Introduction

Creating your perfect wardrobe, developing your style or even just making the most of what you already have is definitely a gradual process. You certainly wouldn’t be able to go out and completely reinvent yourself in a day – the world of the fashion conscious man just doesn’t work like that. There are a great many things to consider and quite a few people you could listen to. For better or for worse; you could ask your friends, you could ask your colleagues, you could talk to your partner or you could even talk to your mum but more often than not you will just find yourself back at square one, with no idea, a total lack of confidence and completely devoid of direction.

This problem is especially troublesome if you are just taking your first, faltering steps into a style revolution; an issue raised a number of times on the FashionBeans forum. It is abundantly obvious that our community thinks on the same wave length; we all have similar ideas, rules, concepts and to an extent, very similar styles – but this is in no way a criticism.

In truth, it elevates us far above many other fashion magazines or blogs; our sole purpose is to help, to advise and to improve. The fact that we can all contribute to the whole in relatively equal measure is a testament to our collective abilities, knowledge and willingness to discuss at great length one of our greatest passions. It is this perhaps that makes FashionBeans such a success, it is what makes people want to come back for more and is why new readers are joining our community everyday.

But for those who are only just beginning their journey, those same ideas can seem very daunting. The road to stylish refinement is long and arduous, with everyone having to start somewhere – but just as it is important to encourage newcomers to push their boundaries and try new things, jumping too far ahead of natural development will only lead to failure. Sometimes, changes don’t actually have to be that big.

Taking Your First Steps

As you may have realised, this article was inspired by a thread on the forum, specifically a request for advice for someone whose priorities left clothing and image at the bottom of the list and a baggy jeans, t-shirt combination the staple look. We have Matt Allinson’s simply excellent fashion basics series, but even that might take some working up to. For many men who have remained unchanged in the style department for a long time, dropping head first into a complete wardrobe change isn’t really an option; it is in fact, a step too far.

In this instance, my personal opinion is that refinement is better than change. Taking what you know and making it better will be much easier, cheaper and a much more comfortable change. We often say that confidence is one of the most important parts of looking good and dressing well, so being uncomfortable in what you wear is a sure fire way to achieve the exact opposite of what you want.

With this in mind, I want to outline a few key considerations that might just help you to take your first tentative steps towards your new look.

1. Have A Clear Out

You will hear many seasoned gents discussing their annual clear out – often a promise made before the New Year – as a way to rid their wardrobe of all things unnecessary and unwanted. The same concept applies in this case; rid yourself of all the things you no longer wear, need or that don’t fit, in order to make space for your new clothes.

However, whilst you do need to be ruthless, be considered. If you still like to wear an item, keep it. If you think it could have potential, keep it – you can always drop it later.

2. Get a Hair Cut

Have you been sporting the same mop of unshaped hair for the last 10 years? It’s probably time to do something about it, and nothing says intent to change like a good hair cut.

Flick through magazines, check out our hairstyle articles or browse the Internet to find a style you like and then take it to a good hairdresser. Even if you only get a short back and sides; if your cut only costs you £5, change your stylist. A good hair stylist will take the time to advise you and help pick hairstyles that suit your face shape, hair texture and type, meaning that you will look your very best from the moment you step out of the salon. Spend more, get more.

For some proper hair tips take a look through Robert Baker’s exceedingly helpful hairstyling features. For now, take a look at the lookbook below for some of the key cuts/styles for 2012, and Robert’s very own recommended top 6 men’s hair products.

Current Key Men's Hairstyles

  • Kérastase Homme Capital Force Densifying Shampoo 250mlKérastase Homme Capital Force Densifying Shampoo 250ml
  • Label.m Leave-in Conditioner 300mlLabel.m Leave-in Conditioner 300ml
  • Geo F Trumper PomadeGeo F Trumper Pomade
  • Redken For Men Cool Finish Invigorating Conditioner 300mlRedken For Men Cool Finish Invigorating Conditioner 300ml
  • Redken For Men Shine Form Defining Wax 75mlRedken For Men Shine Form Defining Wax 75ml
  • Hairbond Sculptor Hair PuttyHairbond Sculptor Hair Putty
3. Consider Your Budget

Realistically, how much do you have to spend? If money is a bit tight, then you will find the high street is your friend. As has been proven time and time again, you don’t need to spend a fortune to look good or develop your style. Make the most of sales, become friends with eBay and get acquainted with the FashionBeans voucher page for exclusive discounts for all your favourite fashion retailers.

Most of all, be sensible. Taking time over your purchases is better than impulse buying, and make sure you really want it before you buy it.

If money isn’t as much of an issue, then invest, invest, invest! Spend that little bit more to get high quality items that will last longer, fit better and help you avoid the tedium of going shopping on a regular basis (unless of course you actual find you enjoy it.)

