Dressing up is like telling a story every time we step out of the house. What’s yours?

Life is filled with learning experiences. We learn how to read, write, count, run, and even eat. But one crucial learning often gets overlooked, and men have been suffering from it for a long time: knowing how to dress.

Everyone “knows” how to dress, that goes without saying. Every person is aware of putting on a shirt, pants, shoes, and underwear when leaving the house. But looking at it from a different perspective, who can truly claim to know how to dress when it comes to wearing a shirt and a jacket? Very few people. In fact, very few indeed.

Dressing well may often seem out of reach, but is it really as complex as it seems?

Yet, it’s based on simple foundations that can be learned in no time. We’re not talking about becoming a dandy; it’s simply about understanding the basics of coordinating the different pieces that make up an outfit to make the most of our clothing. It’s as simple as that.

What shirts should you have?

Do you need to buy six suits for your work?

What should you pair your tie with?

We spoke with Charles Desnoyers, a stylist at the Surmesur boutique in Quebec, to learn more about the basics of men’s wardrobe.


After reading this article, you will be more informed on the subject and make much more enlightened decisions in the future.


What shirts to buy?

It’s all well and good to buy shirts, but which ones? Charles simplifies it for us: blue, white, lilac/pink. That’s it. The reason is simple: these colors go with everything, are super classic, and can be worn for any occasion. You can never have too many of them!

If you want, you can still opt for patterns, but focus on simplicity rather than extravagance. But before going down that route, make sure you have the basic variations: solid, striped, checkered, light, dark, etc.

Blue shirt

White shirt

Lilac shirt

You can start exploring funkier colours like turquoise, yellow, or even orange, but you should always begin with the same trio: blue, white, lilac.

Charles - Stylist


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Who should I listen to?

Charles is very clear about this: listen to the advice of your stylist! Even if your loved ones “have a good eye” or think something looks good on you, it never equates to the expertise of an experienced stylist. It’s their profession: their advice is thoughtful and comes from years of experience. Listen to your stylist in the same way you listen to your coach or nutritionist—they are literally paid for it!

Basic tips

Learning about style doesn’t mean you have to become a fashion enthusiast. It’s always beneficial to be aware of your clothing choices and learn how to select the right colours, textures, and materials.

For someone starting to build their wardrobe, the first investment should be in a good pair of shoes. Don’t be afraid to spend $400 or $500 on a pair. Why? Because your feet won’t change, but as your career progresses, the rest of your body will.

If you stick to buying $50-$60 shoes, you’ll find yourself purchasing new ones almost every year due to the lower quality of materials. In the long run, you’ll end up spending the same amount as you would on a pair of high-quality shoes that can last you a decade or more.

Learn how to iron your shirts

Charles couldn’t be clearer about this: learn how to iron your shirts! There are numerous tutorials available on YouTube, and once you’ve mastered the skill, it will benefit you for life. You don’t need to spend a whole Sunday afternoon ironing your entire wardrobe; you can simply iron the shirt you’re going to wear that day. Incorporating ironing into your morning routine, just like shaving or washing, is a simple way to take care of your style without overwhelming yourself.

According to Charles, there’s something very masculine about it: the desire to look good and distance oneself from the image of a man who doesn’t care about his appearance. He takes care of his own shirts, chooses his socks, ties, handkerchiefs, and so on. For him, it’s part of the famous sartorial quest, without falling into caricature or dandyism. Just as we take the time to choose and maintain our cars or get regular oil changes, our clothes should receive the same level of attention and care.

Whether you prefer to dress exclusively in navy suits or explore colours like pink, it’s important to feel comfortable with what you have and not be afraid to wear what you want, to try new things.

What's next?

After navy and gray, the stylist will recommend checks, still in the same colours. If the environment allows it and the client is open to it, checks on a brown suit are an underrated style, according to Charles.

And what about black? It’s almost out of fashion. It’s very, very classic. It gives the impression of going to a funeral or a formal ball. For those who want to explore different patterns for their next suit, the pinstripe, commonly known as the pinstripe suit, is making a comeback.

