Looking Good in All Dress Codes Through Simple Men’s Fashion

Do you want to be able to pull anything out of your closet and confidently know you’ll look great? Then, you’ll benefit from looking for adopting simple styles.

Source: @martialvivot

If you ever go to a formal event, you’ll notice one big thing about the way the women look versus the men. Ladies range in their dress styles, colors, and even textures and silhouettes. Meanwhile, all of the men look more or less the same.

Boring, right? 


With the magic of simple men’s fashion, you can always look good with a minimalist wardrobe. However, it’s a bit like cooking. The simpler the recipe, the higher the quality of the ingredients need to be. They’ve got nothing to hide behind.

Here are some actionable tips on how to embrace simplicity. Through this, you’ll create a fool-proof wardrobe. You’ll basically be able to sleepwalk into your closet and come out always looking put-together and grown-up.

And here’s something a lot of guys don’t realize. You can still make it your own and give it a sense of your style. Here’s how.

Simple Fashion for Men: Less Fashion, More Style

The art of style simplicity is naturally aligned with the minimalist wardrobe and trend resistance. What does this mean exactly? Here are a few rules.

1. Fit Is All Important: Balance and Proportions

If your clothes don’t flatter you, you won’t look good. Here are a few in-depth guides on the matter:

The overall priority is that your clothes have clean, non-restrictive lines. Nothing baggy, nothing skin-tight.

T-shirt fit torsoT-shirt fit torso

Within that, you can sort of choose what works for you. The key is to stick to your guns. 

I have always loved using modern royals as an example of how classicism in fit can range. No one is bound by sartorial rules more than they are.

King Charles has always worn a looser (but not baggy), higher-wasted classic fit for his suits, as boomers did and do. Meanwhile, his son, William, the Prince of Wales, a millennial, wears a slimmer (but not skinny) suit that fits with a waist closer to the hips. 

Both have perfectly structured shoulders, though, creating a balance of form. As long as you’re avoiding extremes, you can choose a fit of your preference as long as you’re consistent, proportional, and intentional-looking.

Ironically, Gen Z is more likely to wear Charles’ fit over William’s. Again, do what works for you within the classic fits, and stick to your guns.

2. Avoid Patterns, Embrace Textures (for the Most Part)

Fabrics with textures have a more organic feeling, allowing them to add dimension to outfits while still being easy to pair. That’s why a silk tie on a cotton shirt with a cashmere pullover looks so classy.

Meanwhile, denim paired with brushed or heathered cotton combines hard with soft, an impactful contrast that’s still elegantly minimal.

Winter outfit texturesWinter outfit textures

If you love a time-tested pattern, then I wouldn’t tell you to avoid something you enjoy. What I mean by time tested, though, is that you’ve worn it enough times to know it truly complements you. You have good friends and family who wouldn’t lie to you and also agree that this print suits you and your style.

Just stick to classic patterns like plaids in neutrals with occasional accent pops, Breton stripes, houndstooth, and glen check.

And keep in mind that even the most understated pattern won’t go with everything the way an organic-looking texture can.

3. The Minimalist Wardrobe

We go into deep detail about the importance (and convenience) of the minimalist wardrobe here.

Just remember that the more interchangeable the garment, the better. A blue or white dress shirt can be worn in more dress codes and be partnered with more colors than a bright orange one.

Minimal mens shirt collectionMinimal mens shirt collection

This allows you to get dressed quickly and easily. In theory, if your closet were filled with all interchangeable pieces, you could literally get dressed in the dark and come out looking great.

Basically, the only thing you’d have to consider is the dress code you’re dressing for. Relatedly, make smart casual the nucleus of your closet. This should happen naturally when you’re focusing on acquiring interchangeable pieces.

Here’s our guide on smart casual style, as well as our round-up of minimalist clothing brands.

4. Practicality Is You Friend

Get yourself high-quality, good-looking outerwear and practical wear. You’d be surprised at how easily you can level up your outfit with a nice scarf, jacket, or hat. 

Think about a regular t-shirt and jeans combination. Of course, if it fits you well, you’ll look good. Now, throw on a handsome peacoat over that. You’ll look that much more put together.

Though practical wear is technically utilitarian, it tends to add structure, which also adds simple character to your look.

Here are a few pieces to add to, keep in, or upgrade in your closet.

  • Blazer
  • Peacoat
  • Trench coat
  • Scarf
  • Hat
  • Quilted vest
  • Cashmere pullover or cardigan
  • Knit sweater
  • Watch
  • Belt
  • Bracelets
  • Sunglasses

And here are some pieces of outerwear that have specific connotations style-wise, but may suit your tastes. If you love a leather motorcycle jacket, for example, you should invest in a really good one versus owning a few cheap ones.

