Transformers: 6 Wardrobe Staples That Adapt to Anything

Think of your wardrobe as a well-stocked fridge: From it, you only need a few basic ingredients to throw together a great combo. In fact, there are only six articles of clothing that you really must own, because of their versatility. Mix and match and accessorize properly, and the same elements will work equally well at the beach and dog run as they do at the office or a funeral (or both if you’re having a bad day). Here, the list.

White Button-down Shirt
“The white shirt is the most flexible piece of clothing you will ever own,” says Massimo Bizzocchi, menswear importer and owner of the eponymous downtown Manhattan boutique. Wear it with shorts and jeans for a more casual look, with chinos and a tie for work attire and with a dark suit to a formal event. For a traditional look, stick to 100 percent cotton broadcloth; for modern, try stretch cotton with a slightly slimmer fit.

Dark Rinse Jeans
“Dark denim jeans are considered the new standby,” says Bizzocchi. You can wear them with everything from a tailored jacket to a T-shirt and sneakers. “I like APC New Standard,” says Steven Taffel, owner and proprietor of Leffot, a high-end men’s clothing store in Manhattan. “They’re a crisp denim, and they don’t have any stitching on the back pockets. Paired with a white shirt, you have a blank canvas that you can accessorize with pretty much anything.”

Cashmere V-neck Sweater
You can wear this classic under a suit, with a pair of jeans -- with pretty much anything. “And if it gets too warm,” says Bizzocchi, “just take it off and wear it draped around your neck on top of your blazer.” If you’re only going to buy one, choose a neutral color like black, brown or charcoal. If you invest in a second, pick a bright color like green or pink that highlights one of your best traits (i.e., If you have blue eyes, go for bright blue).  

Navy Blazer
This jacket always looks great, whether you wear it with jeans or dress slacks. “Just lose the brass buttons,” says Taffel. “The buttons should always be dark.” And make sure to get the right fit -- you don’t want a lot of extra fabric through the body. The general rule is that if you can fit your arm in between the jacket and your chest, you have too much fabric and need to get it taken in.

Solid Dark Suit
“You need to have one of these regardless if you wear it to work or not,” says Taffel. “These days you could need it for a job interview, a wedding or a funeral.” A solid dark color (black, navy or charcoal gray) offers more flexibility in dressing up and down. Wear it on its own for a formal event and dress it down by pairing the jacket with jeans and a T-shirt. If you buy more than one, Bizzocchi recommends experimenting with browns. “A dark charcoal brown suit in a lightweight fabric has a lot of personality,” he says, “and it shows you have confidence.”

Stylish Sneakers
If you’d wear them to the gym or the basketball court, they do not go with jeans and a nice shirt on a Saturday night. Instead, go for something plain and simple that doesn’t read “gym.” Guess, Bally, Coach and Puma all make classic shoes that bridge the divide between athletic and fashion, and they read casual or dressy depending on the rest of your outfit (shorts, jeans or dark suit pants). “If I'm not in my boat shoes I wear a pair of Adidas white and blue Rod Laver sneakers,” says Taffel. “Sneakers have a life of their own.”

Don't Fear the Odd Hair -- Tame It

There’s nothing quite like your girlfriend saying, “Hey, did you know you have hair growing out of your … ?” to deflate the ego. But even though she might think ear or cheekbone hair is weird (doesn’t that only happen to grandpas?), it’s not. Hello, you’re just a guy! According to Garrett Pike, a barber at Martial Vivot Salon Pour Hommes in New York City, clients are constantly asking him about hairy trouble spots. “Definitely don’t be embarrassed to talk about stray hairs with your barber,” he advises. It’s like the doctor; he’s heard it all. And what you may think is odd is actually quite normal.

But that doesn’t mean you have an excuse for not taking care of stray hairs. Here, our expert reveals the best ways to deal with common problem areas so you’ll never have a girl look at you like you’re a Neanderthal again.

Nose
Pike recommends skipping nose trimmers: “I usually do everything with the scissor just because it feels better.” Pick up a small pair of scissors with a curved tip, which will help you get into the nose better. “As long as you cut around the nostril, it looks good. A lot of people tend to go up pretty far, but what really matters is getting anything that’s hanging out.”

Toe and Finger Knuckles
Pike attacks his hand- and toe-fur with either scissors (the same ones for the nose), targeting the really long hairs, or with a hair clipper at the “1” setting. “That’s a pretty standard length, but you might want to take it shorter if you have black hair.” To do so, set the clipper to “000” or “0,” or use a beard trimmer.

