Resident style consultant and founder of men’s style blog The Chic Geek, Marcus Jaye answers your questions – from whether it’s ever acceptable to opt for a clip-on bow tie to underwear designed to impress the opposite sex.
“I have a pair of British tan-coloured full brogues and was wondering if these can be worn year-round, or just for the spring/summer season?
“Also, could you offer some advice on which colour trousers would look best with these and which colour(s) do not?”
George B, via contact form
Opt for a darker palette when it comes to your trousers – think navy, black and dark chocolate brown. Keep the cut slim and never settle for anything less than the perfect break – i.e. where the end of the trouser leg meets your shoe (it should hit around the top pair of eyelets).
You can still turn your hems up (particularly if wearing selvedge jeans), though steer clear of those jazzy, brightly coloured socks that self-conscious corporate types like to wear in an attempt to assure everyone they haven’t lost their personality after twenty-odd years of auditing. Instead, look for plain colour or argyle styles that complement the colour of your chosen trouser (and your tan brogues) but don’t scream for attention.
Finally, avoid anything that would make tan brogues look even more tangerine, such as heavily washed denim or warm/burnt colours like russet, light brown or lighter shades of burgundy.
“I’m considering buying a khaki green trench coat from River Island instead of a traditional beige style. I was wondering, aside from my work clothes (I’m a teaching assistant with a shirt and trousers dress code), what else could I wear with this coat?
“I usually wear a combination of either blazers, Oxford shirts and polo shirts or white printed T-shirts with black jeans and brogues or gazelle trainers. Could I wear these with my new coat or would I need to switch to a more military style?”
Callum McNally, via contact form
What I would say is, if you add in lighter neutrals such as white (in the form of an Oxford shirt) or pale grey (a polo shirt, for example), the khaki green will be thrown into focus, so make sure in this case to keep everything else simple, as a traditional trench coat has a lot going on with details like buttons, epaulettes and belting.
If, on the other hand, you want to introduce more colour to your look via the knitwear, trousers, shirting or shoes you team your trench with, then stick to hues in the same intensity bracket as the outer layer’s khaki green – i.e. washed out tones and pastel shades like sky blue and pink, or earthy neutrals like stone, beige etc.
Wear your trench open, with the belt tied at the back, to minimise its assembly-ready formality. And, contrary to your point, avoid going full-on military with the rest of your look (military shirts, cargo-style trousers, combat boots etc.) unless you’re actually planning on enlisting.
“I’m looking for a jacket to wear in the rainy UK (although I’d appreciate if you recommended a design that could be worn year-round). I don’t want to spend more than £150 on the jacket and I’d like it to be hooded. I’d describe my personal style as smart-casual.”
Mipsy Ali, via contact form
If you want something you can wear year-round, you’ll need to it be protective but not bulky, and versatile in its design.
Danish label Rains has this smart putty-coloured long, hooded jacket (£89). It’s waterproof and lined yet exceptionally lightweight so you can easily throw it over a suit or more casual attire (its neutral hue pairs well with most others). What’s more, it features roomy pockets and it’s machine washable.
For a techier, more outdoorsy style, Timberland has this Mount Clay hooded jacket (£84) with Hyvent waterproof technology. What the hell is Hyvent? It’s a hard-working fabric with a polyurethane (PU) coating that consists of a tri-component, multi-layer formula for waterproof protection, moisture permeability and durability. Put simply, this perfectly smart-casual outer layer is your go-to for braving the elements.
The Mount Clay also features a hidden front fastening and four pockets. Try it with a chunky knit, twill chinos and boots for bracing country walks.
“I have a third date with a girl I’m really into, and I think I stand a good chance of sealing the deal this time. Any tips on underwear to impress a discerning woman?”
Nic, via Twitter
Moving on, I’d suggest you undersell and overdeliver so go for something plain, simple and comfortable. Most guys prefer briefs, trunks or boxers, all of which are totally acceptable. But – and you might think I’m stating the obvious here, but you’d be very surprised – steer clear of thongs, half thongs, mankinis and anything that promises to make your package look bigger.
Play it safe with colours like white, grey and black and think twice about something covered with brash branding, busy patterns or cartoon characters. Labels like Hanro, Derek Rose, Zimmerli and Schiesser, who have been supporting guys for many years, all offer top quality styles.
On the high street, Marks and Spencer and Uniqlo both produce an excellent range of cuts, colours and designs for men on a slightly more modest budget.
Bow Ties: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
“Is wearing a clip-on bow tie bad form for formal events? If so, can you give some tips on how best to tie one?”
Jay, via contact form
Skip spending an hour trying to follow a difficult diagram or poring over an overly wordy guide and go straight to YouTube for a video demonstration. Rather than try to perfect your skill right before a big occasion, practice when you have some time and the patience to do some tying and untying.
Remember that, while you’ll want the end product to look neat and tidy, it doesn’t matter if it’s not as eerily perfect as a pre-tied style. It’ll also look good untied at the end of the evening à la Bond – it really separates the men from the boys.
Note: Obviously you’ll need a self-tie bow tie in the first place; my favourites are always by Drake’s.
An Affordable Overshirt
“Can you recommend a good quality cotton or flannel overshirt for £100 or less?”
Anish, via Twitter
My favourite is from Dobson, a UK label dedicated to the humble overshirt. Made from quality British wool flannel fabric, the words ‘Woven in England’ and ‘Pure New Wool’ are visible inside the plackets and cuffs of the brand’s shirts, adding to their charm.
They’d look great layered over a simple T-shirt, worn with raw denim, cords or chinos. What’s more, Dobson currently has a few on sale so they’ll come in under your £100 maximum spend.
Alternatively, look to cold water surf label Finisterre’s Gylly shirt (£75). Cut from a heavyweight tightly woven cotton, the Gylly is made using a dobby weave, resulting in a sturdy shirt that’s more resistant to abrasion and wind.
It’s produced by dedicated shirtmakers in Portugal, in a vertical factory, where workers spin, dye and weave the fabrics, as well as manufacture the garment, all under one roof.
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