6 Easy Ways To Smarten Up

Ever been to a party and – mid sip – had that sudden, sweat-inducing, heartbeat-quickening realisation that you’re the worst dressed person in the room? We have.

Your fight or flight hormone kicks in. You rapidly assess which outcome would be less painfully embarrassing: legging it out the door or making a lame attempt to hide in a corner. You ask yourself how this happened, how everyone else manages to look so good… and how you’ve got it so desperately wrong.

Buck up, we’re here to help. As Charles Dickens (we’re sure he’s had his moments of weakness too) once said, “Any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he’s well dressed”. Sound like an attractive prospect? Then feast your eyes on these six easy ways for you to spruce up your day-to-day style.

No rocket science, works for everyone, 99.9 per cent fool-proof.

1. Make A Blazer Your Standard Outer Layer

A sharply-cut blazer is pretty much the definition of smart – think of it as the immeasurably refined alternative to other standard outerwear options like hoodies, overshirts, denim jackets and bombers.

No matter the occasion, time of day or whatever else you’re wearing, a blazer lends your look an incomparable elegance that shows you mean business. A well-fitting blazer has the ability to elevate any basic t-shirt and slim jeans/chinos combination to an entirely new, much more stylish level. Add to that its silhouette-enhancing effect – broadening your shoulders and nipping you in at the waist – and it really is a no-brainer.

Any timeless design in charcoal, light grey or navy will slot seamlessly into your existing wardrobe. Wear it open or with one button done up over all your existing go-to outfits, smart or casual.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Blazers - Casual and Smart-Casual Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

m&s ss14selected homme denim ss14mango man ss14h&m 2015h&m 2015hugo boss sportswear aw14j crew november 2014gant rugger ss13banana republic pre aw14allsaints ss14allsaints aw13selected homme aw14
Key Styles
  • Austin Reed Textured Modern Navy JacketAustin Reed Textured Modern Navy Jacket
  • Austin Reed Grey Textured Wool JacketAustin Reed Grey Textured Wool Jacket
  • Navy Oxford Unstructured Classic Fit JacketNavy Oxford Unstructured Classic Fit Jacket
  • Suitsupply Havana Grey PlainSuitsupply Havana Grey Plain
  • Suitsupply Havana Navy PlainSuitsupply Havana Navy Plain
  • Ted Baker Jonsno BlazerTed Baker Jonsno Blazer
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Textured Cotton BlazerPolo Ralph Lauren Textured Cotton Blazer
  • Reiss Lance B Melange Weave Blazer CharcoalReiss Lance B Melange Weave Blazer Charcoal
  • Reiss Muller B Fleck Weave Blazer NavyReiss Muller B Fleck Weave Blazer Navy
2. Make Sure Your Jeans Really Fit

An instant fix for those of you a) squeezing your slightly heftier legs and rear into a pair of jeans dating back to a 15-pound-trimmer you, resulting in a serious ‘stuffed sausage’ effect, or b) lounging around in (far too) relaxed fit denim, which screams to the world that you’ve given up on style.

While brands at both ends of the price scale now offer an ever-growing selection of fits, a straight- or slim-leg, minimal pair of dark solid wash jeans is vital in anyone’s quest for timeless style. Good jeans shouldn’t be baggy enough to allow you to run comfortably in them, nor so snug that they impede your ability to walk up a flight of stairs with ease.

Make this quick fix and start collecting compliments on your shape (“Have you been hitting the gym?”, “Been doing 5:2?” etc.), and watch whatever you wear with your new jeans get cast in an entirely new, much smarter light.

What’s more, denim is set to become the key fabric for SS15, thanks to the likes of Prada and Tom Ford. What better time to embrace the trend and secure a crisp, classic pair?

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Straight/Slim-Fit Minimal Dark Wash Jeans - Casual and Smart-Casual Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

tommy hilfigerclub monaco ss14reiss 2012banana republic pre aw14burton aw14next aw14farah aw13j crew aw13river island ss15banana republic pre aw14selected homme aw14massimo dutti aw14
Key Styles
  • Reiss Redford Slim-fit Stretch Jeans BlueReiss Redford Slim-fit Stretch Jeans Blue
  • Uniqlo Men Slim Fit Straight Jeans SelvedgeUniqlo Men Slim Fit Straight Jeans Selvedge
  • J Brand Kane Slim Straight-leg JeansJ Brand Kane Slim Straight-leg Jeans
  • Levis Vintage Clothing 1967 505 Slim-fit Dry Selvedge Denim JeansLevis Vintage Clothing 1967 505 Slim-fit Dry Selvedge Denim Jeans
  • Acne Studios Max New Raw Slim-fit Dry-denim JeansAcne Studios Max New Raw Slim-fit Dry-denim Jeans
  • A.p.c. Petit Standard Slim-fit Dry Selvedge Denim JeansA.p.c. Petit Standard Slim-fit Dry Selvedge Denim Jeans
3. Put A Scarf On It

We men are getting wrapped, necked and even head-banded like we’ve not done in quite a while. These days, there are so many ways to complement your outfit with a scarf that it’s hard to be 100 per cent opposed to the look.

