Simple Style Mistakes

When you’re learning the ropes, style can be an unforgiving and cruel mistress. The wrong advice or a misguided purchase can quickly leave you looking the fool, and your bank balance a little worse for wear.

Making the decision to start dressing better often comes with a huge surge of excitement and an initial confidence boost, but it can also be daunting. Having to step out of your comfort zone, adopt a different mindset and spend your hard-earned cash on a new wardrobe is never easy.

Of course, FashionBeans’ men’s fashion basics series is the best there is and will quickly increase your knowledge, yet that unfortunately doesn’t guarantee style success. The road to becoming a well-dressed gent is littered with rookie mistakes, often unbeknownst to the wearer, and this is what we plan to help you identify, and rectify, today…

1. Overmatching

In past eras, the pocket square was deemed an essential part of formal attire; nowadays not so much. For the modern style-conscious gent, this discerning accessory offers an easy way to add flair and individuality to your tailoring. However, it can also quickly fall foul of a faux pas. The crime in question? Overmatching.

In this instance, it means matching – whether it be through identical colours or prints – your pocket square to your tie. It’s a cheap move that has become a common occurrence due to the sheer amount of pocket square and tie gift sets now available on the market. This mistake stretches well beyond the realm of formal accessories though.

Matching colours or prints across an outfit looks too contrived and precise. This applies to accessories and shoes more than anything; a pop of red on your footwear doesn’t have to be followed up by a corresponding splash of the same scarlet hue on your belt, hat and bag. Such a crime has accelerated of late as modern men begin to take a bolder approach to their personal style, with the industry continuing to push bright colours and vivid prints.

The fix? Consider your overall aesthetic, rather than individual items, and look to utilise complementary colours or tonal shades. For instance, try mixing and matching those tie and pocket square gift sets for a more considered approach to formal wear – our guides to colour and pattern mixing will set you on the right path.

The same goes for colourful accents – exercise some restraint. A flash of colour in one spot (a pair of shoes, a belt or watch) is often more impactful and striking than looking like a walking bag of Skittles.

If you stick to the rule of two out of three, you will never go wrong: anchor any printed/coloured piece with two plain/neutral pieces. And no more than two coloured or patterned pieces per outfit.

How To Get It Right Lookbook

Men's Pocket Square and Tie Combinations Lookbook

el burgues aw14sarar ss14house of fraser ss14eton 2014ted baker ss13m&s aw13unknowndigel aw13austin reed ss14selected homme ss14he by mango ss14jigsaw ss14
2. Sizing Down

Slim, streamlined silhouettes have become de rigueur in menswear over recent years, what with tailoring experiencing a renaissance and guys generally adopting a more refined approach to dressing.

And despite the industry trying to push us back down a more relaxed path, clothes that fit you perfectly and are cut close to the body will instantly upgrade any individual’s look.

Sadly, this advice is often taken the wrong way as many men mistakenly size down in search of a slimmer fit. It’s important to point out that taking the wrong size simply because your usual one is a little roomy isn’t how to achieve that tailored look we all desire.

Creases where the garment pulls or a flash of stomach hair every time you move your arms is just as bad, if not worse, than a slightly too big t-shirt or blazer. There are no compromises with fit: beyond the sweet spot everything else just doesn’t measure up. Literally.

Off the rack clothing is made in a selection of ‘average’ sizes, therefore it cannot possibly fit every single body type and shape perfectly. Not only that, each and every company uses different measurements based on their perceived clientele, meaning you’ll quickly find that certain brands will fit you well, while the same size from another may be slightly too big or small. It’s just how it goes, we’re afraid.

Never size down incorrectly to achieve a slimmer cut if the piece doesn’t fit you well in other areas. Either let it go and move on, or take your correct size and ask a local tailor to make some minor adjustments for you.

If you’re unsure exactly how an item of clothing should fit you, read our round-up guides on casual and formal attire.

Tip: When you find a brand whose basics (tees, shirts, chinos, polos, even underwear) fit you perfectly right off the rack, buy in bulk – it’ll save you a headache down the line if the label in question decides to make some sizing adjustments or discontinue said garment.

Good Fit Lookbook

For visual examples of good fit, take a look at the lookbook below – or any other FashionBeans article for that matter:

Men's Good Fitting Clothes Lookbook

h&m basics 2014massimo dutti september 2014ar red x nick hart ss14massimo dutti nyc 5th avenue ss13zara man aw12zara editions aw13banana republic pre aw14jaeger aw13avva aw14hugo boss casual aw14new look aw14digel aw14
3. Too Long Trousers

A huge and repeat offender when it comes to style mistakes, trouser length is something men continue to get terribly wrong. Potentially in an effort to avoid ‘ankle-swingers’, or maybe overcompensating for other areas of their life/body, far too many gents wear trousers that are too long for them, much to the detriment of their overall appearance.