Now that you have a few suits, you can start mixing and matching! Blue and gray go perfectly together, so you can combine your gray jacket with your blue pants, and vice versa. You can then play around with beiges and browns. For example, a brown jacket with gray pants is a beautiful combination that we unfortunately don’t see often enough.

The key takeaway here is not to buy more, but to buy smarter! 99% of men need a maximum of 10 shirts and three pairs of shoes: black, oxblood (burgundy), and brown. That’s it! With these items, your style is ensured for years to come without becoming repetitive.

One misconception we have about summer is that as soon as it gets hot, we should dress as minimally as possible. That’s not true! With a good lightweight wool or linen suit and a cotton shirt, you won’t feel any hotter than you would in a t-shirt.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with materials! The same goes for colours: you can try bolder shades. To take your style to the next level, you can even explore non-traditional colours like red.

In winter, opt for thicker fabrics like flannel. You’ll be much more comfortable in it than in your lightweight summer suit once January rolls around. When it comes to colours, favour more muted and understated tones over bright colours or beige.

When can we incorporate custom-made clothing?

Custom-made clothing is an investment, and we can’t emphasize it enough. If you find yourself frequently wearing suits in your professional environment, there are several reasons that might convince you to consider it.

In general, people dress poorly. It may sound harsh, but it comes from a stylist who has been dressing men for almost 15 years. Wearing a well-fitted suit immediately puts you at your best, and others notice it. It’s hard to explain, but it’s something that can be felt: you appear more in control.

Ask yourself the question, “Am I ready to invest $1000 in a suit?

At first thought, the answer is probably no. However, when it comes to a suit that fits you perfectly, lasts for years, presents you at your best in front of colleagues and clients, and is as comfortable as your Sunday morning pajamas? The answer is likely yes.

If I have to wear suits all week and I only have one navy suit and one gray suit, should I buy more?

No! The first step before buying another suit is to expand your collection of shirts. It’s true that if you always wear a white shirt, you will always look dressed the same way. However, if one day you wear a striped blue shirt, the next day a solid blue shirt, and the following day a lilac shirt, you will never give the impression of dressing the same, even if you only have two suits.

Speaking of not owning more than two or three suits, what about their cleaning? Do you end up wearing a dirty suit every other day? Of course not! Materials like wool are antibacterial, so there’s no need to take them to the dry cleaner frequently.

The same goes for shirts: simply ironing them or using a steamer will keep them looking good for a long time before needing cleaning. Sending such garments to the dry cleaner too often will only damage them prematurely. Once a year is enough for the majority of them.

We also often underestimate the power of accessories. They are elements that take our suit to another level. Whether it’s socks, ties, or pocket squares, they should not be neglected.

Mixing and matching your clothing is an excellent way to diversify your wardrobe without buying more.

Socks, ties, and pocket squares, what do I do with them?

Socks, ties, and pocket squares, what do I do with them?

First and foremost: don’t buy them as a set. The first step is to buy accessories that you find attractive; you can’t go wrong with that. To find them, simply visit thrift stores, as mentioned earlier. You can find wonderful accessories at very low prices, and even from well-known brands!

The accessories

The accessories

Here are some basic rules for accessories to help you make better purchases and have a clearer understanding.

If you choose to wear a pocket square, it should be coordinated with your shirt, and nothing else! It is a common mistake to try to match it with the tie. For example, if your shirt is solid, a pocket square in the same colour but with patterns can be a good option. However, these are not hard and fast rules. Feel free to explore and express your personal style with what inspires you the most!

Get yourself a few striped, floral, and solid pocket squares. Say goodbye to checkered patterns and Snoopy ties! Colours like red, orange, and blue are good starting points.

Prioritize solid colours over patterns. Get yourself a variety of socks in different complementary colours to match your ties. Too often, people try to stand out with funky socks instead of focusing on their suit. Remember, it’s not the socks that elevate a suit to the next level.

Complementary accessories

Complementary accessories

If there’s one thing to remember about complementing accessories, it’s to match the following elements:

  • Belt and shoes
  • Pocket square and shirt
  • Tie and socks

By coordinating these elements, you’ll be on the right track in terms of enhancing the beauty and effectiveness of your outfit. Of course, the world of style is vast, and there are countless ways to coordinate your clothing pieces, but this is a good starting point.

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