If it’s your first foray into neck wear, then the gavroche is a good place to start. Particularly easy to style, you can make a gavroche out of a pocket square you already own (alternatively, any 45 x 45cm piece of silk or cotton will do). Hold it from two diagonally opposite corners and allow to naturally fold over, forming a triangle. Twist the triangle until you’ve got a loose ‘band’. Finally, tie it with a small, loose but firm double knot around your neck, and wear it with an undone shirt or a fitted crew neck tee.

It’s an extremely simple way of adding a flair and personality to your look, as well as introducing new colours or patterns to your daily ensembles.

Need further convincing? Try a quick Google Image search for ‘Johnny Depp Scarf’ and you’ll have plenty of reference points for inspiration.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Scarves and Neckerchiefs Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

ted baker ss14El Palacio de Hierro ss14house of fraser aw14charles tyrwhitt 2014el burgues ss15Canali aw13mango man ss15sarar ss14zara aw12j crew september 2014angelo nardelli aw14gant rugger aw13
Key Pieces
  • 45 Rpm Dotted Bandana45 Rpm Dotted Bandana
  • Asos BandanaAsos Bandana
  • He By Mango Printed ScarfHe By Mango Printed Scarf
  • Gant Dot Diamond Silk Scarf Midnight SkyGant Dot Diamond Silk Scarf Midnight Sky
  • He By Mango Linen-blend Essential ScarfHe By Mango Linen-blend Essential Scarf
  • He By Mango Paisley Print ScarfHe By Mango Paisley Print Scarf
  • Topman Ltd Laurel Canyon Indigo BandanaTopman Ltd Laurel Canyon Indigo Bandana
  • He By Mango Paisley Cotton ScarfHe By Mango Paisley Cotton Scarf
  • Dolce & Gabbana Polka-dot Woven ScarfDolce & Gabbana Polka-dot Woven Scarf
4. Re-Consider Slim-Fit

Ever wondered what the difference is between you in your white shirt and chinos, and the guy nailing the very same look? His clothes are probably slim-fitting and tailored to his body shape, instantly upgrading his overall appearance.

There’s a common misconception that you need to be rail thin or in great shape to properly give slim-fit a go. In fact, slim-fitting tees, shirts, jeans and chinos work well on several body types; you just need to exercise a little caution when selecting appropriate sizes. If a garment is cut slim, then more often than not you’ll need to go one (or even two) sizes up to stand a chance of it fitting you properly.

Alternatively, if you’ve followed our previous advice and are now on first name terms with a tailor, ask them to nip and tuck some of your current favourite pieces, breathing new life into your existing wardrobe.

Finding a suitable slim-fit will flatter your silhouette to the fullest extent, and also allows you to play with proportion and contrasts, e.g. teaming a slightly oversized white tee with black slim-fit jeans. Remember, even if you’re currently carrying several extra pounds, baggy clothing only makes you look even bigger than you are and draws attention to the fact that you’re trying to hide something.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Slim-Fit Clothing Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

mango man aw13zara september 2014mango man winter 2014mango man ss14j crew ss14burton ss14mango man ss15burton ss15burton ss15reiss aw13banana republic pre aw14hugo boss sportswear aw14
5. Push Yourself To Try Something New

Sick and tired of admiring older, younger, buffer, shorter or taller guys pulling off looks you like, but think would look godawful on you?

If you fancy trying your hand at something – whether a statement piece, cut, trend or colour – don’t shy away from the prospect for the sake of appropriateness. This spring/summer, you might want to explore pastel suits, a 1970s hippie-inspired tunic (like we saw at Saint Laurent SS15), or even a fire engine red blazer (à la Dolce & Gabbana).

Anything goes so long as you do it with flair: braces as opposed to belts, wide-brimmed hats, statement jackets, printed footwear, fur collars, even leather trousers… the truth of the matter is, no matter how much of an average Joe you think you are when it comes to style, there is undoubtedly an item you’re keen to try your hand at. And most of the time you’re no further from nailing it than the next guy – you just need the confidence to take the plunge.

Lookbook Inspiration

Always wanted to try a suit in an alternative colour? Make this the year you add one to your wardrobe:

Men's Alternative Suit Colours Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

suitsupply ss13h&m ss13burton ss14burton ss15burton ss15drykorn ss13austin reed ss14bohemian ss14de fursac ss15
6. Personal Accessories

As acclaimed US designer Marc Jacobs once put it: “Any opportunity to adorn oneself is human, and accessories are an easy way to do it.”

Researching and investing in a few key accessories is well worth the effort and initial outlay. A pair of artisanal tortoiseshell sunglasses, an expertly engineered vintage watch, a set of monogrammed cuff links, a 100 per cent silk pocket square in your favourite colour or pattern – each, and any, of these is sure to bring the remainder of your look together nicely and get you noticed for all the right reasons.

They’re also icebreakers and story-makers; subtle additions that make lasting statements. One of these could even become your trademark.

Final Word

Don’t get caught out again. With these easy to execute and instantly effective style upgrades, you’re sure to crank your look up a few notches in no time.

Any other tips you’d care to share? What little things make all the difference in your wardrobe?

Let us know in the comments section…