It seems strange that an entire series of articles can stem from just one post on the FashionBeans forum; especially when you consider that my initial idea had only accounted for one. Clearly, this was not to be the case, seeing as we have now reached article number four. I sincerely hope that everything I have offered is of use to all those readers whom have already started their style reinvention, and has perhaps inspired others who were still unsure.
I have repeatedly restated my opinion that style comes to individuals at different rates and that a set form of advice is absolutely not applicable to all. However, I think that this series – along with Matt Allinson’s great fashion basics – and the fantastic advice offered by all the writers (and many forum members) offers all you could ever want and need to build yourself the perfect wardrobe.
The process is time consuming and you will make mistakes but the final result should be a world apart from the undefined, un-styled and ungainly you. For this last instalment I will be fulfilling the wishes of those readers who very much appreciated the additional lookbook pictures as a source of inspiration. By creating a set of looks that utilise many of the key items I covered in the last couple of articles, I hope to demonstrate just how simple and easy it should be to create attractive, stylish and considered outfits that will almost definitely get the nod of approval from an increasingly image conscious society.
We kick off with one of the easiest looks to put together; nothing fancy, nothing flash, just simple, refined yet casual style. A black leather jacket, white tee and jeans outfit has been a bastion of men’s fashion for decades and will probably continue to be so until the world ends (this year? next? I can’t remember the latest prediction) and humans cease to exist, it is just that strong. To pull off this outfit successfully will be to have women swooning and men exceedingly jealous. In fact, I would even suggest carrying around a broom so that you can push the crowds away.
The most important part of the outfit is of course the leather jacket. The style you wear is entirely up to you, but a classic biker or bomber will suit the concept the best. Avoid excess detailing, hooded jackets and cheap knock offs and spend a little bit more so that you get something that will last. Stick to black for the ultimate rock and roll image.
For the second layer wear crew necks, they offer the most versatility and won’t encroach on any ‘hevage’ debates. For the iconic look a white tee is your best option but you could equally use a grey, cream, black or pretty much any other coloured tee you fancy. Should the small details be your thing, you could switch out the crew for a Henley tee. Wear it unbuttoned to create a more rakish image and style your hair wind swept or in a controlled quiff – then watch as everyone you pass in the street feints, overwhelmed by your good looks. You might also want to think about rolling up the sleeves of your tee to channel just a touch of the Rockabilly.
A pair of dark blue wash or indigo slim cut denim is the best choice for an outfit of this nature – skinny jeans often produce a look that screams all the wrong stereotypes, so keep it simple. Finish off with a pair of light coloured desert boots and you have one perfect look. To make it just that little bit more perfect however invest in some classic sunglasses and a nice watch. Iconic aviators, wayfarers or clubmasters styles are much better than those horrible wrap around Gucci-esque square jobs and Toy Watches aren’t applicable; simple, black and classic will work just fine.
Not every look you wear has to result in the ladies crawling all over you; carrying a broom around can often become quite tiresome, so there will be times when all you want is to slip under the radar; still looking good but not shouting about it. For this purpose, casual understatement is the way we want to go – making the most of simple colours, simple clothes and an all round relaxed demeanour.
Layering is key to all winter outfits. More often than not it’s cold in the morning, cold during the day and even colder when the night draws in, so clever clothing selection will ensure you stay warm at all times. A decent coat is of course one of the best defences against our notoriously unpredictable weather and the humble pea coat is just another item that will never lose its place in the minds of the fashionable public. A navy, black or grey example will give you the most versatility and make sure you don’t make any outerwear faux pas. If your budget will stretch, look for those made of 100% wool as they will be the most effective in the chilly breezes.
The shawl neck cardigan is making a big comeback, so it is certainly worth having a look at. I know I said that cable knits will quite possibly fall out of favour in the near future but a more subtle design will help to slow the fade. Worn over a carefully chosen checked shirt and you have the basis of a very simple, casual weekend look that wouldn’t look out of place on anyone or anywhere for that matter – whether it be wandering around the shops or necking numerous pints in the pub (we don’t of course endorse excessive drinking).
A pair of dark wash straight jeans will serve the purpose well here; an outfit of this type doesn’t require any fussy washing or details so steer clear of over ripped and over worked items. Throw on a pair of CLEAN, white trainers (Converse chucks work perfectly here) and you are all set. You might of course want to carry some of your stuff around with you – an umbrella, note pad, iPad, kindle etc – so a decent bag is always a worthwhile investment. A canvas backpack will keep your valuables safe and sound whilst also looking jolly fashionable.
Making use of items that others might not have thought of or might not have even considered is a great way to inject some individuality to an outfit. The sweater is a very much underestimated item when it comes to a casual wardrobe as it offers something completely different to the standard knitwear go to. Should your overall style allow for an item that is at the more casual end of the scale, then a sweater is certainly worth some attention.
