You’ve heard the term “everyday carry” before, right?
Essentially, it’s a small set of items one carries on a consistent basis. Usually, it’s the stuff we put in our pockets or in a bag, items that are with us whenever we leave the house.
Most refer to it as an EDC. Mine would typically be my watch, bracelet, wedding ring, keys, phone, wallet, and sunglasses. Other folks may carry a comb, a lighter, a pen, or even a pocket knife.
While there’s no one standard EDC for every person, there are a few things most, if not all, of us carry, such as a wallet or card holder, keys, and a phone. The other necessities can differ depending on the individual.
The best part of an EDC is its predictability and consistency. I keep all my things on a tray by the front door so I never forget them when I’m leaving the house. I also never have to think, “What do I need to bring with me today,” since it’s always the same set of items.
What if we adapted this concept to our whole wardrobe?
What set of clothes can you return to day in and day out, knowing you’ll always pick a great outfit without having to think too hard? How can you adapt a standard set of clothes to reflect your taste and personality, while still having it be flexible and classic?
This is the essence of a Lean Wardrobe, and while we won’t get too deep into that today, I wanted to list 12 things I consider part of a well-rounded closet.
See how this matches up to your wardrobe, and identify which items you may or may not consider a necessity.
Loafers (or Slip-Ons)
I always prefer a loafer over a lace-up for any casual, business-casual, or formal/casual look. It’s on point with jeans and chinos, and can easily be worn with a mid grey suit.
Because of this, it’s the quintessential “dress shoe” that you should at least consider, if not buy right away (assuming you don’t already have a pair).
Loafers by Allen Edmonds
Even if your lifestyle or occupation doesn’t require you to wear suits daily, and you don’t wear them for fun, you still need a suit… sorry to break it to you. Consider the occasional formal gathering you’re bound to be invited to (funeral, wedding, fancy dinner) and you’ll be glad you have one in your closet.
Lucky for you, it’s simple to be prepared. Pick up a mid-grey, two button, single-breasted, double-vented suit in an all-season wool, hit up your tailor, and you’re all set.
Ludlow Traveler Suit by J.Crew
Cotton Linen Sport coat
Whenever I travel, I always take a blazer or sport coat with me, and unless it’s the dead of winter, I bring my navy linen cotton sport coat. That way, I can quickly dress up jeans and a sport shirt (or whatever I happen to be wearing that day.)
This one happens to be unlined and unstructured, incredibly comfortable, and easy to wear.
Cotton sport coat from SuitSupply
When I find a brand that works for me, I stick with it, because I don’t like to waste time figuring out what else may or may not fit. For denim, I’m a Levi’s guy, and I know I can wear their slim straight or straight tapered fits.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be experimental when you’re feeling up to it. The other day, I tried on a pair of denim from Mott & Bow, and they were incredibly comfortable. I felt like I was wearing lounge pants.
They were made from a lighter-weight denim and had a bit of stretch, and for a second, I questioned why it took me so long to find something similar.
Denim from Mott & Bow
The white oxford cloth button down is the workhorse in your closet.
Wear it untucked with denim and you have your minimal casual getup; tuck it in with chinos and a blazer, and you have something slightly more polished. Wear it with shorts and a T-shirt, and you’re ready for the park or the beach.
It goes with everything and fits in practically anywhere.
White OCBD from Uniqlo
Classic white sneakers
We’ve mentioned the basic canvas sneaker before, and while that’s still a top choice, consider a pair or two in leather for a more polished look and feel.
White leather sneakers by Converse Jack Purcell
Charcoal sweater or gray sweatshirt
I’d consider the gray sweater / sweatshirt another closet workhorse, similar to the white OCBD. Not only can it be worn in a variety of situations, it also provides another layer of warmth.
A merino V-neck will lean more formal, while a baseball-style sweatshirt will be more casual. Grab one of each. I tend to bring one on the plane when I travel, since you can’t always control how cold the cabin is.
A pea coat is the perfect transitional outerwear piece from fall to winter. If you experience cold winters, you may need something more substantial eventually, like a parka, but until then, a pea coat should do the trick.
Grab one in navy or charcoal. I’ve had my navy one for 6 or 7 years now, and last winter, I had to replace all the pocket bags since they were falling apart. That cost me a pretty penny, but relative to how long the coat has lasted (and continues to last), it’s a minor investment.
Pea coat by Schott
I’ve carried a navy canvas rucksack for a few years now. I take it everywhere, from neighborhood coffee shops to cross-country trips.
It’s simple, handsome, and easy to carry, plus it fits all your essentials (and more).
Rucksack by Archival Clothing
I wear the same belt almost every day, a Tanner Goods belt in saddle tan. I also wear a lot of tan-colored shoes, so it makes sense most of the time.
I have others, but I default to this one. You may be the same way. Buy one solid belt and beat the crap out of it; no one’s gonna fault you for doing so.
If you like variety, that’s fine, but there’s a good chance you’ll have that one favorite you always go back to. Make sure it’s durable and of high quality.
Standard Belt by Tanner Goods
Pedag Deo-Fresh insoles
These are my favorite alternative to no-show socks, and I’ve discussed both before. You can go with either solution, and what works best depends on how much you sweat.
Some people need the full sock, and others can use insoles such as these and it’s the perfect solution. Test both and see what work for you.
Insoles by Pedag
You know how parents tuck their kids into bed at night? Your shoes need that same love and care, and shoe trees are like their blankies.
Aficionados like having one for each pair of shoes, but if you’re more minimalist, you really only need one pair.
Place them in each shoe after a long day of walking around. This will help preserve the shape, minimize creasing, and absorb the moisture from your feet. When you get home the following evening, take them out of the shoes they were in, and place them in the ones you just stepped out of.
Shoe trees by Allen Edmonds
Thanks to our friends at Men’s Style Lab for bringing this post to life. I spoke to a stylist there and they sent me an at-home try-on box full of clothes, and I was super impressed… both with the quality and brand of clothing they chose for me, and accuracy of the sizing (even for brands I normally skip because of previously unsuccessful attempts at nailing down my size.)
If you’re still on the hunt for a few (or all) of these wardrobe necessities, why not see if Men’s Style Lab can help out? Give it a try and use promo code EFFORTLESSGENT25 for $25 OFF your first box (expires 9/30/2015).
What are your wardrobe necessities? Similar to these? Got a few to add? Let’s hear it in the comments below!