College Menswear: The Essentials
It is not hard to look good. Regardless of your knowledge of menswear, there lies a core group of clothes that serve as the backbone of every gentleman’s closet. These essential items are tried-and-true staples that can instantly improve your wardrobe.
THEN: The T-shirt was originally a Navy-issued undergarment. It was cheap, light and easy to clean, making it popular with soldiers and laborers. Marlon Brando popularized the shirt after sporting it in his iconic role in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
NOW: Every college male needs an assortment of basic tees. Good, versatile colors are white, grey, olive and navy. Front pockets add interest to the tee. It is a general rule of thumb that crew necks look good on everyone.
THEN: Just before the 20th century, a Scottish mill produced new fabrics named after elite colleges: Oxford, Harvard, Yale and Cambridge. Polo players quickly picked up the oxford and wore it during matches.
NOW: This versatile shirt requires simple upkeep and is easy to wash and iron. Wear it untucked with jeans, chinos or shorts for a clean, everyday look. The blue oxford also looks great underneath a blazer.
THEN: Chino cloth trousers are also a carryover from the military; the French and British militaries issued chino cloth pants in the mid-19th century.
NOW: Navy, khaki and military green are standard and versatile colors for a good pair of chinos. Self-cuffing the bottom of chinos creates a sleek and tailored appearance. This technique allows you to show off your cool shoes and socks rather than having your pants cover your entire foot.
THEN: Historically, it took gentlemen a while to accept the short as suitable casual wear. Men of past generations saw shorts as the sign of boyhood. A boy wore shorts until the day he became a man, upon which he would receive his first pair of trousers.
NOW: We’re not talking about gym shorts here – go for corduroy or denim cutoffs, chino cloth shorts or even linen. Another point of interest is length. A nine-inch inseam – the distance from crotch to bottom of short leg – looks great on most guys, and some can even cut that down to seven-inches. Do not be afraid to show some leg.
Sneakers: A college male needs a comfortable pair of sneakers to walk around campus in. Here are some suggestions to contemplate and emulate: Adidas Stan Smith, Onitsuka Tiger, Canvas plimsolls (Vans, other brands), Converse Jack Purcell, and New Balance 990s.
“The first rule of style is that there are no rules.”
– Glenn O’Brien
“The Style Guy,” GQ Magazine