The Dream Team
When it comes to honing your personal style and look, asking for help can be difficult. While many guys treat their training and grooming routines as a private ritual, you’ll find it always helps to have an arsenal of people you can trust at your disposal, each with the knowledge and expertise to show you what works best for your specific needs.
However, it’s important to take the time to make sure you find the right man (or woman) for the job. Whether on the quest to improve your wardrobe or your six-pack, these are the contacts you’ll want to keep on speed dial.
Chances are – unless you’re extremely lucky – you won’t perfectly fit that ready-to-wear shape on the rack, so you’ll need to get your suits fitted. Having a personal tailor can be an expensive investment, but will make all the difference to both your work wardrobe and formal attire – particularly if you often find your trousers pooling around your legs or your cuffs sitting sloppily on your knuckles.
An experienced tailor will not only be able to alter your trouser and jacket length, but should also be adept at darting your shirts, replacing collars, tapering your trousers, relining your jacket, and other individual customisations.
Before you book with a tailor, it’s important to find out what they can and can’t do – for instance, many established tailors also offer re-weaving services using fabric elsewhere on the suit, so they can fix any small holes at the same time you’re having the size altered.
If you’re looking for the very pinnacle of tailoring, you’ll find it tough to top London’s Savile Row, the home of bespoke British suiting. Gieves & Hawkes, Huntsman, Kent & Curwen and Hardy Amies are just a few of the renowned tailoring institutions located on this stylish street.
Instead of thinking of your tailor as the person who simply nips and tucks your suit, treat them like a sounding board and stylist. Let them assist you in developing your personal style by suggesting patterns, fabrics and cuts that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered.
“Having yourself a trusted tailor who will give you honest advice on dressing well and the skills to make it happen is key to a gentleman’s success in the modern world,” says Jolyon Bexlon, General Manager at Gieves & Hawkes, No.1 Savile Row.
“We have a very strong relationship with our clients and over time we get an understanding of their tastes and needs when it comes to tailoring. This isn’t a quick process and can take many meetings for this understanding to grow. In time though there can be a strong feeling of trust with the client knowing he will only be offered what is most appropriate.”
A handmade, bespoke two-piece suit at Gieves & Hawkes will set you back around £4,000 and takes around twelve weeks if you’re a first-time customer.
If this is out of your price range, many bespoke tailors and even some high street retailers, such as Reiss, offer a made-to-measure option; while you won’t get a custom pattern cut for you, the fit will still be impeccable.
The Barber/Hair Stylist
Your haircut is the one sartorial choice that you’ll wear day in, day out. If you simply rely on unisex chain salons, the likelihood is you’ll get a different stylist (who may not be a specialist in cutting men’s hair) each time – meaning an inconsistent finish when you check in every four to six weeks or so. With that in mind, you’ll want to find a regular stylist that really knows what works for your face shape and has a good knowledge of current hairstyle trends.
Don’t be afraid of splashing out on this one. While it is tempting to cut corners, a professional will be able to design a personalised haircut which works for both business and pleasure, and if you find someone that is capable of doing this, they’re well worth the investment.
“Good barbers make the relationship work both ways,” says Matthew Hughes, barber at Ruffians barbershop in Covent Garden. “They talk as much as they listen and actually take notice of you and your lifestyle and interests.
As well as the lifestyle chat, they should be helping you with your own personal grooming, educating you on how to recreate your style at home, or teaching you the ways to use the tools available, whether styling products, razors or combs.”
A barber is trained to use clippers, the main tool in cutting a man’s hair, while the cosmetologists you’ll find in chain salons are typically trained to use scissors with a focus towards women’s colouring, perming and cutting – the reason why you often leave these establishments with a subpar barnet.
“A quality barber shop will give you a better haircut than you would get in a salon,” explains Hughes. “They’re specialists in cutting men’s hair and have a great knowledge of styles, trends and products. Stylists in a salon, on the other hand, only spend about twenty per cent of their time on men’s hair.
Most men’s haircuts are short and precise; these are challenging and detailed cuts, so you need an experienced barber who is dedicated to his/her industry and has worked hard with scissors, clippers and cut-throat razors to make sure they’re able to tackle all client requests.”
If you have a particular hair or beard style in mind, it’s worth calling in to a few barbershops to talk to an experienced professional about their tools and training. If the first question the barber asks you is “What number do you want on the sides?” then you’re probably better off taking your custom elsewhere – stylists who rely solely on clipper guards to cut hair tend to be unskilled.
Opt for the barber or stylist who can most confidently tell you what will work best for your lifestyle, as well as your face shape and structure. An experienced barber will also be able to shave your beard with a traditional straight edge razor – something every guy with the right budget will want to make time for.
