Fashion for the sartorially challenged – top 10 tips
It’s 8.30am and you’ve just walked into your office, dumped your heavy laptop bag on your desk, whilst trying to pull up your pants and turned on your computer to start checking the emails. The really cute co-worker walks past you, giving an uneasy smile, and points to the coffee stain on your left pocket of your shirt, and the mismatched socks with the sneakers.
Déjà vu !
Sounds familiar to a lot of men, especially young professionals I meet on a daily basis. They are really smart and intelligent but struggle to dress well in both work and social environments. Their idea of fashion heaven is a comfy white tee with a blue pair of jeans and the old smelly sneaker.
OK ! Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit; but more or less, this seems to be every day story for most guys aged 20 to 30 years, or even 40 in some cases. Now, how about I say that I can help you turn this every day crisis into a scenario like this?
It’s 8.15am and you’re just about to enter your office building, when you run into that cute co-worker, and she offers to buy you a cup of coffee, before you hit the desk. Whilst choosing between flat white and mocha, she complements you on your well-matched belt and shoes; and admires your lapel pin. On the way up the lift, she casually asks you, why don’t you add me on Facebook? and walks away with a wink and a really beautiful smile.
How cool does that sound? Well, the only difference between the two stories is confidence. And I help people feel and stay confident by looking good.
Here’s my top 10 tips for those that are sartorially (yeah look up the word on Dictionary.com) challenged to get them from zero to number one, starting from the toe upwards.
SHOES: Invest in quality leather shoes in black and brown – lace ups, not rounded on the front, and without the thick rubber soles. Suede in monk and slip-ons are options for those who already own a few pairs of the classics.
SOCKS: Whilst pattern socks sound like a cool funky idea, it is smarter to start with subtle colours in classic patterns in a Cotton-Poly mix which can be worn all year round. Stay away from the white trainer socks please if you have a shred of self-respect.
UNDERWEAR: Don’t wear your granddad pants or your mankini briefs. The most popular brands like Bonds or Calvin Klein will do the trick – briefs in summer and boxers in winter in black or navy is the way to go.
TROUSERS: Stay away from the Polyester cloth as they may be crease-resistant but they can heat up quickly, and will make you sweat like hell. Besides, they’re not good for sensitive skin. Preferably go for Super Merino Wool (110 – 150) so they’re breathable, durable and can be work through the year. In summer, go for a light weight cotton or linen as it’s cool and comfy.
Make sure the length is long enough to have a half break on the front of the shoe, and it doesn’t touch the ground when you’re without shoes.
BELTS: Find matching belts to the shoes (see 10) and if you’re on a tight budget, get a reversible belt that allows you to wear both black and brown leather. Also, the right length belt will fit the middle notch hole and sit perfectly on the front of the trousers.
SHIRTS: A good shirt should hug the shoulders perfectly without any excess fabrics hanging on the sides. The sleeve length need to be such that they don’t go beyond the wrist when the arms are stretched, and the fit should be not too tight or too loose.
Again a good fabric is most important as it’s the closest thing to your skin, and if you shirt collar is crooked or damaged, then throw that shirt away and go get a new one, or better still, get one made to measure.
JACKET (SUIT or BLAZER): Getting the perfect jacket is all about the shoulders and the chest which needs to be clean and crisp. Too much fabric means it’s not shaped well around you and too little means it’s restrictive and uncomfortable.
Based on current style trends, 2 Button Single Breasted with a Classic Notch Lapel is the way to go. Ideal colours are Black, Navy and Charcoal in a textured weave self-pattern.
For those that want to kick it up a level, get working buttons so you can show off your cool new watch or sharp little cuff link on your shirt.
CUFF LINKS are not for everyone but they do add a lot of personality to your outfit. Apart from the clown and skull designs, it’s best to start with steel ones and move up to sterling silver with onyx or mother of pearl once you’ve decided it’s your thing. Only wannabes wear the name branded items so stay away from those, as its too try hard.
WATCHES: Please don’t wear your digital or sports watch to work. Instead get a classic design with leather straps (black or brown) so you can match it to the belt and shoes your wearing.
Once you’ve got some cash in your pocket, invest in quality time pieces like Tissot, Longines, Tag Heuer, Raymond Weil, Omega or even Rolex as per your spending capacity. And if you’re really into watches then don’t look past IWC, Panerai, or Patek Philippe, amongst other elite Swiss brands.
Certainly good watches are noticed first, and seen as a reflection of the person in terms of their financial capacity and taste. Women notice watches in men first, just how they notice shoes on other women.
ACCESSORIES: Learning to accessorize is a skill in itself – and it includes items like cuff links, watches, tie or bow ties, pocket silks and lapel pins.
Each of which might be a bit too much together, but you can certainly decide what’s working for you and what’s not practical.
START HERE: The fastest way to get the best ideas is to engage the services of a professional stylist who can advise you on what works best to match your skin tone, personality, profile and lifestyle.
For those wanting more tips, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I own and operate two fashion brands: azrim – az designer az you and mirza.heath offering made-to-measure styling and design consultation to corporate, professionals and grooms for their wedding.