The Details Letting Your Look Down

Getting to grips with looking your best can sometimes be a challenge. From finding the perfect-fitting suit to ensuring your accessories are on point, we would be lying if we said we didn’t slip up now and again.

With so much to consider when crafting your outfits, effortless is rarely anything but, and occasionally details get overlooked. Bearing this in mind, we’ve identified the most common oversights that could be holding back your look – without you even realising – and show you how to go about setting things right.

1. Too-Packed Pockets

Considering we often use them as convenient receptacles for everything from phones to keys to wallets, overfilled trouser pockets at best undo the sharpness of the silhouette you’ve worked hard to perfect, and at worst get mistaken for bizarre physical abnormalities by passers-by.

The quick fix for pocket bulk is, of course, to simply not carry anything in them and put everything in your bag. Hardly practical. Plus, we don’t always want, or need, to carry a bag, do we?

One easy change you can make is to slim down your wallet, which is – mercifully – far easier than shifting your own Christmas excess. Ditch all those old receipts you thought you’d need but really don’t. Bin any expired discount or gift cards. And reduce the amount of change you carry in your billfold. Or, swap the whole wallet out for a slimmer, more stylish card holder.

Other than that, it’s all about using your common sense – only carry what you really need, and try to spread your everyday essentials out evenly across your pockets, as opposed to shoving them all in one place.

Men's Stuffed Wallet/Pocket

Key Pieces
  • He By Mango Leather CardholderHe By Mango Leather Cardholder
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Leather CardholderPaul Smith Shoes & Accessories Leather Cardholder
  • Allsaints Shard CardholderAllsaints Shard Cardholder
  • Reiss Adriano Textured Card Holder MushroomReiss Adriano Textured Card Holder Mushroom
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Leather Card HolderPolo Ralph Lauren Leather Card Holder
  • Michael Kors Saffiano Leather Card HolderMichael Kors Saffiano Leather Card Holder
2. Shirt Cuff Cut-Off

A menswear purist would argue you’re not remotely well-dressed in a suit unless half an inch of shirt cuff is peeking out from your jacket. While I’m not usually one to endorse such extremist statements, cuff cut-off really does sort the sartorial men from the boys.

To get it right, make sure your jacket finishes at your wrist bone, and that your cuff extends no more than three quarters of an inch further. Bear this in mind when putting together your formal looks and you’ll be that much closer to achieving impeccable style.

You could even consider doing the same thing within your casual looks (with your jumper/jacket) to add a discerning detail.

Lookbook Inspiration: Formal

Men's Ideal Shirt Cuff Cut-Off Point - Formal Outfit Inspiration

brothers 2014gieves & hawkes aw14daks ss15debenhams ss15Isaia at Barneys New York aw14joop aw14charles tyrwhitt 2014Boglioli aw15daks ss15
Lookbook Inspiration: Smart-Casual

Men's Shirt Cuff Peeking Out - Smart-Casual Outfit Inspiration

brooks brother aw14brothers 2014charles tyrwhitttm lewin ss15kip aw14h&m aw13h&m spring 2015office shoes christmas 2014jaeger aw13
3. Sub-Par Shoelaces

It might seem like we’re nitpicking here, but it’s this level of attention to detail that wins you serious style kudos. Shoelaces are, for most of us, a complete afterthought. Hands up if you’re guilty of not even tying and untying your shoelaces, favouring a brute force approach to footwear instead?

It’s often said that one of the first things other people notice about a man’s appearance is his choice of shoe – and that, unsurprisingly, includes shoelaces. So, if yours are looking at all ratty, replace them (you can pick up quality, affordable versions on eBay, or at shoe care shops like Timpsons). If, on the other hand, the laces that came with your favourite pair of shoes or boots are too long, swap them for a tidier set.

Feel free to get creative, too. Think of your shoelaces as – much like a pocket square or pair of cuff links – a subtle way of customising your outfit. Try new colours, patterns or even fabrics to best suit you and the look you’re going for.

Finally, if you don’t already know, learn to tie them properly. No, I’m not joking:

Lookbook Examples

Coloured Shoe Laces

Coloured Shoe Laces

Coloured Shoe Laces

Coloured Shoe Laces

4. Poor Sock Choice

Socks seem to divide men into two distinct camps: either you’re one of the guys that ‘gets it’ – i.e. you consider your socks an integral element of your overall look, whether or not they’re particularly on show – or they’re an afterthought, a mere layer of (possibly holey) fabric between your feet and footwear of choice.

The thing is, although you might think that your socks are always hidden from sight, someone is bound to catch a glimpse of them at some point – whether you’re crossing your legs on a train or taking the stairs two at a time.

The key is to stick to neutrals for the most part, tonally matching your socks to your trousers but never to your footwear or directly to another element of your look, such as your tie or scarf. Feel free to throw in the occasional low-key print for interest, but steer well clear of anything novelty.

Of course, brightly coloured and contrasting socks can be worn, but make sure you communicate it as a conscious decision, rather than a regrettable mistake.

Finally, treat them as seasonal pieces – try thicker, textured styles in winter and go for lightweight cotton versions or no-shows during the warmer months.

For more information on how to get your choice of sock right, read our guide to Matching Your Socks To Your Outfit.

