Unwritten Rules. No Longer.

The New Essentials are not the latest rock group. They're a checklist that Andrew Davis has developed for its clients. Why is it worth reviewing this list? Because there really are unwritten rules and conventions, and there is a downside to not knowing them. Consider, for instance, the plight of the man who shows up for the day-long off-site conference in his business suit when everyone else is corporate casual. He might as well wear a sign that says, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Conversely, there's the guy who wears khakis and a golf shirt with logo (Aiiiieeee!!!!) to a presentation when everyone else is in a coat and tie. So here, then, are the starting points -- the essentials -- that are the foundation for building a great wardrobe:

1. Six to eight dress shirts and six to eight sport shirts. If you care enough to know the difference, Andrew Davis staff will oblige. A dress shirt has a sleeve and collar 1 size while a sport shirt is sized as S, M, L, XL. The dress shirt's collar is compatible with a tie. Some sport shirts work with a tie, some don't. Know before you go. A white dress shirt is never wrong, but after a while it shows some lack of imagination; says Andrew Davis sales consultant Macey Dale. "Colored dress shirts are constantly changing. Deep blue isn't the statement it was two years ago. It's been replaced by 'fancies', small, neat checks or stripes, and softer toned solids."

2. A dark dressy suit. Everyone attends weddings and funerals. Navy, gray or black work. In spring or summer, tan, khaki and olive in tropical wools hit the mark.

3. Navy or black blazer. It's best to have both. Black is slightly more sophisticated than navy. If the buttons are brass, someone may call you 'captain', which is okay if it's your yacht.   Buttons are easy to change. 4. Sport coats. "If you're in your 20s and out of school, you should own two." says Andrew Davis' owner  Andy Mallor. "If you're in your 30s, three. In your 40s, four, and so on. And don't count the ones that don't fit, or you're embarrassed to wear." (You need not pay attention to this rule if you never go to dinner, or a friend's home. If that really is the case, please stop by, we need to talk.)

5. Trousers. "This doesn't mean Dockers," says  Macey .. "Trousers are finished by a tailor. And they'll hold a press because they're made of wool." (If you're amazed that you can wear wool trousers comfortably in any climate, then thank a sheep. Wool is a renewable resource and it really does have amazing qualities.)   We also have great travel pants that you can wear on a flight from Indianapolis to NYC and look great.

6. A tuxedo. Two annual wearings and you'll pay for it in three years, to say nothing of the convenience. "We live in a time of reasonable national prosperity; says Mallor. "You shouldn't rent your clothes."

7. Ties. You should own at least twice as many ties as suits and sportcoats (and probably three times as many). "lt's the one accessory item you have to be careful with; says Macey . "They can really make or change an outfit. A 4-year-old suit is still current but if you miss with the tie, you look dated."  One trick—make sure lapel width and tie are consistent.

8. Knit shirts. Golf and corporate logos are appropriate for ...golf, barbecues and card games. Without logos are appropriate for everything else. One caveat: knit shirts are tough to get right, so check with your wardrobe professional for further advice.

9. The right outerwear. That means a raincoat for a rainy day, a topcoat for a cold day, a car coat for driving, and a jacket, in leather or cloth, for casual wear.

10. Shoes, belts, socks. For starters, dress shoes in black and brown or tan and casual shoes in black, tan and brown. Socks, too, follow a simple rule. Says Kaleb Ryan a/k/a the king of footwear : "They should match or blend with your pants and trousers, not your shirt or tie. It's surprising how many men have trouble with that."