New Year’s resolutions are always hard to keep, and I’m no stranger to breaking them. Quit smoking: fail. Join a gym: fail. Cut down on nights out: huge fail.
Whilst the sentiment behind such self-improvements are genuine, temptation and obstacles surround us everywhere we go – whether it’s that extra pint in the pub or the soaring fees of gym membership. But, do not despair, there are plenty of ways us gents can improve in the style department.
With the New Year, we have a new outlook on men’s fashion that is constantly expanding. 2013 can become the trigger for all of us to take that extra bit of care. Besides, it looks like the Mayans were completely wrong about the Rapture, and style has a purpose once more.
Here at FashionBeans, we’ve had a good long think about men’s style and the need for enhancement as we go forward. Your personal resolutions may be doomed from the offset, but our five easy-to-implement New Year’s resolutions will help keep your style impeccable this year…
A very good female friend of mine recently said, “It can all go wrong at the shoes: a lovely shirt and a lovely pair of jeans are redundant when a guy is wearing a pair of Crocs or something.” Never have I heard such wiser words. The days of bad shoes are long gone, and we should be ushering in a golden age of quality footwear.
Granted, some are bound to be left behind, but we all should go out and buy a pair of shoes to be proud of. With luxury comes a price tag, but I feel that spending those extra few pounds will work wonders – a good pair of brogues or Derbies can be a companion for life if you look after them properly.
On the flipside, the formal route isn’t always the preferred choice, so feel free to dress them down with slacks, jeans and t-shirts; I’ve always found loafers to be a much more versatile style in that respect.
Hard-wearing leather is classic and timeless, but on the casual front, brands like Vans, Converse and Dr. Martens are becoming a firm of staple of the fashion-conscious gent. They may seem popular, but there’s a reason for this: the hi-tops, pumps and boots of this world are becoming classics in themselves. This is 2013 – I should not be seeing shoe-trainers or shell-toes on anybody.
Oh God, where do I even start with this one? Everything about typical ‘Ladwear’ (as I like to call it) is wrong.
Let me be more specific: my friends and I define Ladwear as anything that wouldn’t look out of place in your local Oceania. We all know what I’m talking about here: the t-shirts with scantily-clad women and ‘BANG TIDY’ slogans, the drop-crotch carrot jeans that were more novelty than style, and the oversized but rather lacking vests with the sole purpose of drawing attention to one’s creatine-sculpted arms.
I genuinely thought this trend would die a swift death but no, it’s here to stay. I understand that outside of London, most high streets can be very generic for us blokes and variation in style is few and far between – this isn’t a worthy excuse though. Replace slogan t-shirts for classic, staple shirts and keep flip-flops for the beach only.
It takes very little effort to smarten up your look and nobody likes looking back at embarrassing photos, especially when you’re old enough to know better. Let’s make the New Year a sartorially informed one, and replace Ladwear with heritage, classic and timeless pieces – you’ll thank me for it in the long run.
A resolution that I need to stick to myself, because it’s easy to fall prey to style monotony. My own wardrobe is incredibly basic and neutral, with a few flashes of print and colour here and there – in 2013 that just isn’t good enough.
The motto “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” certainly rings true for many of us and our sartorial decisions, but as the boundaries of style and masculinity are stretched and transformed every season, there’s no reason why any of us should shy away from bolder, more experimental pieces. Believe it or not, such audacious choices are becoming increasingly acceptable by mainstream standards.
Personally, I initially scoffed at the camouflage trend as totally unwearable, and then ate a huge slice of humble pie as I saw it perk up on every corner of Dalston and Shoreditch. Paris Fashion Week brought a vast array of eyebrow-raising trends but I feel this year, more and more of us are stepping outside our comfort zone.
For SS13, Kim Jones introduced conventional pieces in unconventional fabrics such as scuba and surf skin, Balenciaga injected a heavy dose of floral print that is already trickling down in a diluted form to the high street whilst Raf Simons has championed the ‘statement trainer’. I’m not suggesting you should don a leather poncho or the like in an effort to be fashion forward, but menswear really is on the move and I for one don’t want to be left behind.
Find a happy medium between brave trends and your personal style and I can guarantee that you’ll be on to a winner.
It seems quite ironic that as I spout the importance of good grooming, I’ve arrived in Bangkok with a haircut that has been long overgrown and a beard that’s more Jesus than Jil Sander. However, despite being mid-travelling, I still try to make an attempt when not stuck in an Indian village that has only two hours of electricity per day.
Beard trimming, wet shaving and a neat haircut just goes to show you’ve made that little extra effort, and they are the finishing touches that propel a well-groomed gent into something of a style icon.
Even recent runways shows have pioneered facial hair, and for those lucky enough to grow a full beard (one of the few pros of me being exceptionally hairy) it’s time to put down the razor and pick up the trimmer. It’s good to keep it in check, but heavily sculpted goatees and sharp lines are very Beppe from Eastenders and should be avoided at all costs.
At FashionBeans, we’ve covered good maintenance in the past and there are a few golden rules to personal care. Make haircuts a regular thing – once every 3-4 weeks if needs and finances allow, and go for a style that is both contemporary and classic. I long for my former war hero barnet, but I urge my comrades back in the western world to take full advantage of a good quality hairdressers. Stay groomed and stay consistent with it.
For those of you who already take pride in your appearance, why not look to upgrade your routine with our help:
In recent years, we’ve been bombarded with messages about our eco and social impact as western consumers, and I think it’s incredibly important that this applies to fashion also.
I understand that sometimes it’s unavoidable when buying less than ethical pieces in the usual retail giants – it’s because of this structure that we can get fashion so cheaply. It’s completely impractical to ever think we can have a complete wardrobe upheaval that carries only ethical brands, but purchasing the occasional environment and social friendly piece is something we should all get into the habit of.
American Apparel has been a label that is keen to boast its fair-trade credentials at relatively affordable prices, whilst the likes of Paul Smith are launching organic lines as we speak. Responsible purchasing can be your good deed for the day, and as everybody becomes more aware of the fair-trade issue, I can only presume that more labels will follow suit.
There we have it, five easy to stick to New Year style resolutions that can only improve your personal sartorial choices. Whether it’s making sure you have a sharp haircut or add something a little more edgy to your wardrobe, it’ll do us all good to develop our own stringent and comfortable style routine. I may still be a gym-shy smoker, but at least I know my fashion resolutions are a lot more doable.
Good luck, and have a great New Year!