We’ve all seen them: the perfectly put-together men that grace the covers of the glossy magazines and who have an enviable wardrobe seemingly at their fingertips while you’re sat there wondering, how do they do it?
Well, there’s more than meets the eye with these dapper gentlemen – it’s not all natural ability or money that somehow transforms them into the living embodiment of James Dean. It’s paying attention the finer details and understanding the fundamentals, like the below.
They Know That Fit is Everything
One of the most important elements whenever you’re dressing yourself is to make sure that everything that you own and wear fits you perfectly. Unfortunately, we can’t all afford a tailor, as much as the well-suited gentlemen in the film Kingsman lead you to believe. If you’re unsure of your perfect fit, then get yourself down to a local high-street tailor who will, most likely, measure you up for free, or if not, very cheaply.
Don’t lie to yourself either. There’s nothing worse or off-putting than a grown man wearing ill-fitting clothes – it instantly cheapens you and your look. Once you have secured your correct measurements, you can confidently start the browsing process both online and in store. Having a look at clothes first-hand is always a great idea, particularly if it’s a brand you haven’t tried before. This will also allow you to learn what kind of materials you’re comfortable with and how something drapes and moves in real life.
When it comes to sizing, be aware that every brand and retailer is different. You may be a large in one and a medium in another; don’t let this thwart you, it’s simply different companies with different ideas of what the “average guy” is. Once you’ve finally found that perfect-fitting brand for your wardrobe staples, the initial effort you went to will all be worth it, we guarantee.
They Always Have a Good Basics Range
Never underestimate the power of staples. A capsule wardrobe will take you from day to night with a simple shoe change and a splash of aftershave. When you look at images of style icons from decades past you can always see that they had a great arsenal of plain T-shirts, shirts, trousers and jeans at the ready for any occasion.
The plain white T-shirt sets the foundation of any stylish man’s wardrobe. It has the power to be integrated within a plethora of different looks, all while standing out by its simplicity. Team it with a pair of straight-leg black trousers or a dark pair of jeans and you’ve got yourself an easy, everyday look that could be found on the streets of Hollywood or Shoreditch.
Every modern gentleman should also have a good set of shirts at his disposal; they have the ability to instantly transform any casual outfit into something a little smarter. Whether worn with a suit, a pair of chinos, jeans, or even shorts in the summer, a well-fitting, minimal shirt will quickly become a workhorse of your wardrobe.
When buying these basics it’s important stick to neutral tones and avoid anything overly patterned or trend based as they can date very quickly. Being the most worn pieces in your wardrobe, they should also be replaced once they start to lose their shape or lustre.
They Know Classic is Always Best
It’s true what they say, the classics never die. Whether it’s a crisp, white button-down Oxford shirt or M-65 field jacket, you’ll always be able to mix and match these pieces effortlessly to create stylish outfits on a daily basis.
If you’re just starting out on your style journey, then I suggest you focus your attention on the building blocks of any capsule wardrobe. Think plain crew-neck T-shirts and sweatshirts, a selection of OCBDs and dress shirts, dark slim-leg jeans and chinos, a fitted navy or charcoal lounge suit, white leather trainers and Goodyear-welted Derby shoes, a durable overcoat and a lightweight jacket (leather, bomber, Harrington, field, denim – the choice is yours).
In terms of versatility and longevity, these timeless staples cannot be beaten. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to spend a little more than you normally would, budget permitting, to ensure you’re buying into quality.
Once you’ve secured the above, you can begin to branch out into bolder colours or patterns, as well as experimenting with current trends, to bring some individuality to your personal style. On which note…
They Know Which Trends To Dabble In
Of course, the classics are great, but the world would be a boring place if no one ever strayed away from navy suits, Oxford shirts and plain white tees. That’s why one of the secrets to dressing well is knowing when to experiment and what to experiment with.
You may not like the idea of trends but they’re an intrinsic part of the menswear ecosystem. Granted, without them we would never have been subjected to abominations like deep V-neck T-shirts and that inexplicable longline fad, but we’d also be without jeans, classic tailoring and sneakers.
The difficult truth is that everything you wear is ultimately the result of a trend. Even the classics. The difference is, the classics are the ones that proved themselves to possess staying power. They are the result of a boom in popularity at a certain point in time, but they’ve stuck around to tell the tale.
That’s why a well-dressed man never writes trends off entirely. He simply understands which ones will fall by the wayside and is selective in avoiding them and handpicking the ones that best bolster his personal style. We’re not saying you should let them dictate your wardrobe, but they can certainly elevate it if you handpick the right ones.
They Have A ‘Uniform’
One of the best-kept secrets of good dressing is having a uniform of some description. Are we saying you should have full firefighter regalia hanging up in your wardrobe, ready to be whipped out at a moment’s notice? Not quite. More that you should know what works for you and stick to it, albeit very loosely.
Take the working week for example. How many hours have you wasted deliberating over what to wear when you could have been enjoying an extra 10 minutes in bed thumbing through horrifying news stories and brainwashing yourself with Instagram? If you’re anything like us, the answer is: lots. That’s where your ‘uniform’ comes into play.
You can keep things fresh by alternating colours, throwing in the odd accessory and switching up the outerwear, but find a core foundation that works for you, stock up on the parts and marvel as your mornings miraculously become longer and easier, and your days more stylish.
