For model and visual designer Bappie Kortram, a good menswear basic means something that fits well, looks good and holds up over time. Proclaiming his style “dadcore to the max,” Kortram believes in creating a wardrobe around versatile, comfortable clothes. “You’re not going to build a house on paper maché and dreams,” he told HuffPost. “You need your basics. You need good basics.”
“You have do a lot of research before you buy anything... because it has to work in many ways,” Kortram said. “For me most important thing is fabrics and composition. Figure out which shape is best for you. The color has to work. Then you have to look for materials. Yes, you can get nice cheap pants, but will they last five years?”
Durability and fit were a common concern among style experts I talked to about the best menswear basics. You want something you can always rely on, and something that makes you feel good when you wear it.
“Basics should be your most comfortable and best-fitting pieces,” stylist David Komisarchik told HuffPost. “Discomfort with those means discomfort all day.”
Though “men’s basics” may conjure images of bulk packs of undershirts and ill-fitting khakis, Kortram, Komisarchik and others encourage being intentional with basics, finding sharp, timeless pieces you really love, which likely means spending a little more money on them.
Vinh Luong, owner and creative director of the brand PNKDRMS, said basics should also be stand-alone pieces. “I think a misconception about basics is the need for more. You only need a few good basics. Wear them constantly,” Luong told HuffPost. “If something fits you well and you feel good in it. Double up. Triple up.”
Getting something to fit you well may mean taking it to a tailor. You don’t have to wear something straight from the store, especially if it’s three inches too long. Comedian Mike Abrusci said personalizing basics is an imperative step. “I think tinkering with your clothes is the best way to really control how you look, and then how you feel about how you look,” he said, “which is really the most important thing.”
To help you look and feel your best, I consulted menswear enthusiasts I know from across the gender spectrum to share their favorite basics and how they wear them.
HuffPost receives a share from retailers on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
Hanes crewneck white T shirt
"$27 gets you a 10-pack from Target. The trick here is to wash and machine dry them before wear and they will literally be the best fitting white tee you will ever own and they last a long time and a ton of washes before being worn down." — Benjamin Grullon
, host of "Wristcheck" podcast
These come in S-XL.
The Weekday T-shirt
"I have an unhealthy collection of oversized T-shirts from The Weekday and only three colors: black, gray and white. Before I had top surgery I used to wear heavy cotton T-shirts, and I recommend to any trans man who has huge tits: Get heavy cotton because they don't wrinkle a lot. And if something doesn't wrinkle, you don't have a lot of shade, so you don't get that underboob shade. The T-shirts from Weekday, they're pretty good and they're not too long and still have a boxy cut. A boxy cuts helps if you're shorter than average because you're legs don't look as short. You don't look like a kid wearing your... dad's shirt. I'm 5'2, and when I get a T-shirt from Weekday, I don't have to go and get it tailored." — Kortram
This shirt comes in 22 colors in XS-XL.
Fresh Clean Threads white T-shirt
"[My] all time favorite basic is a white tee. I love to style it with suits and sneakers, layer it with a jacket and jeans, a pair of joggers or sweatpants. I also love an elongated white tee underneath a crewneck or hoodie to add some depth to the look. My favorite brand is Fresh Clean Threads." — Steven Green
, model and clothing designer
These come in 16 colors in sizes S-4XL.
Comfort Colors pocket tee
"I've gotten these on Amazon, where there's this brand Comfort Colors. I have the regular white T-shirt and then the pocket white T-shirts and those are like my favorite blank T-shirts. They wash in really well and quickly, so they're like super comfortable quickly and feel broken in. They're not super boxy, but they're not super slim. I think they're like this really good medium. When I think of a 'white T-shirt', that's what they feel like to me. I wear the shit out of my white T-shirts; I'm a freak with the OxyClean. " — Abrusci
This tee comes in 30 colors from S-3XL.
Uniqlo U AIRism cotton oversized crew neck T-shirt
"I know that these shirts have a grip on the fashion space, but the Uniqlo U AIRism cotton oversized crew neck is my favorite basic T-shirt and I think I own it in four different colors. The reason I love these shirts is because of how they fit. They’re baggy but not too long. If I'm traveling there’s a 99% chance you’ll see me wearing this shirt. I also wear them when I layer with another top." — Vinny Mui
, content creator and photographer
"I wear these all the time in all their colors. They're perfect for layering and aren't crazy expensive if you're stocking up." — Komisarchik
This shirt comes in 14 colors in XXS-3XL.
"Tee shirts from OneBone are my number one basics. They create shirts for an array of body sizes. The shirts feature a longer length that is both stylish and functional. They also offer shirts in different fabrics, too, if you’re looking for something more. I can’t give them enough praise, they’re literally perfect!" — Tevin Evans
, stylist and model
This shirt comes in 10 colors in sizes M-8XL.
