In the morning, man is faced with what can be a delight or dilemma. We are not referring to the sexual pleasures of life; we are referring to the wardrobe interrogation that is, “What shall I wear today?” – call it your morning glory if you will.
Many men when faced with their wardrobe will just pull out their favourite pieces (or what catches their eye that day) and build from there. There is often no rhyme or reason to their choices; maybe they want to wear their favourite jacket but it will only work with a certain type or colour of tee; maybe they just haven’t put any consideration into what look they are actually going for that day. If you are one of those men that struggle to create outfits “on the fly” (and don’t worry, it is an art, and comes with much practise), then creating some structure and logic to your dressing will definitely set you on the right path.
So making a snap decision need not be a hassle any more. In this quickstep guide we will attempt to teach what could be assumed ‘unteachable’ – how to choose the perfect outfit and still have time to brush your teeth.
Step 1: Start with the shoes
Styling from the shoes upwards is fashion 101. You can guarantee you will probably have something to wear with every item of footwear you own – if not, then why did you buy them in the first place? It’s all about creating that all-important match; ask yourself what the occasion calls for. If it’s patent Gucci classics, you can put the harem pants to one side, no seriously.
Beiges and browns are tones that are essential for summer. Use the style you chose i.e. boat, desert, brogue, to link in with the seasons trends and the colour can either tie the rest of the outfit together or inject some statement colour into any look.
If you stay neutral with your colour choice, it allows you more freedom to experiment with every other piece you chose for your ensemble. However, should you pick a bold red or yellow brogue as your starting piece, it now means you need to consider how you can tie in this colour – and anchor it – using the other pieces we will add after.
Step 2: Trousers/Shorts
Again, the style, cut and colour you go for is dependent on the occasion but that doesn’t mean in select circumstances you can’t err away from the expected. Unless your place of work requires you to wear black shoes and trousers, try avoiding wearing them in the same colour to mix things up. It may sound like the obvious (and time saving) choice at the time, after all what goes with blue better than blue? However, over-pairing colours can make your style fall by the wayside.
You always relate the current step to the last. Base this choice on the shoe selection carried out in step 1. Try thinking about what type of shoe you have chosen to wear – the style/colour/situation it would usually be worn in, and then do the same again for your trousers or shorts. This time, you need to have the shoes in your mind when you make your selection – so your choices should be narrowing as you progress.
Step 3: Tees/Shirts
This is the point where you can start to add your own personal touch to your outfit. Printed tees and patterned shirts, albeit somewhat garish at times, can liven up your look instantly.
For many summer looks this is often the last step as jumpers and cardigans are not always essential. Nautical inspired clothing has a firm foothold over fashion this season with Breton stripes and anchor patterns galore. If you’re trying to avert from the usual; bold prints and bright colours are proving to be a big hit lately in the colour blocking trend for men and women – and are surprisingly easy to style with.
Despite being a step-by-step process, dress with your whole look in mind. If you are attempting to hit a certain trend, think about removing a piece of clothing – is that trend still noticeable? If not, go back a step. A look should maintain a look even when de-constructed.
Step 4: Cardigans/Jumpers/Lightweight Jackets
Many toss aside the simple art of layering as soon as the mercury gives hint of rising. It’s known (and if it isn’t, it should) that layering is to create an aesthetic dimension in your look, not just to be weather-appropriate in winter.
If you do choose to layer up, it goes without saying that lightweight materials are the way to go as polyester and wools are notorious for breaking sweats. Consider the above rule; your extra layers should give the same impression as your other pieces but does not necessarily have to carry the same print or pattern.
Do not neglect your tailoring within the summer season. As we all know by now, men’s fashion is becoming more refined and their is an emphasis on dressing sharp. Soft, lightweight de-constructed blazers are THE choice for the summer, and can be easily thrown on over a tee, shirt or vest when the temperature cools at night. Other lighter jackets are also viable options, such as cotton Harringtons and nylon pack-a-macs/modified parkas. All can be utilised with shorts, and the clashing of styles often injects enough personality into a look to have you standing out without adding anything extra.
Step 5: Accessories
Many of you will be clued in to the essentials needed to accessorise for summer from our two-part guide (part 1 and part 2). Both covered a range of accessories, with everything from jewellery and summer hats to brooches and scarves.
An accessory is the portal to individuality. Use your accessories with your whole outfit considered. Do you want to contrast or compliment? It’s all about harmony, and whether you decide to take a blind bit of notice of it. The clothes you pick may be considered an easy step, but how you refine your look (ignoring harmony is still by our definition, refining) is what sets you apart.
When getting separated from the crowd at festivals “the dapper guy in the white wicker hat and paisley neckerchief” is a far more dandy description than “the guy with a shaggy beard and brown hair”.
Key points to remember:
- To avoid repetition, rotate the shoes you wear on a daily basis – this will lead you to a completely different outfit once you have finished building it up.
- Take inspiration from the catwalks. Obviously the outfits will be a lot more lavish, but these are the foundation stones of what designers will be promoting this year. You just need to pick something out that suits you.
- Don’t wear something you don’t feel comfortable in simply because it works with the outfit. You should look good but feel confident in doing so.