Pooling around your feet and ankles looks sloppy and will quickly kill any look, no matter how great your outfit is otherwise. If you’re new to the menswear game and looking for an instant style fix, this is the place to start.

Quite simply, take your trousers to a tailor and get them hemmed with a small break. Ideally, the front of your trousers should end where your laces start and the back run about half way down your heel. They should certainly not have more than one crease (i.e. a ‘break’) in the material above your laces.

Make this alteration and any look will be instantly elevated. Ensure everything from denim to suit trousers fits exactly the same way; even sweatpants are getting the same treatment by brands and designers these days! The only exception to this rule would be a pair of selvedge jeans that you intend to only wear with a generous turn-up in order to show off that desirable internal selvedge edge.

Once again, use the lookbook below for guidance.

Trouser Length Lookbook

Men's Trouser Lengths - The Right Length/Break Lookbook

john lewis aw14burton aw14zara editions aw13avva aw14matalan aw14barneys nyc aw13tommy hilfiger sportswear aw14sarar aw14h&m style guide 2014
4. Over Accessorising

Here at FashionBeans, we regularly advocate the use of accessories to help add character and individuality to an outfit.

These finer details are often the difference between a good look and a great look – but they can also be the difference between an OK look and an overworked, terrible look.

Utilising too many accessories can quickly turn your outfit into a costume. In many cases it borders on comical and yet it’s a mistake that’s so easily made. Effortless, considered style often boils down to knowing when to exercise restraint, subtlety and good taste – over-accessorising goes against all of these concepts.

Your outfit should never be adorned with every embellishment you can possibly fit on your person. Instead, look to utilise just a few choice pieces that will add a final flourish which elevates an ensemble, whether smart or casual.

As a rule of thumb, stick to no more than three separate accessories. For example, if you’ve already got a coloured tie, printed pocket square and lapel pin reinforcing your blazer, a tie/collar bar would just detract from the ensemble. The same goes for a bold coloured belt, wallet chain, pocket watch or any other statement-making accessory worn further down.

Overloading your look with accessories often has the opposite effect that you are going for; a cluttered approach means the eye is drawn away from individual items, minimising their effect and potentially taking your outfit down a notch in the process.

Smart Accessories Lookbook

Men's Smart Accessories Lookbook

he by mango fall 2014avva aw14vistula aw14ramsey aw12louis copeland ss14luigi bianchi mantova aw14sarar black tie aw14he by mango ss14river island aw13
Casual Accessories Lookbook

Men's Casual Accessories Lookbook

apc ss15massimo dutti june 2014he by mango blacksmith 2014river island holloway road aw13scotch & soda amsterdams blauw aw14gant rugger aw14j crew style guide september 2014boohoo man aw14river island aw14
5. Blindly Following Trends

Style always trumps fashion. It’s the reason FashionBeans always encourages beginners to build their own capsule wardrobe: a versatile, classic and simple collection of basic pieces that can be effortlessly mixed and matched to produce stylish outfits for any occasion.

Yet fashion trends are what will keep your style fresh from season to season. Used in combination with a solid capsule wardrobe foundation, one or two trend-led additions can help add character, individuality and personality to your look.

However, the majority of men continue to neglect their basics and, in an effort to appear informed or ahead of the game, will go out and purchase all the latest must-have pieces displayed in the shop window of their favourite high street retailer, with no regard of how they are going to wear said items or integrate them into their own look.

Yes, we know it’s more exciting to purchase a bold coloured shirt or pair of patterned trousers than another plain tee or v-neck jumper, but blindly following the latest whims of the industry will always be to the detriment of your overall style.

We need to make this clear: it’s absolutely OK to ignore trends altogether. It certainly doesn’t make you unstylish or badly dressed. Wearing something simply because everyone else is doing so is much worse.

Karl Lagerfeld is not the best person to take advice from in any walk of life, but fashion’s overlord summed it up perfectly when he said “Trendy is the last stage before tacky”.

Timeless + Trends Lookbook

The lookbook below illustrates how to wear three of 2014’s big print trends – camo, floral and polka dot – in a classic and refined way, blending timeless and trend-led elements harmoniously:

Men's Camo, Floral and Polka Dot Print Clothing - Timeless Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

he by mango ss14el burgues aw14asos christmas 2014selected homme ss14reiss 2012club monaco summer 2014h&m style guide 2014allsaints aw12el burgues aw14allsaints aw12allsaints ss14Faconnable ss15
Final Word

Style slip-ups are part and parcel of the journey to becoming a better-dressed man. And being able to recognise and stamp them out is a huge step in achieving that effortlessly cool, timeless style we all strive for.

But now we want to hear from you – what are some of the heinous style crimes you see committed daily? Which menswear rules do you feel should never be broken? How about your biggest style regret?

Let us know in the comments section below…