Ears
According to Pike, asking your barber to take the hair out of your ears is a completely normal request. And it’s convenient: You’ll need to trim ear hair every four to six weeks, which is the average time between haircuts anyway. If you choose to take care of the strays at home, your tactic depends on how many you’ve got. Use tweezers if you have only a couple of hairs. Otherwise, a clipper that resembles a T (rather than a square) will do the job: “They have that extra corner on it to get into the weird areas of the ear.”

Cheeks
Shaving up to your eyes isn’t the answer, says Pike. On the other hand, tweezing hurts, especially if you have a lot of hair. If you’re looking for a pain-free approach, use a really tight trimmer.

Back of Neck
This is one of the harder areas to manage, simply because you can’t see it. The solution: Hold a mirror in one hand in front of you and stand with a mirror behind you. If you decide to use a trimmer, attack your neck before getting in the shower, since the machine won’t be completely efficient on slick hair. “If you’re going to use a razor, definitely do it wet after getting out of the shower,” says Pike. Trimming won’t get as close as a razor would, he adds, but it’ll do the job if you’re in a hurry.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/peters99

Get Olympics-worthy Facial Hair

People get all sorts of inspiration from Olympic athletes -- not least when it comes to their facial hair. According to master barber Gary Clark, executive director and general manager of Manhattan barbershop BBRAXTON, athletes rank as high as actors and musicians among figures whose facial hair inspires his customers. But why wait till after the Olympic Games, when everyone will be asking their corner barber for these looks? Garrett Pike, barber at Persons of Interest in Brooklyn, N.Y., breaks down five of the styles coming soon to a TV set near you. Choose your favorite and be the first among your buddies to sport it.

FULL BEARD
Kevin Love
(Basketball, U.S.)

“He must have let his hair grow about four weeks to get this length. Trim it at about a No. 3 on your clipper. Then use a small pair of scissors to get the hairs that come over your lips, and shave your cheeks -- just the cheek line above the beard -- to make the beard look tighter. You can let the neck grow to keep things a little gruff.”

SCULPTED BEARDS/GOATEES
Teddy Riner
(Judo, France)
Pascal Gentil
(Taekwondo, France)

“The lines are really crisp and sharp, so these guys must be using T-liners -- the tightest form of a trimmer -- to outline their goatees and beards. Then they shave it out with a razor, being mindful of the lines. As with all the sculpted styles, unless you’re really handy at shaving, it’s pretty hard to do at home. I would just go to the barbershop, and then you can maintain it yourself. This style is great for guys with rounded faces that want some chiseled definition.”

Lebron James (Basketball, U.S.)
“Outline your beard with a T-liner, and shave it up. Then use a clipper with a higher guard -- at least a No. 2 -- to even out the bottom half. This is a good style for guys who can’t grow a lot of hair on their cheeks and want to disguise it.”

GOATEE
David Oliver
(Track and Field, U.S.)

“It’s a really short goatee. It’s not outlined, so that must be how his facial hair grows. He trims up his cheeks with regular clippers to take out the bulk and then leaves a natural goatee.”

OUTGROWN GOATEE
Nikola Karabatic
(Handball, France)

“I would say that it’s not just the shadows; he naturally doesn’t grow a lot of hair on his cheeks. He’s buzzing his goatee at a No. 1.5 or a No. 2, and he’s not touching the lines with anything sharp. He’s just using a clipper for his cheeks, probably lowered all the way to No. 000, and then letting it all grow out. Definitely not a high-maintenance guy.”

SCRUFF
Clemente Russo
(Boxing, Italy)
Andy Roddick
(Tennis, U.S.)
Aldo Montano
(Fencing, Italy)

“They’re keeping the clipper at a No. 0, which puts the hair a little bit above the skin and looks like a shadow. Or they’re once-a-week shavers who buzz their facial hair all the way down with trimmers, and these photos were taken after they’ve let it grow three days. With these kinds of messy beards, you don’t touch the cheeks.”

Photo: Getty Images

Best Facial Hairstyles From NBA All-stars

Some of the biggest names in the history of professional basketball have sported downright crazy mug manes to complement their cute little shorts. We pick our faves -- from today’s all-stars to the NBA’s Hall of Fame hairballs.

Facial Hairstyle All-star No. 1: Baron Davis
The Knicks’ point guard has a beard so full it gets to the basket about two steps ahead of him. It’s not that it’s not well-groomed -- it is -- but if he caught a pass in there, you’d have to call a time-out while a search posse went in after it.

Facial Hair Style All-star No. 2: Kurt Rambis
With his black-framed glasses, long blond hair and junior-high-lookin’ lip brush, the former Laker forward looked like the kid your mom wouldn’t let you hang out with in high school … who now owns a Fortune 500 company. “That kid’s going nowhere!”