So now we have guided you through the thought process behind creating a summer outfit, how about we walk you through a couple of very different examples to show you just how easy it can be. Fashion doesn’t need to be try-hard or tedious, you should have fun with it and feel confident once you have completed any particular look in your repertoire. So here are 3 example outfits, the inspiration behind them and how we ended up putting them all together…
Setting the scene: You wake up on the weekend and it’s a bright but brisk morning; the sun is out but those clouds look overcast.
The Inspiration: The Nautical Trend
The Outfit Options:
How We Put It Together: First we reached for our deck shoes, so obviously with the sailor/nautical connotations they produce it has influenced the trend we would like to embody in our outfit today. Of course you don’t have to go that way, you could still pair your decks with some jeans and a hoody but we – as fashionable males – have put a little more thought into our outfit and want to show our knowledge of the latest trends without looking like we are on leave for the day from the navy.
The key is subtlety. Next up, we pair our deck shoes with some blue striped shorts because it hits a key nautical print (stripes) without having to throw on an obvious Breton striped tee which a lot of other males have in their wardrobe. This means we can then move on to our tee/shirt pick that could go either way depending on your mood; keep it simple and casual with a fresh white v or scoop neck tee – or go the other way and utilise a crisp white shirt. Both options nod towards nautical but don’t scream it.
As the weather could take a turn for the worse, we wrap up the outfit with a timeless lightweight navy cotton blazer. It looks amazing when paired against the light blue shorts and white tee combination, whilst also adds a touch of class to a casual outfit. Again it hits the nautical trend and offers layering versatility should the weather pick up or turn slightly cooler.
Next it is time to personalise your outfit through accessories. A nautical inspired chain would look great here – think anchor pendants – or if you wanted a little bit of Hollywood glamour then add a pair of black wayfarers or clubmaster sunglasses. Other personalisations you could make would be a bold coloured sock (we recommend a bold red, yellow or sky blue if you really want a bold pop of colour that co-ordinates) or a plaited leather or rope belt.
Setting the scene: It is a sunny day and you are going to an outdoor party or event. You might be there a while and it could go on long into the night, so you need options when the temperature drops in the evening.
The Inspiration: The Preppy Trend
The Outfit Options:
How We Put It Together: So this time we reached for the loafers because they are a great piece of footwear which straddles the line between casual and formal perfectly. They are also very much a preppy item so that has become the inspiration behind our whole on trend look today. Next, we pick a pair of classic chinos – the preppy kids choice – that keeps our whole bottom half looking very refined and perfect for a party.
Of course we don’t want to be labelled “stuffy”, so for our next piece we pick a great pique polo shirt but in a bold colour. This could of been sky blue, bold green, pink or yellow but the brighter the better; on a sunny day it can’t help but garner attention. Again the preppy theme running throughout the outfit is strong, as this smart/casual wardrobe staple piece keeps our outfit looking sharp but playful at the same time.
We mentioned earlier that we need to keep in mind the weather as the sun sets. So a v-neck knit is absolutely perfect and easy to throw on over the top of a polo shirt. Leave it draped over your shoulders throughout the day for that ivy league look or keep it stored in your man bag if you have come prepared. Once the sun sets you will still be shining in this complementary coloured v-neck and polo shirt combination. Preppy perfection.
Make use of accessories if you need them. A bold coloured watch or pair of socks would be perfect to add to this ensemble but don’t go over the top with both. Other preppy pieces that could be introduced would be geek specs, braces or simple sunglasses for the day. Just make sure it is personal to you.
Setting the scene: Again it is a bright sunny day and you either have a fun day planned down the park/pub with your mates, are going to THE festival of the summer, or maybe you are just on holiday and looking to stay casual and cool.
The Inspiration: Festival/Bazaar/Ethnic
The Outfit Options:
How We Put It Together: So we start with some very casual on trend footwear in the form of our “everyday” espadrilles. We have worn these tens of times already this summer but they are just so comfortable and versatile when creating casual outfits. We don’t want to think too much about fashion today – we just need a quick look that will be suitable for the environment and created based on our mood.
So what do we pair them with? Denim shorts are the obvious choice here as they scream laid-back and ready for fun, but again are versatile and provide the perfect anchor for any experimenting we want to do up top. They are also rugged and hard wearing, which is important if at a festival or messing around outdoors – no-one wants to ruin their beautiful tailored shorts in such situations.
Now, onto the tee/shirt question. Well how about both? You can easily pair a scoop neck t-shirt underneath a check shirt (short or long sleeved dependant on weather), or a graphic tee underneath a light chambray light. The options are really endless here because you have utilised denim on your bottom half. Mix and match and find your perfect combination. You might want to add a lightweight knit into the mix, or if you are unsure about the weather, a nylon pack-a-mac or fisherman jacket.
For accessories, go Ethnic as it is a major trend within the accessories market for summer. You can use rope (or wooden) pendants/bracelets, Navajo print rucksacks, straw trilbies and gold or bronze masculine jewellery. All these little touches will help separate you from the crowd as the rest of your outfit is created with staple pieces most men own.
So there you go; 3 completely different outfits which all started from the ground up. It didn’t take me longer than 10 minutes to create each one, and I could of gone in a hundred different ways from my initial pick. The great thing about it is there is so much variety and so many combinations you can create if you just think about your influences and environment before you start adding individual items.
Try experimenting with just one piece of your current footwear and see how you can mix and match your existing items to create a plethora of new looks. As you go along you may notice that you are missing a key piece (or pieces) in your wardrobe which is limiting your options – in which case you can then make a note to buy this item or save up for it.