We're not going to lie - your twenties are tricky. While you will probably be in the best shape of your life and trim enough that you can wear pretty much anything you want (and if not, check out our guide on how to lose belly fat), you will also go through a massive transformation as you leave uni behind and start establishing your career. In short, you're a grown man now and the key to mastering how to dress in your twenties can be summed up in two words: capsule wardrobe.
This is the time to invest in important go-to pieces that will form the foundation of your wardrobe for many years to come, and make you feel great every time you slip them on: hard-wearing chinos, good jeans, smart shoes, your first proper suit and a decent watch.
However, this is also the time to experiment with trends - yes, you'll make mistakes with colours and patterns, but, heck, you're young - now's the time to do it and work out what looks good on you.
Towards the end of the decade, go for your first designer pieces - although we'd recommend you start small with ties, cufflinks or wallets, and work your way up as your budget expands with your wage.
In short, this is the first decade of the rest of your life - so make sure you start it in style.
Well-dressed British men in their twenties
Nicholas Hoult, 28
Tinie Tempah, 29
Douglas Booth, 25
John Boyega, 25
Oliver Cheshire, 29
How to dress in your twenties: 5 golden rules
1) Go for slim cuts
You are in the best shape of your life right now, and you don't need to spend hours in the gym to maintain it. Make the most of it by searching out clothes with slim cuts (note: not skinny cuts) that don't swamp you in acres of excess fabric.
2) Get to know your colour
Now's the time to figure out which colours work best on you. As a general rule, lighter colors work best on darker skin tones (pale blue, yellow, pastel pink, white) and darker colours work best on lighter skin tones (navy blue, dark green, dark red, brown). When you've decided on which you feel most comfortable in, adopt it as the backbone of your accessories game. If you invest in socks, pocket squares and ties that are both solid and have hints of the colour in a pattern, you have created a thoroughly interchangeable selection.
There are more shops out there catering to guys in their twenties than guys in any other age bracket. Make the most of it by trying out different patterns and more trend-led items that can be added into your core wardrobe as the seasons change. Smart jogging bottoms, colourful Nineties-style fleeces or a summer-appropriate sandals are all good trend-items to try right now, should budgets allow.
4) Make friends with a tailor and a barber
Never, ever underestimate the power of a good haircut and an expertly fitted suit. Get to know these men and/or women now and they will keep you looking good for years to come. Remember, a relatively inexpensive suit can look like it's come from Savile Row if it's fitted right.
5) Learn to look after your shoes
This is a decade where making the right first impression counts, whether that be going on a job interview or getting out there on the dating scene. It's often said that shoes are the first thing a person notices about your outfit, either consciously or subconsciously, are your shoes - so they'd better be shiny. If you don't know how to polish your formal shoes yet, take a look at our handy How To. For trainers, invest in a bottle of Mr Black's shoe cleaner spray, which will keep your trainers looking fresh.
Items you should buy in your twenties:
What you quickly learn in this decade is that white shirts go with everything and at any occasion. Over the years stock up with a mixture of formal collars (preferably semi-cutaway with removable bones) and button-downs, and make sure there's always a few hanging in your wardrobe.
Your first proper suit
When you're starting it's best to go for one decent suit that's going to have you covered for weddings, interviews, work and any other occasion you might need. The most versatile colour you can go for is a plain, deep navy, however go for wool-cotton mix (check the label for sweat-inducing man-made fibres) with a half-lining - something that will be light enough to wear with a shirt in summer, but can be layered-up in winter with a jumper and a coat. Finally, unless you're a model, make sure you budget an extra £50 or so to get it properly tailored to you - that way you know it'll fit just right every time you slip it on.
A go-anywhere watch
Much like your suit, it's worth getting a smart watch that goes with everything you own. Our advice is to go for a metallic Milanese strap, of which you can find many quartz-powered iterations right now. Alternatively, if you're in the kind of career where you get a generous bonus once a year, consider treating yourself to your first mechanical timepiece, such as a Tudor Black Bay or Victorinox Night Vision.
If you're looking for trainers that will go with as many of your outfits as possible, opt for white canvas or leather in a classic shape - our particular favourites are Converse Jack Purcells, Common Projects or Nike Air Max (either 1 or 90), but there are plenty of own-brand iterations that are just as worth checking out (see our top hits below). After that, invest in Mr Black's Shoe Cleaner and Sneaker Refresh sprays to keep them looking and smelling fresh for years to come.
You will wear jeans more than almost any other item in your wardrobe, so it's worth spending a little more on them - and it's certainly worth getting the fit right (find a label or two and stick to them). Wash-wise, it's best to go for a dark or mid-indigo selvedge denim that you can wear with everything else in your wardrobe (including that navy suit jacket you've just bought as well). Patches and distressing are fine, but it's best to repair as you wear rather than buying ready-made iterations (if you buy at Levi's you can do this at the label's in-house denim tailor).
Not just for gigs - get the right leather jacket (one that fits like a second skin) and you can wear it as an extra layer under your overcoat in the winter or over your suit. You can get some surprisingly reasonable leather jackets on the high street right now, and that's also where you'll find a slew of more contemporary cuts - although we suggest starting out with either a zip-up biker or baseball shape.
At a minimum you will need two pairs of smart shoes: one black and one brown (dark not tan). The general rule is that the simpler the style, the more outfits it will go with. Our advice is to either go for a double monk strap or Derby style in each. If you have a bit more money to spare, invest in a pair of Chelsea boots too for the winter.
- Uni hoodies
- Deep V-neck T-shirts
- Flip-flops (except if you're on a beach)
- Novelty pants or socks