How to Build an Idiot-Proof Wardrobe

The Basic Bastard module by Reddit's r/malefashionadvice is an easy cluster of outfits for men.

Style guides, including the ones we write, are made with the good intention of helping you dress better. Though these primers cover the basics, from pairing colors and prints to choosing the right fit for your body type, sometimes they just don't get through to you.

A wealth of new information can be overwhelming to the style newbie, who may give up on the process when faced with a laundry list of rules to remember. There are guys who simply cannot be bothered to care about what they put on in the morning, too.

Still, clothing is important. As one of the first things that people notice about you, what you wear conveys how you want to present yourself to the world. Fortunately, the good folks at Reddit are making the process of choosing clothes easier. At r/malefashionadvice, the subreddit’s style authorities have created the Basic Bastard wardrobe module, a simple and fail-safe cluster of outfits made for the man who is new to the idea of dressing well. 

First posted by u/Metcarfre, the Basic Bastard includes plain and classic pieces (an oxford cloth button-down shirt, a pair of chinos) that you can find at your local stores, making this rotation of clothes simple, easy, and affordable. The MFA subreddit advises that the Basic Bastard, which is based on the fundamental tenets of menswear, is a good place to start before developing your own personal style. In short, cover all the bases first before experimenting with trends. Walk before you run. 


Know the fit and color first.

The first and perhaps most important takeaway from the Basic Bastard guide is mastering the fit. That means your shoulder seams should be found exactly where your shoulders are, your buttons should fasten without straining against the fabric, and your pants should only barely touch your shoes (employ a half-break), among others. It also recommends light colors and neutrals such as white, gray, and light blue. Keeping these in mind, any shirt or bottom you decide to wear in the morning will most likely pair well together.

Here, a breakdown of Reddit’s Basic Bastard wardrobe. Spot the missing pieces in your collection. 

1| Start with a plain crew-neck T-shirt in white or gray. 

A crew-neck T-shirt in a streamlined fit is superior. Its plain appearance makes it ideal for dressing up or down: Wear with a pair of dark jeans for a workwear-inspired look or layer it under a sport coat and trousers for cocktails. In white or gray, this T-shirt will go with most colors. 

T-shirt by Uniqlo,

Photo by UNIQLO.
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2| Also get oxford button-down shirts in white and light blue.

Meanwhile, it’s important to have an oxford cloth button-down shirt for dressier events. Even if you think you’re the most casual guy ever, this will come in handy for job interviews, business meetings, events, and weddings. Be sure to get one in white and also light blue for a subtle play on colors. Another idea: When layering, opt for a sweater or a sweatshirt in gray, oatmeal, navy, or maroon. When paired with these colors, the shirt gives off a collegiate vibe. 

Shirt by Brooks Brothers,


3| Choose un-distressed jeans in dark indigo or black.

If you’re getting jeans, get them in dark unfaded colors such as indigo or black. The moment denim fades or frays, it loses its ability to be worn in business casual situations. Dark, straight-leg jeans are an appropriate choice for smart casual occasions. You can pair these with oxford button-down shirts and Chelsea boots or loafers. 


Jeans by Zara,

Photo by ZARA.

4| Chinos should be in olive or caramel.

That being said, the ruggedness of denim can’t capture the polish of chinos, so make sure to include a pair of chinos in your closet. Chinos in olive and caramel make for versatile choices. Should you find the need to wear a belt, get a plain one in a medium brown color. 

Chinos by Gap,

Photo by GAP.

5| Opt for flat-front chino shorts—never cargo shorts.

Step away from the cargo shorts. For casual days strolling around the city, opt for flat-front (no pleats) chino shorts in olive, khaki, or navy. These colors will work with any kind of print or hue, so you won’t have to fuss about deciding what shirt to put on in the morning. Feel free to wear with a crew-neck tee, an oxford button-down shirt, or a polo shirt. 

Shorts by Mango,

Photo by MANGO.

6| Get a classic raincoat.

Don’t get drenched in the downpour. Shield yourself from the rain with a utilitarian raincoat with timeless appeal. That means skipping the plastic raincoat and going for an athletic yet multi-functional piece. Some brands recommended by MFA include Penfield Gibson, Patagonia Torrentshell, Marmot Precip, and Rains.

Raincoat by Patagonia,


7| Get a light jacket.

For brisk breezes, a light jacket will keep you warm. Consider smart yet functional options such as a denim jacket, a bomber jacket, a Harrington jacket, or a chore coat. 

Bomber jacket by Saint Laurent,

Photo by YSL.

8| Plain white sneakers are a must.

Like Reddit, we’ve long advocated plain white sneakers as part of a regular wardrobe. Some reasonably priced suggestions are the Adidas Stan Smiths, Jack Purcell Canvas Low Tops, K-Swiss Court Shoes, and the Sperry Striper II Shoes. 

Sneakers by Nike,

Photo by NIKE.

9| Add brown boots to your rotation of shoes.

To avoid wearing out your shoes and cultivating undesirable odors, it’s important to switch out your favorite pair for another. Brown boots are a stylish addition to your closet as they lend a different personality to your appearance. Look into Red Wing, Golden Fox, Clark Desert Boots, Eastland, and L.L. Bean. These are perfect for braving the outdoors on weekends or when you just want to inject a workwear vibe into your look.

Boots by Red Wing,


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