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The Chris Black Starter Pack: 25 of Our Columnist’s Favorite Basics

Photo: Courtesy Retailers

In fielding all the reader questions for our resident Cool Guy Chris Black week after week, we’ve noticed that a lot of folks continue to ask for his sage advice about basic but essential clothes (and other products) that will do the job while still flexing your sense of style. So instead of asking him to repeat himself, we combed his columns to date to compile this Chris-approved list of 25 basics he swears by, from white T-shirts to jeans to deodorant to socks to backpack (which, spoiler alert, is not a backpack). Read on for all of the basics that, according to him, will make you appear anything but.

White T-shirt

There’s no need to splurge on your classic white tee, according to Chris, who loves these five-packs from Gildan because they’re “so simple. I wear them without concern until they need to be disposed of and I just order more.”

Thick-neck white T-shirt

A “THICC neck,” as Chris likes to call it, gives a white tee a bit of a sturdier, more put-together look. As for how to wear white tees, he says, “they look good under a hooded sweatshirt, a cardigan, or even a suit.”

Long-sleeve T-shirt

Chris calls this long-sleeve tee, also by Gildan, one of his “wardrobe staples.” He adds: “A simple navy long-sleeved T-shirt looks good with almost anything.”


Chris famously loathes backpacks, writing an emphatic “hell no” when asked if an adult should ever carry one. Instead, he says “the simple canvas tote bag is the answer,” and “no one can top the LL Bean Boat and Tote.”

Black jeans

“Levi’s basically invented jeans,” says Chris, who told us these mid-rise 501s, with a button fly and straight leg, are his go-to black pair.

Non-denim pants

When he’s not wearing jeans, “blue Dickies are my go-to pant,” writes Chris, adding that “even though they are made for actual work, they can be dressed up easily with a little tailoring.”