Regardless of whether you consider new year’s resolutions pointless endeavours or life-changing milestones, it’s worth considering what you might be able to do differently this year on the clothes front.
For Ape, the concept of sustainability and investing in quality is at the forefront of our mind in 2020. After all, the last thing this world needs is more fast-fashion pieces destined for landfill a mere two months down the line. We can – and should – do better than that.
So here are six easy ways you can upgrade your personal style this year, all while keeping your conscious clear. Thank us on 31 December.
Befriend A Tailor
It’s time to make an important friend. We’re not saying you need to linger around your local tailor’s shop scoping out where they drink their morning coffee or evening pint, we just think it’s absolutely paramount you become more accustomed to having your clothes (we’re not just talking suits here) altered so that they fit perfectly and flatter your form. With a few expert nips and tucks a tailor will look to emphasise your best bits while helping conceal your insecurities, and for a small outlay you’ll have a wardrobe that appears as though it was made for you.
Don’t forget that any tailor worth their salt can rejuvenating tired-looking garments, too – whether converting items into something else (trousers to shorts, for example), patching up wear and tear, or upgrading things like buttons and linings – meaning your clothes last longer and your environmental impact is reduced.
Avoid Impulse Buys
Anyone who has walked along their local high street (or has an email address) will have noticed that the “January Sales” are anything but these days. There were November sales. December sales. Boxing Day sales (which started Christmas Eve). And now, January clearance sales. All of these events provide an extremely tantalising opportunity to splash out on what in the moment feels like a bargain. However, this year, make an effort to really consider your purchases before splashing out.
Does it honestly fit? Do you really love it? Are you only buying it because you like other pieces by the brand? A good rule of thumb is to contemplate whether you would buy the item at full price. If so, you’re getting a genuine bargain; if not, you’ve likely just talked yourself into the purchase.
Athleisure, drawstring trousers, the rise of streetwear, trainers with a million air bubbles in the sole… yes, dress codes relaxing across the board has almost negated the need for modern men to dress up, but have you honestly ever worn a dinner suit? Have you ever worn an entire outfit with the singular purpose of presenting your best possible self? It doesn’t even need to be a lavish event. It could be to dinner with your partner, or a business meeting with a potential new client.
This year, try wearing a tuxedo somewhere. You don’t have to buy it – you could hire it. Wear a three-piece suit to eat out at an upmarket restaurant. Shine your shoes. Tie a bow tie. Have everything pressed and wear a pocket square. The casualisation of menswear is great, but don’t let it dull your sartorial blade. Don’t wait until a wedding is foisted upon you for the chance to dress to the nines.
Splash Some Colour
We’re the first ones to tell you that navy, grey, white and olive green are your safe space but this year we’d implore everyone to add a splash of colour. Compare us Brits to the sprezzatura Italians and our muted colour palettes are stark.
However, rather than piling headfirst into garish shades, we’d recommend easing yourself in with accents. Think socks, ties, scarves, pocket squares and subtle prints and patterns. Again, that doesn’t mean a fluoro orange tie or primary red socks, but it could mean brighter or richer shades of the previously mentioned neutrals – sky blue, racing green or cobalt, for example.
Rethink Your Materials
Although there’s sound environmental and sartorial reasoning behind this resolution, for the most part it’s just common sense: use seasonally-appropriate fabrics.
In winter, wear thicker, heavyweight materials like wool, denim, corduroy and leather to protect yourself against the elements and biting cold. In summer, look to specialist cloths such as linen, seersucker, bamboo and silk, which are breathable and help regulate your temperature when the mercury rises. It sounds simple, but you would be surprised just how many men still don’t consider seasonality when dressing each morning.
For base layers, stick to high-quality cottons and merino wool, both of which allow much-needed air circulation and feel great against the skin. Then, layer over the top multiple fabric types and weights to build up outfits that are full of texture and visual interest. Step out of your cotton-on-cotton-on-cotton comfort zone.
Wherever possible, consider the environment. Keep an eye out for organic and recycled fabrics, avoid washing too regularly (particularly denim and wool, which are both naturally odour resistant and deal well with stains), get into the habit of maintaining your wardrobe (using things like shoe horns, leather creams, lint rollers, clothes brushes), and skip the cheap, manmade materials.
Invest In Pieces That Will Last You A Lifetime
Make 2020 the year you buy less, but better. Forget disposable fashion and fleeting fads and instead prioritise classic, versatile pieces – investing in the best possible versions within your budget. Start to build a capsule wardrobe that can be mixed and matched for any occasion, ensuring you get the very most out of every piece you add to it.
When we say “invest”, we don’t mean go out and buy the most expensive designer brand on the market. Prioritise quality fabrics, craftsmanship and timeless style. Save up and spend a little more on those pieces you know will last a lifetime – Goodyear-welted shoes, a leather biker jacket, raw selvedge denim, leather luggage, a wool overcoat, a dinner suit, etc.
As for basics, the cornerstones of any successful wardrobe, look to those brands who have mastered their craft – Sunspel for T-shirts, Incotex for chinos, John Smedley for sweaters, for example – or offer products that belie their modest price points (try Uniqlo, Arket or Everlane). Remember: buy cheap, buy twice.
Stick to the principles set out above and you will not only look good, but feel good.