Bored with your wardrobe?
Let’s start with my personal fashion mantra: you want to look good every day, not different (or young, or rich, or like something or someone else) every day. So having too many items in your closet is absolutely not necessary, especially if their quality isn’t good. Having said that, variation is fun and you might want to reach a certain level of sophistication.
So how can you spicy your style up without buying too many unnecessary things ? By combining items in a new way, and by breaking the rules. Like any scientific law, fashion has its rules and its exceptions. Once you are confident about the rules, you can also start breaking them.
Here are 10 examples:
1. Go sockless (summer only)
I love this one. As a general rule, men who wear no socks are style confident (and probably better groomed), while men who wear socks with sandals, or socks with shorts in general … do I need to write how sad they look? Personally, I find socks in summer only allowed for sports or very formal occasions.
So how does a man go sockless? it’s not just a matter of leaving your socks in the drawer…it means a bit more than that. First of all, yes, you can wear a suit without socks. You need immaculate shoes and good tailoring though, and it will look good. For casual trousers, you will want the length to show the right amount of skin – basically trousers should be a tiny bit shorter than normal. An inch of skin is good for the office. Anything more is good for the beach.
What kind of shoes are good to wear with no socks? Driving moccasins like Tod’s, Penny loafers, canvas sneakers and boat shoes for example.
A light tan and a well hydrated skin are a bonus.
2. Mix patterns.
You need good taste and confidence to be able to mix different patterns like strips, checks, paisley, flowers or dots together, and it’s hard to find rules about it, but the result can be very refined. A touch of eccentricity is very pleasant in fashion and oozes confidence. I give you an example: does a tie with matching pocket square look good? Not really. It looks zero sophisticated. You didn’t even try and you went for the easy option: you will look like a sport commentator if you are lucky (nothing against sport commentators). So how do you coordinate tie and pocket square? Coordinating is different from matching. Let’s say you are wearing a red and blue striped tie. You can choose to coordinate by one color (with a solid red pocket square for example, or a solid blue one), or you can coordinate by both colors (pocket square in solid red with blue dots for example, or vice versa, or solid red with blue paisley), or you can choose to coordinate the stripes (wear a pochette with blue and white stripes with your striped tie) and change one color. Got it? Be creative, but with a logic. Try to blend colors and reach harmony.
You can also mix patterns when choosing your trousers and jacket, your tie and shirt, or shirt and pullover…with anything really. So let’s try 3 levels of mixing up: a- beginner, b-medium, c–advanced.
a- If you are new to mixing patterns, then start with keeping things in the same pattern and change size. Stripes on stripes, checks on checks, dots on dots, but with different width or size.
b-Another option, slightly more difficult, is mixing colors in the same tones (two different “families” of colors, for example). By using patterns that are different hues of the same color, you can create a very subtle look while still showing that you have a daring side. It’s a good idea to vary the pattern sizes, but not completely necessary in this case. Example: with a white and grey striped shirt, wear a grey tie with white dots and a grey jacket with subtle white stripes.
c- If you have done enough experimenting and you are familiar with your personal style, feel confident about moving to the next level. Try mixing colors AND patterns: use colors that complement each other, more than being in the same hue (grey with light blue for example, or a daring mix including violet with green, or whatever your taste suggests you). Similarly, vary the size or the type of the patterns. Express yourself and be creative; the final result can be extremely sophisticated, provided there is a harmony and coordination in everything you are wearing.
3. Hoodie with a jacket.
This is another way to mix different styles: sporty and badass (a hoodie used to be considered an item for bad boys) with gentleman clothing. It works perfectly ok, provided the hoodie isn’t too bulky or excessively printed and decorated. Some critics find the combination unimaginative and sort of “you haven’t made up your mind”. I think it’s a matter of how you do it: once again, if you throw any blazer on top of any hoodie out of laziness, you will probably look baggy and inattentive. If, instead, the fabric is lightweight and the ensemble follows the lines of your body, you will give a contemporary edge to a relaxed formal look.
4. Belt and shoes don’t need to match all the time
Matching shoes and belts is a safe choice and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you feel a bit more imaginative, though, you might want to try an orange belt (Constance orange Hermes style) with mid-brown shoes, for example, or different shades of brown for your belt and shoes. Or you might want to add some olive green. Too matchy and try-hard is not good. The idea is: you don’t have to match absolutely everything; you have to find combinations that “go well” together.
5. Add unexpected color
Think Lapo Elkann, a modern dandy, a sailor’s classic red trousers. Examples of how to add bold color: buy a formal jacket or coat with a bright, unexpected lining (violet, pink, apple green). Get a big, bold, colorful scarf and wear it even if you don’t really need it. Dare colorful socks if the situation is appropriate (not formal).
Bright socks guide:
The idea is again of color combination: choose a color which recalls something else you are wearing. Recalling means recalling, not overwhelming the whole outfit. If you are unsure, start with more neutral colors like brown or grey.
As a helpful rule of thumb, try to keep the contrast between your trousers and your socks at about the same level as the contrast between the trousers and the shirt, up at your waistband. That way viewers are seeing the same basic visual impression all the way up your body.
Remember that bright socks catch people’s eyes, so you need to feel good about that. When in doubt, go for classic (socks matching the colour of your trousers).
6. Dress down your tailoring.
Wear a t-shirt underneath your suit, a roll neck jumper, or a v-neck cotton knit. A suit doesn’t always need a tie or a shirt.
This dressing down tip extends to swapping traditional Oxfords, Derbies and monk-straps for loafers or minimal trainers, with or without socks.
Losing the belt, going tieless, and even pushing up your sleeves are other options.
7. Dress up your cargo pants
Cargo pants have been criticized and called unstylish or associated with the stereotypical “Brit abroad” image. Over recent seasons the cargo trouser has undergone a modern revamp, with current iterations featuring slim pocket detailing and a tapered leg . Combine with relaxed tailoring or your favourite sweatshirt (with or without a blazer), give them a couple of trouser rolls – just do what you normally would and let the style itself give an effortless twist to any of you current look.
8. Choose unexpected accessories
This can be fun. Examples: wear a Swatch at the office for a change; get an Ascot cap or a Fedora; as I already mentioned choose slightly unusual socks (with dots or paisleys for example); pick a Constance orange accessory; wear sleek boots with a suit; dare a bit of male jewelry (stay away from thick gold unless you are a rapper and go for leather/wooden/fabric/stones bracelets for example – rings should be limited to your wedding ring); sport an eye-catching scarf; a distressed leather belt; unusual cufflinks, mirrored sunglasses.
There used to be a stigma on a beard; a homeless-vibe for facial hair in general, and a “al-Qaeda” one for a massive beard. Despite that, beards are this year’s hottest fashion accessory.
Just because a beard is back doesn’t mean every man should be sporting one. If you fancy a change, try and see how it goes with your face and features.
Facial hair can refine a round face and make it look more angular and masculine. It can also simply give you a contemporary look.
In my opinion, a beard goes really well with the gentleman type, well groomed and generally elegant dressed (Ben Affleck in Argo, for example). The touch of rough with a modern twist looks excellent.
10. Go street style
Have look at street style blogs.
The Sartorialist and Bill Cunningham for the NY Times are perhaps the most influential ones; I also like fashionbeans and Maya Villiger.
With just one click, you can see what people actually wear in the real world, and what editors considered good enough to photograph and publish for everybody to see. That way you will have a selection, it is realistic, and you will also make a little tour of the most interesting cities in the world. Look for inspiration and dare. There is no need of a reason to be well dressed and one can never be overdressed – it is more likely to be too underdressed instead.