Espresso 24 – Clothes Don’t Make the Man… But They Help

Clothes Don’t Make the Man… But They Help




3. Every Man’s Basics

There’s a good chance that you’re on a tight budget, so we’re going to start you off with a few “should-have” basics to help you get your wardrobe together. But first, here’s a tip on how to save money: Everything at retail stores eventually goes on sale, usually at the end of a season. These type of sales are generally better for when you’re investing in basic staple items (e.g., khaki pants, dress shirts, T-shirts).

Shirts: You should own at least one crisp, white, quality, cotton shirt. You just can’t go wrong with one of these. Buy one with a full collar that can be worn with a tie. This way you can wear this shirt to work or out at night. Button-up dress shirts are generally good choices, as long as you invest in one that is quality and a nice color. And since you’re building the basics, stick with colors like blue and white.

Tip: When you purchase dress shirts, make sure that the tails are long enough to be tucked in and stay there and that the shirt sleeves aren’t too long or too short. Take some time to find the right fit.

Tuck in?


Question: Should shirts (including T-shirts) be tucked into jeans? I have seen lots of other guys do this, and I think it looks better than having the shirt out loose. However, I am unsure of how baggy or fitted the jeans/shirts should be?Answer: Shirts that are tucked into jeans can be quite nice, especially when the shirt has a collar. However, it’s not quite the same for T-shirts. Whatever you decide on, tucked or untucked, make sure that if you untuck, the shirt is hemmed so that you can see the pockets on your pants/jeans.

Sweater: You can’t go wrong with a high, V-neck sweater. V-neck sweaters look great for dates and dinners, and for casual dress days at work.

Also, be sure to wear a short-sleeve, white T-shirt under your shirts and sweaters. Not only does this protect your tops from sweat and deodorant stains, but it makes you look slightly more fashionable.

Pants: If you’re on a budget, there are three pairs of pants that you should purchase: a pair of dress pants, a pair of khakis and a pair of blue jeans.

Dress pants. Many men don’t own dress pants unless they are suit pants, but you need a separate pair of dress pants. You might be tempted to go for a standard black pair, but navy blue is very modern while still being non-flashy. Black is a safe bet, but navy says that you might know a little something about style.Khakis. For a more casual look, you need to have a nice pair of khaki or light-colored pants. It’s a good idea to have a couple pairs of these pants because you can just wash them and iron them at home (or if you’re particularly lazy, get a pair of wrinkle-free khakis). Then if you’re in a hurry, you will always have a clean pair to throw on.

Blue jeans. When getting a pair of jeans, we suggest getting a nice pair of dark wash jeans with a clean cut and style. Make sure they fit nicely (that is, don’t buy ultra baggy jeans or jeans that aren’t a standard length). Dark jeans will always look good and can be dressed up at night.

A general rule of thumb for any type of pants you purchase is to buy pants that have clean, neat cuts. They just look tidier. Also avoid anything fancy, so that your pants are more enduring and last you. For instance, if you only own one pair of khakis and they are really flashy, people will notice if you wear them all the time and they’ll start getting “old.”

Shoes: Although it seems women are “required” to have at least two dozen pairs of shoes, men usually own a measly two pairs: a pair of sneakers for bumming around and a pair of dress shoes for work. But do you know what one of the first things people often notice about a man is? It’s not your charming personality, it’s your shoes. If you want pointers on buying the perfect pair of sneakers, there’s plenty out there on the subject. Do a little research. In the meantime, here are a few tips:

Buying dress shoes is slightly more complicated then buying casual shoes. First off, you should be prepared to pay something for them. Sounds expensive, right? But remember, quality over quantity. You can wear the best outfit in the world, but if your shoes look terrible, you might as well be wearing a potato sack. There is no excuse for wearing shoes that are not clean, polished or where the heel has worn off or the leather has worn out.

Also, ideally, your shoes should match your belt.

A few dressy-ish options:

Boots. If you can only afford to purchase one additional pair of shoes, we suggest you go with a black leather boot, if the climate where you live lends itself to boots. We don’t mean cowboy boots or Doc Martens; we’re talking about a boot that is an inch or two above your ankle with a nice heel and a conservative, round-capped toe. This way you can wear them both for work and for going out at night.