They Know How To Use Colour And Texture To Their Advantage
If it’s the smallest details that make an outfit sing then colour and texture can turn a pub karaoke night into an opera. Even the simplest, most pared-back of looks can be brought to life with the right palette and the considered use of some tactile fabrics, which is what having a firm grasp on both is so important.
It can feel confusing at first, but the seasons can give you a steer on what to do. In the summer, opt for breezy fabrics like linen, tencel and seersucker, and keep colours light and playful. As the weather cools down, heavier textured fabrics like corduroy, wool, fleece and cotton drill can be drafted in, with earth tones and dark shades replacing pastels and neutrals.
They Define Their Clothing, Not The Other Way Around
We all love clothes. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be writing this article and you wouldn’t be sitting there reading it. But a large part of looking good comes from confidence and character. A good outfit is not a substitute for a personality, it’s simply an extension of one, and it’s important not to get too fixated on your wardrobe choices.
Hardy Amies famously said, “a man should look as if he bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgot all about them”. That’s really what we’re trying to drive home here. Clothing is important, but it’s not something that should consume you. If you put too much thought into your outfits the whole thing can come off as contrived and you’ll never look good.
Get dressed in things that make you feel good, check it out in the mirror and then go about your day. You should be wearing the clothes, not vice versa.
They Have A Signature Fragrance (Or Three)
You’ll often hear us waxing lyrical about the importance of the finer details when it comes to style, and sometimes those details aren’t even visible to the naked eye. A signature fragrance is the perfect way to finish an outfit off with an olfactory flourish, but the best-dressed men don’t stop at one.
We’re not saying you should take to dousing yourself in multiple colognes, but it is worth taking season and setting into account when thinking about your chosen scent. They say three is a magic number, and that holds true when it comes to fragrance too. Aim for a trio of trademark aromas: one for summer, one for winter, and one for special occasions.
The best summer fragrances are light, citrusy and invigorating, while a good winter option should be smoky, leathery, woody and rich. Winter fragrances need to boast greater silage and longevity in order not to be sapped by the cold air so will typically be much heavier than their fair-weather counterparts.
For that special-occasion scent, pick something indulgent that makes you feel great when you wear it. Think of it as the olfactory equivalent of tailoring.
They Maintain Their Wardrobe
Keeping your clothes in peak condition is something that we highly advocate. Your clothes say a lot about you, so it’s always important that everything you wear is freshly washed and pressed. Tatty, dishevelled clothes are not the mark of a stylish gentleman.
On the subject of washing, always read (and re-read) any care labels that come with your clothing. We know too many men that have ignored such instructions and gone on to ruin half of their wardrobe in one foul washing cycle. At the risk of sounding like your mum, make sure you separate your pieces into their correct colour washes (we would even go as far as to suggest three loads: whites, lights and darks), and avoid putting delicate items and knitwear on too hot of a wash, otherwise they’ll come out looking like they’d fit a four-year-old (albeit a stylish one).
If you take particular pride in your footwear then treat yourself, and your shoes, to a good shoe shine at the cobblers every now and again. But don’t forget to give them a bi-weekly clean and polish yourself, to maintain the uppers and increase their lifespan. This goes for both your shoes and trainers. Formal styles should also really be stored with shoe trees in order to retain their shape and draw out any excess moisture in the shoe.
Here are some further quick-fire tips when it comes to wardrobe maintenance:
- Dry cleaning is a harsh chemical process that can ruin the fibres of your suits, so only subject them to it once or twice a year (if possible) to increase longevity. You might consider a fabric refreshing spray.
- In order to reduce the need for dry cleaning, use a high-quality clothes brush to remove any dirt and debris from your suits after each wear before storing in a suit cover.
- Knitwear should be folded and stored in drawers rather hung than on hangers. The latter, due to gravity, can cause your jumpers to stretch and warp.
- Invest in quality wooden hangers and ditch cheap wire versions which offer very little shape, can leave “ears” in your clothing and ruin the lining of suit jackets.
- A fabric shaver (or “debobbler”) will keep your knitwear looking better for longer by delicately removing unsightly bobbles and piling that naturally occurs.
- Regularly spray your suede and leather footwear (and jackets) with a fabric protector spray to help prevent stains and water damage.
They Don’t Neglect Their Grooming
A carefully considered grooming regime is an integral, but often overlooked, aspect of any stylish gentleman’s daily routine.
It’s the 21st century so there’s no excuse for any modern men to say that skincare and general upkeep is “too feminine” for them – we won’t hear it anymore. Your complexion is one of the first things people notice about you, whether good or bad, so making sure that you’re keeping on top of it will pay dividends in the long run.
First, figure out your skin type and then experiment with different products to see which work for you. They don’t have to be the most expensive lotions and potions on the market – many lower-priced brands are just as good as their lavish counterparts these days – but they do need to be tailored to your skin type.
Set yourself a strict routine to keep on top of your skincare to ensure lasting results. As a minimum, you should be moisturising daily (we actually recommend twice daily: day and night) as this will keep skin soft and supple as well as thoroughly hydrated, particularly in the colder months. Cleansing twice a week with a face wash or exfoliating scrub to get rid of any dirt or oil build up is also imperative.
Beards have gone beyond being a trend, so if you choose to sport facial hair then make sure you keep it neat and trimmed. Invest in a decent beard trimmer to maintain your desired length, and consider using a wet razor to clean up any edges (cheek bones and below the Adam’s apple). Like with your haircut, you should pick a beard style that suits your lifestyle (consider both the daily maintenance you’re comfortable with and your job) and face shape.