However, there are ways that you can smarten them up. A simple grey sweater over a light blue or pink oxford is a great way to achieve a balance between the structure of a shirt and the relaxed nature of the jumper – it mixes the two sides of style really well and is a darn sight more interesting than just wearing one over a tee. You can also get a bit creative with your colours; depending on what you wear underneath, a brighter jumper can be a great way of introducing a bit of creative flair whilst still being anchored by the items around it.
As I mentioned in the previous article, my personal preference for a style reinvention is the duffle coat as it works so well with any style. Cropped or full length, lightweight or cotton, the choice is yours and all are equally effective. As with the peacoat in the look above, sticking with more muted colours gives you the greatest amount of versatility when creating outfits so keep your eyes out for greys, navy or even camel.
In line with the first two outfits I have covered, the jeans are very simple; a standard cut and uncluttered wash/design worn over a pair of slightly chunkier desert style boots for a clean, easy bottom half. If you are interested making a bit more of a statement with your outfits you could consider trying a multi coloured or bolder belt, just don’t wear one with a silly buckle.
If you wish to aim your style at a particular image, you could do much worse than introducing a little Mod sophistication to your outfits. The iconic Harrington has been worn by many a style icon over the years and you style re-inventors would do well to take note of that fact. Aside from being hugely versatile, the Harrington is the perfect alternative to the perhaps over worn denim and leather jackets that appear every season.
Wear your beige or navy Harrington over a polo shirt (buttons done up) for an extra injection of 1960s charm and stick to slim line jeans to keep the overall silhouette sharp and refined. With the polo you can afford to play around somewhat with pattern. Again, keep it simple but don’t be afraid to try something that is a little more of a throw back to the Mod originals; bold stripes, subtle geometric or paisley patterns. Colours are relatively open, with the jeans and jacket anchoring even the bolder tones.
The desert boot is another Mod icon but you don’t have to go for one of the Clarks Originals, you could equally try a more structured chukka boot with stiffer quarters and stronger soles, which would go a long way to smartening everything up. A clean and simple canvas satchel is a great way to transport all your belongings and classic sunglasses will serve you well all the way into the summer.
In this final look I wanted to offer up something a little different; chinos. I didn’t mention chinos in either of the previous articles highlighting the essential items you should be investing in because I wanted to focus attention on wardrobes staples and the things that you would be most comfortable in. Whilst chinos are certainly making in roads in the fashion community, they may still be too much of a departure from the jeans that you will wear on a regular basis – the different colours, material and cut looking (and feeling) a bit too odd during the first stages of a style revolution.
However, chinos are an excellent addition to any wardrobe so they are still worth considering, even if you only do so once you have become more comfortable with your style. With this look I wanted to incorporate another of the spring jackets that I mentioned in the last article – the denim jacket – and show you how with careful layering it can still be useful in the colder months.
Layered over a cardigan and a tee you can see that this is a very simple, casual look that would suit someone trying to re-invent their style down to the ground – it requires very little fashion based bravery and the results can be very pleasing. A Breton striped tee is an essential for every fashionable man and a one in an alternative colour can add some of the individuality you might want.
Lighter coloured chinos really suit a spring look but the same rules apply as with jeans; keep the cut slim for the best results and wear a pair of simple white trainers to finish off the look with aplomb.
As I have said before, I really hope that these looks inspire you and have helped you develop ideas on which you can build. I believe that the best way for you to effectively reinvent your style, feel comfortable in what you wear and be confident in your clothes is to create a set of go to basic outfits that you can always fall back on; the above looks could well be those go to outfits.
Always remember that simplicity is the key. There is no point in making your looks overly complex as it will only result in you feeling out of place. A well judged, carefully considered look that makes use of good basics and sensible colour matching is worth ten times one that is more focused on the latest trends or pushes the boundaries of what you could consider sartorially acceptable.
Once you are happier in what you wear don’t be afraid to experiment and push your boundaries – try new shoes, try even more shirts, tailored trousers, blazers, whatever, as long as your image does not stagnate you will have success.
I would also ask you to remember the factors that don’t actually involve the physical act of choosing clothes; demeanour, posture and your general confidence and attitude are equally as important as the clothes you wear. If you slouch your outfit is ruined, if you look uncomfortable your outfit is ruined, if you aren’t a gentleman your whole life is ruined. Smile and hold open the door for a lady; it makes a big difference.
As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
As this article is over a year old, the comments are now closed.
If you have a specific question about one of the points raised in the article, why not join our free fashion & style forum and start a thread? The FashionBeans community will always do their best to help you out, and our writers also frequent the forums regularly.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with us on our contact us page.