There are a virtually infinite number of ways to dress, but if you’ve decided that classic men’s style is the aesthetic you want to build your wardrobe and look around, it’s critical to know what defines this form of fashion – and what types of dress completely miss the mark.

The Fundamentals of Men’s Classic Style

At its core, timeless style for men can be boiled down to 5 essential elements:

  • Fit
  • Fabric
  • Quality
  • Cut
  • Color
A man wears a Saint Croix blazer, crewneck sweater, and white crewneck undershirt.

Find a Flattering Fit

Whether it’s a pair of men’s dress pants or a seasonal staple blazer, finding the proper fit for your garments is an absolute must when it comes to dressing well. Classic style, among the other fundamentals, is all about wearing garments that appear as if they’ve been made for you.

Model wears a Merino Wool Plaid Knit Blazer with a classic black Turtleneck sweater layered underneath.

If you have the means and desire, consider investing in custom-tailored pieces that adhere to your specific measurements and body type. It’s only rational to get fitted before buying a suit – the same sentiment should ideally apply to all pieces you plan to add to your classic fashion arsenal.

If you don’t want to go through the tape-measure-tangled hassle of a fitting, do a bit of research on high-quality brands whose looks you like, and take note of their sizing guides. If you have even a general idea of what sizes you usually wear and what measurements tend to fit, you can be relatively confident that their items will suit you well. Luxury and designer brands, such as SAINT CROIX, extend great effort to ensure their sizes remain consistent, season after season and across all collections.

Focus on Fine Fabrics

The type of fabric used to make your clothing plays a key role in whether it falls into the “classic style” category. As a rule of thumb, consider synthetics out – not only are manmade artificial fabrics like acrylic and polyester sure to lose shape, color, and comfortability in relatively little time, they’re also far-reaching in their deleterious impacts on the environment. No thanks!

When seeking out staples of your classic style wardrobe, look for high-quality fabrics such as Merino wool, cashmere, organic cotton, linen, silk, etc. These fabrics are made to last for decades of regular wear, so of course they’re perfect for interchanging in any number of ageless ensembles. Trustworthy luxury labels will provide information on the quality of fabrics they use, and what sets them apart from mass-produced brands.

A close up of a golden yellow cashmere scarf.

Take note: some fine fabrics can be machine washed, but most require handwashing or dry cleaning to protect the materials and ensure longevity of the garment. Always check product care instructions on the garment tag or ask a stylist from the store where you purchased the item how best to care for your clothing.

Keep It High-Quality

A classic style is, as the name suggests, timeless and immune to the ever-changing tides of quick trends. You’ll want to select high-quality pieces to build your classic wardrobe to ensure they withstand the test of time as impressively as the aesthetic itself.

Close up of a "made in the USA" garment tag

A high-quality garment can be discerned in several ways: where it’s made, who makes it, and what materials go into the apparel. We’ve already touched on fabrics. As for where it’s made and who makes it, you can usually trust well known designers and luxury brands from the US, Italy, France, the UK, Scotland (an underrated knitwear exporter), and Japan (reputable, among other creations, for its raw denim). 

If you’re conscious about sustainability, try to buy classic style pieces from domestic manufacturers, or countries that are closer to where you live.

A few of our recommendations for high-quality classic men’s clothing are:

  • Loro Piana
  • Brunello Cucinelli
  • Saint Laurent

Consider the Cut

Whether it’s a crisp button-down or a staple pair of dress pants, all pieces of classic menswear should share commonalities when it comes to cut.

Classic clothing is characterized as such because it never goes out of style and can complement many versatile looks. For this reason, the cut of such garments is generally going to be clean, simple, and minimalist.

When you’re looking for pieces to add to your wardrobe of classics, look for straight, seamless lines; even and flattering hems; and traditional lapels, buttons, zipper, and other fasteners. Remember that you can always make a classic look more exciting by opting for a flashier shirt or an accented accessory, but the base layers themselves should remain understated.

A close up image of three pairs of Saint Croix dress pants, in black, dark gray, and rich walnut brown.

Choose Colors Carefully

The pieces comprising a classic wardrobe are characterized by versatile colors that can be paired with many other elements to create a virtually limitless number of ensembles. Some of the best classic colors to start your menswear collection with include:

  • Black
  • White
  • Navy blue
  • Gray
Man wearing black Saint Croix long-sleeve polo with sand-colored dress pants.

Earth tones and neutrals are also very adaptable, so don’t feel exclusively limited to a ‘business casual’ class of hues. You can also create infinite classic looks with:

  • Taupe
  • Beige
  • Sand (like beige, with a cooler undertone)
  • Khaki
  • Cream
  • Blush/light pink
  • Sage green
  • Burnt orange
  • Moss/olive green

Finally, feel free to mix in some metallics, which enhance and play off all the above-mentioned colors:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Copper
  • Bronze

What Isn’t Classic Men’s Style?

Learning the essentials of classic dress is one thing, but it’s also important to consider what isn’t designed to evolve with you and your wardrobe through the years.

If you’re intent on building a personal lookbook that’s truly timeless, you’ll want to avoid the following:

  • Fast fashion companies: The products of such brands are designed to turn a profit and capitalize on soon-to-pass trends, not to last a long time and complement a variety of looks.
  • Loud, hard-to-match colors: These severely limit the number of ensembles you can create, and generally should be reserved for minor accents and statement accessories.
  • Cheap garments: It’s true that you get what you pay for. Even though you might be saving a quick buck by shopping at Target, Walmart, or a lower-tier department store, you’ll end up spending more in the long run when you need to replace your fading, pilling, and deteriorating apparel.

Classic Style for Men: Open for Interpretation?

While all the fundamentals of classic men’s fashion covered in this blog are useful for informing style newcomers, it’s worth noting that all broad aesthetics offer room for personal expression. Your definition of “classic” won’t be the same as anyone else’s – because the way you dress should ideally be a reflection of you. Do consider this guide as you foray into luxury, bespoke, and designer menswear, but don’t forget that these are simply guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Just relax and have fun exploring the wide world of different looks and styles, and find what you feel most comfortable and confident in. When you do, you’ll know that’s the custom classic style that’s meant for you and you alone.

Ready to create or add to your uniquely classic wardrobe? Need some men’s modern fashion inspiration? SAINT CROIX has the finest USA-made collection of luxury menswear to meet all your unparalleled apparel needs.

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