Let me preface this by telling you one thing…
I hate consumerism as much as the next man. This guide was intended to help you discover things you might be missing out on. Nothing more, nothing less.
Sure, I could have listed 1,000 things every man should own, but you get the idea. There’s a fair mix of both products and personality…
With that said, here we go:
57 THINGS EVERY MAN SHOULD OWN / HAVE
This isn’t just about telling the literal truth. Being honest also involves what you tell yourself, how you set goals, and how you treat other people. Yes, tell the truth, but it also means to be compassionate and to have empathy for the struggles of others, because there’s more than one way to deliver honesty.
Having honesty means you don’t take more than your share, or credit for a good deed you haven’t done, but you don’t shirk praise out of false modesty, either. If you do good work, be proud of it.
One of the small details of your quality wardrobe, good belts made of real leather are like dress socks and good shirts. When you don’t have them, people notice, especially if you’ve taken the time to have a suit tailored. One or two belts will stand you in good stead and last for years.
Like those other small touches, belts are a necessary investment that all adult men usually make.
John Waters said, “If you go home with someone and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.” That’s because people who don’t read are less likely to be knowledgeable, open to new information, and can sometimes just be downright boring. Just as you tend to the fitness and health of your body, you should perform regular maintenance on your mind by reading good books.
Pick ones that speak to your interests, not just those that are popular with others, but do read and attempt to branch out every so often. Learning doesn’t stop with formal education, it stops with your heartbeat and respiration.
Whether you’re clearing an overgrown back yard or taking to the mountains for a weekend hiking trip, boots should be a part of your wardrobe. These protect your feet from environmental hazards, be it weather and mud or forest creatures you unwittingly disturb. A sturdy pair of boots is never a bad investment.
You can cook everything in this—all the things! Properly seasoned skillets will last more than a human lifetime and transition well from kitchen to campfire. It’s hard to overstate the usefulness of this single pan, and you really should be excited about it, because it makes being an awesome adult that much easier.
You could easily have only this and perhaps a saucepan for soups in your kitchen, and you would be set. It really is that simple. Plus, recipes for this particular pan are easy to make, located everywhere, and can motivate you to expand your culinary skill. Also, bacon.
This is one of those kitchen tools that helps you maximize utility without taking up space. A good chef’s knife is an investment, and a high quality blade will be expensive. However, it replaces the need for many other cheap or substandard knives.
Many top quality knives come with warranties stating they’ll replace the blade if it breaks or chips.
These are exactly what they sound like. They keep casual button down shirt collars looking fresh and in place without having to fiddle with that tiny button. These clips add a bit of weight and stiffness to the fabric of the collar to keep it from flopping open.
You’ll look fresh and casual without looking sloppy.
Hey, remember that new friendship you formed with your local tailor? This would be why. Every adult man has at least one really nice looking suit of clothes that fits properly. This can be for formal occasions, such as weddings or parties. However, it can also be the perfect calling card if you’re looking to move up in the world—a.k.a.
The Interview Experience. Hiring managers for non-service industry, salaried positions pay attention to these things.
Not only is this item a classic manly wardrobe essential, it’s also warm and versatile. Real wool is water resistant enough to keep you dry on your dash through a sudden downpour. As well, if you actually do get a thorough soaking, it’s still warm.
Pea Coats of any length—whether you elect to purchase the classic Navy style coat or go with a shorter, modern cut, will stand you in good stead from slightly chilly springtime weather to blizzard conditions.
Having a signature scent is a part of building the complete man idea with the people you meet. It doesn’t have to be flashy or bold. You can choose an understated fragrance that speaks mildly of lemons, herbs, or even leather. This will take some shopping around, so don’t just snag the first one you try.
Take time to experience what’s out there and find one that is uniquely you.
If you’re a sexually active male, irrespective of your orientation, having condoms is a part of the game plan. Being responsible and planning ahead isn’t presumptuous. Expecting your partner, casual or committed, to tend to this detail for you is.
