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We walk through this life with a few basic requirements placed upon us: Sleep, eat, work towards something (even if it’s just towards your next meal), and put clothes on. I really do believe that we all have a duty to put something attractive or at least creative on our backs at least 50% of the time. Fashion is one of those amazingly undervalued expressions of free speech, and you don’t have to be wearing any current trends or expensive labels to be making a statement. Though I realize women may have more options as far as layering and prints and colors go, I don’t believe that men need more than just the basics covered to look as good as Ryan Gosling. Here are a few pieces of advice gathered throughout the years (any suggestions I give are budget conscious):

The basic outfit. See, it doesn’t look boring at all and you’re ready for anything.

1) Shake what yo mamma gave ya…

If you have nice eyes, play them up with your shirt color. If you are rail thin, go with the skinny jeans and embrace it. If you have some work to do on that extra something-something around the middle, invest in a nice blazer that you can wear to even out your shape. The point is not to be perfect, the point is to be confident.

2) Brick by brick, my citizens…

Invest in the basics first. Buy a couple of solid, well-fitting tees, a good pea-coat or military jacket, and some nice socks. You’ll be surprised how quickly you feel more put-together. American Apparel has the basic tee down pat, but my favorite is from Topman.

3) GET YOURSELF A GOOD PAIR OF JEANS

These jeans fit well and aren’t terribly trendy which means they’ll last.

Levi’s are wonderful, no dispute here, but try different colors, styles and sizes. Bring someone with you whose style you admire and get their help. Black jeans are a great option. Head to J Crew for some classics, Uniqlo for some budget buys, or if you’re ready to take a plunge, invest with a pair of Acne brand.

4) Invest in quality material…

Cashmere sweaters look damn good in the fall. A nice quality wool coat will get you through many winters, and a beautiful pair of shoes can make people literally stop and stare. Insider advice: hit up eBay.

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Although these particular shoes (the Wolverine 1000 mile) are not within most budgets, hit up the Haight or Mission St. thrift stores and look for brown leather ankle boots with a thin sole.

5) Shop Vintage

Do it because it’s a responsible way to recycle, do it because there are unique pieces that no one else has, do it because it’s cheap. My favorite vintage in the city for men: Old Vogue at 1412 Grant St. Take my word for it.

Now, for some things to not do:

 -Don’t dwell on your wardrobe too long. Pull on that pair of perfect jeans and a tee and save the crazy threads for another day.

In my opinion, the cheap piece of metal around his wrist steals the show.

-Don’t worry about brands

If it looks good on you and it will last, then it doesn’t matter if you got it at a boutique or at Bloomies.

 -Don’t try to look like everyone else.

You have a unique opportunity to represent yourself each day. Take advantage and let the other dude don the trendy stuff.

-Don’t ever wear a cheap watch.