The 9 Most Versatile Pieces In Any Man’s Wardrobe

Image Credit: Derek Rose

Ballsy statement pieces are undeniably fun to buy, but in terms of cost per wear, they’re some of the worst wardrobe investments a man can make. How many scenarios are there where you can bust out a leopard print mohair cardigan? Now compare that to something like a khaki overshirt or a plain white T-shirt.

If you want to get the most out of your hard-earned cash, it’s best to buy with versatility in mind. It’ll allow you to save money, make it easier to put outfits together and ultimately enable you to do more with less. That’s good news for the environment and your bank balance.

There’s a core selection of pieces that stand head and shoulders above everything else when it comes to versatility. These garments can be styled to suit multiple dress codes, worn with almost anything and called upon regardless of season. They’re the most versatile pieces in any man’s wardrobe, and they’re your tickets to a simpler, more environmentally-friendly and economical way of dressing well.

Plain White T-Shirt

It’s difficult to overstate the versatility of the humble plain white tee. What started out as a simple undergarment has gone on to become a true staple of modern casualwear that can be worn in countless ways across multiple formalities.

Use it to dress down tailoring when worn in place of a shirt, team it with shorts and sneakers for a fuss-free summer outfit, or tuck it into a pair of jeans with loafers and an overshirt for a simple smart-casual look.

Oxford Shirt

Bridging the gap between smart and casual, the Oxford shirt is a multipurpose piece that’s equally at home slumming it with shorts and sandals or rubbing shoulders with soft tailoring. It takes the traditional pointed collar, button placket and fit of a dress shirt, and applies them to a more casual, textured fabric for an informal alternative to a classic poplin shirt.

Wear it open over a T-shirt at the weekend or buttoned up with an unstructured blazer, chinos and suede derbies for smart-casual occasions.

Overshirt

An overshirt is one of those rare garments that remains relevant all year round. It’s a breezy outer layer to throw over a T-shirt on summer evenings, a light jacket in the fall and spring, and a stylish mid-layer during the winter.

Buy one in a subtle colour like khaki or navy and it’ll go with anything and everything. It’s easily dressed up or down too, depending on how it’s styled – keep it casual with jeans and sneakers, or go for a dressier look by wearing it with wool trousers, a roll neck jumper and loafers.

Raw Denim Jeans

On the surface, it may seem like raw denim jeans are exclusively casual, but there’s actually a lot they can do outside of that. We’re used to seeing them styled with rugged, workwear-type pieces like flannel shirts and boots, but venture away from this aesthetic and you’ll soon realise how versatile these indigo wonders can be.

Sure, they look good with sneakers and casual tops, but the rich, dark colour means they can mingle with dressier garments too. Try wearing them in place of chinos for smart-casual outfits and you might be surprised by how much you like the contemporary edge they lend to traditionally preppy pieces.

Overcoat

As the name suggests, an overcoat is designed deliberately oversized to throw on on top of whatever you’re wearing. Traditionally, they were made to be worn over a suit during the fall and winter, but now their remit is much more varied.

These days, overcoats are layered over almost anything – suits, casualwear, athleisure, you name it. They have a unique ability to make anything they’re worn with look sharp and considered – just try teaming one up with joggers, a quarter-zip sweatshirt and sneakers if you don’t believe us.

Suede Loafers

Sometimes sneakers are too sloppy and dress shoes are too dressy. It’s in these types of situations where owning a pair of suede loafers pays dividends.

Wear them in place of sneakers to instantly dress up casual looks, or ditch the leather Derbies for them to bring formal outfits back down to earth. You can even wear them with shorts… provided you have the legs to pull it off.

Simple White Sneakers

Long gone are the days when sneakers were worn solely for sports and leisure. Athletic shoes have graduated from the playing field to permeate every conceivable area of modern fashion, and provided you buy the right kind, you can wear them with anything from tracksuits to tailoring.

If this sort of across-the-board versatility is your goal then a simple white leather sneaker is the best tool for the job. Outfits can be built on top of it rather than around it, and it’s seemingly impervious to the ever-changing tides of fashion.

Navy Single-Breasted Suit

We’d all love to own several made-to-measure suits, but not everyone has the closet space or budget to make it a reality. Don’t worry though, because you only really need one suit anyway, and it’s navy and single breasted.

This super-versatile two-piece will serve you well for any formal occasion short of a funeral or black tie event. You can even wear it smart-casual by swapping the dress shirt for a knitted polo, T-shirt or camp-collar shirt, and ditching the Derbies for loafers or smart sneakers.

Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater

It’s not cheap, but a silky-soft cashmere sweater is definitely an investment piece worth making the plunge for. Pay that initial price, and in return you’ll get a seriously versatile garment that brings a little touch of luxury to anything and everything it’s worn with.

Layer it with tailoring or casualwear in the winter, and wear it as a standalone layer on milder days. It’s the sort of thing you’ll find yourself reaching for all the time and wearing across your entire wardrobe.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.