Plus, everyone is different and finding the brand and type that suit you best is something only you can determine. Do your part to ensure a healthy, pleasurable interaction every time.
Owning one or more pairs of neutrally-toned dress shoes is all a part of having a professional wardrobe. These are items that, if they don’t get regular use, they are still extremely useful.
They are building blocks, to go with your tailored suit or suits, but they can also be paired with business casual attire or dress casual for an evening out at a nice venue.
Even if it’s just a little bonsai and a few potted herb plants on your windowsill, having a garden changes you. It requires you to notice something beyond yourself, and to make provision for the care of something that is alive. Plus, watching bulbs or seeds put up the first green shoots in the spring offers perspective.
Watching a garden come to life, growing and changing on a daily basis is a reflection for persistent self-growth in many ways. Plus, many herb plants are easy to grow and super-tasty in food you cook for yourself.
Having glasses to serve drinks to guests is a must. Don’t be that guy—you know, the one who serves his date or his buddies beverages in reused soda fountain plastic cups. Getting a set of glassware is much like having silverware or dinnerware. It’s just what grownups do, as much for themselves as for guests.
At the end of the day, this is a relatively inexpensive aspect of creating a home of your own. Four of each—juice glasses, water glasses, and adult beverage glasses—are usually sufficient as a starting point.
Real men take time with the details of their hygiene. Keeping your nails trimmed and clean is actually a huge adult move. Have a small grooming kit that includes nail clippers, scissors, tweezers, and a nail file for hangnail or splinter emergencies.
It’s part of planning ahead and taking care of yourself.
You needn’t bulk up, but belonging to a gym or maintaining an at-home regimen is one of the hallmarks of caring for your body. It works hard to keep you moving, so give it the gift of good fitness. Not only will it improve your health, your attitude, and help you think more clearly, it also sends a message to everyone you meet.
It says, “My health matters to me. I matter to me.” You need never speak directly about it, because it will show.
Being self-sufficient and presenting a neat appearance are two parts of growing up. Iron those things that require it, such as dress shirts and clothes that have a tendency to wrinkle in the wash. Likely, your mother did it for you when you were younger, but those days are over, Man.
Being freshly pressed in every social circumstance proclaims you someone who takes time to tend to details, and that’s positive press coverage you want to attract.
Khakis may be acceptable business casual attire, but at some point in your life, you will have a khaki crisis. If all the pants in your closet are the same drab tan and you’re not a member of the military, you may want to branch out. Jeans, which can be tailored to fit the way you want, are an excellent casual choice, and can even be dressed up with a blazer if an occasion requires.
Plus, they’ll take a beating if need be and wash up just as pretty next laundry day.
Okay, so you didn’t become a cowboy, a space explorer, or a rock star like you wanted to be when you were very young. However, having a career you truly get into and are excited about is one of the things that truly fulfilled adults look for in life. It helps you use your talents, stretches your abilities, and offers you a constant potential for growth and engagement.
At the end of the day, having a job must pay the bills, but if it doesn’t feed your intellect, it’s killing you.
A lighter that isn’t disposable should be a part of your I’m Going to See People Who Aren’t Myself kit, along with various other sundries we’ll cover later. Don’t think of it as a personal smoking implement. Lighters are useful for starting a camp fire, unsticking a stubborn ballpoint pen that won’t write, lighting a lady’s cigarette, or starting a can of sterno, to name just a few uses. Having one shows that you are always prepared, which is an attractive and memorable trait.
This is a part of good grooming and health. Cracked, dry lips are painful, and they look bad, too. Having a good quality lip balm that does its job is worth all the bargain-bin lip products on the market. Your skin, lips included, is a barrier between you and all the air-born irritants or diseases with which you come into contact on a daily basis. So, keep your lips healthy, moisturized, and soft. Your lady friends will thank you for it, too.
Having a pen that doesn’t come in a multi-pack and isn’t made of plastic is actually a huge sign that you’re an adult. It, like nice shoes, a good watch, or a sport coat, is an investment. It need not be the most expensive pen to be nice, simply a metal pen that takes refills rather than getting tossed out when it’s empty.
