Imagine being a manual laborer in the late 19th century. You rarely dress in formal clothing. When you do – as a man anyway – your dress shirt has neither collar nor buttons on the cuffs. Getting dressed for a formal affair will be a challenge if you discover you didn’t have a pair of cufflinks.

Men’s fashion is strange that way. There are a number of must-have clothing pieces that belong in every man’s collection. Yet they are pieces that are rarely worn. They all are needed in a pinch, so opting not to have them isn’t really smart. Below are five such clothing pieces.

1. White Dress Shirt

We take pride in not being so stuffy in the 21st century. In light of that, a lot of men tend to avoid dress shirts as much as possible. Yet every man really needs to keep a white dress shirt in the closet. It is the shirt he wears to weddings and funerals. It is the shirt he puts on for the annual Christmas photo. Not having one is a good way to get in trouble with both wife and mother.

2. Black Tie

Hand-in-hand with the formal white shirt is the black necktie. The thing about black is that it goes with anything. It goes especially well with white, making it the ideal tie for any occasion requiring a white shirt. Funerals and weddings instantly come to mind. The annual family photo is another matter. Certain members of the family might prefer you wear a little more color.

Some men can get away with a bow tie as opposed to a standard, vertical tie. If you want to try this, beware: bow ties look really cheesy on large collars. And going with a bigger tie to offset a bigger collar only makes a bad situation worse. Choose your bow tie wisely.

3. Formal Suit

Rounding out the formal wear is the formal suit. This could be a three-piece suit or a tuxedo. Note that a formal suit is different from a business suit. It has a finer cut and is made from higher quality materials. A business suit is the next level down.

You will need the formal suit for every affair also requiring your white dress shirt and black tie. Just accept that fact and move on. You might wear the entire ensemble only once a year. Still, you don’t want to get caught without it when the need arrives.

4. Shoe Covers

This next item is one that many men do not think about until it is too late: shoe covers. GC Tech makes a pair of shoe covers that can accommodate nearly any man’s shoe. A good shoe cover is weather-resistant as well as lightweight, breathable, and easy to slip on and off.

Being caught without shoe covers means walking in the rain or snow without your feet protected. That may be okay when you’re wearing your ratty old sneakers, but you’ll hate yourself if you go out without protecting your expensive dress shoes.

5. Wide-Brimmed Hat

Last but not least is the wide-brimmed hat, an indispensable article of clothing when the rain is pouring down or the sun is high and hot. Baseball caps are fine most times. Knit caps are okay in the winter. Neither one is adequate in a torrential downpour. Neither one can block the sun as much as a wide brim.

If you are a man, how many of these clothing items do you own? Better run out and stock up on what you don’t have. You never know when you’ll need these things.

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