  • Harrington jacket
  • Bomber jacket
  • Pilot jacket
  • Motorcycle jacket
  • Hunting jacket
  • Norfolk jacket
  • Utility jacket

Your tastes regarding the latter list may inform what you choose from the former. If a Norfolk jacket speaks to you, perhaps you have a penchant for English country style. In this case, maybe you’ll want to add a trilby hat to your closet.

Do you love a pilot jacket? Aviator sunglasses pair naturally with it.

Accessories and outerwear are two ways to inject your minimalist outfit with your personality without interrupting its elegant simplicity.

6. Wear Your Clothes Well

This is related to getting a good fit. If you’re going to cuff your jeans or roll your sleeves up, make sure you know how high to go and to use a clean, attractive fold.

How to roll your sleeves upHow to roll your sleeves up

Fortunately, we have a guide for every one of these topics at TMM. Check them out for the hows and whys of each matter:

Playing Around With Color While Maintaining Simplicity

While you can incorporate your favorite colors here and there, you want your outfits ultimately grounded in neutrals.

Neutrals for menswear are black, navy, gray, white, tan, brown, dark olive, and other shades in this family, such as beige, slate, and peach. 

Maroon can also be treated as a neutral most of the time. For example, a maroon suit can easily be worn with a black tie and shoes, as well as a brown tie and shoes. Meanwhile, a brown suit doesn’t always go with black accessories, nor does a black suit always go with brown accessories.

As long as you’re mostly anchored in these neutrals, you can play around a bit with your favorite colors. There are four ways to do this.

2 Wearing a red polo shirt2 Wearing a red polo shirt

First, make sure that you’re only going for one garment or accent in your non-neutral color. And make sure you’re going for a light contrast instead of a bold one. So, if your shirt is orange, go for dark gray or slate pants — not stark white ones. 

Second, if you love primaries, you can simply go for more grown-up, understated shades of them. Instead of red, go for crimson. Instead of true blue, go for navy or a muted gray blue. And instead of yellow, go for a mustard brown or tan.

Third, just go for accents. Perhaps your sand-colored jacket has a bright trim. Maybe you’re wearing all minimalist neutrals, but you have a bright scarf or gloves. 

And finally, you can always go for a lighter version instead of a bolder color. There are two ways colors can be lightened. First, mixing it with a light gray tone resulting in a sort of foggy version of the original color.

Ways to Wear Yellow for MenWays to Wear Yellow for Men

A foggy or muted orange is going to look a lot more mature and minimal than a tangerine hue. Same with slate blue compared to any bright blue tone.

The second way to lighten a color is by mixing it with white, which results in pastels. Some pastels are more neutral than others. 

A light blue, for example, is more versatile than carnation pink. A pastel mint green might look a bit too Easter egg adjacent. However, if you want to incorporate it, temper it with grays and cool tans. Black and white will just make it brighter.

The Minimalist Shoe Collection

Your shoe collection can be more or less minimal, depending on your lifestyle. But just stick to one pair per dress code.

You should have at least one pair of dress shoes. If the most formal outfit in your closet is dark navy, say a dark navy tuxedo, then you can go for dark brown dress shoes. If you have black and blue formal options in your closet, a dark oxblood or burgundy shoe can be worn with almost any suit color.

A sleek leather loafer or an oxford can be worn formally or be used to level up a casual outfit.

Undandy custom shoesUndandy custom shoes

You’ll also want one highly casual shoe. A low-profile white sneaker is perfect because it goes beautifully with shorts, pants, or even in a smart casual situation.

And finally, depending on your lifestyle or climate you live in, you might also want one good sandal and/or one good leather boot.


Here are some commonly asked questions about simple fashion for men. Feel free to reference them if you don’t have time to go through the in-depth details in this article!

How Do You Dress Like a Gentleman Without a Suit?

You channel the silhouette of a suit but with casual clothes. A polo, chinos, sneakers, loafers, and a Harrington jacket for example. 

How Do You Dress Simple but Classy for Men?

You can dress elegantly simply by choosing a flattering and classic fit, not baggy and not skinny. Stick to menswear neutrals like beige, tan, and olive, and avoid loud patterns. 

How Do You Dress Stylishly But for Cheap?

One way to do this is by going for quality over quantity. Have fewer items in your closet that will last longer. Another way to do this is by going for budget clothes in good fits. You’d be surprised at how much more expensive a budget suit looks when you get it tailored.

Conclusion: Avoid the Paradox of Choice

The best part of going simple with your fashion is how much more time you save when you’re getting ready in the morning.

You also become effectively trend-resistant!

Do you prefer a minimalist or maximalist style? Would you consider further simplifying your closet for the sake of convenience? Let’s start a conversation!

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