This isn’t a luxury, though it does mark you as a person who enjoys quality things and values personal items with longevity.
It’s never a bad thing to be informed about events happening in your world—whether on the local or global level. Taking time each day to familiarize yourself with the most pressing events can seem like a luxury. It isn’t.
It will inform every interaction you have with others on a daily basis, and also help to shape how you view your own actions, helping you to be a mindful and mature human being.
Quite aside from impressing your overnight guests, good quality sheets are a statement of your appreciation for quality in every aspect of your life. Plus, they feel good on your skin, wear better over the years, and retain their good looks without pilling or tearing.
So whether you put them on your guest bed for when your parents come to town or you’re keeping company of a more intimate sort, good sheets are a small, but infinitely noteworthy adult investment.
Setting attainable goals requires a bit of pen-and-paper time. You need to lay it all out there on a time line so you can see where you want to be, and brainstorm on the incremental steps it will require to get you there. A calendar is one way to do this—giving you the space you need to visualize your game plan and turn a pipe dream into a solid action plan.
These should live in your car’s trunk. If you’ve ever had an automotive emergency that required these but were without them, and couldn’t find any friendly stranger to help, that should be reason enough to purchase your own.
As well—while you could stop at the personal memory—you just might be able to save someone else’s day through a small gesture of kindness.
This is your travel toiletries bag and gear. Every man should have this. A little leather bag or case that holds travel shaving gear and hygiene products. These kits keep all your necessities together so you can’t forget anything when you travel and you won’t lose track of all the various parts of your grooming routine when on the road.
File this item under Manly Organizational Tools.
ZZ Top songs aside, having a pair of sunglasses that are well crafted and stylish with every outfit is just one of those aspects of being an adult man. They don’t need to be flashy or super expensive, but they do need to be made to last and crafted from materials that won’t break easily.
So, keep your cheap sunglasses for mowing the lawn or going to your six-year-old niece’s birthday party. Good sunglasses that never go out of style should be your go-to for everything else.
While renting a tuxedo is a bit more involved that bowling shoes, the two have things in common. This is one of those indispensable occasional features of an grown man’s wardrobe. Because, while you may plan never to marry, your friends and relatives certainly might. Moreover, if you progress upwards in the ranks of your chosen profession, there’s a possibility that you may have to attend an awards ceremony or company banquet at some point.
Having your own tux is a large clothing investment, but one which will pay for itself in the long run.
Having good button-down dress shirts in blue and white is a must. First of all, they go with every business suit ever, world without end. Second, you can wear them with everything else, too. So whether you send them out for heavy starch and pressing, or you run a hot iron over them at home to pair with jeans and loafers, they’re always going to look good. How can you beat that?
This is really one of the marks of being a true adult. You never know when you may have to leave the country for business or pleasure, and the renewal process can be lengthy. As well, it functions as a valid form of identification and can come in handy in a number of situations.
It’s one of those things you simply should have, like a social security card.
It’s been said that people who don’t have pets are only half alive. There’s a bit of truth to that. Even if you choose to have an iguana rather than a furry friend, caring for another life alters your priorities. It shows that you have enough resources to allocate them to a non-contributing member of a household, but it also shows that you care about something beyond yourself.
That’s a shift in priorities that shouldn’t be considered small, because it impacts every aspect of your life, and rewards you with the love and affection of another living being.
If you own a pair or two of nice shoes, having a tin of shoe polish and a soft cloth is a must. This helps you to keep them looking great long into the future, and can even help the body of the shoe last through several replacement soles.
While these each have an intended function, they also have seemingly innumerable alternate applications. They should be a permanent part of your tool box/house care kit. You can fix minor leaks, tie up cable out of harm’s way, or safely patch damaged trim and electrical outlets until a professional solution can be found.
This is one of those nice touches you can offer guests who come to stay in your home. While it certainly isn’t strictly essential for your wellbeing, it does indicate a certain amount of consideration and care on your part. Those who avail themselves of your hospitality will remember it and, consequently, think highly of you in the future.
