Throughout my years of retail experience, I have met men from various walks of life who have different levels of competence when ‘outfitting’. As a result, I felt it necessary to share some helpful hints and tips I have aquired from my 2.5 years working in men’s fashion.
1. Trans-seasonal Layering
Tran-seasonal periods are when both men and women have the opportunity to exhibit their personal approach to fashion.
Unlike the warmer months, it is hard to dress with style in mind when your primary concern is not melting in the heat. Personally, I believe that during the colder months one can layer high street pieces into a decadent (yet stylish and affordable) outfit that both looks and feels incredible.
The best tip that I could ever offer is to invest in staple pieces.
Whilst fast fashion can be riveting and playful – certain items of clothing should not be compromised for trends. A classic investment piece of clothing can be worn hundreds of times without looking worn and tattered. Whether it be a wool jacket, suede desert boots, a comfortable pair of boat shoes, high quality yarn knit-wear or a cashmere scarf – pay attention to the fine details of your clothing investments, as these are the pieces your outfits will revolve around.
Now I know what you’re thinking – I bet that you’re scrolling through your phone or sitting behind your computer screen rolling your eyes thinking… “yeah okay, and how much do you expect me to invest?“. Well, the truth of the matter is that high fashion companies are lifting their game – no longer do luxury materials and well fitted pieces have to be purchased from the luxury market. Newsflash, in this competative market, quality garments and expensive price tags are no longer mutually exclusive. Everyday accessible brands such as Connor, Tarocash, YD, Industrie, Saba and Country Road can offer fantastic alternatives to designer clothing, with a similar finish.
When investing in basics, pay close attention to the fabric content and don’t be afraid to ask the sales associate of the best ways to clean the garment, or how it will wear over time.
Alternatively, if you own a classic coat that needs updating, take that coat to an alterations shop and taper the shoulders and waist to flatter your figure. The smallest details can be the difference between items looking mass-manufactured and made for you.
Working in men’s fashion you quickly learn that every sales assistant gravitates towards different styles, so much so, that as colleagues we direct customers to one another if we feel our personal style aligns with a customers. If you are after trend-driven casual streetstyle that revolves around fresh sneakers, I could blindly assist you with sizing and not much else. On the other hand, if you are after a collared shirt, fitted chinos and boat shoes – I’m your girl.
For everyday outfitting, I suggest that you consider what appeals to you most and working from there. Determine whether you appreciate sportier styles, trend-driven streetwear styles, or anything in between. Once you know the look you are trying to achieve, it is easier to shop for individual items.
The ‘preppy’ look always spoke to me – the timeless blend of comfortable everyday clothing with a touch of formal flair. This appreciation inspired me to style the model (pictured above) in a quintisential preppy look appropriate for university, casual fridays in the office, or weekendwear.
Dressing for work isn’t too complicated. If you stick to a few golden rules, there’s not much that can go wrong.
Firstly, always match your belt and shoes (and workbag if you so wish). Far too many times men have come into the mens-wear store I work at with the intention of purchasing a semi-matching belt for their work outfit.
I’m sorry, but no.
There are some things in this world that are fundamentally wrong…this is one of them.
The purpose of wearing a belt other than for functional reasons, is to tie the details of an outfit together to achieve a polished look. If your belt and shoes do not match, the proportions of the outfit are scewed and you are better off untucking your shirt and sporting the shoes on their own.
I note that whilst in this image the workbag is black and the other accessories are a deep chocolate brown, the subtle hardware of the bag paired with the brown patch detailing on the strap ties the outfit together.
Further, do not fear the ‘dress chino’. Whilst a lot of mens fashion brands are yet to jump on the bandwagon, I am a great believer in the versatility, practicality and beauty of the dress chino. This is a pant that can be worn for work and paired with a different top, can be transformed into an everyday pant for casual day-to-day life. If purchased in a subtle color such as black, navy, ink, camel or sand, the dress chino can be the perfect addition to a capsule wardrobe (whilst still looking professional and polished).
Whatever your style, experience or confidence with men’s clothing, we all have to start from somewhere. Thanks to my delving into clothing styles, I have progressed from the completely inexperienced 19 year old to a reasonably well-versed near 22 year old – I have no doubt that you can do the same!