If you pay even the tiniest attention to men’s fashion in American popular culture, you’ll notice a lot of hype around more trend-forward styles.
The fits—currently, as I write this—are extra loose and baggy. The styles themselves are edgier, more avant garde, with interesting (and weird) proportions and silhouettes.
I personally don’t dress in a very fashion-forward, trendy way. And if you read Effortless Gent with some regularity, I’m pretty sure you don’t either.
So today, I’m making the argument that “boring” clothes are best. Classic, more traditional silhouettes, shapes, and fits are what you should be aiming for.
And I’ll tell you why.
Why should you wear boring clothes?
First off, I have to clarify: there’s nothing wrong with trendiness or fashion-forward clothing. It’s not “good” or “bad”. Fashion trends (and the people who wear them) are what make style interesting. I partake in and have fun with some, and ignore the ones that don’t work for me.
Being “into fashion” or “trendy” isn’t an on / off switch (i.e. “I’m only classic,” or “I’m only trendy”), it’s more of a sliding scale, or a volume knob. You can turn up the dial as much or as little as you like.
But this article isn’t about fashion trends. It’s about the opposite, actually. Why you should wear BORING clothes!
What exactly are “boring” clothes, and why am I recommending them so much?
Let’s get into the details.
1. Boring Clothes = A Good Base Wardrobe
Having a “boring” wardrobe—a closet filled with classic styles, basic pieces, and menswear essentials… a Lean Wardrobe, as we call it here on EG—is the perfect base to build from. Or, you could have just the Lean Wardrobe on its own and be totally fine!
When you have the basics and essential pieces in classic cuts and silhouettes, you lengthen the relevance of your wardrobe. A good example of this is the Levi’s 501 jean. It was popularized in, what, the 1950s? And it’s still very relevant today.
Sticking with the classics for your base wardrobe is always a good idea, if your goal is to have a closet filled with clothing you can wear today, and in a decade.
2. Boring Clothes Are Appropriate Most Places You Go
With a Lean Wardrobe and a smart casual style, you can go anywhere and not feel out of place. If you’re taking a walk around the neighborhood, grabbing groceries, meeting friends for lunch, or heading into the office (most offices nowadays, at least), no one will bat an eye at your outfit.
And that’s a good thing. You don’t always want to stand out in those situations. But if there’s ever a situation where you do want to peacock a little, you can. Having a good base to build on (see #1) allows for this.
3. Boring Clothes Look Great On Guys Of All Ages
A sharp pair of straight leg denim and an OCBD
There aren’t any trendy, fashion-forward styles that age well. One, because trends move so fast, and two, most experimental looks are for the young.
Something Justin Bieber would wear probably won’t look great on your grandpa (unless you’re Streetwear Gramps).
But, with boring clothes, you don’t have to worry about that.
As a younger dude, having a boring base wardrobe allows you the freedom to experiment with more trendy pieces. Just layer them in with your standard stuff, and you won’t be going full-tilt on your trends. Easy does it.
And as an older dude, you won’t look stale or out of style. You’ll have a classic aesthetic, current and modern. Everyone will just think, “Man, that guy is dressed so well.”
4. Boring Clothes Are Easy To Dress Up And Down
A closet full of boring smart casual clothes gives for the most versatility. Whether you’re walking your dog or heading to a cocktail party, you will have something appropriate to wear.
If you had a closet full of streetwear, or avant garde Rick Owens, or trendy Justin Bieber-approved shit, you have a limited number of places you can wear those things.
Important to note: I’m not saying you shouldn’t wear those styles, or like those clothes. You can, and should! (If you want to.)
But if you’re going for a versatile, classic style, fill your wardrobe with smart casual, “boring” pieces… and pepper in those more interesting and trend-forward items. That, coincidentally, is the easiest way to try new trends and get used to them gradually, without going full-on trendy tragedy.
5. You Can Dress Well No Matter Your Budget
This is arguably one of the most beneficial things about a Lean Wardrobe, and “boring” clothes in general. When you’re shooting for a smart casual style and a closet filled with staples, you can find them no matter your budget.
You can buy great looking stuff at Target if you’re on a budget. Or, you can go to Bergdorf Goodman for the finest versions of these classics if you have no budget at all. There will always be “boring clothes” available for your perfectly curated, smart casual Lean Wardrobe, no matter your budget.
If You Want To Be Stylish, Start With Boring Clothes
I’ve been running Effortless Gent for 12 years and this whole time, my philosophy has been the same: A Lean Wardrobe is best.
12 years ago, this slightly “dressed up”, smart casual aesthetic was on the more fashion-forward end of the spectrum (thanks in part to shows like Mad Men and stores like J.Crew). Nowadays, it’s on the safer, less exciting end of the style spectrum.
But that doesn’t mean boring style is “bad”. It doesn’t mean that trying new trends, or going towards the more fashion-forward end of the spectrum is “bad” or “good” either. It just is. If you like it, or think you might like it… try it!
If you want to dress in a more trendy way, you can.
If you want to dial it back and go for a classic smart casual everyday look, you can do that too.
But having a wardrobe that mostly consists of “boring” clothes—versatile, classic pieces in an up-to-date silhouette that fits your body well—allows you those options.
So, do you agree that boring clothes are best? Hit me up in my Instagram DMs and let me know what you think.