Buying a piece of clothing for your father, brother, uncle, cousin, or husband is a difficult proposition that can go one of two ways: 1) He hates it and that’s the end of that or 2) he loves it and will never let you forget that time you bought him that extra-soft, extra-special T-shirt that lasted him four years and never once got pit stains. You want the latter.
So, if you must get you guy a garment this holiday season, please make it one of these menswear essentials. From beanies to tees to sweatshirts to slip-ons, we have the most basic of all basic menswear — but with an upgrade. Check out our men’s basics gift guide below for a few options to dress your dude.
Tommy John Second Skin Boxer Brief – $34
With a contour pouch to keep your boys in place and 360 degree stretch, these Second Skin boxers by Tommy John form the foundation for a great outfit.
Pair of Thieves Superfit Boxer Brief – $20
Made from a slick fabric that’s super stretchy, cool to the touch, and is moisture wicking, these Superfit boxer briefs live up to their name. For other great underwear brands, check out this list.
Mack Weldon Crewneck Undershirt – $32
You can’t get more basic than a plain white t-shirt. And you also won’t find a better version of it.
Original Penguin Jaspe Stripe Tee – $49
This is a basic t-shirt designed to be worn all on its own. Cut slim around the chest and waist, the Jaspe striped t-shirt pairs perfectly with chinos and a clean pair of sneakers for that classic, American look.
Rhone Basecamp Jogger Pants – $90
Rhone has a reputation for making excellent sportswear and that reputation is safe with these Basecamp Joggers. Slim, but not tight, soft, but not weak, these sweatpants are the perfect post-apres-ski leg warmer.
Tommy John Go Anywhere Jogger – $115
Quick-drying, moisture-wicking, four-way stretch, locking ankle zipper. These are the reasons Tommy John’s jogger are on our basics list. Wear them indoors out, running, or sitting still. They work in every situation where a real pair of pants aren’t required.
Taylor Stitch The California – $125
Made from 100-percent Japanese milled and printed cotton with tailored armholes and horn buttons, The California from Taylor Stitch is the ultimate basic collared shirt. Dark enough to match anything with just the right pop of print, multiple looks can be built around this single piece.
Faherty Breezecloth Ventura Shirt – $69
Every man needs a lightweight short-sleeved shirt for those hot summer days. A super breathable combination of cotton and linen, this shirt says easy relaxation.
Proof Nomad – $98
One of our favorite travel pants, Proof Nomad features four-way stretch that is both water and stain resistant. The design is also streamlined, simple, and the material durable enough, that these pants can be worn anywhere from the office to the great outdoors.
Western Rise AT Slim Rivet Pant – $129
Made from, as Western Rise puts it, “stretch nylon canvas with air-texturized fibers for a supple hand feel that makes them both lighter and more durable than cotton denim,” these pants are the ultimate backcountry-to-bar bottoms. One of our editors wore these while foraging for mushrooms in a forest and then to a fancy dinner that evening. No one noticed. And that’s why these are your best bet for basic pants.
American Giant French Terry Crew – $69
Clean, simple, warm. What else do you need from a sweatshirt? This one from American Giant comes in six colors and in sizes up to XXL.
H&M Pile-Lined Hooded Sweatshirt – $40
Normally, we we’re not big fans of H&M. Fast fashion just isn’t that great for the environment or style. But this hooded sweatshirt with a fresh melange pattern is low-cost and thick enough to warrant a trip to the mall.
Marine Layer Crosby Crewneck – $125
A modern take on the classic fisherman’s sweater, no man can go wrong in gray cotton. Using a moss stitch to texturize the piece, the Crosby Crewneck will be the best (and most useful) gift your guy gets all season.
Nordstrom Merino Wool Turtleneck – $85
The turtleneck is dead. Long live the turtleneck! But, seriously, this style of sweater is back in a big way. And who can resist putting one on and channeling Archer and his “tacticalneck” mentality.
Penfield Nashua Jacket – $215
Down-filled with a cotton and polyester, water- and wind-resistant exterior, the Penfield Nahua jacket is lightweight, durable, and warm. It’s also casual, slightly sporty, and remarkable stylish. Go with the neutral navy for a better blend into an already existing wardrobe.
Ministry of Supply Going Places Bomber Jacket – $235
The old-school bomber silhouette gets a modern update in this sleek, streamlined iteration by Ministry of Supply. This jacket’s stretchy, abrasion resistant, and moisture-wicking, meaning you won’t get overheated, but a few bystanders might feel that way seeing the man in your life wearing this.
NAU Altiplano Alpaca Hat – $45
Much like the recently featured Paka sweater made form alpaca wool, this Altiplano Alpaca beanie is reminiscent of traditional fishermen’s hats with the added benefit of being warmer and softer.
Drake’s Ribbed Donegal Merino Wool Beanie – $75
Consider this a step up from the NAU beanie. Drake’s Donegal Merino Wool version is spun with orange, red, and green merino yarns for fun flecks of color. The thick, ribbed texture also keeps you warm without riding up, making sure ears aren’t exposed to the cold.
House of Future Original Slip-On Sneaker – $110
A simple slip-on that every guy needs. Minimalist, leather, and comfortable — a perfect base for an outfit during any season.
Allbirds Wool Runners – $95
Soft, lightweight, and breathable, Allbirds Wool Runners can be worn sockless and also tossed in the washing machine. It’s the best of both the performance and style worlds.
WP Standard Messenger Bag – $295
Every man needs a good messenger bag in his life. And this one from WP Standard is the perfect, simple, yet stylish option.
Monolith Minimal Pack – $120
Sleek, mod, and minimal, this backpack from Monolith will look just as good in the office as it does on the way to the gym.
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