There’s often not much that separates a so-so outfit from a special one, or a superb haircut from a subpar one. The truth is that looking your best doesn’t have to be all about dropping wads of cash on new clothes – sometimes it’s the little things that make the look.
Here’s our list of low effort, maximum impact tips you can try now to step up your style game:
1. Measure Yourself
If you like buying clothes online, then save yourself grief and disregard brands’ general sizing. Since one label’s ‘Small’ is another’s ‘Large’, and sizes vary within individual collections too, it’s worth taking your measurements and consulting brands’ and retailers’ online size guides before you waste your cash on a shirt that could double up as a sail or chino shorts that look more like three-quarter lengths.
Unsure exactly what or where you should be measuring? Consider getting a professional involved – sounds expensive, but it’s not; a tailor will give you a full set of accurate readings and, in the long run, save you time, effort and money.
Alternatively, if the store you’re buying from includes individual product dimensions, try measuring a similar item you already own that fits perfectly and compare before you snap up that bargain in the sale.
2. Get Your Basics Tailored
You could shell out over £1k on a Lanvin cashmere-blend suit but if the fit’s not right, your style will still look cheap. Conversely, high street tailoring can look considerably more expensive than it is with a few well-judged nips and tucks from a savvy tailor.
However, suits aren’t the only thing you can get professionally altered – whether you have your jeans hemmed, chinos cropped or Oxford shirts darted for a more streamline fit, these seemingly minor alterations to your wardrobe basics don’t cost much but can make you look a million bucks.
3. Freshen Up
Given the amount of wear they get, it’s no surprise that some of your favourite pieces can sometimes develop a bit of an off-putting funk. For a quick freshen up, try an at-home impromptu dry-clean by hanging the offending item up on the bathroom door while you take a hot shower.
Alternatively, use a time-honoured tipple as a topical treatment for smelly clothes: fill an empty, thoroughly washed out spray bottle with a little vodka, spray onto the affected garment and leave in a well-ventilated area to dry.
Much like hand sanitiser, the vodka kills odour-causing bacteria, leaving your wardrobe mainstays smelling good as new.
4. Plan Ahead
Deciding what you’re going to wear before you hit the hay means you’ve got more time (and energy) to get the little details right. That said, if – between conference calls and circuit workouts – time’s tight during the week, get ahead at the weekend instead.
Set aside an hour on Sunday to put together five to ten fail-safe looks that work for a variety of occasions (office-appropriate, smart-casual, weatherproof etc.) and then snap them on your smartphone. That way, if Tuesday night’s date has you running late Wednesday morning, you can easily reference your key combos to pull something sharp together in no time.
Add more looks as you buy new pieces or experiment with colour pairings and soon you will have a pocket database full of outfits to call on at a moments’ notice.
5. Get Out Of A Style Rut
If you feel like you’re living a kind of sartorial Groundhog Day, then it might be time to start switching up elements of your go-to outfits.
Try something as simple as swapping trainers for smart shoes (and vice versa), or a T-shirt for an Oxford shirt. It could be just the extra ‘something’ your look needs.
6. Start Carrying A Bag
Who needs a bag, right? Another thing not to forget – along with your sunglasses or umbrella – when you leave a restaurant post-lunch, a bag might seem like unnecessary hassle, but unsightly bulges in your trousers or suit jacket are undoubtedly worse.
Provided you invest in the right design, a good bag will vastly improve your life – and your look. Try a classic holdall in brown or black leather for an all-rounder that’ll stand the test of time, or a well-built, minimal backpack in black, grey or navy for a practical and on-trend alternative.
7. Care For Your Leather
Good quality leather is only really as good as you keep it. That’s to say if you spend a week’s wages on a well-crafted holdall or even more on a timeless biker jacket, then you’d bloody well take care of it.
Remember to wipe your leather goods clean of stains with a damp cloth and treat regularly with a leather conditioning cream to prevent excessive dryness.
If, however, your all-time favourite jacket, bag or wallet is looking worse for wear, then track down a specialist. A leather expert will be able to re-colour leather products, skim over scuffs and even replace broken handles – instantly revitalising your look in the process.