Men's pants and shorts
Uniqlo corduroy ankle pants
"I might be insane but I wear this [pant] almost year-round. It's not a heavy cord so I don’t feel too bad about wearing it during summer nights. I wear this with a T-shirt and Converse [sneakers] or I can dress it up a bit with a button-down, blazer and shoes. Versatility is the new basic to me." — Kyle Norville
Norville recommends the corduroy relaxed ankle pants
, which are currently out of stock online, but the stretchy corduroy smart ankle pants (pictured) and the cotton relaxed pants are both serviceable substitutes. They come in five colors in sizes XS-3XL.
Adidas track pants
"This is an easy, on-the-go pant that is comfortable but can translate well in any environment. ... I just throw on a tee or tank for the gym, or style it with a moto jacket, tee, trucker hat and Balenciaga sock runners for happy hour [and] I’m good to go." — Green
These come in 12 colors from XS-4XL.
Gap men's shorts
"I genuinely adore the Gap for mens basics that are quality and last. Their shorts fit me in a way that doesn’t feel like my hips are too big for mens pants (I'm a [size] 18 in women's, [and wear] a 40 in men's). I really lean into the mindset that if you like something, why not get more of them in other colors?” — Han Schneider
, health writer
These come in four colors in 28W-42W.
Everlane The Performance chino
"Insanely comfortable and versatile enough for every occasion. [Everlane] also [has] a stellar return policy in case anything goes wrong!" — Benjamin Currie
, HuffPost art director
These come in slim, athletic and straight cuts in five colors from 28-40W.
Unionbay cargo pants
"A pair of cargo pants in brown or black, [because] they basically go with everything and I like to think of functionality with my swag." — Okeke "Soouizz"
Soouizz recommends Unionbay cargo pants from Amazon. They come in 11 colors in sizes 29-54W.
John Elliot The Cast 2 jeans
"A pair of perfect fitting denim jeans. Ever since high school, I’ve always hunted for that perfect pair of jeans. Slim but not too skinny, the perfect length that allows for some stacking without looking sloppy. A beautiful wash. Every pair I’ve come across has been a coveted piece of my daily wardrobe. Everybody would agree that a perfect pair of jeans is a confidence booster. When the jeans fit perfectly, building every other piece of the outfit comes easy. John Elliot’s The Cast 2 and The Daze
[silhouettes are] ... my favorite pairs of jeans right now." — Tristan Ford
, founder and creative director of Grounded New York
These come in seven colors in sizes 28-38.
Ironheart Indigo Denim 14oz
"Everyone needs the perfect pair of blue jeans! This classic indigo pair is a step above your typical denim while being wearable all year round. With wear it will mold to your body and become unique to your lifestyle. The 888 is a handsome cut with plenty of room in the top block that falls to a gentle, contemporary taper." — Currie
These come in sizes 28-44.
Levi's 502 taper fit
"If we're gonna go new, I'll buy Levi's. I wear the 502's which are basically the 501s but they're tapered from the knee down, so they're not super baggy around the ankles. Which is what I would do to my jeans: I would buy vintage 501's and then get them tailored, so they were slimmer. That's what the 502s do. I have a couple pairs and I haven't gotten them tailored. They feel like tailored jeans. They're not like, heavy duty like an '80s pair of 501s. They do have like a little bit of 1% elastic, but for new jeans that aren't unbelievably expensive, fit well, look good last decently, that's what I have." — Abrusci
These come in 16 colors in sizes 28-42.
American Eagle denim
"American Eagle denim is another wardrobe basic staple for me, especially in their light blue and black washes. They’re the most comfortable denim brand with a ton of styles, washes, cuts, inclusive sizes and great quality! I still have a few pairs from 2017 that have only now begun to wear out because of age and my huge thighs!" — Evans
These come in three colors in sizes 26-42.
Naked and Famous Back Cobra Stretch Selvedge
"A good entry into raw denim for those that want durability and comfort." — Currie
These come in sizes 28-44.
Tellason 14 oz raw denim
"These are [White Oak] Cone Denim
, made in the U.S., and a nice heavy denim. They wear in well, and handle repairs over the years also." — Taylor Collins
, a real-estate agent and sailor
These come in sizes 28-40.
"They’re comfortable and supportive and cute. There are so many styles and colors now so it’s easy to mix them in with almost any outfit. I’ve worn them with shorts and a crop top and I’ve also warn them with wide leg sparkly pants and a flowy top. They are truly so versatile and help keep me on my feet for hours." — Lord Troy
, model and beauty entreprenuer
Lord Troy recommends the classic Arizona sandal, which come in many colors in men's size 6-17.5. For colder weather (or really, all year), we like the Boston clog, which comes in men's 6-13.5.
