Not so long ago, a lot of men didn't care so much about appearances. But that's changed, says John Varvatos, who has built a thriving business offering men hip clothing options in his Houston store and around the globe.
"The world is so small today with the Internet and magazines and television and movies and all that, guys are much more aware," Varvatos says. "Guys care about their grooming, they care about their physique, their physical shape. And those things mean a lot more to them."
So what are five staples that every well-dress man should own and wear often? Varvatos recommends:
1. A well-fitting dark suit
"A lot of guys will say, 'I bought this suit on sale' but I look at them and they look a little sloppy," Varvatos says.
A suit doesn't have to be expensive, he adds, but it needs to be well-tailored, with pants tapered properly and the shoulder and body fit that looks appropriate to your physique. "Whether you are slim or heavy, you can get a well-fitting suit," he says.
He doesn't have a preference whether it's black or gray or navy, but "something dark will be very versatile."
He has a high-powered attorney friend "who is brilliant and is a partner in one of the biggest firms in New York, but I always feel like he looks a little sloppy, even down to his shoes," Varvatos says. "So I told him a few weeks ago, come to the store and I'm going to take care of you. And he felt transformed in the mirror. He had himself in loose-fitting, baggy pleated pants and all of sudden he had something cleaner, not tight at all, but clean and sleek.
"And he said, 'Wow, I feel like I'm 20 pounds less.' And I said, 'When that suit is altered, wait till you see what your wife and your friends are going to think when you walk into the office.' Those are important things that you should feel good about."
2. A great fitting pair of jeans
"The girls use to always care about how their ass looked in jeans, but the guys do too now," Varvatos says.
3. A nice pair of boots
"Whether it's a simple boot that you can wear with a suit or a pair of jeans, it's kind of a staple thing," Varvatos says. "We have a big shoe business and I would say boots are 70 percent of that. And they're not all tough-looking boots: some are elegant."
If you're not into boots, look to a pair of lace-ups or a cool set of sneakers. "I remembered when I started the company 15 years ago, someone said, 'Wow, you really have a big shoe collection,' " Varvatos said. "Shoes are the one thing that guys can make a statement in. Today, guys have closets full of shoes. And closets full of sneakers. It's really changed."
4. A hip motorcycle jacket
Varvatos believes every man should own some type of leather jacket. "It doesn't have to be all belted and zippered and all that kind of thing. Just a cool leather jacket," he says.
"I have one that I still wear that I got when I was in high school. It actually fits me probably better because back then I probably bought it a little big. It's so beat up now but it's the one possession if my place was ever on fire, that I'd want to get it out. It's irreplaceable. A great leather jacket that will be timeless for you."
5. A white shirt
A white shirt works, particularly for busy travelers, because it goes with just about everything. "If you have a dark suit and a pair of jeans and you have that white shirt and the boots, you can really mix and match a bit," he says. "They're pretty simple. It's not that complicated."