8. Take Pride In Your Shoes
Whether you like it or not, shoes are one of the first things people notice about you, so it makes sense to invest in a few tools to keep them looking slick.
Little nicks and scratches can take a smart pair of shoes down a notch instantly, so remembering to regularly clean and polish leather styles is vital not only to keep them looking their best, but ensure longevity. Well-polished shoes also subtly communicates you’re a man who takes pride in his appearance and pays attention to the finer details.
As for suede styles, don’t underestimate the importance of a suede brush and suede protector. And finally, a trusty packet of shoe wipes comes in handy for keeping sneakers looking box fresh.
9. Match Your Leathers
Coordinating your leathers instantly brings cohesion to your outfit. While we’re all for mixing navy, black and brown in your clothes, any leather items you wear – be it a belt, piece of jewellery, bag or pair of shoes – looks better tonally matched.
With this in mind, opt for similar (they don’t have to match exactly) shades of brown – tan, chestnut, chocolate, it’s up to you – or match black with black to bring a solid through-line to your ensemble.
Black and shades of grey work together too, but black mixed with navy or brown leather pieces can be a bit jarring – beginners should definitely steer clear.
10. Stand Tall
How you carry yourself makes a huge difference to your overall appearance. If you’re not sure on how to achieve (and maintain) good posture, then imagine a thread running through your body, holding your head up. Keep that image in mind throughout the day – make sure your head’s held up high, your back is kept straight and your chest out.
Another tip for maintaining good posture that a friend of this writer swears by is imagining that you’re wearing your best suit even if you’re in something as casual as a T-shirt and jeans. Given that we usually feel more confident, and less likely to take prisoners, in a suit, mentally picturing yourself in one even in your downtime can help you to stand tall rather than slouch.
And it’s not just a health thing: good posture will make your clothes fit and drape better, and it can even make you appear more confident, open and (according to some) successful.
11. Keep Your Body Hair in Check
While going full metro with regular waxes, spray tans and eyebrow plucking is probably best left to the cast of TOWIE, we can all benefit from a little regular grooming.
Take time every couple of weeks to rid yourself of a burgeoning monobrow, or ask your barber to tidy your eyebrows whenever you have your hair cut or beard trimmed.
We don’t need to tell you to shave, but even the biggest beard looks better with some careful shaping. Hair at the neck and cheeks, as well as ear and nose hair, is easy to bring under control using a good quality trimmer – avoid using tweezers here, as they can cause painful ingrown hairs.
And as for below the belt? Well that’s a subject in itself.
12. Get The Chop
A badly fitting suit or misjudged colour combination both have their saving graces – you can take them off at the end of the day.
A shoddy haircut, however, isn’t so easily fixed. If you’re looking to lift your look, then drop by a decent barber – a good haircut can instantly boost your confidence whether you’re wearing Primark or Prada.
Before having the deed done, do your research. Learn, and discuss with your barber, which hairstyle(s) suits your face shape and lifestyle, and be sure to go back regularly (every two to six weeks, depending on your style) to keep your barnet looking its absolute best.
13. Find Your Signature Scent
We’re not necessarily talking about upgrading your scent here, but rather having a signature scent that is unmistakably yours. It’s an instant mood-booster; the psychological equivalent of slipping on your trusty pair of brogues or buttoning up that perfectly fitted shirt.
Much like clothes, fragrance is another facet of our appearance we can customise to leave a lasting impression. Start with a classic fragrance, as advised by our resident Grooming Editor, before branching out into more niche and boutique options.
- Dior Eau Sauvage Eau De Toilette Spray 50ml
- Hermes Terre Dhermes Eau De Toilette 50ml
- Creed Green Irish Tweed Eau De Toilette
- Aramis Classic
- Guerlain Vetiver
- Acqua Di Parma Colonia
- Boss Bottled
- Giorgio Armani Aqua Di Gio Pour Homme
- Penhaligons Blenheim Eau De Toilette Spray 50ml
Are there are any other instant confidence-boosters or look-improvers you care to share?
Comment below to let us know.