“A trip to the barber shop should never be a chore,” says Hughes. “It should be a four to six week ritual, where you look forward to every visit. You should find a shop that suits your style and character – that has the right aesthetic, design, music, and even scent to suit you.”
Although you should be used to polishing your own shoes on a regular basis, a cobbler will be able to add years to the life of your favourite footwear when it begins to show signs of wear and tear.
A shoe expert might not be something you’ve considered an essential before, but we all know that shoes have the power to make or break a look, and a well-appointed ensemble can quickly be ruined with a badly-heeled pair of Oxfords.
“Having a good cobbler is like having a good doctor that you trust,” says Justin Fitzpatrick, shoe expert and blogger at The Shoe Snob. “Like people, shoes need tending to and there’s no one better than a good cobbler as they will be able to mend most problems. Without one, your shoes don’t stand a chance at maximizing their potential lifespan.”
A well-made pair of British shoes is built to last a lifetime, so if you’ve invested in Goodyear-welted Loake or John Lobb brogues, you’ll want a cobbler who can handle working with traditional processes and manufacturing methods.
This expert will be able to re-heel worn shoes and add padding to uncomfortable styles. If you’re in London, try James Taylor & Son, a family run shoemakers established in 1857 and one of the best places to go in the capital for bespoke altering, stretching and wedges (to assist with gait). While they have over 100 years of experience, they’ve also got a pretty impressive celebrity clientele to back it up – so it’s safe to say you’ll be in good hands.
The Personal Stylist/Shopper
Staying abreast of the latest fashion trends can be tricky enough, but working out how they translate to your own wardrobe is even harder – particularly if you’re a busy guy who finds it hard to find the time to shop. That’s why outsourcing the task to a menswear expert who knows exactly which pieces and looks will work for you can make life a whole lot easier.
A good personal shopper will not only pick out garments that suit your individual body shape and lifestyle, but also – most importantly – your personal style. Even the most discerning men will find a second opinion helpful when posed with a sartorial dilemma.
“By building a relationship with a personal shopper, they will get to know you personally, work out what works for you and recommend new pieces to introduce to your wardrobe that you may never have thought of without their influence,” says Laura Harvey, Personal Shopping Assistant Manager at Topman.
“It’s a great way to tease you out of your comfort zone and pick up styling tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of the pieces you have.”
Take time to find a professional who really understands how you shop and why you like the current items in your wardrobe. Personal stylists and shoppers vary in price, but a quality expert will cost around £250 per session – a solid one-off investment if you’re looking to completely revamp your personal style or have an all-important interview, wedding or event coming up.
If a one-to-one service is out of your current budget, websites like The Chapar offer a quick, free and time-efficient alternative.
First, an expert from the company will call you to discuss your personal style and get your measurements. Using this information, they will compile a bespoke trunk of hand-picked pieces from the brands they stock, which is posted out for you to try on in the comfort of your own home – you keep and pay for the items you want while returning the rest free of charge.
Overall, it’s a solid option if you’re time-poor and want to avoid traipsing around shops for hours on end. Not only that, each time you order the company will begin to build up a personal profile and refine their selections, learning the cuts, colours, sizes and brands that suit you best.
The Personal Trainer
Whether you’ve been sculpting your physique for years or you’re a total gym newb, hiring a personal trainer could offer the helping hand you need to reach your fitness goals.
Firstly, if you’re not seeing results, a trainer can take an in-depth look at your eating habits and offer advice where you could make changes, as well as create more effective workouts. They can also determine whether the goals you’ve set are realistic, hold you accountable for your workouts and ensure you stay motivated to exercise with a bespoke, varied fitness plan (verbal abuse, optional).
“A personal trainer gives you accountability,” says Nick Mitchell, a personal trainer at Mayfair’s UP Fitness. “If you know that you’re seeing someone a couple of times a week and they’re recording your body fat measurement, you’re quickly going to feel embarrassed if you’re not putting in the work.”
Even if you’re a seasoned exerciser and haven’t considered working with a personal trainer before, it’s well worth booking a session if you’re looking to add some variety to your workouts.
“We know how to shape the body,” adds Nick, “which means not only will your body look better, but your clothes will fit better with the help of a professional trainer.”
You’ll be spending a lot of time with this expert, so it’s important to choose someone who you have a good rapport with and is able to keep you energised and motivated each time you hit the gym.
Look for a trainer that has a proven track record, and the necessary qualifications to match. Trainers’ prices vary across the country, but you should be able to hire a good professional for around £50 per session. While we can’t guarantee you’ll enjoy regularly being put through your paces, you won’t regret the investment when you start to see the results.
Do you currently use a personal stylist? Been hitting the gym with a PT? Which other style and lifestyle experts do you rate?
Let us know in the comments below.