Slip-ons. If you are opposed to boots, an alternative is a pair of nice leather slip-on shoes. These shoes are sort of loafer-ish, and they have a high vamp that covers your socks.

Tied. If you prefer shoes that tie, look for a nice pair of leather shoes. Try to find a pair that is casual enough for khakis, but nice enough for dress pants. Avoid dress shoes with tassels or buckles as part of your basic wardrobe make up.

Slides. For summer, you could purchase a nice pair of leather slides.

Accessories (belts, ties, watches, jewelry)

While there isn’t a lot of variety in men’s clothing, accessories are an opportunity to individualize your look. Belts, ties, watches and jewelry can sometimes be even more expensive than the clothes you are wearing, but you don’t need many of them, and you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune. Here’s the lowdown on how to put the finishing touches on your outfit:

Belts. You need two belts: one for dress pants and one for khakis and jeans (it’s best not to wear your dress belt with your casual pants or vice versa). Also, ideally your casual belt should be wider than your dress belt.

Ties. You can have fun with your tie collection, but know what’s current. If skinny ties are the thing, then invest in one. Try to avoid cartoon ties or polyester. And learn to properly tie a necktie. (Editor: Here’s a helpful link we found: HowtoTieaNecktie: TheHalfWindsor—A Classy, Versatile, and Relatively Easy Knot for a Tie!)

Watches. Buy the nicest watch you can afford with your budget. Try buying a simple, classy watch that will match with anything. Avoid bells and whistles. Don’t buy a diving watch or a sports watch, unless you are a diving instructor or an athlete. In that case, buy a second watch for everyday wear. Keep your watch versatile.

Jewelry. Aside from wearing a watch and the occasional pair of cufflinks, jewelry should be kept to a minimum. If you wear an earring, rings, or a chain, keep it simple.

4. Stick with A Look

OK, so you have your basic clothes. So now your job is to find a look that works, stick with it, and milk it for all it’s worth. The best way to take advantage of your new look is to assemble a “uniform.” This is a foolproof method. Once you find a style of pants that work for you, buy several pairs. Buy them in colors such as black, navy and khaki that can be easily mixed and matched with a variety of tops. Once you find a type of shirt and V-neck sweater that looks good on you, buy several of them in different colors.

Assembling a uniform or having clothing sets will make your life much easier in the morning. Having clothing sets might sound corny, but it works.

The Clothes Don’t Make the Man

Lastly, remember, wearing the appropriate wardrobe—one that complements your personality and body shape as well as the circumstances—is extremely important, but is not the sum total of the experience—the dinner, night out, meeting, or sales pitch. To really wear your clothes well, ensure that you are attentive and polite—be yourself. Sincerely show interest in the person you’re conversing with, listen and offer insightful responses.


Peter: Your appearance should always be appropriate, whether you’re at home or out in public, even if you’re not “officially” witnessing. You never know when the Lord might open an important door for you that you’ll need to be ready to walk through.

So take the time to examine both your in-house and your public appearance to ensure that they are in line with expectations in your field and that they serve to create a positive impression of you and the work of your Home, and ultimately the Family.


It is important to feel confident in the way you present visually through what you wear. Image is created by a lot of different ingredients acting together. Physical appearance, dress, voice, manner, the views you express and the way you react to the people around you. These impressions are made instantly.

Think about it–you are part of the package that you’re presenting to the client. People shouldn’t judge us by our outward appearances, but of course they do. Your appearance does label you, therefore it is important to get the right label!

Sam Smith
Sam Smith is an independent Missionary, that has spent 7 years of his life in Africa, trying to spread Jesus' message of love in any way possible. He has been involved with non profit companies distributing educational material, youth counseling, IT education and humanitarian aid work in medical camps. He believes in Jesus in the simple way that the Bible speaks about, without going so far as to "belong" to a denomination, but just wants to do his best with likeminded people to make the world a better place.