Redwing classic moc
They technically have these in the women's section now, which is either new or just never noticed it! I love these boots even though they take forever to break in. I like them with a red lace and cuffed jeans." — Cara Nicoletti
These come in men's sizes 7-13.
Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneaker
"The white/fairway green Adidas Stan Smith is a holy grail, all-time favorite basic item for me — specifically, the higher quality pairs since they age much more gracefully. (Pairs with the thinner tongue are usually the higher quality pairs.) They’re one of the sneakers that could fit into the perfect category. You can dress them up or down, they can be an everyday sneaker or that clean basic shoe that you want to pull out to bring an outfit together. They’re almost like a role player too. You may have on an in-your-face statement piece and a white/green pair of Stan Smith’s will tie it all together perfectly and play its part correctly. I personally love to style my Stan Smiths with a pair of jeans or pants on the slimmer side, a good white tee and one of my favorite jackets. I love wearing them with shorts as well with a nice pair crew socks scrunched down a bit." — Ford
Ford recommends the Adidas Originals Stan Smith H with real leather, but you can snag the vegan leather ones on the Adidas site for less than half the cost.
Converse Chuck 70 vintage canvas sneaker
"They’re literally the Chuck Taylor’s more sophisticated siblings — they look a bit more lux with their varnished vamp and leather ankle patch. They’ve got an updated sole so they’re also ultra comfy and the best part is in terms of sneakers they’re quite affordable and you can also customize a pair on the converse website to truly make them your own." — Evans
These come in 15 colors in sizes 3-16.
Nike Air Force 1
"A pair of white sneakers, preferably an Air Force 1. A staple piece that should in everyone’s closets. Beat up, brand new, whichever way you like to rock it. Essentials." — Soouizz
"The perfect sneaker can be worn with trousers, joggers, chinos, cargos or shorts. One of my favorite sneakers would be the white/black Nike Air Force 1 low — there are so many colors and styles to choose from." — Adrian Thorpe
, plus size model and content creator
These come in white and black in men's sizes 6-18.
Thousand Fell slip ons
A little dressier than a sneaker with laces but still sporty, these faux leather slip-ons are a HuffPost favorite. They're made from sustainable materials and are totally recyclable as well as breathable and stain and odor resistant.
"Pardon my French but these shoes are the shit!" said buyer Fernando U
. "They look incredible, so comfy and easy to clean. I found my go to clean looking white sneaker."
These come in 11 colors in sizes in men's sizes 8-13.
Abercrombie & Fitch layering tank 3-pack
"These are my go-to base layers. I wear them under button-downs or even on their own sometimes; they're comfortable and have a great shape. — Komisarchik
These come in sizes S-XXL.
"Uniqlo are just Subarus for trans men. Like if Subaru is a car for lesbians, then Uniqlo is clothes for trans men. They're mostly made for the Japanese population, like they're very much shorter. A good undershirt? I love it." — Kortram
Kortram recommends the men's ribbed tanks from Unlqio
, which are currently sold out in every color, but the under tee works too. This comes in 10 colors from XXS-3XL.
Uniqlo seamless boxer briefs
"All my underwear is from Uniqlo. I have like 30 pairs of the exact same underwear, which, you know, Steve Jobs style." — Abrusci
These come in four color from S-3XL.
Target Goodfellow & Co boxers 6-pack
"I really really love the Goodfellows boxers from Target. They are soft and stretchy and, again, fit wider hips without feeling like they weren’t designed with you in mind." — Schneider
These come in sizes S-XXL.
American Trench retro stripe quarter crew socks
"I did get got by an Instagram ad for socks recently. I was like, want to look like I'm in a fucking 'Leave it to Beaver' with like a white sock with some colored stripes. I'll tell you this though, the socks are pretty nice." — Abrusci
These come in three colors in one size.
Anonymous Ism socks
"[T]hey’re pricey, but the coolest, most comfortable, and highest quality sock you’ll ever grace your feet with. Their most well-known sock is probably the 5 knit in cotton. They’re made in Japan on vintage shuttle looms and are hand-finished so there are only a couple dozen of a single pattern or colorway made, so they all vary and give a unique look even if you decide to double up on a pair. They also come in a variety of volumes (thin, medium, thick) so there’s something for everyone. You can always find them on sale in all the well-known menswear sites too." — Grullon
Carhartt men's duck bib unlined overall
"Really anything from Carhartt, but these are my go-to. I have these in every color pretty much, but I love the black because it has gold hardware. Wear it with a tight white T and lots of gold jewelry." — Nicoletti
These come in brown and black sizes 25-60W.
