If I lost everything I had in my wardrobe, today, what would I have to go out and buy on Day 1? What looks good on me, as a black man, and what do I need generally?

In other words:

This question is super simple.

What are the most essential pieces of clothing in a black man’s wardrobe?

Broad question right…?

But this is actually a short post! By the end of it, you’ll know exactly what the foundation pieces of your closet should be.


The Rules

You could talk to five different people and get five different answers. Generally speaking, though, there are a few staples and “favorite pieces” that we seem to come back to again and again.

If you disagree, or think there should be more / less, take a look below and let us know your thoughts. We kept it pretty lean and have focused on just a few.


  • First rule: we went ahead and skipped the non-visible stuff like underwear, undershirts, socks, etc…and we aren’t including any accessories, like belts, or non-clothing related items like briefcases, bags, etc.
  • Just the plain, simple essentials. Well, below – here’s what we’d go out and get IMMEDIATELY, before heading out to buy other things later on.
  • Reminder: these are, on average, the pieces of a wardrobe that it’s hard to do without. If you’re revamping your own wardrobe, try some of these as a starting point.


If you’re creating a short list of things that you need to have in order to step out of the house, then check this list out:


The categories are as follows:

  1. Shoes
  2. Tops
  3. Pants


Again – real simple and to the point. Now let’s go through these, one by one.

Black men style essentials:




Dress Shoes & Boots

Let’s start with shoes. We firmly believe that a wardrobe is created from the bottom up, and shoes are one of the first things everyone takes a look at when they’re scanning your outfit.
Since they’re the foundation for a man’s fashion, make sure to invest in some high quality
Of course, “shoes” is a pretty big category. What types of shoes, exactly?

You’ve got to have at least a couple pairs of good dress shoes and boots. Both black and brown preferably, as those are the two most interchangeable colors with within your wardrobe.

Most boots and dress shoes have a reputation of being expensive, but in reality there’s not much difference between those and other types of shoes!

Once you grab a good pair of both dress shoes and boots, you’re on your way to dressing sharply in many of the classic man outfits that we all love to rock.




Collared Dress Shirts


Next up we got dress shirts! Every man should own at least two or three dress shirts that fit them well.


One of the open secrets about fashion is that body areas – in particular, your torso region – are so diverse that sizes like small, medium and large don’t begin to address it.

In general, try to select shirts and tops that complement your appearance, rather than hang off your body.


That means well fitted, bright color (although white and dark are always good), and no rips or damage to the shirt.


It doesn’t have to be expensive fabric, so don’t sweat it.


Every man should own at least two or three dress shirts that fit them well, can be buttoned down, and are capable of being tucked into pants.


You should have several dress shirts in your wardrobe, kept in good shape.








Black, White & Gray T-Shirts 

Next up are tees.

Virtually everyone has at least a few in their wardrobe, and you can’t go wrong with a few plain ones.

While it’s okay to wear a graphic t-shirt or one that has text on it once in awhile, make sure to have several plain, light color t-shirts that you can mix and match with other wardrobe articles easily.

But, since t-shirts go so well with everything and are an important part to layering other clothes, keep them clean, well fitted and made of relatively thin fabric (so you don’t sweat). Aside from plain white t-shirts, you’ll probably also want to rock both crew neck and V-neck classic shirts.

Having black, white, and gray t-shirts gives you a solid foundation of base colors that can be bundled with many other looks.





And, of course, you’ll need a blazer to go with those dress shirts as well. Blazer jackets are versatile, but look good with collared shirts and dress pants, and generally project a vibe of class and dignity. There are always blazers offered at a good price at many menswear apparel places. But these really need to be reasonably well fitted before you buy. Why?

Well, blazers are typically pretty hard to find a perfect fit for, meaning you will probably need to get them tailored. But they aren’t easy to alter, either. Make sure that it fits well in the shoulders, because that’s essential and hard for a tailor to fix.

So when you combine the fact that blazers are hard to fit perfectly and hard to tailor, you’ll need to do a good amount of searching to find one. Trust us – it’s worth it.




Now, for pants…

Pant fit is often a touchy subject in the black male community. Many men choose to favor loose fitting pants, while other brehs are embracing the new age slim fit trends that have popped up in the black community.

Personally speaking, we tend to lean towards slimmer fitting pants these days, but we also take care not to go to the skinny fit / tight fit levels. That just doesn’t look good or work good…an important style rule is that you shouldn’t be rocking tight fits that cut off your blood circulation etc.

Your legs need room to breathe, and you would just look uncomfortable anyway! Drawing attention for negative reasons.

Anyway, once you know the type of pant fit you want…


Jeans & Chinos


 The two most essential pant types out there are jeans and chinos (khakis).

For jean color, dark denim is the most flexible because it goes with a wide variety of looks, both casual and dressed up. Dark blue or black jeans are far more versatile when it comes to putting different looks together.

Slim fitting chinos / khakis also go with a wide variety of looks, including collared shirts, button downs and even dark T-shirts.

Having at least one good pair of both and you’re ready for any situation.




What’s left? Thinking something is missing?

These are all apparel pieces that go well with casual wear, stuff that you need for more exotic styles too.

If we left anything out, make sure to let us know in the comments!

H Bashir
H Bashir

I write about black men's style, and menswear in general, at WellDressedBrother.com. Follow us on IG @welldressedbrother