A Gentleman’s Guide to Style
Ok guys, it’s your turn.
This is your crash course in fashion and style written by a girl (who is therefore automatically qualified to give you fashion advice).
Guys generally fall into 3 general categories when it comes to style:
Kind of Clueless
If you don’t really care about clothes (you’ve got better things to do with your time, we know, we know), or you have no idea what to wear, or you can’t trust your own eyes to decide whether a sock is black or blue, this is what to do. (And don’t be worried about falling into this category – a ton of guys do! And you can still look awesome).
You have couple of options that look good on absolutely everyone, all the time, period.
- The Button-Down: the button down is your best friend, put it on and you instantly look polished and like you know what you’re doing. Choose some dressy ones for church and job interviews, white and pale blue. Then for everyday, pick out some more casual ones in nice colors that you can wear untucked with jeans. Try to pick colors that look good on you (this is when sisters come in handy). Don’t be afraid of looking a little dressed up. (oh, and wear a tee-shirt underneath, it looks way better)
- The Short-Sleeved Polo: an absolute necessity in the summer. Get a couple in different colors: blue, green, yellow, pink :) Make sure they fit right! If they’re too baggy you look like an old man, if they’re too tight you look like….well, let’s just say you don’t want to look like that.
- The Blazer: Navy blue blazer, you must have one. You can wear it all year round and it always looks good. Super classy and very American. Again, fit is really important. Go for trim, but definitely not tight.
- The Sweater: This is a little trickier. Some guys can really pull off sweaters and others hate them. So go with your instinct. A nice gray sweater with a collared shirt looks both casual and classy. Note: sweater NOT sweatshirt. Big difference.
- Jeans: I wish I was a little more qualified to give advice in this area, but I can only speak on what I have seen. The best guys jeans are the ones that you don’t notice. So here are some things to avoid: the dad jeans– these are kind of high waisted and look very utilitarian, they’re usually oddly puffy too. The gangster jeans– way too big, and falling down, never, ever. The skinny jeans – heaven forbid. This is a crime against humanity. Slim is ok, but not too slim.Good luck!
- Khakis: get a nice pair of flat front khakis. Pair with any of the tops above and you’re ready to go.
- Sperry Topsiders: these are great for spring, summer, and fall, but don’t really fly in the winter. They’re the perfect casual shoes for just hanging out, but nice enough to wear out and about.
- Loafers: Gotta have ‘em. They go with everything, all the time. Hard to go wrong, really.
- Dress shoes: Get a nice pair, shiny black and they’ll last you for a long time. Pick a shape that’s classy and that you like, but if the two conflict, go with classy
Out of the Box
If you are creative, have a strong personality, and a really good eye for color and style combinations, but don’t want to come off as… shall we say “flamboyant, “ this what to do. (Be cautious, creativity can be carried too far (rather more easily in men’s fashion than women’s…just another one of the injustices of the world)).
Make sure you don’t let your imagination run away with you. Pair items carefully and try to stick with one focal point for the outfit. Make sure you have a solid wardrobe of basics to work with and then add some uniqueness in small doses.
Pair colors carefully, if you have a vivid blue shirt, pair it with a light color (like pale yellow or gray slacks) or a dark color (like forest green or dark brown). Not too many brights in one outfit.
The same goes for patterns, pair opposites : large-scale plaid with a skinny stripe , bold striped tie with a subtle checked shirt.
Know what looks good on you and what you can pull off. Try to look at yourself objectively and if you can’t (most of us can’t) then ask people (siblings, friends, parents) what styles look the best on you, what fits your body type and personality. Some guys look great in bold prints – plaid pants, bright stripes. Others rock the glasses, cardigans, and khakis look. A full length mirror is your friend! Also, don’t forget to think about what message you’re portraying and who you want to be seen as.
Find the intersection of who you are and who you want to be and dress accordingly.
Don’t be afraid of normal
Just because you want to express your personality through your style doesn’t mean that every outfit has to be a style statement. Don’t be afraid of wearing “boring” clothes, they can often be made more interesting with a little something unique.
Try new things, new combinations, new looks. Look at the runways and well-dressed celebrities (past and present) for inspiration, and try to incorporate aspects of the outfits into your day to day wardrobe. Don’t be afraid to experiment, not every outfit will be a winner, but you’ll find your sweet spot. Do something special with your outfit.
In Europe a lot of the guys wear colored and patterned socks with their suits, which adds a great unexpected element. Try a military style jacket (NOT leather unless you can afford a really nice one that doesn’t look outdated). Or a brightly colored shirt. Wear a hat, if you can pull it off. Experiment with patterns. Wear glasses. Try a cardigan. Or a blazer in a unique color or fabric.
If you can’t honestly put yourself in either of the other categories, you wish you could put yourself in the second, you want to be creative but know your eye for style should really put you in the first category, this is what to do.
Keep a Classic Base:
Start with the basics from the first category. Let this be your foundation. At least you know you’ll be starting with something presentable :) Everyone looks good in nice jeans and a button down.
Add Something Unique:
This is wear things get interesting. Go to the second category and get some ideas.
Just keep a couple things in mind:
- Stay within the same group of colors: try to pick things that match at least a little bit. Choose colors that either go together, or look good together.
- Don’t be tacky: don’t pick a “look” and then dress exactly like it. You don’t want to look like a caricature or like you’re wearing a costume. Wear clothes that make you feel well-dressed and like a better version of yourself.
- Choose a role model: pick someone whose style you admire and keep them in mind as you shop and put together outfits. May I suggest Cary Grant.
3 Things to Pay Attention to When Shopping:
- Fit: Above all else, the clothes must fit correctly. Walk the line between baggy and skinny. Clothes should skim your body, not be in loose folds, or skin tight. Different types of clothes have different types of fits.
- Color: Try to pick colors that look good on you. If you don’t know what looks good on you, pick blue. Blue looks good on everyone.
- Quality: Buy nice things if you can afford it. If not, or you don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothes, that’s fine. But still feel the fabric and make sure your get stuff that will last for a while.