Did you get dressed in the dark? Have you had a look in a mirror recently? Did you have a fight with your wardrobe? All questions that we never want to hear, but in a world where fashion and especially menswear moves so quickly, how do you avoid making the mistakes that risk derision?
Well, as you’re about to discover, some of the answers rely on good old common sense and an absence of self-delusion, while others are a little more fickle.
Nevertheless, dressing well is not a done deal for a lot of people. Maybe you are short on the time you need to think about your personal aesthetic, or maybe you’re just not that bothered and would rather make looking good an easy-to-follow ritual that doesn’t require much creativity.
Or maybe you’ve come to a part of your life where the trajectory has changed – newly single and/or newly minted – and you can literally afford to apply more consideration to how you project yourself to the world.
Wherever you are in life, there exist certain mistakes which we would all do well to swerve, so read on to discover the pitfalls threatening to rug pull your style credentials in 2023.
Heed the Hoodie
While we’re big fans of the hoodie, we’ve seen it desecrate some perfectly good outfits this year as guys try in vain to hit the athleisure or stealth wealth trend using the wrong type of hoodie.
A heedless embrace of a regular hoodie can relegate you to the land of perpetual adolescence, so tread carefully. If you’re going for the stealth wealth/quiet luxury vibe then you absolutely need to spend some coin on a minimalist cashmere version. A cheap cotton one just won’t cut it when you’re trying to layer it beneath a suede jacket or wool coat.
Heavyweight organic cotton styles in classic grey can be a great casual layer beneath a camel wool coat with some wide-leg tailored trousers, for instance – textural variance, interesting silhouette, edgy melding of tailoring and streetwear.
But throwing on any old hoodie with a pair of jeans and kicks, or worse, with smart separates, is more offensive than pineapple on pizza, especially if you’re north of 40.
Age Before Audacity
Speaking of 40 year olds, of which this writer is gracefully included, we’d all do well to sever ourselves from the delusion memories, and threads, of our youth.
The golden rule of dressing your age remains immutable. But at Ape to Gentleman, we find that statement a bit reductive, or at least that’s how a lot of men interpret it.
Instead, the term should be ‘dress age-less’, by incorporating timeless menswear classics while keeping them contemporary with flashes of pattern and pops of colour.
It goes without saying that maintaining a decent physique is imperative at any age but especially into the years when one can go to bed feeling fine and wake up the following morning with an injury.
Tailored shapes are the key here. We’re not talking Pitti peacockery either, just nicely fitted blazers and trousers which will bring a tonne of styling options to your suits and separates.
Logos: Whisper, Don’t Shout
In a world inundated with logos, subtlety reigns supreme. This season more than any, a discreet hint of luxury has spoken louder than a cacophony of ostentation, with brands such as Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, The Row and a plethora of others all cheerleading for a stealth wealth approach to luxury.
We’re not adverse to the logo per se, in fact it’s almost impossible to build a wardrobe these days without any logos or brand motifs, but the secret is to keep the volume turned low.
Usually, if your clothing has to shout, you probably don’t have much to say.
While athleisure champions comfort, it can lead to a perilous nosedive into sartorial apathy. Crisp joggers and sleek sneakers paired with a tailored wool coat is the perfect high/low blend that will attract all the right attention.
The aforementioned cashmere hoodie, or joggers, can even be the dance partners for an unstructured blazer and baseball cap. But unkempt gym attire trying to pass for streetwear just looks lazy. You’re better than that.
The Oversized Odyssey
The oversized aesthetic marches on, but navigating its terrain requires some finesse. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not averse to big boxy tailored silhouettes, or an oversized cardigan, but they need to have a degree of artistry and avant-gardism to them, whilst not being completely bonkers.
An artful oversized blazer, akin to Timothée Chalamet’s red carpet excursions, can be a great statement piece, because it’s ‘fashion’. An ensemble reminiscent of a borrowed wardrobe, courtesy of a significantly larger sibling or father, on the other hand, risks invoking memories of nineties sitcom characters.
Shoe Selection Shuffle
Footwear is the keystone to a well-orchestrated outfit, yet missteps abound. Craft a narrative with versatile shoes that complement rather than clash.
Footwear reminiscent of a time-traveling mishap – pairing wingtips with techwear, for example – hints at a glitch in the matrix. It’s not rocket science. Don’t try to force shoe styles on a look for the sake of being different or edgy. Just because everyone under 25 with a canvas tote bag is wearing New Balance with chinos, doesn’t mean that you should.
Shoe trends, especially sneaker ones, burn hard and burn fast. Don’t be left wearing the embers.
Rethinking The T-Shirt Terrain
Simple off-duty looks should be a breeze to conjure up but that doesn’t mean you can take your eye off the ball, especially when it comes to the T-shirt. Too many decent outfits have been knobbled by an ugly, poor quality tee.
The bargain plain white five-pack only looks good on your bank balance, but wash them once and you’ll rue the purchase. Instead, opt for the best quality organic cotton or linen that you can find and build a base of white, black, navy, beige, grey options to give your wardrobe exponential styling directions.
The Mismatched Misadventure
Experimentation is the lifeblood of style, but mismatching haphazardly is a pitfall to avoid. Embrace considered contrasts à la Pharrell Williams, harmonising colour and pattern for a purposeful discord.
Avoiding clashing prints is the safe way forward. There’s not a great deal of style real estate on the human body so if you only opt for one pattern you’re on the right track.
The Unkempt Underestimation
You can have the most comprehensive, elegant and contemporary wardrobe on earth but it would be all for nothing if your personal grooming is non-existent.
This is not a call to take up a Patrick Bateman-style grooming regimen, but at the very least you should invest in a haircut that suits your face, and spend some time each week maintaining your face and any furniture you might have growing on it.
It’s all the more important if your aesthetic is smart and tailored, since the juxtaposition is all the more magnified.