Life is an accretive process, and we are constantly exposed to stimuli that may be incorporated into our neural net in other useful ways. Pocket notebooks are excellent for jotting down ideas, information, places to revisit, or facts to check up on at a later time.
Research shows that thoughts that are spoken or handwritten are incorporated into our long-term memories more completely than “just remembering” or even typing them out. The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.
Generally speaking, unless you decided to entertain a special friend, the only person who will ever see your underwear is you. That doesn’t make it any less important to have quality undergarments. Consider it the foundation of your wardrobe. Buy quality clothing, even if no one will ever see it.
It’s one of those secret confidence builders. You may not think about it in such explicit terms, but being dressed well from the skin out will impact how you interact with people, from the clerk at the grocery store to the person interviewing you for that spiffy job you want.
Not that your digital watch that you bought for a pittance doesn’t get the job done, but save it for workouts or running errands on your day off. A nice watch, which will be a bit more expensive, is a part of your wardrobe investment. It’s also made not to be tossed aside if part of it breaks or wears out. Quality construction of any watch can be discerned in how available replacement parts—batteries or winding knobs—are available.
You don’t need to tilt at windmills or slay any dragons to prove you have courage. In the present milieu, this can be as simple as owning a mistake, accepting the consequences for a thoughtless action, or staying calm and being fully present during a difficult personal conversation, such as a break up. Courage isn’t bravado.
Rather, it’s understanding who you are and sticking to that while facing adversity. It’s perseverance and integrity, and a sense of self-control under stress. This is something that few people of adult age have anymore, but is always a strong mark of true maturity.
This is essential, because you don’t always need a full suitcase or duffle bag. Whether you’re heading to a company retreat or perhaps having a little couple-time with a special lady, a shoulder bag will stand you in good stead.
It has enough space for all the essentials without being too bulky or difficult to deal with.
No, really, all in one. They exist, and you should definitely have one, because that’s awesome. Practically speaking, this tool will make you truly indispensable—which is adult-speak for Badass. You’ll be prepared for the impromptu party, or opening a lady’s bottle of beer in a pinch.
The knife is useful in any situation. Since you should have one of those for any trimming or basic cutting tasks, having a multitool of this variety isn’t a stretch.
This, along with other emergency supplies, should live permanently in your trunk. While not everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere gets huge drifts of snow, it can still get pretty chilly if you’re stuck in your car on a winter night.
Having a wool blanket will help keep you from hypothermia if it comes down to it, and it’s never a bad idea to always be prepared.
These come in handy for a number of tasks. Even if you live in an apartment, they’re great for those requests for help from friends and coworkers, or assisting a family member. Whether it’s trimming branches and raking leaves or moving heavy furniture for the incentive of pizza and beer, these will protect your hands from damage, and you’ll always be prepared to “pitch in.”
When it comes to being a desirable human being—whether for a prospective job or a second date—having a sense of humor can’t be overlooked. It means having fortitude, being able to find the positive aspects in any situation, and allowing others to be who they are.
Those who take pleasure in life are pleasant to be around, which is a large part of what it means to have good humor.
Having a pursuit that is entirely a work of pleasure—not for financial purposes—gives people a glimpse of a more complex personality than may be apparent at first glance. It also offers outsiders an opportunity to see you excited and involved in something that either involves team work, like sports, or focuses on something outside of yourself—be that a model collection or regular public service projects.
It’s entirely up to you how you choose to shine.
Looking good doesn’t have to break the bank. A bit of creative shopping for your clothes can get you good quality suits, shirts, and other wardrobe essentials. One thing we so often forget is that just because it “kind of fits” doesn’t mean it actually fits or looks good. Make friends with the tailor in your neighborhood; ask around for the one who turns out the best alterations for the most reasonable price.
Being well-groomed and wearing clothing that truly fits you—not just a set of numbers—will help you make a stellar first impression every time.
These are fantastic items to keep in the car or your kitchen drawer in case of a situation where you don’t have time to go hunting your toolbox. They’re relatively inexpensive and can come in handy in a pinch.
