Dressing well isn’t all about dropping your hard-earned cash on expensive clothes and having a tailor measure each and every inch of your body to get the perfect fit. Granted, that stuff helps, but there are other things you can do to ensure you’re looking your sharpest at all times.
In order to avoid hitting a plateau in your sartorial stylings, there are a few things you should consider to help keep things fresh. With that in mind, allow us to walk you through the style hacks every modern man should know, and why they can help keep your wardrobe on its A game.
Tuck your shirt with military precision
Tucking a shirt into a pair of trousers – it doesn’t exactly sound like the most difficult task in the world. However, pulling it off without things looking billowy above the waistline is no easy feat. The secret to getting it right? The military tuck. This specialist form of shirt tucking involves pinching the excess fabric at either side of the waist and tucking it into the sides of the waistband to eliminate bagginess. It’s the perfect way to make a loose shirt look fitted underneath a jacket or blazer.
Lose the belt
It’s a common misconception that being stylish means adding more and more to an outfit. In actual fact, the opposite is true. Removing elements from an outfit can make things appear more informal and laid back. Case in point: the belt. As long as you can ensure your trousers aren’t going to fall down (and they shouldn’t if they fit you properly), taking the belt out of the equation can add an air of nonchalance to your look. Remember: less is more.
Soak it up
Is there anything finer than gorging yourself on a greasy takeaway? Perhaps not. But it can come at a price. Get too carried away shovelling it in and you could land yourself a one-way ticket to Stainsville: population, your shirt.
Still, if disaster should strike, there are things you can do. First port of call for greasy stains is the bathroom cabinet, where a hearty smattering of talcum powder should soak up any nasty marks.
You can scrub a pair of white trainers until you’re blue in the face. But if the laces are grubby they’re still never going to look spotless. The answer is bleach. Simply give your white shoelaces a soak in a jug of the good stuff to get them bright again and bless your sneakers with a new lease of life.
Perfect your sleeve roll
Rolling the sleeves of your shirt up a few times is a simple way of making a dressed-up outfit instantly look more relaxed. However, get carried away and you can end up going too far the opposite way and looking like you’ve just got done washing the dishes. Get it right every time by never going higher than two turns. This will bring the ends of your sleeves somewhere between your elbow and your wrist. In other words, exactly where they should be if you’re going for “cool and laid-back guy” as opposed to “kitchen pot-washer”.
Fix “shoulder ears”
If you’ve ever made the mistake of hanging your knitwear up in the wardrobe before, you’ll know what we mean when we say “shoulder ears”. For the uninitiated, these are the areas on the shoulders where the weight of the hanging garment puts strain on the shoulders where they touch the hanger. Suffice to say it doesn’t look all that great when you come to wearing said item. But it’s a simple fix: just put the garment on, apply a small amount of water to the affected area and massage it with your finger until it lies flat. Then simply let it air dry and things should be back to normal.
For a more permanent solution, fold and store your knitwear in drawers instead.
Colour me good
Colours, patterns, prints: they’re your friends. Learn to use them to your advantage. Knowing what colours work with your skin tone and what patterns are slimming is the difference between dressing cleverly and just, well, dressing.
Did you know dark colours can make you appear taller and more slender? Vertical stripes have the same effect. However, if you have a rosy complexion you should avoid bright hues; if you’re pale then pastels will wash you out; and if you’re well built, cluttered prints – especially horizontal lines – will only add unnecessary bulk.
Lose the socks
Going sockless might sound like a minor adjustment to make to an outfit. But as many a well-dressed man will be well aware, often it’s the smallest details that can have the biggest impact overall. Losing the socks can equip you with an added air of casual cool. Not to mention the breeze feels rather pleasant around your ankles on hot days.
Make a statement
One of the secrets to making your clothing choices appear low-key considered is to ensure that no two elements are fighting for attention. That means never wearing more than one statement item per outfit. A patterned T-shirt; distressed jeans; a logo hoodie; a brightly-coloured sweater – only one of these things should be present in any outfit at any one time. If you’re going to wear a loud garment then let it, and it alone, do the talking.
Summer weddings: great. Sweating profusely in a marquee whilst clad in a three-piece wool suit: not so great. The solution lies in being selective with your choice of fabrics. Lose the wool in favour of linen. And if you’re having a shirt made for the occasion, ask your tailor to construct the back from a thinner material, like voile cloth. That way you’ll be able to keep your cool even with your jacket on.
If you’ve ever been to Paris and wondered how the men there manage to look so stylish all the time then allow us to let you in on a little secret: Parisian style is all about shedding the unnecessary. And that includes your T-shirt. But that doesn’t mean strutting around town topless. Rather, if you’re going to wear a sweatshirt or jumper then forget the base layer. Just remember to go extra hard on the antiperspirant.
With chunky silhouettes a key sneaker trend currently, it seems the general consensus within men’s style at the moment is: “bigger is better”. But if you want to avoid cringing at your Instagram feed in years to come, you’d be wise to give this movement a miss. Instead, keep your shoes low key but high quality. That way your outfit can do the talking without battling your footwear for attention.
Remember: your shoes are already one of the first things people will notice about you. They don’t need any help.
Declutter your wardrobe
We’ve all been there: staring at a wardrobe full of clothes and muttering to ourselves, “I’ve got nothing to wear!” That’s because you have too much choice. Narrowing down your wardrobe selections to the pieces you actually wear regularly will help alleviate decision fatigue and enable you to create looks quickly and easily each morning.
One way to clarify exactly what you can get rid of is to use the hanger trick. Start by turning all of your hangers so they face in one direction. Then, after you’ve worn an item, return its hanger to the wardrobe facing the opposite direction. The same goes for clothing that’s just come out of the wash: return the item facing the opposite direction. After a couple of months you’ll quickly start to identify the pieces that you feel most comfortable in, and those which you’re never going to wear – no matter how much you try to convince yourself.
When it comes to the latter, bag them up and either sell them on a secondhand site like eBay, Depop or Grailed, or do a good deed and donate them to charity.
Learn to layer
We all love the summer. Anyone who disagrees that dressing for the cold weather is more fun is just straight-up lying. Having the opportunity to layer clothes is one of the winter’s few plus points and along with the additional warmth it brings, it can also help you shed a few visual pounds. For example, wearing a shirt open over a T-shirt will break up your frame and make you appear taller and more slender. See, winter’s not all bad.
Where tailoring is concerned, matching your accessories is never a good idea. A contrasting pocket square and tie will always trump identical ones. Still, that doesn’t mean every aspect of your outfit should be different. In regards to any leather your wearing, it’s good practise to ensure at least two items are matching. For example, if you’re wearing a dress watch with a black leather strap, your shoes should also be black leather. Or, if your belt is brown, make sure your footwear is a similar shade.
Just remember never to match all of them: belt, watch strap and shoes. You should always be aiming for two out of three.