Lookbook Inspiration: Coloured/Patterned Socks

Men's Coloured/Patterned Socks Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

happy socks 2013charles tyrwhitt 2014/15dunhill ss15next aw14burton aw13unknowncharles tyrwhitt 2014/15next aw14ted baker ss13
Lookbook Inspiration: Neutral/Tonal Socks

Men's Neutral/Tonal Socks Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

eton 2015burton aw14burton ss14reserved aw14dunhill aw14dunhill aw14Ermenegildo Zegna aw14 de fursac aw14bally aw15
Lookbook Inspiration: Sockless/Invisible Socks

Men's Sockless/Invisible Socks Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

massimo dutti nyc 5th avenue ss15j crew february 2015scotch & soda ss15newlook ss15burton ss15Calliope aw14vince ss15mango man spring 2015h&m spring 2015
Key Styles
  • Pringle No Show Trainer Socks In 3 PackPringle No Show Trainer Socks In 3 Pack
  • He By Mango 2 Pack Invisible SocksHe By Mango 2 Pack Invisible Socks
  • Falke Step Invisible Cotton-blend SocksFalke Step Invisible Cotton-blend Socks
  • Calvin Klein Pack Of Three Flat-knit SocksCalvin Klein Pack Of Three Flat-knit Socks
  • Falke Tiago Business SocksFalke Tiago Business Socks
  • Topman Green Stripe Dot SocksTopman Green Stripe Dot Socks
  • Falke Airport Wool And Cotton-blend SocksFalke Airport Wool And Cotton-blend Socks
  • Pantherella Ribbed Sea Island Cotton-blend SocksPantherella Ribbed Sea Island Cotton-blend Socks
  • Nn.07 Knitted Wool-blend SocksNn.07 Knitted Wool-blend Socks
  • Reiss Reno Diamond Textured Socks EmeraldReiss Reno Diamond Textured Socks Emerald
  • White Mountaineering Herringbone Cotton-blend SocksWhite Mountaineering Herringbone Cotton-blend Socks
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Striped Cotton-blend SocksPaul Smith Shoes & Accessories Striped Cotton-blend Socks
5. Forgetting To Check The Weather Forecast

You may have planned your outfit down to the last detail before you went to bed, but if you wake to pouring rain and thunderstorms that suede jacket shouldn’t be making it out the door. No matter how brilliantly executed your look is, if it isn’t weather-appropriate, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Whether you’re waterproofing your work attire or braving the elements on a wintery weekend, don’t let your ensembles be set in stone. Try to keep your options open until close to departure time and scan a weather app before finally deciding on what suits best.

It never hurts to carry an umbrella, light/heavy scarf (depending on the season) and pair of sunglasses to make sure you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

It Never Hurts To Check The Weather Forecast and Carry An Umbrella

6. Not Making Time For Your Tie

Arguably the most iconic men’s accessory, a well-knotted neck tie can shift your look from average to executive level in an instant.

Unless your tie-knotting game is top tier, you’ll need to make the effort to set aside some time in the mornings specifically for getting this one right. The most important things to remember are to match your tie to your collar style, and a good dimple.

Tie Knot Guidelines

Unsure what tie knot you should be opting for? Follow these general guidelines:

  • Classic Point Collar Shirt: A four-in-hand is your best bet – it is long and thin in shape and fits snugly into the narrow gap of this collar style.
  • Semi-Spread Collar Shirt: A half or double Windsor – i.e. a knot with a little more bulk – is ideal for any medium-spread shirt.
  • Spread Collar Shirt: A full Windsor, no question. The chunkiest and widest of knots, it’s the only option when you’re sporting a powerful spread collar shirt.
The Dimple

The dimple is created as the final step of tying a tie; fold a crease in the centre of the tie at the knot just before you tighten, and be sure to hold the crease while you tighten the knot to ensure it stays in place.

Here’s a video demonstration:

7. Wardrobe Mismanagement

If you’re serious about your style, chances are you’ve spent a tidy sum of money on your clothing – so you’d better be looking after it all.

Start by upgrading your hangers. Cheap, wire hangers won’t do your investment pieces any favours, so swap them for sturdier plastic or wooden ones to help your clothes keep their shape. Remember to only hang tees, shirts, outerwear and trousers; hanging knit jumpers or cardigans leads to warping, which will affect how they both look and fit.

Your wardrobe shouldn’t be overly full either; if you’re squashing all of your clothing together, you need to consider alternative storage solutions. Cramming too many clothes into one space leads to creasing and also prevents you from clearly seeing the weapons at your disposal when putting together a look.

Consider sifting through to see if there’s anything not pulling its weight that can go to the charity shop, or invest in some clothing rails to make best use of the space available.

Your shoes also need a little TLC, so take the time to clean and polish them regularly, and pop a shoetree (or at least some scrunched newspaper) into your brogues when you’re done with them for the day. Doing so will maintain your shoes’ appearance and shape, while also increasing their lifespan.

  • John Lewis 4 Bar Trouser Hanger BeechJohn Lewis 4 Bar Trouser Hanger Beech
  • Cedar Adjustable Shoe TreeCedar Adjustable Shoe Tree
  • Osborne Pack Of Three Wooden Coat HangersOsborne Pack Of Three Wooden Coat Hangers
  • Neatfreak Closetmax Greystone Collection Lidded Storage BoxNeatfreak Closetmax Greystone Collection Lidded Storage Box
  • John Lewis Brooklyn Clothes RailJohn Lewis Brooklyn Clothes Rail
  • John Lewis 3 Tier Expanding Shoe RackJohn Lewis 3 Tier Expanding Shoe Rack
  • Churchs Norfolk Wood And Metal Shoe TreesChurchs Norfolk Wood And Metal Shoe Trees
  • Jacob Jones Shoe Shine Kit KhakiJacob Jones Shoe Shine Kit Khaki
  • John Lewis Shoe Care Kit MultiJohn Lewis Shoe Care Kit Multi
Final Word

Building a personal style that’s near faultless is by no means an easy task, but taking the time to fix some of these common oversights is well worth the time and effort.

Are there unsightly silent offenders that you see ruining a good look on a daily basis? What are they? And how would you correct them?

Comment below to share your tips.