blundstone

Classic 500 Chelsea Boot

R.M.Williams

Classic RM Leather Chelsea Boots

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