Paying A Bit More Attention To The Details

Back in April we published an article entitled ‘paying attention to the details’, which encouraged you to give the smallest parts of your outfit the same thought and consideration you would the clothes you pick to wear.

We broke down how even the most minute details that you often take for granted – such as suitable sock selection, giving your sleeves a couple of folds or simply darkening the toe of your shoes – can help put an individual stamp on any look and subtly separate yours from the crowd.

Today, we follow up our initial suggestions with three more aspects of your outfit you should be considering the next time you get dressed. Just as in part one, we will avoid highlighting the obvious – we are all fully aware of pocket squares, ties, bags, jewellery and the like, but more often than not it’s the things that we deem insignificant or that don’t even cross our minds in the first place which make the biggest difference.

1. Trouser Length

Aside from the break we traditionally associate with suit/tailored trousers, how much do you actually think about the length of your jeans or chinos?

When purchasing or getting fitted for a suit, the length of your trousers really comes down to personal preference. A single break is the industry standard, but that doesn’t make it a hard and fast rule. Some like it shorter, some like it longer; if you have statement shoes on or are simply very proud of them, then you might well find that a shorter leg works better.

Why not consider half a break or even no break at all? This will serve the dual purpose of showing off your shoes and allowing you to deconstruct the suit by going sockless and flashing a bit of ankle (something particularly appropriate during the warmer months), instantly adding a bit of forward-thinking flair and a casual twist to your look.

If your suit comes with skinny or very slim legs (and therefore narrow openings), a half break might be better than a full break because it will prevent the trouser from bunching on top of the shoe. Straighter legs fall around the ankle but slimmer fits will sit higher up and gather much earlier, distorting the shape of the legs – something to take into account when you are trying to balance your proportions.

When it comes to chinos and standalone trousers, you could consider getting them cropped. This is something the Italians do very well and it makes a huge difference to the overall aesthetic. Have them hemmed around or just above the ankle and you show off just enough flesh (or a bold coloured sock) to be playful but stop short of suggesting a disastrous wash cycle. This is a great look for spring, summer and early autumn and helps to inject a more informal edge into any tailored ensemble.

You could, of course, keep your trousers the length they came and simply roll them up, but where’s the fun in that?

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Shorter Trouser Break Lookbook

allsaints aw12h&m ss13zara man spring 2013marc jacobs ss13allsaints aw13defursac ss13LOUIS VUITTON ICONS SS14ami ss14gant rugger aw13
Example Pieces
  • Primark White ChinosPrimark White Chinos
  • He By Mango Chino Style Premium TrousersHe By Mango Chino Style Premium Trousers
  • Allsaints Pipe ChinoAllsaints Pipe Chino
  • Reiss Primrose T Formal Trousers BlueReiss Primrose T Formal Trousers Blue
  • Reiss Bellow Moleskin Trouser KhakiReiss Bellow Moleskin Trouser Khaki
  • River Island Navy Washed Slim TrousersRiver Island Navy Washed Slim Trousers
  • Topman Burgundy Ultra Skinny TrousersTopman Burgundy Ultra Skinny Trousers
  • Allsaints Servel TrouserAllsaints Servel Trouser
  • Massimo Alba Winch Slim-fit Cotton And Wool-blend TrousersMassimo Alba Winch Slim-fit Cotton And Wool-blend Trousers
  • Paul Smith Mainline Flat-front Cropped TrousersPaul Smith Mainline Flat-front Cropped Trousers
  • Black Chocoolate Houndstooth TrouserBlack Chocoolate Houndstooth Trouser
  • Kolor Slim-fit Cropped Wool-blend Tweed TrousersKolor Slim-fit Cropped Wool-blend Tweed Trousers
2. The Button Up

The buttons on your choice of top are probably the most insignificant part of an outfit you could think of, but you would be surprised at how much of a difference they make.

This time, we are not talking about changing the buttons on your shirt – although, as recently pointed out in our DIY Tailoring article, it is something you should consider – instead, we’re talking about the WAY you button up your shirt, Henley or polo.

We are probably all in agreement that the number of buttons you do up or leave undone can change the feel of an outfit completely. For example, I was once told by one of my brother’s friends that you could tell a man was fashionable if he did his shirt up to the top and didn’t wear a tie. It’s true, buttoning something all the way to the top does produce something of a distinct look; it suggests a certain image and a way of doing things that some might find at odds.

But you could equally argue that buttoning specific pieces all the way up to the top actually improves them. Oversized and vintage shirts, or those with ‘out there’ patterns, are often qualified by being buttoned up because it ties it in with a particular image and subculture. Polos and more structured shirts are the same.

The only real exception is the Henley tee, which works just as well both buttoned and unbuttoned. The difference here is how rakish you want to look – Ryan Gosling anyone?

When it comes to how many buttons you want to leave undone on your dress shirt, a general scale to stick to would be: one button for everyday situations, two for when it’s a bit warmer and three for when you’re at a fancy dress party and want to show off a hairy chest and gold medallion. (Just stop at two.)