Facial Hairstyle All-star No. 3: Drew Gooden
The Milwaukee Buck power forward once rocked a beard that looked like a row of hairy (and scary) stalactites. This was the goatee from hell, serving up multiple downward pinnacles, each hanging at least 1/4 inch below Drew’s chin-do.

Facial Hairstyle All-star No. 4: James Harden
The Oklahoma City Thunder guard has been making big noise with his backboard-thick Afro-beard beneath his chin. He bundles it with a matching Mohawk to complete his captivating “Invite a Road Warrior for Dinner” look.

Facial Hairstyle All-star No. 5: James Edwards
The former center for the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons had mutton chops that wrapped around an accompanying sneer like a couple of tire irons Velcro’d to his face. His yearbook shots were suitable for framing … for an “America’s Most Wanted” poster.

Facial Hairstyle All-star No. 6: DeShawn Stevenson
New Jersey Nets fans haven’t had much to cheer about this season (or virtually any other) except the majesty of DeShawn’s chinscape. It’s every bit as thick as Davis’s or Harden’s, but finely chiseled to a triangular point. The effect is akin to a Muslim cleric with a mean jump shot.

Facial Hairstyle All-star No. 7: Phil Jackson

The coach who has won the most NBA championships (11) couldn’t have done it (and didn’t) without his signature facial forest. A member of the Knicks’ legendary 1969-1970 World Championship team, “The Zen Master” sported a hippie-style full beard which seemed to take root and flower with each championship win.

Facial Hairstyle All-star No. 8: Scot Pollard
While never an all-star, the recently retired, 11-season journeyman Samurai Scot rocked more unique beards than an Amish wedding. His gallery included a relatively regular Grizzly Adams look; an upper-lip, brushless Abe Lincoln; and a Hall of Fame–worthy pair of pigtails beneath his chinny-chin-chin.

Want a new look? Check out our sponsor’s Library of Styles to find the perfect look for you


Photo: Getty Images

Get a Barbershop Shave at Home -- for Less

Master barbers tend to use the word “process” to describe shaving, and there’s a reason. Take the typical 30-minute shave at Manhattan barbershop BBRAXTON: Executive director, general manager and master barber Gary Clark reclines clients to a 90-degree angle, smoothes on pre-shave oil, allows it time to soak in, massages in shaving cream, lays down a hot towel (fresh from the hot towel kiln, no less), shaves the client, lays down another hot towel and tops it off with shave balm for the finishing touch. The actual shave almost gets lost amid all the other steps.

Although this might be the best way to treat your face -- resulting in a super-clean shave and protected skin, not to mention stress release -- we’re going to assume you don’t have the luxury to hire someone to do this every time you want a bare face, or have the time or money to do it yourself. But, Clark reveals, it is possible to cut the 30-minute process in half, do it at home with inexpensive products and get incredibly similar results. Here’s how.

1. Raid your kitchen cabinet.
According to Clark, olive oil or grape-seed oil are perfectly acceptable pre-shave oils. “All-natural products are great,” he says. “Shaving is pretty harsh on the skin, but they keep the moisture locked in.”

2. Shave in the shower.
“Make sure it’s a steamy hot shower,” says Adam Ramos, a master barber and owner of Virile Barber & Shop in New Jersey. “One of the key components to a quality, comfortable shave is heat and moisture.”

For men with curly hair -- in other words, those prone to razor bumps -- Clark recommends applying moist hot towels for one-and-a-half to two minutes before and after shaving, even if you’re already in a steamy shower. “The vapor brings up any impurities and toxins and softens the hair follicle tremendously for a smoother, cleaner shave.” Install a fogless mirror in the shower and you’ll be sure not to miss a spot.

3. Forget the expensive badger hair brush; your hands will do just fine.
Says Ramos: “The purpose of the brush is to lift the hairs on your face and make sure the shaving cream really gets underneath and keeps those hairs propped up. Then the blade can get under them and shave as close to the skin as possible.”

Traditionally, barbers will heat up a disk of glycerin soap, place it on a scuttle or inside a shaving mug, run the brush under warm water and mix it with the soap (or with fancy concentrated shaving cream) to concoct the lather they desire. That translates to an extra 10-15 minutes of time before you can actually shave, plus the price of all the supplies.

Luckily, says Ramos, “Your fingers are just as good, so long as you’re really massaging it in.” Rub the shaving cream in vigorously, using circular motions to make sure you get in under the hairs.

4. Apply an inexpensive aftershave balm.
According to Clark, inexpensive aftershave balms can be as effective as their pricier brethren. In a pinch, even a splash of cold water will do the trick.

Follow these four simple steps and you’ll walk out the door looking like you just left the shaving salon.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/avdeev007