Dickies short sleeve work shirt
"I would always see pictures of guys at hardcore shows with like cut work shirts, and I was like... okay...that's kind of cool. But then, also [Dickies work shirts] would fit fine on the body, but be nine inches too long. So I was like, let me just cut it and see how I like it, then I did that and I was like, ah... this is actually really cool." — Abrusci
These come in 16 colors from XS-5XL.
Dickies 874 pants
"Dickies 874 pants. They were my introduction into 'looser fitting' pants.You can dress them up or you can keep the outfit super casual with just a T-shirt. Had to start wearing a belt with them, lol, I'm a size 30 but had to size up to 32 since I have thicker thighs that look weird in tighter pants." — Mui
These come in 18 colors in men's sizes 28-58W.
Woolrich wool plaid bibbed overalls
"Woolrich doesn't produce these anymore, but there are tons on Ebay. They're made from really nice wool, last forever, keep you warm in cold butcher shops. Look closely because some are lined with green silk, which makes them insanely comfortable. I love the red suspender straps. Woolrich has gotten fancier, but an Ebay search will get you some fantastic Woolrich workwear from previous years." — Nicoletti
Dickies painters pants
"I have the Dickies white painter pants, but those are really baggy, so I tailor those. They're not like skinny but they're, like, slim. So I'm like, okay, the pants cost $25. Yeah. So it's tailoring was $25, $50. That's a $50 pair of pants and they fit perfectly, instead of spending $100 on pants that maybe don't even fit that well." — Abrusci
These come in white and off white in sizes 28-48.
Shirts and outerwear
Target long sleeve button-down
"One of my favorite go-to men’s basic is a good oversized button-up shirt. You can layer this all seasons. ... My favorite brand is Target for oversize button-ups. It's an affordable and realistic brand for the everyday stylish person of any size or gender." — Ady Del Valle
This shirt comes in 17 colors from S-5XL.
Champion reverse weave hooded sweatshirt
"I would also have to say a good hoodie. One that fits you right and one that’s a good weight. Super cozy to just throw on when you don’t feel like dressing up. Champion reverse weave will last you a lifetime." — Luong
This comes in 30 colors in XS-3XL.
Alex Mill work jacket
"I wear it regularly. I layer it up. Start with a basic tee, then perhaps a button down, unbuttoned, followed by the jacket. I roll the cuff slightly and flip the collar as well." — Collins
This comes in four colors from XS to XXL.
Patched varsity jackets
"Another holy grail basic for me is a varsity jacket. A varsity jacket is another piece that many may consider the statement of an outfit, but I think they’re so versatile that they can qualify as a basic. They can also be implemented in a dressier fit, in addition to the more casual outfits they’re commonly seen styled with. I prefer varsity jackets with a plethora of embellishments. The more chenille patches, the better! I usually style my varsity jackets with a casual outfit. A pair of jeans, maybe some Jordans and a tee or a sweater depending on the cut of the jacket. I also wouldn’t hesitate to style a varsity jacket with a pair of loafers, dress pants, a crisp white Oxford shirt, and a tie. The best varsity jackets are from The Holy Grail." — FordThe Holy Grail
is a London-based store that sells archive Japanese streetwear. Their pieces are one-of-a-kind (and also a little pricy). You can find some sharp-looking and way more affordable patched jackets at H&M.
Oris Roberto Clemente watch
"There are seven days in a week, [and] five of those seven I’m wearing my Oris Roberto Clemente watch made in Holstein Switzerland, by a totally carbon-neutral company who gives back to the town ... where they’ve operated uninterrupted since 1904. [I]t has a very legible pointer date and bright white dial with some of the best luminescent hands in the game." — Grullon
Uniqlo cross body bag
"I'm a late adapter, and I choose to be a late adapter to make sure that I'm not buying any hasty, trendy things. So crossbodies were in for a long time. I waited three years to get my first crossbody. And now I have like 10 of these... because yes, they're now officially a staple in my outfit. I color coordinate my crossbody bags; I have beige, I have black. These are the Uniqlo bags that went viral. You have to give your soul, body and firstborn child to Uniqlo because they're bringing the good stuff." — Kostram
This comes in six colors.
Loewe inflated shades
"You can tell a lot about a person by the way they accessorize or don’t. The Loewe inflated shades is my joint [right now]! Tip top!" — Soouizz
Heitmat Textils mechanics hat
"For a winter hat I absolutely love Heitmat Textils Mechanics hat. An all wool beanie that can be worn with one fold high and tight or unrolled for maximum warmth on blustery days." — Luke Hildy, retail associate at Franklin & Poe
This comes in nine colors.