On the flip-side of the buttoned up look, leaving a couple of buttons undone suggests a more relaxed attitude to dressing; it’s more casual (sometimes more comfortable) and better suits warm summer weather.

Finally, think carefully about how you button up tops when you pull on a jumper – an open collar will sit very differently to a closed one and the number of buttons left undone makes a big difference too.

Lookbook Inspiration

MEn's Buttoned-Up Lookbook

avva ss13debenhams aw13river island holloway road ss13ami ss14primark aw13sanahunt ss13allsaints ss13louis vuitton ss14woolrich john rich bros ss14paul & joe ss13paul & joe ss13hartford ss13
Example Pieces
  • Allsaints Tanishi ShirtAllsaints Tanishi Shirt
  • Paul Smith – Jeans Mens 267m Tailored Palm Print Shirt – BluePaul Smith - Jeans Mens 267m Tailored Palm Print Shirt - Blue
  • Faconnable Embroidered Cotton ShirtFaconnable Embroidered Cotton Shirt
  • Asos Oxford ShirtAsos Oxford Shirt
  • A.p.c. Button-down Collar Cotton Oxford ShirtA.p.c. Button-down Collar Cotton Oxford Shirt
  • River Island Pale Blue Linen Long Sleeve ShirtRiver Island Pale Blue Linen Long Sleeve Shirt
  • River Island Navy Long Sleeve Grandad T-shirtRiver Island Navy Long Sleeve Grandad T-shirt
  • Nudie Jeans Fairtrade Organic Cotton Henley T-shirtNudie Jeans Fairtrade Organic Cotton Henley T-shirt
  • American Apparel Henley TopAmerican Apparel Henley Top
  • River Island Grey Contrast Trim Polo ShirtRiver Island Grey Contrast Trim Polo Shirt
  • Allsaints Bramford PoloAllsaints Bramford Polo
  • Alfred Dunhill Patterned Mercerised-cotton Polo ShirtAlfred Dunhill Patterned Mercerised-cotton Polo Shirt
Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Leaving your comfort zone is an extremely personal and individual undertaking. As humans we become used to what we know and, for the most part, go out of our way to avoid anything that challenges that. Whether it’s a total change of personal style or simply trying a different colour tee, any alteration to the way we look is a major step that can sometimes feel overwhelming.

But today we are only considering the finer details, and they are perhaps the easiest things to change or push outside your comfort zone. If you’ve always played it a bit safe with patterns, sticking to solid colours or stripes, why not consider polka dots, camo print or bold motifs? This is, of course, more suited to a youthful way of dressing, but the concept can still be transferred to other styles.

Explore different fabrics and think about mixing textures, trying out new combinations of clothes or blending styles. Matt Allinson’s basics series is a great source of inspiration for all of this.

Remember that it doesn’t have to mean a drastic change to how you currently dress. It could be something as simple as trying a different pocket square or wearing an alternative fit of jeans. When people become used to your style it is often the smallest changes that will produce the most noticeable effects.

Lookbook Inspiration

Stepping Outside Your Comfort ZoneStepping outside your comfort zone needn’t be hard. It can be as simple as a bolder tie/pocket square [top row], a slightly more unusual pattern [2nd row], alternative washes or patterns for legwear [3rd row] or a slightly rarer shoe colour [bottom row].

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Example Pieces
  • Reiss Dino Woven Dot Design Tie SaffronReiss Dino Woven Dot Design Tie Saffron
  • Charvet Striped Silk TieCharvet Striped Silk Tie
  • Reiss Grandslam Micro Wing Print Pocket Square NavyReiss Grandslam Micro Wing Print Pocket Square Navy
  • Reiss Shooter Short Sleeve All-over Print Shirt DeerReiss Shooter Short Sleeve All-over Print Shirt Deer
  • Bellerose Repeat Dobby Stitch ShirtBellerose Repeat Dobby Stitch Shirt
  • Allsaints Shion ShirtAllsaints Shion Shirt
  • River Island Blue Ditsy Print Turn Up ShortsRiver Island Blue Ditsy Print Turn Up Shorts
  • Nn.07 Ace Dot Embroidered Cotton Chino ShortsNn.07 Ace Dot Embroidered Cotton Chino Shorts
  • River Island Light Acid Wash Flynn Skinny JeansRiver Island Light Acid Wash Flynn Skinny Jeans
  • He By Mango Brogueing Suede BlucherHe By Mango Brogueing Suede Blucher
  • Asos Tassel Loafers In SuedeAsos Tassel Loafers In Suede
  • Topman House Of Hounds Tennison Derby ShoesTopman House Of Hounds Tennison Derby Shoes
Final Word

The little details can make or break any outfit. They are often the difference between a good and a great look and can instantly lift your style from well dressed to truly stylish.

There are so many things you can do to subtly alter your chosen aesthetic and it’s easy to ensure that whatever you’re doing is completely unique to you. Once again, this isn’t a comprehensive selection, so why not let us know the finer details you pay attention to in the comments section below…

Will