501Styles come and go. Baggy jeans, tight jeans, bellbottoms and jeans with holes and rips in them— we’ve seen it all. You can, if you so choose, buy jackets with tons of extra pockets and zippers you’ll never need, or with weird, flappy collars and buckles that might be all the rage this year, but will bring you a sense of fashion shame come next season’s lineup.

Through it all, a few intelligent fellows —or men who just hate to shop — have kept it simple with basic, well-made denim jeans, a leather jacket, and a few leather accessories. Denim and leather will never die, and continue to ride the ebb and flow of trendy tides, through fickle and ever-changing haute couture.

What about those ridiculously flared bell-bottoms I mentioned earlier? Sure, even denim and leather fall victim to fashion’s latest styles, but if you stick to the fundamentals, it’s hard to go wrong. When have Levi 501s ever been out of style?

Denim jeans are timeless. Maybe they’re not for fancy dinner parties, but a few solid pairs, in dark and simple colors, can save you the hassle of trying on and dealing with the mind-boggling choice and number of pants that are available today, in a massive, consumer-fueled economy.

Stonewashed jeans had their time, and who knows, that time might come again, but if you want to be cool and laid back like James Dean, avoid stonewashed jeans. Levis 501, 511, J. Crew and GAP denim are classic, time-tested brands that should do you well. If you find you’re gravitating toward pleated jeans, or heaven forbid, mom jeans, seek professional counseling immediately. (Especially because those are for women.)

When it comes to leather, belts and shoes are a no-brainer. Stylish and durable, a leather belt, along with a few pairs of expertly crafted leather shoes or boots, will last you for ages while remaining in fashion. Again, avoid mercurial trends. Take a look at what some of the hippest men on the planet have worn throughout their lives and get a sense of what lasts.

A leather jacket, when all is said and done, says a massive amount about the man who’s wearing it. James Dean (he keeps popping up), Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen all rocked leather jackets, and that look is just as viable today as it was 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Stay with simple, classic designs. Don’t skimp and buy faux leather. Steer toward classics cuts, along with bomber or sleek motorcycle jackets. Avoid a thousand pockets, and do a zipper count. While Michael Jackson wore more zippers than any human being could possible need in one lifetime, you’re not Michael Jackson. The age of 1,000 zippers has passed.

Denim and leather are key elements in any man’s wardrobe. If you choose wisely, fashion grasshopper, your jeans and signature leather jacket should last you for years, if not a lifetime.