Plus, they minimize clutter by incorporating all the most necessary items into a single, ergonomic package.
Who needs this? You do. Even small home repair tasks can become gargantuan undertakings without the aid of this very simple tool, which tells you when a surface is flat, flush, and even. It can also help you to understand what repairs may be needed under professional supervision before you get started.
This should be a part of your grown-up tool kit that travels with you from home to home.
This is one of those essential building blocks for an adult wardrobe. Like nice shoes or a few pairs of jeans, they’re multipurpose and speak to a more mature sensibility. A sports jacket can be paired with everything from tailored trousers to jeans and loafers, and will always look good.
Leave the Velcro close hip wallet in the box with your middle school year books and sports trophies. An adult leather wallet is a feature of being a man who takes himself seriously, and is taken seriously by others.
It’s also a great thing to ask for as a birthday or holiday present from family or your significant other, if you aren’t sure what to look for.
Living on your own, you know things will break, need replacing, or just malfunction. As well, you will likely want to hang some wall art or put up a framed degree or diploma in your space. Having a tool kit makes being a self-sufficient adult that much simpler.
It has things like screw drivers, a hammer, nails and screws, and other necessary implements all in one place that you can easily access at need.
You’re a grown up, so eat like one. This often necessitates cooking for yourself, but unless you’ve always loved pottering about in the kitchen, that can feel like a huge challenge. A cookbook will make eating real, adult food easy, and limit your dinners of hotdogs and macaroni and cheese to the “last-minute emergency” category.
Plus, there are few people who don’t like a man who can cook for himself and others. It’s a life skill.
Cufflinks are a symbol that also happens to be useful. They symbolize that you take time with the finer details of dress, and that you value your appearance. Are they essential? No, most dress shirts have cuff buttons. But they offer a look of polish and are a relatively inexpensive detail of your personal dress habits.
You wear them to weddings and to business meetings. This is a small, but very noticeable aspect of dressing for the life and career you want.
Yes, your disposable razor does a nice enough job. But unless you want to go old school with a bowl of shaving soap and a straight razor, nothing gets a closer, smoother shave than an electric razor. Success is all about the tiny details of presenting yourself to the world—things you wouldn’t necessarily be able to point to, but that are a part of your whole image.
Having a close, neat shave is as essential as an unwrinkled shirt or a suit that actual fits.
Baggy, knee-length basketball shorts are not suitable for your cardio workout. They look sloppy and hinder your range of motion. So, leave them on the rack and buy some grown-up shorts that are designed to wick away moisture and keep you cool while not sagging or bunching.
You’d be amazed at the range of styles and fabric choices that don’t involve shiny polyester blends.
Yes, you’ve got the suit, you have the shirts, and the cufflinks, and the collar stays. Don’t, I repeat, do not, think you can wear white gym socks with it. Buy a couple of pairs of nice dress socks in black, navy blue, or dark brown—depending on the color of your suit—and consider them a part of that investment.
Keep your white sports socks for your workouts or casual outings and have a collection of business socks to go with your business suits.
Pocket squares and handkerchiefs are part and parcel of another set of values, another era. But they, like cufflinks and tiepins are small grace notes for your wardrobe that speak volumes to those with whom you interact. Pocket squares are often a bit dressier, made of silk or other fine cloth and worn in the breast pocket.
They’re made as much for show as use. Handkerchiefs are often sold at gentlemen’s shops in packs of three and can be sturdy cotton with no frills. However, handkerchiefs are useful—to wipe your sweating brow on a hot day, blow your nose, clean your hands after checking the oil, or an offer to dry the tears of someone in distress.
While most patterned neck ties have the design printed onto the cloth, there’s something to be said for the fine detail of the fine cloth in a plain color or highly refined embroidery. While most do not care for hand-stitched neck ties, there are a number of handsome fabrics and colors available in simple.
Solid fields that will match every suit and business casual outfit. Give stripes, checks, and paisley a rest occasionally and go with something more understated.