4. Think About Your Style

Just where do you want your style to go? Do you want it to be more refined and smarter? Do you think it could be more age appropriate?

You have to have an idea of where you want it to go and how you want to look before you start spending money. Of course, your ideas might change as you shop and find certain things suit you better than others, but it is always worth going at it with an idea.

Just what is it that you want to change? Whatever your answer, you must always remember that it will take time.

5. Alter Your Attitude

For many of the readers that want to change their personal style but are put off by such a drastic alteration – your attitude towards your image and your clothes will be a major hurdle.

These two areas will more than likely have been at the bottom of your list of priorities and you may well still regard clothes shopping, dressing well and taking care of your appearance with some suspicion. This will ultimately hold you back from making any meaningful changes.

You cannot expect to take your appearance seriously if you are still holding on to ignorant stereotypes and silly preconceptions; real men moisturise and check themselves in mirrors but we aren’t all (thank God) like Joey Essex.

6. Change Your Grooming Routine

Grooming is one of the biggest hang ups men seem to have about their appearance but it is just one more thing to overcome when you want to make a change. Skincare, hair care and general body maintenance will make a big difference to your overall appearance and it could be as simple as starting to moisturise.

For good tips on this, take a look through the grooming articles written by our very own resident expert, Duncan Copeland. In order to get you started, six of Duncan’s favourite grooming products are showcased below.

  • American Crew Fiber 85gmAmerican Crew Fiber 85gm
  • Men-u Healthy Facial Wash 100mlMen-u Healthy Facial Wash 100ml
  • Loréal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Daily Anti-fatigue Moisturising Lotion 50mlLoréal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Daily Anti-fatigue Moisturising Lotion 50ml
  • No7 For Men Gradual Tan Face Spf 155134870No7 For Men Gradual Tan Face Spf 155134870
  • The Bluebeards Revenge Luxury Shaving Cream Tub 100mlThe Bluebeards Revenge Luxury Shaving Cream Tub 100ml
  • Murad Man Razor Burn RescueMurad Man Razor Burn Rescue
Recommended Clothing Picks

Below is a sample of the kinds of items I will be discussing in Part 2 of this feature. The idea behind the items below is that they aren’t too far removed from what you already wear, it is simply a development of what already exists and refinement to suit your new direction.

  • Nudie Jeans Slim Jim Dry Broken Twill Slim JeansNudie Jeans Slim Jim Dry Broken Twill Slim Jeans
  • Asos Dark Blue Slim Fit JeansAsos Dark Blue Slim Fit Jeans
  • Diesel Iakop Slim Straight JeansDiesel Iakop Slim Straight Jeans
  • Topman Indigo Marl Crew Neck T-shirtTopman Indigo Marl Crew Neck T-shirt
  • Allsaints Spider S/s V-neck T-shirtAllsaints Spider S/s V-neck T-shirt
  • Allsaints Clark L/s HenleyAllsaints Clark L/s Henley
  • Fred Perry Blank Canvas Black Covered Placket 6876 Collab Polo ShirtFred Perry Blank Canvas Black Covered Placket 6876 Collab Polo Shirt
  • Topman Light Blue Cotton Check ShirtTopman Light Blue Cotton Check Shirt
  • Asos Oxford ShirtAsos Oxford Shirt
  • Burton Grey Recycled Crew JumperBurton Grey Recycled Crew Jumper
  • Shore Leave Oatmeal Toggle Shawl Neck KnitShore Leave Oatmeal Toggle Shawl Neck Knit
  • John Smedley Navy White Mid Stripe Dominic Crew KnitJohn Smedley Navy White Mid Stripe Dominic Crew Knit
  • Redwing Heritage Moccasin BootRedwing Heritage Moccasin Boot
  • Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top SneakersCommon Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top Sneakers
  • Asos Suede Desert BootsAsos Suede Desert Boots
Final Word

Altering or changing your style is a surprisingly psychological undertaking, especially if you are not used to trying new things and are entering a world that is relatively unknown to you. It requires you to step a long way out of your comfort zone and make big changes that could have a dramatic affect on the way you see yourself and the way others perceive you.

It is however, a challenge worth accepting, the benefits are huge and the negatives so small as to become unimportant. If you are at all nervous about making a change then small steps are the way to go; refine what you know and feel comfortable in yourself.

Everyone has to start from somewhere, whether it is the Topman stereotype or the bloke that still likes to wear his trainers, baggy jeans, tees and hoodie. However, it isn’t for us to dictate exactly what they wear. We should advise, suggest and inform and it is also important to remember that not everyone is the same, sometimes we need to take a step back and consider exactly what is best for the individual.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of this feature where I will discuss exactly what I mean by refining what you already have and hopefully set some of you on the path to a better wardrobe.

As ever, I want to hear your thoughts, so let me know what you think and make your opinion heard in the comments below.

Will