If you’re a regular FashionBeans reader, chances are you’re across the style basics. Making sure your clothes fit, for example. Ironing your shirts. Knowing the difference between going sockless and going ‘sockless’. And never – ever – wearing drop-crotch trousers.
But there’s more to mastering menswear. Sure, nailing the fundamentals makes for a solid foundation, but style that’s memorable is about broadening your knowledge beyond the basic commandments.
To help you break new ground with your wardrobe, we called on the menswear cognoscenti to share their classified information. Time to take your style next-level.
Thom Scherdel, buyer at The Idle Man
“We’re bombarded by [messaging] telling us to wear a denim jacket over an overshirt over a shirt and then finish with coat and scarf… You DON’T need to [wear this many layers], you just end up looking uncomfortable and having to take things off as soon as you go inside.
“Invest in some lightweight merino jumpers instead, and wear with your best coat – be it a Crombie or a down jacket. If the coat’s doing what it’s meant to, you won’t need four layers underneath it. Two great pieces on top is better than five shit ones.”
Tony Cook, menswear editor at FarFetch
“A packet of domestic cleaning wet-wipes is the perfect quick clean for your trainers. Look out for high bleach content to regain gleaming white soles. Alternatively, you could try using exfoliating face wipes that can double-up in your wash bag – trust me it works.”
John Robertson, blogger at The Everyday Man
“Find yourself a good tailor. A few inexpensive and quick alterations can really make a huge difference to an item of clothing and how it fits you. For example, picking up a suit off the rail on the high street may not seem like the best idea for a special occasion, but by having it altered to better fit your shape you’ll ensure that you look sharp as a tack.”
Adam Brady, head of publicity and events at Ruffians Barbers
“Don’t think about your head hair and facial hair as separate; see them as part of the same overall look. Just because you can grow a beard doesn’t mean you should; [and] just because everyone else is growing beards doesn’t mean you need one!
“Consider what would go well with your face shape, hairstyle, lifestyle and wardrobe – i.e. if you’ve got a modern, athleisure-style aesthetic, a choppy fringe and clean-shaven face would look ideal. However, if you prefer smarter, more tailored clothes, a bit of stubble or a [well-maintained] short beard is a really good way to make your look seem more youthful.”
Jon Holt, account director at The Massey Partnership
“Travelling into central London on the tube every day (head down) results in a fair amount of shoe observation and the sheer number of poor quality, scuffed square-toed shoes on show is downright astounding.
“I believe that no matter how stylishly you dress, you can’t neglect the need for investing in quality shoes, even more so when you consider the lifespan of high street alternatives.
“Why not invest in a quality pair of Northampton’s Goodyear-welted shoes and start with the basics? An Oxford perhaps, or maybe a Derby, and then a pair of beautiful suede boots. You don’t need lots of options, just the classics to start with. As the saying goes, you can always tell a gentleman by his shoes…”
Warren Beckett, menswear columnist at Mademoiselle Robot
“Trends are a necessary evil when it comes to the world of fashion, but looking trendy and looking stylish aren’t necessarily the same thing.
“My top tip is to wear things that suit you. If the latest trend doesn’t work for your particular body type, then sit that particular trend out. You should know which items flatter you, so stick to what works and don’t be lured by the temptation of the latest ‘must-have’ item. Chances are you won’t just look better, you’ll feel more confident too – and what’s more attractive than that?”
Samuel Smith, creative director at oki-ni
“A good pair of socks goes a long way to up the style factor, [especially] if you’re like me and wear a relatively simple uniform – usually a navy trouser with a simple piece of knitwear layered underneath a minimal jacket.
“A pair of socks in an interesting print, fabric or length can really add that finishing touch that makes a good look, great.”
Simon Chilvers, men’s style director at MatchesFashion
“Every so often it’s useful to have a quick wardrobe review, especially if you’re about to buy some new clothes.
“Don’t get fixated on certain pieces you don’t like – maybe you just haven’t found the version of that thing that will work for you. Prime example: I would never have said I liked polo shirts. Then I discovered the knitted ones from New York label Orley and now I’m sold. Basically, to get the most out of fashion, you need an open mind.”
“Focus on wardrobe anchors – jeans, a certain sweater neckline, a preferred shape of shirt – as these are brilliant for when you haven’t got time to think about what you want to wear. But equally, make sure your wardrobe always has a few things in it that are a kind of amazing. I love ‘boring’ clothes but sometimes you need things that make you feel a bit more special, a bit more confident, a bit more considered.
“If you don’t particularly like to experiment with colour – i.e you’re not prepared to bust out from navy blue or charcoal grey – but you’re feeling a bit restless, turn your attention to texture. Mixing up different fabrics in one tone can make things feel a bit more interesting. As the boom in menswear has evolved, designers have become increasingly experimental with fabrics, often fusing more than one into [a single garment]. Look for these kinds of pieces and mix them with things you already own.”