Taking the lead from legendary stylist Joe McKenna, the below six items are all any guy needs to satisfy style — no matter the occasion.

TEXT: ADAM BRYCE

I once heard a quote from Yohji Yamamoto who said, “the last thing you want as a man is to be noticed for what you’re wearing”. I often think of that notion and while it might be a little old-fashioned in its gender stereotyping, I can see where the legendary designer was coming from. There’s something to be said about being understated, a sense of humility and genuine confidence that comes with it.

Comedian, David Mitchell, explains his style philosophy

The notion also lends itself well to the idea of having a ‘uniform’. Something of which there are definite benefits of; it makes getting dressed easier, you spend less money on clothes, you can be consistently on brand and it gives you the confidence of knowing you always look your best.

Over the years, I’ve often been asked who I think is the best-dressed man — my answer has always been Joe McKenna. The legendary stylist is known for his dedication to his ‘uniform’, in fact, so recognisable that supermodel Stella Tennant wore McKenna’s own clothes on the cover of Self Service magazine — the Joe McKenna issue.

So, what makes up Joe McKenna’s wardrobe of staples?


Straight leg jeans — black or raw selvedge denim only

There’s a reason people say you get what you pay for and jeans are a prime example. It’s well worth investing in denim but remember the following rules:

  • Only ever buy black denim or raw indigo denim and never wear pre-washed or worn denim. Jeans are made to be worn by you, there’s nothing better than having worn in a pair of jeans to fit your own body.

  • Always buy straight leg. Brands are constantly trying to add new cuts of denim but, to put it simply, there was nothing wrong in the first place.

Jean Standard by A.P.C.

Classic long-sleeve shirt

Make sure you get the fit right. If you find one that fits you well, stick with it, but the option to have something made to measure is worth the spend.

  • Choose pre-washed cotton. It needs to feel soft and breathe well.

  • Like jeans, brands will constantly try to sell you their new slim-cut shirt but keep it classic. Guys with bigger frames can wear the shirt untucked, slimmer guys might want to tuck the shirt in.

American Pima Cotton Oxford Shirt by J.Crew

Crewneck sweater

When buying a ‘uniform’, it’s imperative to invest in quality. After all, the cost per wear will be well worth it in the long run.

  • Crewneck. It should always be a crewneck.

  • 100% Cashmere is a great option but a cotton mix isn’t a bad thing either, especially for the warmer months.

Everyday Cashmere Crewneck Sweater by J.Crew

Sneakers

This is a tricky one but it’s best to keep it simple. There’s nothing worse than your shoes lighting up a room.

  • Opt for grey, white or black. Personally, I prefer an all-black sneaker.

  • Don’t be afraid to spend money; they need to feel good. Comfort is at the core of the shoe.

Made in the US 993 Sneakers by New Balance / Air Max 90 Sneakers by Nike

Derby shoe

Even in 2020, sneakers aren’t always appropriate. Every guy needs a dress shoe in his wardrobe and, again, like much of the sentiment of this guide — keep it simple. A classic black derby shoe is the only option here.

  • No loafers, no boots and nothing veering off the theme ‘classic’.

  • Invest. If you’re feeling flush or, and as you should, want the best, look for cordovan leather.

Cordovan Plain Toe Blucher Oxford by Alden 

Cashmere/virgin wool single-breasted coat or a trench coat

This very much depends on where you live as those in the northern hemisphere will need the extra warmth a cashmere coat can provide. But, for those of us in the southern, the extra layer of a trench coat is more than enough.

  • Choose a black, grey or navy for a cashmere coat. Khaki is the best option for a trench coat.

  • It must be single-breasted. Please. You’re not in the mafia.

  • Keep it simple and classic. If someone has added extra detail, they haven’t improved the coat, just ruined a classic. 

Leonhard Coat by The Row / 2-Way Single-Breasted Coat by Uniqlo

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