As we get older we no longer have to worry about homework, personal statements or what to do for our 18th birthday. Instead we worry about electric bills, what to cook for dinner and organising an 18th birthday party for your miserable teenage son or daughter. However, it’s fashion as we grow older that’s worrying FashionBeans reader’s over on our forums;
I appreciate that fashion is a personal thing, and generally doesn’t fit into an age bracket if you’re comfortable wearing it… or at least that’s what we’d like to believe. But surely there are limits to things we should wear once we start getting on a bit?
Unfortunately, as we get older, fashion does become a further worry. No longer can we throw on a grotty band t-shirt and get away with it. As we mature so should our style and this can only help us look our best.
The most wonderful thing about fashion in my eyes has always been the opportunity to be unique and expressive with how you look. With this in mind, remember that the following are only guidelines and whether these work on you depends on many factors like looks, personality and body type. Look at these guidelines and ask yourself if they will work for you and if you’re unsure, send us a post over on the forums.
Let’s start with those trendy young things, and indeed, this is the time to be trendy. Trends are being created for twenty year olds, catwalks have people in your age group walking down them, and although you may not look like a D&G model, you can definitely integrate new clothes from each season into your look. Now is the time to experiment, so feel free to go wild with your cuts, patterns, colours and pieces you choose.
You will definitely make plenty of mistakes (as you will in life) but every single one will help you learn what works for you and therefore sculpt your own specific personal style.
As mentioned above, this is a time for experimenting and developing your personal taste. The twenties lookbook below showcases just how much variety there is when it comes to dressing yourself; do you like smart or casual? Timeless or trend led? Classic or edgy? Bright or subdued? Try to vary your looks and also your wardrobe in order to find colours, patterns and an ‘image’ that showcases who you are as a person:
With so much choice from the majority of shops targeting you, let’s buy a bit of everything, right? Not quite. Even though we are encouraging you to experiment and see what works for you, the important thing about the 20s is choosing one or two pieces to integrate into your current wardrobe from the new season trends. Don’t go mad, and remember, your wardrobe should always revolve around you, not around the latest trend – that applies to all of us.
You may think that choosing clothes is just about what you like and how much money is on your debit card (or Daddy’s). However, there are many features that need consideration. To explain this further, E4’s series Dirty Sexy Things – which revolves around the lives of young models – will help. The show sees photographer of all people ‘famous and beautiful’, Perou, take images of 8 models of varying build and character – a perfect example to show how to dress individuals differently.
It’s important to consider body build when choosing most pieces, even shoes! A slim fitting t-shirt might look great on your 6-packed friend but when it comes to your slender frame, maybe an elegantly cut shirt might look better. In Dirty Sexy Things, model Jesse [above left] cuts a slender, elegant silhouette; different to Rob’s bulky, chiselled torso [above right]. Note the difference in the two’s outfits here.
The best way to learn about what works for your body is to look at people with a similar shape or features and see what looks good on them. Someone who you trust to give an honest opinion is also a very important person to have in your life; make sure you take them with you on shopping trips or ask their opinion when trying outfits on at home.
During your twenties you might find your body shape changing radically. You could slim right down after coming off the university diet, or go the other way and bulk up radically with your new found appreciation of the gym. Either way, these years are there so you can work out what type of items look best on your frame, which brands are cut perfectly for your particular body type, and what pieces emphasise YOUR good bits and flatter YOUR less attractive areas.
By the end of your twenties you should hopefully have this nailed and know each time you reach into your wardrobe that your clothing will fit you perfectly and showcase you in the best possible light.
Choosing colours that complement skin or hair colour can also take an outfit to the next level. See how bulky BB [above left] wears a dark red/burgundy that really emphasises his dark skin and hair, opposed to Jay’s light and bright reds on his shirt and shoelaces. Darker/tanned skin normally looks better with richer, darker colours and light skin with muted colours – brighter colours will generally wash you out and make you look paler. Eye colour is also important and is best being brought-out by a well place accessory like a pocket square or shirt detailing.
These are all really important aspects of your appearance that you should aim to have under control as you reach your thirties. By then it should be second nature to you and each time you add a new piece to your wardrobe you will be armed with the knowledge and experience about whether it will compliment your skin tone, as well as your hair and eye colours.
Choosing whether to buy a velvet blazer or a grungy leather jacket can be more important than you think – especially during your twenties. This can be a decision on how you want to present yourself – musical interest, catwalk inspiration, personality, whatever – and the clothes will only help you to show the side of you that you want on show.
You should take the time to consider exactly who you are and the image you want to project through your clothes. Please don’t take yourself too seriously; just make sure that your outfit choices and the pieces you wear represent you – not a clone of somebody else. Fashion is very personal form of expression and should be utilised as an extension of our personality.
As you develop through your twenties, you might find your image and personal style adapts or even changes completely. There is nothing wrong with this, and in fact it is a natural part of growing up. You may start out as an edgy indie type when you are 21, and then as the years progress find yourself becoming open to different types of music, becoming more professional or simply developing new loves/interests. You will find yourself experimenting (there is that word again) with new pieces or looks you might not have considered before – but again the most important point to take away is that your clothes should still reflect who YOU ARE at that point in time.
Note: This does not mean you have to pigeon hole yourself into a particular look or style. Many men like to dress differently each and every day depending on their mood. One day it might be hard and edgy, the next clean cut and minimalist, the next quirky heritage etc. etc. the key point to take away is that you can still show who YOU are via little touches such as accessories, detailing, colour/pattern/fabric choices, modifications and the like.
With all that in mind, it’s time to delve into the shops. Even though we are advocating you trying new things and pushing the boundaries of your style through these formative years, it is not a time to neglect the basics. These are called basics for a reason – namely because they are essentials that EVERY man should have in their wardrobe. These provide the building blocks in order for you to be able to experiment with other items that will showcase some flair and individuality.
For those of you who just don’t know where to start, I would recommend our men’s fashion basics series, but particularly the articles on the 6 key items you should have in your wardrobe:
Here at FashionBeans, we often talk about creating a capsule wardrobe. This isn’t creating a fantastic cupboard full of paracetamol… a capsule wardrobe is one that contains the classics. We’re talking camel overcoats, bold ties, fitted blazers, the chino, the loafer and even the simple white shirt. With the big three-zero on the horizon, investing in the classics will mean you are both well prepared and have a collection of items that will last long into the future.
These pieces should be bought in timeless neutral colours such as white, black, brown, grey and navy, as these have an almost chameleon ability to adapt to any current or future trend. They also have the capacity to transcend years and seasons without ever falling out of fashion. By the time you reach the end of your twenties, your should of carefully curated a wardrobe full of these pieces.
Speaking of investments, as we progress through the twenties, we are hopefully growing slightly more financially independent (not a given with the current economy unfortunately). So buy quality and don’t be afraid to break the bank on some items – an item of good quality that is well looked after will pay you back with the amount of wear you can achieve from it over the years. Overcoats, well constructed footwear, tailored suits and anything leather are generally items you know will repay your investment over and over again.
Of course, once you have the basics down you can begin to really mould your wardrobe around your particular look or personality. Bring in some interesting new items from current trends or choose statement pieces that utilise bold colour/patterns, have a natural flamboyance or are one off vintage finds. Remember to also experiment with fabrics, materials and texture – corduroy, suede, tweed and the like are all great ways of giving your outfits some depth and detailing, without sacrificing your personal style to do it.
As you are still young, you can also get away with much more detailing. Rips, heavy washes, distressing and worn patches are all fair game – especially as far as denim is concerned – so look for examples that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Below are some pieces that are right on trend for this current season. Stick to just one or two trend led pieces in each outfit, anchor them with some of the basics mentioned above and then add your personal touches and accessories to develop your own take on a particular trend:
To give some further guidance, Burberry and FashionBeans favourite, Douglas Booth shows how to dress your best at 20:
Mr Booth shows exactly how to combine simple pieces like his favoured white tee or a simple shirt, with great tailored suits, bold boots or an elegant Burberry trench. It is an understated elegance that strays away from combining too many show stopping items, which could potentially become the wrong end of flamboyant. To have a full run-down of Mr Booth’s style, check out our style icon article.
This section should be prefaced by me mentioning that I personally have absolutely nothing against those shown here. They are merely fun examples to showcase what a lot of our readers mention (in the comments section or forums) that they want to try and avoid looking like on a daily basis.
The One Direction lads come in for a lot of stick but I am sure it is just the way the stylists have been told to meticulously sculpt their image to appeal to young girls and teens. They themselves are very young and I am sure will learn and experiment as they grow older.
There are however some items that need to be avoided, no matter your build, eye colour or character (unless it’s in your character to be quite the idiot). If you can find a picture of someone wearing Hollister with style, please post to the forums. Otherwise, avoid the bland, advertisement-board slogan or logo t-shirts. Nothing stylish there.
The JLS/Geordie Shore style outrageously deep-scooped tops or vest are also a piece that need consideration – if you must use them, they should be used to layer, not as singular items to show off as much of your waxed pecs as possible. The same goes with the seemingly new trend of wearing just a low cut cardigan without any layer underneath – a bit of subtlety and class never hurt anyone.
Finally, the head to toe AllSaints/Topman/Generic High Street Retailer mannequin look [showcased by the cowl neck One Direction boys above] is another one that you should aim to avoid. Even though you can look good (the look books produced by the retailers are increasing in quality each season), you end up looking like every one else – a clone if you will.
Counter act this by trying new brands or shops, and make sure your wardrobe contains variety. There are plenty of good budget/mid-priced brands around if you cannot afford to spend very much, and they all offer their own unique take on basics or current trend pieces. It is the only way you are going to be able to find that separation from every other guy on the street that is also shopping at all the major high street shops.
That about wraps up style in your 20s. Most items will work for a twenty year old; however, it most certainly does not mean you should buy most items. Next time we will be looking at those leaving the roaring twenties rapidly behind; turning thirty isn’t just about thinking before having that next pint down the pub – it’s about what to wear too.
Final Tip for the twenties: You can never have enough denim shirts but buy different washes or shirts with interesting detailing. Also, even you can’t wear socks with a cartoon graphic on them!
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